In order to review concepts spanning our whole year, and motivate the students for the activity today, I ask them to turn and share with their partners a response to the following question:
"What are 3 things you loved learning this year in science?"
As students share with each other, the noise increases as the excitement climbs. After a few minutes, I request students' attention again, and begin the lesson.
In order to help my students brainstorm for their work, and review the year, I place columns on my whiteboard labeled with each unit of study. (Crayfish, Plants, Fossils, Weather, Magnets, Electricity, States of Matter, Light, and Scientist Behaviors).
I then prompt the students to brainstorm important words for the column they choose with their shoulder partner. Next, I pull the group together and fill in the entire board, adding my own ideas when there is a lull in the participation.
An example of one of the columns might be:
ray, straight line, optical illusion, transparent, translucent, opaque, reflection, bend, and shadow.
Many of the items on the list will be vocabulary terms from your units. This will keep the activity open-ended for the students, as well as serve as a formative assessment for you.
Following our brainstorming session, I then ask the students to turn and talk again. This time, they are charged with choosing a fact/topic and describing it in detail to each other.
During this time of the year, turning and talking is a natural routine in my classroom. If this is new for you, you may want to give your students some talking move prompts, such as:
"I agree with you because..."
"My thinking is different from yours because...."
"I would like to add to what you think by..."
"Can you give me an example of___________?"
This student is focusing on facts about bats, our final unit this year. When I approach her, she is simply listing facts. I am able to use guiding questions in order to lead her to revise her plan a bit and get her to consider a compare/contrast organization system in order to communicate her learning.
This activity is a helpful one in assessing how accurate my students remember their facts/learning. This girl chooses biomes as her concept to share. She is trying to explain that all areas are part of a biome ("you have one in your backyard") and that certain living creatures can or cannot live in a specific biome.
I am really pleased with this student's work. He is usually not motivated to do any work that requires writing, but this activity allows him to express his learning through visuals. Show, as well as explain, are both equally important ways for our students to express their understanding - and that's important for us teachers to remember.
Secondly, the concept of electromagnetism is a difficult one to not only understand, but to communicate. I love the fact that this student is trying to tell the story through an illustration!
To close the activity, students share their photos with each other one at a time at the front of the room. If anyone had compliments or comments, these are shared. Then, the author of the page can revise if he or she feels it is needed.
Finally, we compile all of the student pages together and send them down to our first grade buddies to read on their final day, as well.