Tag Archives: Science

Week 12 – Mathematics – 2D Shapes

Lesson Plan for Observation on 4.9.15

I have continued to take the lead on teaching all subject areas in my classroom, which has been such a wonderful experience. I can clearly tell that I am making growth with my teaching. My collaborating teacher commented that my flow has definitely improved. I am just so excited to be able to practice. In the previous week, I had used a timer to help me stay on track and once I got a feel for the time, I was able to stop using it because I was more familiar with the timing of my lessons.

I planned a special mathematics lesson about decomposing 2D shapes in which I designed all but one of the worksheets. I was really proud of this lesson because it was a real observation to evaluate my teaching and I believe I did a good job. I introduced the lesson by engaging the students with a mathematics game. Then I did some explicit modeling for the students.

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Once I collected enough anecdotal data through a quick check and observations, I made groups based on ability levels and gave the students worksheets that I created. I pulled a small group to provide extra support. Then I called the students back together to complete an exit ticket and for the closure of the lesson I had the students answer the essential question. I really liked the lesson because I gave the students the opportunity to explore the 2D shapes with lots of hands on experiences and movement. One aspect of the lesson that I would have liked to work on would be to give the students a bit more time for the exit ticket but I wanted to make sure that there was enough time for the closure.

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One thing that I really like about creating my own worksheets is that I can make them to meet the needs of my students. For example, on the worksheets there are four small shapes: a triangle, a rhombus, a trapezoid, and a hexagon. The original worksheets that I found (see the first worksheet) had the students simply draw lines to show how they decomposed the shapes but after watching my students during other lessons, I noticed that my students had a lot of trouble with this. I think this may be related to difficulties with fine and gross motor skills but also because it is difficult to record the information even though students can explain it verbally. So I provided my students with the opportunity to circle the shapes they used in order to show me what they did so I could gain a better understanding of whether or not my students grasped the concept. On the actual worksheets, I colored in each of these shapes so the students can choose what shapes they used because they resemble the pattern blocks that they used just in case the students could not tell what the shapes were since I hand drew them. All in all, I really liked my lesson and I am glad that I was able to teach all of the previous lessons so I had enough anecdotal data and observations to make these key decisions to help my students be successful.

Another aspect of my classroom that I am extremely excited about is the amount of exploration elements in the room related to our science content. We have multiple plants growing inside and outside of the classroom. For our Long Term Investigation (LTI) the students are analyzing the changes and growth of catnip grass plants inside and outside, then we are also trying to grow lima beans and two potatoes. We are also raising meal worm beetles and we just received a shipment of pill bugs that we will be introducing shortly. The final, most exciting, element in my classroom right now is monarch butterfly caterpillars.

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The students are extremely excited about the caterpillars. They check them every day in the morning to see their growth and to see how much of the plant has been eaten. I was very happy to see one student doing research on caterpillars when she was in the classroom library so we put the book (as seen in the above picture) next to the caterpillars so they students can learn about the caterpillars as well. One of the best parts about this is that the students are so engaged that they want to share the butterfly garden with everyone that enters the room, including the principal.

I have had so many wonderful experiences in my classroom which I am extremely thankful for. I am so happy that my collaborating teacher has provided me with a lot of support so I can do things such as providing students with all of these exciting parts of the classroom to explore.

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Reading Content Coaching – Week 1

Reading content coaching began this week and I was introduced to the expectations for this content coaching cycle. The coach would like to meet with all of us multiple times and focus on the observation and post-conference for each observation. This seems like a good model because it opens up more time for all of the residents all my school to meet with and be observed by the content coach. I will also continue to pursue my goal from the science content coaching, but the wording will be shifted slightly. I really want to focus on eliciting student understanding through higher-order thinking questions. I hope to continue to meet this goal throughout the year. I have set up an observation date for February 24. [The ELA block for the following week will consist of a Close Read for the Shared reading portion of ELA so I will not be observed during this time.] I hope to learn a lot from my content coach and continue to improve my instruction.

