This past week (10/6/14 to 10/10/14) began the first week of writing lesson plans based on the USF template and implementing them in the classroom that I described in a former blog post. For the first week (and the next two weeks), I will be writing a lesson plan for Science. Here is the schedule that I will follow for the rest of the semester in terms of what content area I write my lesson plan in. Please note that I refer to this past week (10/6/14 to 10/10/14) as “Week 1.”
- Week 1 – Science – Push and Pull Exploration
- Week 2 – Science – Forces and Motion Exploration
- Week 3 – Science – STEM Lesson
- Week 4 – Literacy
- Week 5 – Literacy
- Week 6 – Literacy
- Week 7 – Mathematics
- Week 8 – Mathematics
- Week 9 – Mathematics
Below are links to the lesson plans that I wrote; the first version is the USF template and the second is a shortened version that I referred to while teaching.
For this week, my lesson plan was a Push and Pull Exploration lesson. The students had learned about pushes and pulls the previous day and then they had the opportunity to investigate these forces. I noticed that my students seemed to have a good understanding of pushes and pulls already and they were able to show me pushes and pulls using a physical demonstration. My lesson was based off of a lesson from the Hillsborough County science curriculum; students create boats using aluminum foil and then investigate what happens when they push or pull the boat.
I really liked the idea of this lesson because the students could connect to the aluminum foil boats they created during the Aquafoils Science Olypmics. The students would also be able to further explore pushes and pulls so they could understand that pushing an object moves it farther away and pulls an object makes it come closer to the person.
I modified the lesson based on the needs of my students. My lesson plan can be viewed here for anyone interested in the lesson. (Please note that I based this lesson off of content from the Hillsborough County science curriculum and textbooks so I do not claim original ownership of the idea; however, the lesson plan is written in my own words.)
One of the aspects of my lesson plan that I immediately altered was that my collaborating teacher and I made the boats instead of having the students make the boats. I decided to do this because I did not want to detract from the science content of the lesson. It did not matter who made the boats, the purpose of the lesson was to simply use the boats to investigate pushes and pulls. I also believed that the students would have a difficult time creating the boat because they had to place the sail in the boat by sticking it in clay and then attaching that to the boat. I assumed that some of my students would rip the boats by accident trying to do this so I decided it would be better to make the boats myself. Since my students worked in groups during the lesson, I only needed to make 4 boats; which if my students built the boats, there could have been disruptions over who would do what.
One portion of the lesson plan that I had a difficult time with was writing the Essential Question. This has always been a bit of a struggle for me because I do not remember learning with an Essential Question so I have very little schema of this area. I do; however, believe that it is an important part of teaching because it guides the lesson and grants students a better understanding of the content and what they are trying to learn. It was difficult for me to decide on an Essential Question because the questions that I wrote seemed to be too simple for the lesson. I wrote these questions to help guide me and decided to use the red question as my Essential Question.
What are pushes and pulls? How can a force placed on an object change the direction that the object moves? How does a push affect an object? How does a pull affect an object?
But when I had my pre-conference with my PRT and the science content coach, I realized that this question did not fit with my lesson plan. “Direction” is a vocabulary word that my students would not come in contact with until next week (10/13/14 – 10/17/14) and the purpose is not to “change the direction” it is to put an object in motion.
I changed my Essential Question to: “How can a force placed on an object make the object move?” I believe that this question is more related to the content that I want my students to learn which is (quoted from my lesson plan): “Students should be able to understand that pushing or pulling an object affects the direction that an object will move. A push moves an object away from the force, a pull moves an object closer to the force.” Both my PRT and the science content coach really appreciated that I was able to analyze the question and change it to avoid misconceptions and focus on the content.
Another portion of the lesson plan that I had a slightly difficult time with was deciding what accommodations to include for my English Language Learners (ELLs). I have three students in my classroom from other countries; one is from China, one is from Kenya, and another is from Libya. (Please note that I will not mention any identifying information about these students such as their names or gender in order to protect their rights and identities). Two of these students are ELLs and they know little English.
I know I personally struggle with deciding what constitutes an appropriate accommodation or a modification. I was thinking of giving the students extra time to respond but I was not sure if this was enough to help these students be successful. I talked to my collaborating teacher and she agreed that that would be an appropriate accommodation. She also suggested that they have picture cards available to refer back to if necessary. These students were able to use their vocabulary cards that they created the day before I taught the lesson if they needed assistance understanding the vocabulary.
When pre-conferencing, I asked that my PRT and the content coach look at my timing during the lesson and tell me whether or not I stayed on track as I taught. I know that I personally struggle with managing my time efficiently. I actually created schedule cards for myself that I attach to my nametag/lanyard in order to make sure that I stay on schedule (which is very important when the schedule changes throughout the week). I really like that the lesson plan template has a section for timing each step of the lesson. I think that this gave me a good space to work out my ideas for the lesson.
Based on the feedback I received from my post-conference and my own observations, I followed the schedule closely in the beginning but moved faster that the schedule at about 15 minutes into the lesson. I think this is partly due to the fact that I talk and move faster when I get nervous but I do also talk fast normally. I also had a bit of a hard time determining how long my students would need for each part of the lesson and I wanted to leave extra time if I needed to help with misconceptions or if students had additional questions. I will continue to work on this skill as I teach.
Another aspect of my lesson that my PRT and content coach discussed with me in the post-conference was my co-teaching with my collaborating teacher. I had told my CT before the lesson that she could step in if she thought it was necessary to help move the lesson along and help students understand. My PRT wanted to know if I would have done what she did during the lesson. For example, my collaborating teacher sometimes clarified my statements or asked additional questions to the students. My PRT said that based on my lesson plan, I would have most likely done with my collaborating teacher had said but he wanted to actually see me do and say those things.
I think that taking the lead more so with lessons would be a good goal for me to accomplish throughout the rest of this science content cycle. I have been trying to take the lead on lessons and my collaborating teacher has been amazing by giving me the opportunity to do so in her classroom. I was able to teach all of science in this past week and I hope to continue to do so as much as possible. I do also; however, want to continue to co-teach with my collaborating teacher because I know there is a lot that I can learn from her.
Next week, I will teach another push and pull exploration lesson. The students will explore how to use forces to put an object in motion, change its direction, and make it stop moving. The students will move a rubber duck around in a tub of water using a variety of tools; they will have free choice of what tool to use. I think that this exploration activity will help to build upon their schema from the textbook and the previous investigation.