Climb Like A Gecko

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SWBAT design an effective climbing device for climbing a flat surface after learning about how gecko climb.

Big Idea

Engage students in an active lesson where they can explore new ways animals use their external features for survival.

Setting the Stage

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

The lesson is connecting to 1-LS1-2, because the students are going to design device to help people climb flat surfaces using materials I have provided. This activity allows students to apply their knowledge to a real world situation, and then add to their work throughout the lesson based on new knowledge. When we engage in an application activity,  the students can process the content and really reflect upon their data and observations.  Giving the class an application activity also allows me to assess their understanding. I can easily see if they are correct or incorrect in their understanding based upon what they create. 

Lesson Overview

First, I try to excite the class and assess their prior knowledge in the engage section of the lesson. In the explore section of the lesson I show them video footage that explains the unique ability of the gecko to climb glass. Next, the students participate in a collaborative discussion explaining their new knowledge and ideas. Last, we present and evaluate student work.

I try to do transitions about every 15-20 minutes to keep their attention. We also use peanut butter jelly partners, which I explain in the video. I find these two management strategies to be very helpful in helping my students learn and persevere through a lengthy lesson.



10 minutes

Introductory Activity

This is when I try to excite my class which I do by projecting the lesson image on the board. But, I also want to engage them in some type of formative assessment, and share my expectations for the day. To assess their prior knowledge I ask the students to tell their partner how the gecko uses its external features to stay alive. So, I say, "Turn and talk to your partner: talk to partner strategy about what you know about the gecko. How do they use their toes to benefit their survival? Share any other information you know."  I have some neat ideas to stop the conversation after I listen to assess their knowledge and understanding: fun ways to stop discussion. Then, I say, "Will somebody please share their ideas or discussion." After they share I ask, "Will somebody please add to what was said? Agree or disagree." This engages the class in a discussion where I can make sure everyone understands how geckos climb.

As my students talk I listen to see what they know. Then I share their conversations and what I wanted them to learn. I am expecting that my students are not familiar with the gecko, but I never can really predict their prior knowledge. This is why it is so important to check what they know. 

Last, I share the plan for the lesson, which is in the lesson overview. Then we chant the lesson goal, so my students remember what is important: I can design an effective climbing device for climbing a flat surface after learning about how gecko climb.


15 minutes

Now, we explore a video about the gecko and the students record their observations in their science journal. I project the t-chart for animal behavior (t-chart and proficient student work) on the board and the students record it in their journal, and they actually add to the chart daily.  Watch 1:20 to 4:30 to see the video. After the video the students record their notes based on their observations in the video.

I am looking to see that the students notice in the video that gecko use sticky fingers to climb flat surfaces. So, I walk around and promp the class, "How do they climb? What is special about their way of climbing?"

So, now I ask, "Please create your own design with your partner using the materials provided to allow humans to climb like a gecko." I do provide: gloves, tape, garbage bags, paper bags, zip lock bags, and a variety of tape. The students can design their model on paper and use the material provided to create their model. If they want to use some other material they can draw it and talk about it. I give the students about fifteen minutes to work. 


10 minutes

After the class has worked for about seven minutes I ask them to stop, and then I show the PowerPoint: gecko inspired adhesive of a design that was inspired by the gecko.  The image of the gecko just shows their toes. But the tape holding the big wieght was inspired by the gecko, and I share this with the class. The image of the suction cups shows the class how the gecko sticks to flat objects. So, then I ask, "The students to discuss how they might use this to change their design?" This is a video of a student explaining her ideas, and the pictures is of students working. This generates discussion and the students begin to add to their design.


15 minutes

This is the most exciting time for my class, because they get to present their work: presentation and evalutation. But, I only let two or three students go and I do keep up with this on a chart, so I can assess their speaking. I also want to give each child the same number of opportunities to speak to the class. 

So, there are usually some issues related to speaking and listening. To make sure this goes as smoothly as possible, I say,  "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor hands in your laps talking no more. Your eyes are on the speaker. You are listening to what they are saying and thinking about your evaluation of their work."

Then comes the issue that after each presentation I expect several students to evaluate their peers work. Evaluation is a higher order thinking skill that really allows students to deepen their contextual understanding of how animals use their external features similar to their parents to stay alive. I say, "Do you agree or disagree and why?" If nobody want to comment then I comment. For todays lesson I might say, "I agree that birds peck, and I found it here in the text."

This is when the lesson has come to an end and I need to assess my students knowledge. So, I am going to use this cool app I found called Plickers. I just use my phone and type in the question I want to ask the class.

What is one way a gecko protects itself?

A. climbing things others cannot         B. swimming       C. sleeping         D. playing dead

The answer is A. 

I scan the room with my phone and it read the children's card and I can see who knows the answer, the data is also charted in my Plicker account so I can go back and see which children were correct.

Last, we chant the lesson goal to make sure the students know what is important about this lesson.