Day 2: Observing Plants

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SWBAT record observations of plant structures. SWBAT establish patterns and routines for classroom discussions.

Big Idea

Students will work with a variety of partners to continue to learn from each other and see a variety of ways students are recording observations. Students will also learn how to use their science notebooks to answer questions from peers.

Advanced Preparation

For today's lesson, you need:

  • Each student's science notebook
  • A small plant for each team of two students.
  • Anchor Chart that was created in a previous lesson.


Note:  I plant the seeds about two months before I need them.  This way they are ready for the class to use. I find marigolds work best.  This way the students have a flower to observe as well.

Setting the Stage

I start today's lesson by having the students gather in a circle on the carpet.  The lesson will start with a quick review of observations made during the previous lesson.  Today the students will use their science notebooks to observe a plant.  They will be working in teams of two to observe and record their observations.  Then they will gather and share their observations with a different partner. It will be followed with a whole group conversation and modeling of how to use their notebooks to support answers to direct questions.  The lesson will end with a whole group wrap up and a discussion that leads us to adding more to the class anchor chart about science notebooks.

At the end of each section (of this lesson), I include a narrative of why I am implementing each part of the lesson and how it connects to curriculum, standards, and/or best practices.  

NOTE:  Although these standards are tagged, this lesson will not lead to mastery but rather serve as an introduction to the standard and begin to build a foundation that will lead to mastery.  

Creating Second Entry

45 minutes

I gather the students in a circle on the carpet and pass out their science notebooks to them.  

"I would like to start today's lesson by asking you to review and share some of your observations from yesterday.  I am going to ask you some questions about the apples you observed."

I ask questions about color and shape.  As I ask and students respond, I ask them who do they know this information?  The purpose of this is to get them to refer to their observations and to use their notebooks as a way to defend their answers.  In other words, they are using facts to support their answer and not opinion.

"As you answer the questions, I want you to look at how you recorded your answers in your notebook.  I will ask for you to share the different ways observations were recorded."

This is an important step because I want students to see a variety of ways that observations were recorded.  This way the examples will be fresh in their mind as they move into today's observations.

"Today you will be making observations again.  However, instead of observing an apple, you will be observing a plant.  You will work in teams of two and share a plant.  As you observe the plant, I want you to record your observations in your notebook.  I want you to think about the different examples that were shared today and see if you can use those to help you record your observations.  

I have included 2 videos Observing A Plant & Observing A Plant 2 that capture students making their observations. 

Before we start, who can remind me what goes on the top of the page (for today's entry)?"

I reinforce the expectation that the date and focus of the day should be at the top of the page.

"You will write the date and then the focus underneath.  Today's focus is observing plants. You will now work with your partner and observe.  I will give you 15 minutes for this part of the activity."

As students are working, I use this time to check in with each group.  I want to see if students are learning from each other, using prior knowledge from day 1 and/or today's discussion to record observations, and I also want to note any new ideas that students are using.  By observing, I can be specific when asking students to share their recordings.  An example of what I am looking for is in this clip

Once the 15 minutes is up, I gather the kids back on the carpet.

"I would like you to now find a different partner and share your observations with them.  I want you to talk to each other about what you noticed and how you recorded it.  I will give you 5 minutes for this."

"Now I want to have a whole group discussion/share (Sharing With A Group).  Most of our science lessons will have an opportunity for students to share out.  During this time, you can share and ask each other questions or make comments.  The questions and comments should always be related to what is being shared. So, let's try this out today and practice this discussion model."

This Q&A is not something that will just happen happen after a quick introduction. It will take modeling, practice, and review for students to be successful with discussion approach.  It is important for students to see who others work and the methods they use. It is also important for students to ask each other questions and for students to answer with fact rather than opinion.  This is why I reinforce the idea that students use information front heir notebooks to answer questions.

This lesson has students making observations first hand, documenting the observations and then sharing them out with each other.  Through the use of discussion, natural comparisons to each others observations happen (1-ESSI-2).  

This activity also has students gathering information by recording information in their notebooks and hearing from each other through discussion and using this information to answer questions (W.1.7). 


Lesson Wrap Up

5 minutes

The students are still sitting in a circle on the carpet.

"We have had a great session of observing, recording and discussing.  Now that you have heard from each other and saw different ways that people have recorded their work, I want you to take 5 minutes and add anything else that you would like to add to your own notebook."

This will give the students an opportunity to incorporate other ideas that they have seen during the sharing out portions of the lesson.  It ends the lesson with them adding something new or elaborating on something they have already done.  The NGSS S&E Practices expect students to use and share pictures, drawings and/or writings of observations (Practice 4: Analyzing and Interpreting Data).  This step in the activity reinforces the development of this goal.  

After this, I direct their attention back to the anchor chart.  

"I want to add more to the chart today.  Yesterday we noted how to write the date and focus.  Today I want to add three different ways that people have recorded observations.  Who can give me a suggestion?"

Today I will look to record the use of diagrams, I notice statements, and describing words.  I am not worried about labeling diagrams because it will be introduced later in this unit.  I will use the term diagram instead of picture.  I want to expose them to scientific terms and model the use of them whenever possible.