In order to meet the planning portion of content coaching, I took the lead a bit on co-planning reading for this past week. I have not fully taken the reins yet but my collaborating teacher has granted me the opportunity to move at my own pace with planning. We co-planned this past week and next week together, as we always do, making sure to incorporate read alouds, shared reading, phonics, high-frequency words, and a writing block during the entire week. We have also begun to practice test-taking strategies for the upcoming assessment in March, so we practice reading passages and answering questions for morning work and we will slowly incorporate this into our reading block as we get closer to the assessment.

I recently took over another guided reading group; I am currently working with the advanced group and now will be providing extra support to the struggling learners. I am excited for this opportunity because I have some experience (from my internship in Kindergarten last year) of working with struggling readers on letter names and sounds as well as sight words, but I have not had a chance to work with a group on these skills yet. I will be meeting with this group every day during the week and I will meet with my advanced group two or three times a week. My advanced group will begin reading a chapter book in the near future, which both myself and my students are excited for.

Last week, for Science, my class and the neighboring class took a trip to MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry to visit their Disasterville exhibit. This connects to a variety of areas in our science curriculum. For example, our current Long Term Investigation is observing the temperature and weather at our school for a month long period. The current standards of our unit are “SC.1.E.6.1: Recognize that water, rocks, soil, and living organisms are found on Earth’s surface,” “SC.1.E.6.2: “Describe the need for water and how to be safe around water,” and “SC.1.E.6.3: “Recognize that some things in the world around us happen fast and some happen slowly.” I met FEAP 1A: “Aligns instruction with state-adopted standards at the appropriate level of rigor” because the standard that our MOSI trip most aligned with is SC.1.E.6.3; we observed various fast and slow land changes such as flooding, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. I think this was a fantastic way to engage and interest the students about the content before we learn about it from the Nat Geo text because it helps them gain necessary background knowledge of the content and get them exciting about what might otherwise be considered boring topics. [FEAP 3A: “Delivers engaging and challenging lessons,” FEAP 1B: “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge,” and FEAP 3E: “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and life experiences.”] This trip allowed students to gain a better understanding and almost experience these fast and slow events. For example, there are three rooms that allow the viewer to get a glimpse of what it is like to experience a tornado, hurricane, and a wild fire. These are experiences that my students will hopefully never have, but by watching the videos and hearing the sound effects, they gained some insight into what these events are like. This MOSI trip allowed me to meet a variety of FEAPs including: FEAP 2G: “integrates current information and communication technologies,” FEAP 3C: “Identify gaps in students’ subject matter knowledge,” and FEAP 3E: “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and life experiences.”

Another exciting part of last week occurred when my collaborating teacher and I checked our school mailbox. We received an award from the District STEM Fair that I mentioned in a previous blog post where I volunteered as a judge. My class won the “Outstanding Primary Award” for our project “Ants and Sugar.” I am so proud of my students because they really put a lot of hard work and effort into this project. They were very excited and eager to see the results after performing the different trials. [Please note that I removed my collaborating teacher’s name in order to protect her rights and privacy.]

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I cannot wait for everything that is to come in the following weeks! I will be continuing to take the lead as much as possible in order to gain experience to improve my teaching. I will have another conference with my collaborating teacher and PRT in order to look at my growth and see if there are any areas that I need to improve.

Weekly Reflection – Content Coaching – Science Week 3 – Land and Water

Science – Land and Water – Week 3 Content Coaching

Lesson Transcription from 1.30

This past week was a very exciting week for me. I took my teaching certification exam on Wednesday and I passed all sections! I am so happy to accomplish this because it has been a very important long term goal for me. In Science this week, my students took their Midterm Science Exam and I am eager to see how they did. I continued to teach about the land of Earth. Next week, I will continue this theme and we will begin to discuss the water of Earth as well and that all living organisms need water. By planning out my lessons in advance, I am able to sequence my lessons so that they are cohesive and continue to follow the same ideas and theme to match the needs of my students. This allows me to meet FEAP 1B, “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge.” I will be continuing to meet the science standard, “SC.1.E.6.1: Recognize that water, rocks, soil, and living organisms are found on Earth’s surface.” This helps me meet FEAP 1A, “Aligns instruction with state-adopted standards at the appropriate level of rigor.”

