During our Reading and Writing Block on the day of the flight testing, I give my students more time to research paper airplanes with the help of an organizer I created called Paper Airplane Information. The students' motivation to build, with greater precision, a paper airplane is high now and their "need to know" is driving their research and build process.
I have the students use the graphic organizer to note important information, definitions, and illustrations that can help them construct their 3 models assigned to them in the previous session. The resources are:
As always, while the students work, I circulate and confer. It is important that when you are looking at student work, and listening in on their conversations, that you are not telling them "what to do", "what to fix", or even "what is wrong". They have to do the thinking, otherwise they aren't doing the learning.
When this student shared her beginning work, I immediately realized, from her notes, that she had a misconception due to not reading the text correctly.
As we worked together, she was able to use the text to define the terms as concepts, rather than apply them as locations on the plane. She was then able to begin thinking about how they can be used in her design.
This researcher was making meaning of thrust and lift in order to develop a concept for her plane. I was impressed with her ability to pair information from the baseline data and the research in order to develop a level of understanding that will guide her construction.
To close the session, I simply have the students share their information organizer and model ideas with their science partner. I also ask them to discuss what they plan on doing at home to prepare for the competition. In doing this, I set the students up as goal setters, planners, and designers. As they discuss with their partners, not only are they presenting, but they are also obtaining helpful and necessary ideas for more improvement. They may also learn about revisions they do not want to try.
This is a simple, but effective, closing. Students review, assess, critique, and plan for the future session.