Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.
In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.”
By saying “walking feet” I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.
When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell them we are going to read a book about a major body part that houses four of our five senses.
“Room 203 today we are going to read a book about a very important body part. This body part is home to four of our five senses. Does anyone want to take a guess as to which body part they think I am talking about?”
I select a student who is following the correct classroom procedure of raising their hand to respond to the question.
“Well done Hannah; I am talking about the face. How did you know I was talking about the face?”
“That’s right the four senses was a good clue. Can anyone tell me the features we use for our senses?”
I select four or five students depending on the features I am given.
“Those were all good responses; the eyes are for seeing, the ears are for hearing, the nose is for smelling and the mouth is for tasting.”
“Our head, and in particular our face, is home to all of these features.”
“In this book I have is some information about each of those facial features and some characteristics about them.”
I use this conversation to engage my students’ attention. Through this conversation the students will begin thinking about their own faces. They will begin to think about what they already know about their face and may develop some questions about their faces in general. For example, they may begin to wonder why they have freckles and their friend does not.
I draw the students’ attention to the book by saying, “Today we are going to read a book called Facial Features: Freckles, Earlobes, Noses, and More, by Jennifer Boothroyd. Before we begin to read I would like you to touch your nose.”
Once everyone is touching their nose I say, “Now touch your mouth.”
I repeat these directions with the eyebrows, chin, earlobes and cheeks.
“Great it looks like you all have a good idea where most of your facial features are. Let’s go ahead and read our book.”
As we read through the book I discuss the meanings of certain words within the text. Words like, trait, gene, alleles, etc. By discussing the words as we come across them within the text the students begin to understand the word meanings in context. This can assist them with comprehending the subject matter we are reading about.
You will need to gauge your audience’s attention span and interest level to determine the length of discussions you have.
Teaching Challenge - How do I develop a classroom culture where students engage in meaningful scientific discourses with one another? - Here I have the students really look at how they look and then the students can share and compare their features with other students.
When the book is over I hand out mirrors to all of the students. I open a blank screen on the SMARTBoard and ask them to take a good hard look at their face. I ask them to pay close attention to whether they have freckles or not, if they have attached or detached ear lobes, if they have a cleft in their chin or not, dimples in their cheeks when they smile or not, etc.
While I am talking I write the chart titles down the left hand side of my screen.
Then I say, “Now boys and girls I am going to ask you if you have a specific trait in your facial features; reply by raising your hand when you hear me say the trait your face has or not.”
I go down the list:
When we have been down the whole list and I have filled in the student responses, I tally up the results and write the total number next to the correct tally. In doing this I am modeling how the students would collect and count data.
The next part is where we analyze the data as we go down the list and discuss each trait. We interpret the data by stating which trait has more or less. Once again I go through this process with the students to model how a scientist analyzes the data they have collected either in the field or from resources.
After we have discussed the data I have the students take a seat around the edge of the rug by singing the “Edge of the Rug” song.
When all of the students are seated around the edge of the rug in a u shape, I take a seat at the front open end and lay out the materials they will find at their work stations today.
“At one of your work stations today you will find two sheets of paper like this (I hold up examples for the students to see).”
I lay them both down and point to the larger sheet, “Who can tell me what is on this recording sheet?”
I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand.
“You are right Finneas; this is a face.”
“Who thinks they can tell me what is on this smaller sheet?” I say as I point to it.
“Again I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand.
“That’s right Roxie; these are labels.”
“These are labels for the major features you will find on the human face. I would like you to touch the part of the face that matches the labels as I read them out.”
I read each label out loud and have the students touch each feature.
Having the student touch each feature as I read it out loud allows each student to make a physical connection to the word.
“Great work team. At this station you will also find this resource (I hold up a completed sample). This resource is there for you if you get stuck on a word and need to try and figure out where it goes. You will also be able to use mirrors and this book to help you out if you need it.”
“Does anyone have any questions?”
“Who can repeat back to me what you are going to do at this work station?”
I select a student who I know is going to give an accurate response because I do not want other students to become confused by incorrect information.
“Well done April; you told me you are going to cut apart the labels and glue them to match the correct feature on your face recording sheet.”
Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;
“Table number one go have some facial feature fun.
Table number two, you know what to do.
Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and
Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”
Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity.
I set the time on the visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.
In this activity the students are exploring resources to obtain information to answer the question; “What are some features that make up our face?” The students will practice using resources to obtain information to complete a task. Once the task is completed the students will be able to evaluate if they have the right information by checking the resource mat. Once the students have determined if the information they have is correct, they will be able to communicate the learned information to others.
Students need to develop the skill of obtaining information from various resources in order to determine the best way to answer a question or hypothesis they have.
At another work station the students will find half a photo of half of their face glued onto a plain white piece of paper. It will be explained to them that the average human face is symmetrical. The students are able to look in a mirror and see how symmetrical their own face is. The students are asked to draw the other half of their face as best they can and I remind them to add details. I make sure to have all different kinds of flesh toned crayons for the students to use. I like to do this activity at the beginning of the school year and at the end of the school year. The students really like to see how their drawing skills and attention to detail has improved from the beginning of the year (math).
At another station the students have jars filled with "eyes' of different colors. The students sort the "eyes" by color and then graph the results on their recording sheet (math, science - analyze data).
At the final station the students fill in a blank face using features they find in magazines and collage materials. For example a mouth from a face in a magazine and hair from cut up yarn etc. I remind the students to make the face as symmetrical as possible (science - anatomy/engineering).
These activities provide the students with the opportunity to apply and expand their understanding of the concepts within new contexts and situations thus elaborating on the information they have been presented with.
When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.
“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, place your work in the correct bin and use walking feet to take a spot on your dot. Walking feet, go.”
Students know to place their work in either the “finished work” bin or the “under construction” bin. Work in the “under construction” bin can be completed later in the day when the student finds they have spare time to fill in.
Once the students are seated on their spot on the rug I tell them that their exit ticket for today is to point to and tell me one of the features they know which makes up the human face.
“For today’s exit ticket you need to share with us one of the features you know which makes up the human face. When you have shared a facial feature with us you can use the hand sanitizer and get your snack.”
I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.
If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.
I use this exit ticket process as a way for the students to communicate one of the pieces of information they learned by explaining to me the name of one feature which can be found on the human face. Through this process I can see who is able to obtain and retain information learned on a given topic.
In order to assess if my students have successfully understood and retained the information presented in the lesson I set out an evaluation task for morning work the next day.
As the students arrive I have the task written on the chart at the head of the classroom. It reads, “Draw a human face and label the major features using resources from around the room to obtain information.”
My lower performing student may have difficulty with this task so I would assist them by having them dictate to me what the features are called. My hope is that the student would at least go and find the resource and explain to me how they would use it.
I would have the students bring their work to me when they had completed it and I would conference with them about where they got their information from and how they know their information is correct. I would ask the student to explain to me what some of the functions of the facial features are. I make anecdotal notes directly into their science journal with their work as a record of our quick conference.