This week seemed as if it was a shorter week (especially in the area of science) due to the science midterm and my absence on Wednesday to take my certification exam. I still; however, wanted to make sure to have strong and engaging science plans so I explicitly outlined my plans for the day that I would be absent so my collaborating teacher had an outline to follow so my students continued to stay on track in science.

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One lesson that I was really proud of this week was my exploration, guided inquiry lesson that I taught on Friday. For this lesson, I provided each group of students with three plates—one plate of sand, one plate of rocks and sand, and another plate with dirt from outside. The students were given the opportunity to not only look but to touch the samples. I did not give a name to any of the samples and simply told the students to draw and write down their observations and what they think each sample was called and possibly where it came from. I was amazed at their responses. The students were completely engaged because they could freely touch and explore the materials and I was glad that my explicit instructions helped me make sure that there were no messes or spills.

I incorporated my science goal into this lesson by asking prompting questions to my students. This allows me to meet the professional FEAP 1A: “Designs purposeful professional goals to strengthen the effectiveness of instruction based on students’ needs” and FEAP 1D: “Engages in targeted professional growth opportunities and reflective practices both independently and in collaboration with colleagues.” I was completely astounded at their responses, which can be found in the attachment above labeled transcription. One of my favorite interactions with the students occurred when one group was examining the rocks and, completely on their own, realized that the sand is “little rocks” that come when “you bang [the rocks] a little bit.” I was so excited to see that there were many great responses, which I believe occurred because my students were so excited and engaged by the activity. At the end of the lesson, I had my students write down what they observed and learned in addition to their notes. Below are some student responses.

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I will continue to work on my science goal for the rest of science content coaching. I am so glad to see this progress in my students and in my own teaching methods. I hope to continue to grow as an educator by giving myself professional goals to meet that help me increase student engagement and elicit their understanding.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my students won the STEM Fair for their grade level at my school. We will be competing with other students in the school district next week. We worked on creating a poster board and we did our best to make sure that student work was at the front and center of the post. In the end, the only aspect that was not student made was the heading made from pre-cut letters. [In the pictures below, there are typed up headings but my collaborating teacher and I decided it would be best to have the students write the headings so we replaced that with student work.] My students and I are very excited about this project and are glad to have the opportunity to compete and display their work.

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            Another important event that occurred this week was Conference Night. Since the second 9 weeks are over, teachers have been meeting with parents and guardians to discuss the progress of students. My collaborating teacher and I met with many parents on conference night, which helped me meet FEAP 4E: “Shares the importance and outcomes of student assessment data with the students and the students’ parent/caregiver(s)” and professional improvement FEAP 1C: “Collaborates with the home, school and larger communities to foster communication and to support student learning and continuous improvement.” I was so happy to attend and to be able to talk to parents directly about their students in the areas that I take the lead on teaching and planning.

Next week is the final week of science content coaching and then I will begin reading content coaching in the following week. I will be volunteering as a judge in the district STEM Fair competition as well. I am excited for this opportunity to participate in my community. I posted a link to download my lesson plans for this week and as you may notice, it contains my lesson plans from the previous week and this week. The old plans from last week are in black and the new plans for this week are in blue. Most of the content remained in black because it was relevant to both last week and this week, for example, standards, misconceptions, and background knowledge are all areas that remained the same so I decided to keep the color the same. For the next week, I will be adding in my new lesson plans to this template in a different color to work on planning and creating a cohesive unit.

Weekly Reflection – Content Coaching – Science Week 2 – Land and Water

Science – Land and Water – Week 2 Content Coaching

We began a new unit in science during the second week of content coaching. This unit is called “Land and Water” and students will be learning about the land, water, and living organisms of Earth. This week focused on the land of Earth—how people use the land and Earth’s natural resources. This week was a shortened week because we had Monday off to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday. Then Tuesday was a non-student day so I came in to help prepare the classroom and take care of organizing student work for upcoming conferences since Conference Night is on Thursday of this upcoming week.

