Reflection: Perseverance Part 1- The Structure Of Our Solar System - Section 3: Engage


In this lesson, Part 1-The Structure of Our Solar System, I started off with the intent of having students use a Bloom's taxonomy die help them construct a questions centered on their curiosity about parts of the solar system.  I decided to use this kind of activity because I wanted students to create a variety of questions written that would illustrate a higher level of thinking.  These question stems would give them different ways of writing their questions, rather than typical questions I get that often begin with "What" or questions that often elicit a simple yes/no answer.  I was inspired to use this activity from a workshop on had taken over the summer that focused on instructional practices that impact student achievement.

I introduced this activity at the start of the lesson by handing out a die to each pair of students. I explained their task was to roll the die, select a question stem, and write a question about one of the topics from the chart they created in their notebook. I demonstrated the directions by rolling the die myself, displaying the questions under the document camera, and writing a sample question. I asked students to select a question based on the die shown.  We selected the stem: "How would you explain...  From there, I had them select one of the topics from their chart. The topic planets, was chosen. I created the question: "How would you explain Earth's movement?"  I explained that we are not answering these questions, just creating them to hopefully have them answered as we move throughout the unit.  Students appeared to have an understanding of the task and they began.

While they were working, I was realizing that students were struggling. THey were looking at all the choices they had on the die and some seemed confused, others attempted by selecting a stem but as I read their question, the stem was not relevant to what they wanted to find out or accurately used.  It dawned on me that this activity was a bit complex for them for a couple of reasons. One, it is the beginning of the year and they have not had science formally in the elementary schools, so the content itself may have been difficult. And two, there were too many question stems on each side of the die. This became a challenge for them as some question stems included words they may have been unfamiliar with and some were not ideal for the topics we had on our chart.

I decided to reconvene the class are revamp the task.  I collected the die from each group and directed students attention to board. I asked students to think about the words they use when the ask questions and share them aloud.  I listed these across the board:

What...?  Who...?  Where...? When...? Why...?

I encouraged them to think of other ways we ask for information besides our "W" types of questions.  I went on to ask them about other words we might see on tests or hear in conversation that help us get more information that one or two words.  With some prompting, we added the words:  How...?  Describe...  Explain...   Do...?  Which...? to the board.  With these question stems now listed on the board, I asked them to restart the task by creating at least three questions in each column using these question stems.  I added on that all question stems had to be used at least three times. I added this direction so they create a variety of questions and not over use question words.

With a new plan in place, I observed students writing questions that were more applicable to the topics.  I made me realize that while I want to push my students to work at a higher level, I need to give them practical opportunities to get there.  I was eager to push them, but was able to get them back on track to form some great questions relevant to wanting to learn more about the solar system.  I am going to recreate the die to include no more than 2 or 3 question stems on it that are more specific to our topic rather than general stems.

  Perseverance: If It's Not Working...It's Ok to Revise and Start Again
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Part 1- The Structure Of Our Solar System

Unit 5: Out Of This World- A Journey Through Our Solar System
Lesson 1 of 11

Objective: SWBAT identify and sequence the sun and planets in our solar system.

Big Idea: Students will create a scale model of the solar system to distinguish the distance of each planet from the sun.

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