To begin this lesson, I ask students to think about what they already know about electricity. I ask them to imagine where electricity comes from, how it moves, how people use it, and how to use electricity safely. I ask students to imagine these ideas / scenarios to engage their prior knowledge and to scaffold the task of completing a KWL (know, want to know, have learned) chart. This graphic organizer allows students to share what they already know and would like to learn. By reviewing the students' work, I can personalize future lessons to help students answer their questions. We revisit this graphic organizer throughout the electricity unit and complete the L column at the unit's end.
I first ask students to fill out just the K section of the KWL chart with information that they already know about electricity. Thinking about what they know regarding electricity often brings new questions to the forefront of the students' minds. To capitalize on their natural curiosity, I then ask students to write down the things that they want to know about electricity in the W column.
In this section of the lesson, I provide students with the opportunity to work alone, with a pair, and with the whole class group. To start, I ask students to review their KWL chart and select 5-10 things that they would like to share with a partner. I ask them to write these facts on their electricity think-pair-share graphic organizer in the top section. I ask students to choose facts from their KWL to encourage them to choose facts about which they are confident and this often eliminates erroneous information from our classroom chart. After they have selected and written down their facts, I put students into pairs or small groups.
Next, I ask students to share their chosen facts with their partners. To encourage accountability and productive student conversation time, I use a text marking protocol. As students share, I ask them to take turns; with each partner sharing one fact at a time. As they listen to their peer partner, they must either write down their partner's fact in the 'pair' section of their organizer or add a star to the list of facts in their 'think' section if it is a fact that they also wrote. This process encourages students to listen to one another and allows them to serve as both a teacher and learner with their peer partner. The students repeat this process until each student has shared all of their facts. A video of two student partners sharing their thinking with one another can be found here.
After all partner groups have finished, I bring the class together for a whole group discussion. During our discussion, I ask students to share facts from their 'think' or 'pair' sections and I record these facts on a class chart. As in the previous activity, I ask students to either record the facts they hear in the 'share' section or star the fact in their 'think' or 'pair' sections if they have also recorded that fact. We repeat the process until the class has a comprehensive list of electricity facts. An example of a student's completed think-pair-share chart can be found here.
The class chart tells me much about the students' knowledge and misconceptions about the subject of electricity. When I see common misconceptions, I make sure to provide a lesson in the unit that will allow students to challenge their misconceptions and build new knowledge of the topic.
To close the lesson, I have a brief discussion with my students about the Tier III (academic language) vocabulary words that they will be learning in the unit. It can be very overwhelming for students to learn so many new and challenging words, so I use the lesson closing to preview the list of vocabulary words for the entire unit. I show students the blank electricity glossary and read the words aloud. I ask students to mark any words that they have heard before with a ! and any words they could define with a star. I stress to the students that it is okay of they do not know any of the words because we will learn them together throughout the unit.
A completed glossary can be found here.