In order to help introduce this unit, I used videos from Nat Geo as well as Brainpopjr. I really love the Brainpopjr resource because the students enjoy watching the characters and the videos ask and answer many key questions. The videos that I used were Rocks and Minerals, Soil and Natural Resources. Theses videos were not in my original lesson plan, but I decided to add them into the lesson during the week in order to meet the needs of my students. I want to make sure that my students are engaged and interested. I remember feeling bored when I learned about rocks in elementary and middle school and I did not want my students to feel the same way. Adding these videos to my lesson helps me meet FEAP 3A, “Deliver engaging and challenging lessons,” by teaching the content through a video with occasional humor but lots of good information. The videos were also a good way for me to meet FEAP 1B, “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge,” because I used the videos to help introduce and review the various topics that we learned about. For example, we watched the Soil and Rocks and Minerals videos after we introduced and discussed how people use Earth’s land. I was also able to meet FEAP 2G, “Integrates current information and communication technologies,” and FEAP 3G, “Apply varied instructional strategies and resources, including appropriate technology, to provide comprehensible instruction, and to teach for student understanding,” by incorporating this technological resource into my lessons.

This week introduced Earth’s land so next week my students will be participating in some exploration lessons while continuing to build upon their knowledge of how we use Earth’s land. I believe it is important to emphasize the importance of Earth’s land because the students need to know how to protect and preserve the land since it is so important. By teaching my lesson in this way, I help the students understand the importance of not only learning the content, but appreciating the world around us. This helps me meet FEAP 3E, “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and experiences” because the students can relate their experiences with the land in what they have done and seen with what we discuss. For example, we had a discussion about how people use Earth’s land and a popular answer was that we walk on it. This may seem strange, but it is a way that my students interact with the earth on a daily basis.

Something that I have not done much before but I was able to do during the past week was meet FEAP 3I, “Support, encourage, and provide immediate and specific feedback to students to promote student achievement” and FEAP 4E, “Shares the importance and outcomes of student assessment data with the student and the students’ parent/caregiver(s).” I have graded many assignments and tests in all of my levels of internship, however, on Friday, the students and I worked together to grade two assessments that they had completed. The importance of grading this assessment together was that, for the first time in my class, the students did the entire assessment by themselves—they read and answered all questions by themselves with minimal support from me. My collaborating teacher and I wanted the students to receive immediate feedback on these assessments so the students could see their progress and performance when they are in complete control of the test.

This was an interesting experience because many of my students did well. One student; however, lied during the grading process and changed man of her answers. I was a bit concerned when I saw that she was the only student to receive a perfect score on both tests, especially when multiple questions had their answered erased and changed. I pulled the student aside and talked to her privately about the matter. She admitted that she changed her answers and she got very upset. I explained to her that, as her teacher, I want to see what she knows and what she needs help on because that is how I know what to give her extra support with. I confided in her that I too make mistakes on tests and on my homework, even in my college classes, but that it is okay because that is how we learn and grow. I wanted my student to know that it is okay to make mistakes and that she is not a “bad” student for doing so. Everyone makes mistakes but it is important to be honest so we can learn and grow as learners. I hope that my discussion with her and my personal connection to the experience helps her understand this idea because I want her to do well, but I want that to happen because she earned it, not because she wanted to make me happy.

I am excited for the following week because not only will I continue to take the lead on planning and teaching both Social Studies and Science but I will be taking my certification exams on Wednesday. I am a bit nervous but I have been studying and working hard for a long time and I feel like I am ready to prove myself by taking these exams. Wish me luck!

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This is one of the anchor charts that we made as a class to explain how people use Earth’s land. The responses on this chart were all from my students and some of these responses can be traced back to earlier discussions and videos. For example, the response “we can build roads” using rocks and “to make bricks so we can build houses” was in relation to the Nat Geo text and the introduction lesson, which explained that we can use rocks to build roads and houses. The natural resources responses were mostly in relation to the Brainpopjr video about the natural resources of the Earth.Below are screenshots of the Natural Resource video from Brainpopjr, which obviously served as an inspiration for the responses of my students.

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“Food” — “fruits” and “vegetables” were two responses.

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“Trees” — “paper,” “cardboard” and “wood” were all inspired by the video. 9

“Metal” was inspired by the silverware in this video as well as the metal in another Brainpopjr video.

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“Water” was another response inspired by the video.

