Next Generation Science Standard Connection
This lesson is connected to K-2-ETS1-1 to because the students learn about the problem of overpopulation in deer, and then they design a solution to the problem. This is a great opportunity to engage students in a real world problem solving situation which really activates their higher order thinking. The students area also expected to communicate the information they learn and design which connects to SP8. They also are asked to present their argument and justify their agreement or disagreement with their peers presentation and design. This connects to SP7 which is about justifying your argument using evidence from information you gained.
The lesson begins in the lounge where we engage in activating my students knowledge. In the explore section the class learns about the problem, and they explain what they understand about the problem of deer overopulation in the explain section. During the exploration section we design solutions and then learn about some solution that are already in place. Last the class rejoins in the lounge where the students present their designs and evaluate each others designs using specific evidence from our lesson.
I like to make the lesson relevant, assess students prior knowledge, and get the class excited in this section. So, I post this article on my Smart Board. Now, I read the article, but I leave out the part about the deaths. I say, "Several people were hurt really bad." I do this because I really don't want to get too graphic about the issue, and I just want the students to see that overpopulation of deer is a big issue. The newspaper article proves the point to the class that deer are causing a real problem.
I still need to assess their prior knowledge, so I say, "Turn and talk to your partner about anything you know about deer. Tell them how too many deer may be dangerous to people." I have a partner video: peanut butter jelly partner. I listen to assess their prior knowledge. I also have a fun way to stop discussion. Then I share some of the conversations I hear just to share the information that the students already know.
Now that I have brought relevance to the lesson and assessed their prior knowledge, I want to get the class excited. I say, "We are going to learn about some problems deer cause and you are going to create a solution to the problem. After you make your solution, we will explore some solutions that people are trying. Then you can add to your design." Telling the class the specific things we are going to do really helps them relax and follow through with all of my expectations.
Now we explore the problem. I take this article and rewrite it in a kid friendly way, so my students understand how deer are causing a problem. I shorten sentences and use vocabulary that my students understand. It seems like I can never find an article that is written simple enough for my students to read, and has the content I want to present. So, I often find or read several article like the one I have in the link. Then I just write a paragraph or two about the content. Sometimes I am able to simply shorten sentences or change vocabulary in a text, but it is easier to just write the text I want the class to read.
First, I give each child a copy of the text: Deer Overpopulation Problem, and I read it to them three times. I do this, because many first graders are not fluent readers at this point, September, and I want to expose them to the important content and information. This exposure to repeated reading is a great strategy to help students learn from listening to complex text.
After reading, I ask, "So, what are some problems caused by deer? Tell your partner." Then I listen to assess their understanding. Now, I ask the student to highlight the problems in the text that they see the deer are causing. I watch and walk around to make sure the students are finding the information. I also reread the text and allow the students to highlight as I am reading. Finding this evidence in the text is one strategy I use to help my students as they prepare their argument later in the lesson as they justify why their peers are accurate or inaccurate in their design. You may want to check out my video on how I help my students complex tasks.
Now it is time to allow the students to share any new knowledge. I say, "Talk to your partner about what you have learned is a problem caused by deer." Now, I listen to make sure each group is engaging in text based and accurate information. Then I ask, "Will somebody share the information they highlighted?" This is when we really engage in a productive discourse where they students share the information they gain. This is more powerful than if I distribute the content, because they are learning from their peers.
I introduce the concept of designing a solution by showing the class one way that people have already attempted to solve the problem of overpopulation of deer. Then I explain how hunting is one attempt to solve the problem. "Hunters are only allowed to hunt during certain times, and they must have taken a hunter safety course. In addition they have to buy a ticket to actually kill a deer." I even have a model illustration: deer illustration model. This is a nice way of giving students a model which helps them complete the complex task of designing their own solution. It is my attempt to just give them an example of what a solution might be like. Then I say, "Do you understand what a solution is?" I need to know if the students need more explanation before they begin working. I am asking this especially, since I know how challenging this might be, and I want to support the students to keep them from getting frustrated.
Next, they begin to design their own solution to the problem. I allow the students to work with a partner to create their solution. Partnering students of different abilities helps students assist each other. The standard says to "design a solution," so I just let the students illustrate and label their design. They also have the option of writing their design out in word form.
Now, I show the students some current designs:solutions to deer overpopulation problem that are being used to help with the deer problem. After sharing, the students take about ten more minutes to add to or change their design. This is a good opportunity for the students to add details that make their solution and design more powerful.
During this section I try to get the students to communicate the information they learned and the solution they created. In addition the students need to defend their solution during the peer evaluation section. The solutions must address either lyme disease, ghost forest, or vehicle collisions, since these are the presented in the text. I ask several groups to present their solutions, and they explain how their solution will work. The solution I presented are fencing, hunting, and adding a deer market. So, I am hoping they add to their design with some component of the models I showed in the previous section. The other students engage in peer feedback, and hopefully use evidence from the text to agree or disagree with the presenters solution. I have a chart I check off to see who's turn it is to present and their partner must stand beside them as they present.
As far as my assessment goes I want to see that the students create solutions that are based on the evidence from this lesson. I also keep a spreadsheet: assessment piece hanging on board where I give a check or minus for correct content, speaking loud and clear, and for giving evidenced based peer feedback. I find that many first graders tend to refer to prior knowledge instead of evidence they learned in the text. My other expectation is that the students actually provide evidence based peer feedback that connects to the information they have gained in this lesson.