Day 1: I left lesson plans for my guest teacher to help front load information that we would be using when I got back the next day. I didn't want to waste any precious science learning time! So, the lesson plans reflected that students needed to log onto NEWSELA and choose the article they wanted to read from a list. I had chosen "Global Warming" as a theme and picked articles accordingly. NEWSELA always has topics in science that I can identify to relate to a theme and build information easily upon. It is a great teaching resource. Students were told to adjust the Lexiles to meet their levels. They were instructed to take the quiz afterward and if they did not score well, they needed to re-read and retake it. Or, they needed to adjust the Lexile score down one notch and then take the quiz again. If they still scored poorly, they were instructed to seek out help from the teacher.
Upon my return the next day, this portion of the lesson needed to be taught as a follow up and as an assessment of their understanding about what they read.
To engage students and help them understand what global warming is, I asked that students answer the question: Do you think global warming is real and why?
As they listed their ideas, I asked them to pick one, write it on a scrap piece of paper, roll it up in a snowball. Then, on the count of three, I asked that they throw the snowballs across the room, pick up one, and repeat the process five times. Then, on the fifth time, they opened what someone wrote that they thought about global warming. The answer to this question allowed me to understand what they are thinking about and what they have been exposed to. If a student approaches you and says they have never heard of it, simply tell them to put on the paper, " I don't know what it is."
We shared our snowballs by simply practicing attentive listening skills. No one was allowed to comment. We could only listen. This "no discussion" helped students to simply think about what was being said and laid foundations for them to either discover truth or fiction from listening about others's thoughts.
After our listening session, students were instructed to sit in front of the SB to view Global Warming 101 from National Geographic. When the movie was over, there was time for some short discussion. One student wanted to know if scientists were sure about it. I explained that their theories seem to be pointing in that direction.
We discussed the following questions:
How does science help us understand what impacts we make on the Earth...Our "Footprint?"
How can we as people reduce the impact?
Our discussions were turned back to what we had read about. I asked them if they could see the connection in what they had read to what we were learning today? What could they contribute from their articles to share that would support what the movie was talking about?
Students raised hands and talked about the polar bears. They shared their concern over ice melting, but also that the zoos were being sensitive to the needs of the polar bears. They also talked a lot about the starfish. I had to explain that the diseases of the starfish will remain under investigation and that global warming was suspected, but not proven to cause the disease. One student connected the understanding that the warmer water could cause disease. The discussion was rich!
I asked students to share their writing with the class. A few volunteers offered to read their pieces that they had typed on Google Docs. I was able to look at them, make editing suggestions through the editing tool, and they fixed them up. I was looking for a short summary of the reading and looking for their connection to global warming within the paragraph. Some students were brilliantly successful, while others simply reported the facts. Polar Bears Find Themselves Between An Iceberg And A Hard Place was one article that was read aloud while the other popular article was about the dying starfish.
As we closed our lesson, I talked about the importance of being able to read scientific news and draw conclusions. We talked about the author's purpose in reporting scientific articles and how the author's goals generally are to inform, but to generate understanding of the world and how it all works. In this case, we all agreed that our theme was global warming and the obviously it is have some impact upon the animals in our world. We also talked about the controversy and I pointed out the place in the article about the dying starfish that implies, but does not state that it is actually a fact. I explained that global warming can only be understood as a theory that seems to be continually being proven as true.