Reflection: Checks for Understanding Plant Life Cycles: Mosses and Ferns - Section 3: Fern Field Trip or Moss Meandering


It is valuable to conduct informal assessments while observing students working in a hands-on task.  I take anecdotal notes and, when possible, make film clips of students while we are engaged in outdoor-explorations such as this.  By engaging in conversations with them about what they see, observing how they take notes, and chatting with them as we discuss how to make detailed illustrations, I can readily observe their developing understanding of core ideas related to life cycles. I find my notes are much easier to use if I have a pre-made organizer, such as the one below.  I do not fill this out for every student, but instead try to fill out anecdotal notes for about a fourth of the class whenever we engage in a hands-on activity.  This gives me several examples for each student by the time parent-student-teacher conferences arrive!  Here is a printable version of  Teacher Notes on Student Observations - Fern and Moss "Field Trip".


 In 3rd grade, it’s important to get students thinking about varied life cycles.  I mention some specifics in this lesson because I have observed that students are curious, and I think we both underestimate them and underserve them when we don’t at least expose them to rich content.  It is not important that they retain the specifics of the moss or fern life cycle, but many of them do latch on to the very different changes these two plants go through in comparison to flowering plants or even conifers.  This wedges open a door to far greater expansion of understanding than would be available if we limited them to just saying, “Ferns are small, larger, and die.”

  Checks for Understanding: Organizing Observations
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Plant Life Cycles: Mosses and Ferns

Unit 11: Life Cycles
Lesson 6 of 7

Objective: Students will be able to explain basic facts about fern life cycles and their past and present roles in the ecosystem.

Big Idea: All plants do not reproduce from seeds.

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10 teachers like this lesson
Science, Life Span, life expectancy, life
  60 minutes
tree fern frond at akatarawa
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