What's in the Woods? Part 2

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Students use math and observational skills to understand the external and internal parts of plants that help them reproduce and survive.

Big Idea

We take our second journey back into the woods to find the plants we had tagged a week ago. At this point, students take new data to find out if


10 minutes

In order to get them prepared for their second journey into the woods to find their plants to make observations again, I asked them to check their materials. For each set of partners they needed their iPad, their Forest Floor Observational Sheet , a metric ruler and a pencil. 

 I asked them to make predictions in their science journal on a blank page dated with today's date. I explained that I wanted them to predict what they would see today considering it was just a little over a week. They needed their data records from their first journey into the woods last week.

I wanted them to predict based on these questions and their last set of recorded data. I read them aloud, stopping and giving them time to respond in their journals. This exercise also helps them think about growth and what external parts of the plant might be different based on their last set of data. This teaches students to look at data to predict and infer.

1. What change in the leaves do you think you will see?

2. What change in height do you think you will see?

3. Will there be flowers? If so, what do you think they will look like? Why?

4. What photos or movies will be important to shoot today that will support your evidence? I required that today that they shoot a video of each other explaining in detail the differences they noticed from the week before. As they videoed each other, I told them that they needed to show and explain what external parts they think are important to that particular plant. I also required that they note the other plant life around the plant. 

In the next lesson, we will talk about how plants also have to survive competition from other plants and how the physical traits of the leaves, roots and stems help it survive.

 After students predicted in their science journals, I asked them to be sure to check their pencils for sharpness. I carry an extra set in my pocket because inevitably they lose them!

We began our journey out for our second observation, not really knowing if we would see enough to help us identify our plant.

Into the Woods!

30 minutes

We trekked out into the woods with our original partners from the first visit. I had kept a voice recording of where my student's plants were tagged in case they would lose or not remember where they had been working. A lot can change over a week's time in the woods and so it is important to have a back up. In case the tags had been disturbed, I carried more with me. These are just tongue depressors. I also carried a permanent marker with me. 

As students journeyed to the site, I talked with them about what they noticed had changed. It was interesting to see what they observed. This local forest is a very old hardwood forest and probably part of the disappearing oak savannahs of Southern Wisconsin. 

Finding our plants: When plants were located, students started to enter data on their sheets. They photographed and videoed the process. 

Wrap Up: Sharing Our Observations

10 minutes

I gathered my students on a nearby bench to close the lesson. I started by asking for "aha" moments. Students shared what amazed them about the change in their plant. 

I asked for their evidence of change. What external parts showed that the plant is progressing in its life and how do we know that these parts help it survive? What do we know from prior study of the daffodil?

What do you notice about the plants that grow around or near this plant? 

I asked: What do you predict for next time? What will you see in another week?

To close, I asked each student to predict what change would take place in a week.