How to begin:
To begin this lesson, the kids sit at their tables and I pose a question for them to think quietly about in their minds. I pose the question and then give them 30 seconds to decide what they think might happen. I use a timer to track the 30 seconds.
â¨Pose the question:
Once the kids have a chance to think about the question, I have them share their ideas with their table teams. Each student has a sticker on their name tag based on their academic achievement levels. I do not tell the kids how I decide what sticker they have on their name tags. I just place them there after school every three weeks. The stickers are fluid, which means a student’s level sticker may change as their academic level improves.
Question: What would happen to the fish if the water got colder?
I have the kids share by calling one sticker type at a time. I always call on the medium-high kids first because they know enough to start a strong conversation yet not dominate and talk over others. I call on the medium-low kids next, then the medium low and last the low. I do it in this order because it the medium-low to high kids provide strong models for the low kids and my ELL kids in how to communicate their thoughts on the topic. They can even repeat something they’ve heard.
Each student is given 30 to 45 seconds to share their thoughts to the question. I use the timer to monitor time. I pose the question, then think, then let them talk in a structured manner because I want to develop the skill of argumentation and this process walks them through the process step by step.
Once each student has shared, I have the kids gather on the floor to share the ideas from the table discussion. I pull name sticks from a name stick can to call on random students. This helps me to avoid subconsciously calling on the same kids to share all the time.
Having the kids still seated on the floor, I let the exploration begin:
Once the kids are finished sharing about their discussions, I model how to read a thermometer*, explain what the exploration is going to be like and what the guidelines are.
I ask the kids, “What do you think we will be doing today?” I choose a random volunteer to answer the question. The student says, “Making fish warm and cold?” Me, “Yes! Very good! How did you know that?” The student, “Because you asked us what we think will happen if we make the water cold or warm.” I ask these types of questions because I want them to start thinking about why they say things and about what connections they are making.
*I do not expect them to be able to read the thermometer independently, but I do want them to have a basic understanding of how it is done.
I present the guidelines:
All hands must be in your lap until I ask you to do something.
Everyone must participate.
Kindness and respect must be shown to the fish. They are living creatures and we are not here to hurt them, only to observe them when something changes.
I will place a small container with a goldfish in it on each table. I will call each table at a time to come and sit down with all hands in laps. The table helper will place a thermometer in the fish bowl. I will come to each table and the supply person for each table will read the temperature on the thermometer with my help and tell the recorder what to write down. You will observe the fish for one minute and count how many times it circles the bowl. The table recorder will write down how many times the fish circled the bowl on a recording sheet that I will give you when you sit down at your tables. I chose the recorder and supply person for each table.
I will bring each table a cup of chilled water. The table leader will slowly poor the water into the bowl when I tell you to. I will come to each table and the supply person for each table will read the temperature on the thermometer with my help and tell the recorder what to write down. You will observe the fish for another one minute and count how many times it circles the bowl. The table recorder will write down how many times the fish circles the bowl on the recording sheet.
I will then bring each table a glass of warm water. The table leader will slowly poor the water into the bowl when I tell you to. I will come to each table and the supply person for each table will read the temperature on the thermometer with my help and tell the recorder what to write down. You will observe the fish for another one minute and count how may times the fish circles the bowl. The recorder will write it down on the recording sheet.
Once we are finished observing the fish, I will ask the supply people bring me the cups and the thermometers. The fish will stay on the table.
I call each table to the floor one at a time. I collect the recording sheets from each table and write it on chart paper so the kids can see what each table observed.
I then ask the kids to quietly look at each part of the chart. I point to one section at a time. I ask them to think quietly in their minds and look for any patterns they may see. I have them do this for each section: first water, cool water added, warm water added.
I bring their attention back to the line about the first water. I ask them to think about what they notice. I call on a volunteer to share what he/she is thinking. The student notices that the number of times the fish when around the bowl was almost the same for every table.
I bring their attention to the next line, cool water. I ask them to think about what they notice on that line. I call on another volunteer. She says that all the fish swam around less.
I do the same with the warm water. I call on another volunteer. He states that all the fish swam around more times.
Still gathered on the floor, I ask the kids to think about why the fish might swim slower in cool water and more in warm water. I set the timer for 30 seconds to give the kids think time. Once the timer goes off, I choose a volunteer to answer because this is such a challenging question and can be uncomfortable for her.
The student shares that she thinks the fish is cold in the cool water and can't swim fast because it's cold. I asked how being cold would make a fish swim less and she said that she wants to sleep when it's cold! That is exactly the lead in I need to explain what happens when the fish experience different temperatures!
How a fish is effected by warm and cold water:
Fish breath faster in warm water than cold water is because fish are cold blooded. If the temperature of the water is cooler, than the heart rate of the fish falls and the fish swims slower or less. If the fish is in warm water, than the heart rate of the fish will go up, causing the fish to breath faster and swim faster or more.
There is more oxygen in cool/cold water than in warm water so the fish don't need to take in as much water to breath. This is why swimming less or slower doesn't harm the fish.
For those of you who are into the science of it, here is an explanation of oxygen in water. If you couple it with the understanding of heart rate and respiration, it makes perfect sense why a fish swims less or slower in colder water.
The evaluation for this lesson is fun and serves as an extension. I have the kids cut out paper fish and fish bowl. They glue them front to back on a straw.
I show them how to make the fish "swim."
I then ask them to show me how to make the fish "swim" like it is in cool water. They make the fish swim slowly.
I ask them to show me how a fish swims in warm water. They make them swim fast.
I ask them to show me how a fish swims in "regular" water. They need a demonstration, but they are able to do it at a steady medium pace.
To line up for music, I ask one student at time to show me either a warm water swim or a cool water swim. The expectation is that each student should know that when a fish is in warm water, it will swim fast. When it is cool, it will swim slow.
I send a "do and sign" paper home for parents to sign. The kids are told to explain to their parents what they observed today and the parents are expected to sign the page and send it back. The kids who return the sheets receive a small reward of a plastic toy fish from the party store.