I am very excited that my students responded so well to the video and were obviously engaged while they watched the video. I really love incorporating technology into my lessons but it is important that it is used to its fullest potential and that the students are engaged enough to absorb and apply the information that they learned.

Weekly Reflection – Content Coaching – Science – Cycle 1 – The Sun

Science – The Sun – Week 1 Content Coaching

The new content coaching cycles began during the past week. For this first round, I will be participating in Science content coaching. Next I will do reading, and then I will end the semester with mathematics content coaching. For this semester, each cycle will consist of five weeks instead of three weeks. I am excited because this will allow me to get more feedback from the content coaches so I can further improve my teaching. Another difference between the previous cycle and this cycle is that the lesson plan templates will be referred to as the “USF Lesson Plan” instead of “Five Page Lesson Plans.” I had mentioned this title last cycle as a general term but it has become the new official term. By completing the USF Lesson plan template, I meet FEAP 2A: “Organizes, allocates, and manages the resources of time, space, and attention” by explicitly writing time limits and the details for each part of the lesson.

This cycle, I will be focusing on writing unit long lesson plans instead of writing about a single day. This is really beneficial for me because it allows me to structure my lessons based around the unit and the standards that I teach. Another great thing about this new structure is that I have already been doing this by taking the lead on planning and teaching science in my classroom. I will continue to do that during this content coaching cycle and for the rest of the semester. This structure will allow me to meet FEAP 1B: “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge.”

I was observed during this past week when I taught a lesson about the harmful effects of the Sun. For this lesson, I modified an activity from the Nat Geo textbook. In the original lesson, students used light-sensitive beads [beads that change color when placed in UV light] to compare the effects of using sunscreen to not using sunscreen. For my lesson, I wanted the students to see the effects of various items that people use to protect themselves from the Sun. The students observed the beads first without any protection and then moved in stations to examine beads in four setting: (1) under an umbrella, (2) under sunglasses, (3) covered in sunblock, and (4) under a hat. This allowed me to meet FEAP 3A: “Deliver engaging and challenging lessons” because the students were engaged through the centers activity and then had to show what they learned through discussions and written assessments. The station activity also allowed me to meet FEAP 3E: “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines and life experiences” because I had the students picture going outside in PE or going to the beach in order to provide them with background knowledge and a visualization of the ideas we discussed.

In order to meet FEAPs 1A/5A [Designs purposeful professional goals to strengthen the effectiveness of instruction based on students] needs, in the Ethics section of the FEAPs, I have designed a goal to work towards during this content coaching cycle. My goal for this content coaching cycle is to examine my questioning. I ask many planned and unplanned questions and I want to make sure that all of my questions connect back to the standards and the purpose of the lesson. I also want to make sure that I focus on asking higher order thinking questions, which will help me meet FEAP 3F: “Employ higher-order questioning techniques.” My content coach is helping my meet this goal by taking notes about the questions I ask and how the students respond to my questions. I will also be working with a peer to meet this goal.

The purpose of my lesson for this week was for students to understand that there are harmful effects of the Sun that we can work to prevent by using items to protect our bodies from the Sun, such as sunglasses, sunblock, etc. I met FEAP 1A: “Aligns instruction with state-adopted standards at the appropriate level of rigor” by designing this lesson around the standard: “SC.1.E.5.4 – Identify the beneficial and harmful properties of the Sun.”

I was very excited to see that the students clearly understood this by the end of the lesson. One of the questions that I asked is what material would be the best to use in order to protect yourself from the Sun. One of my students answered that you would need to use all of the materials to protect yourself from the Sun because some materials do not cover up your entire body. Two examples of this are the hat that only covers your head and sunglasses that only cover up your eyes. When I planned the lesson, I hoped that my students would learn that they need to use at least some of the materials mentioned to protect themselves, but I was very surprised and excited to see that many students understood that all of the materials can be used at once. This really shows me that the students understood my lesson and really grasped the concept of protecting oneself from the Sun.

One aspect of the lesson that I loved was having my students explore each of the objects by going outside and moving in stations. One problem that I faced; however, was that the students were very curious so they kept touching and moving the beads. By doing this so often, the beads came in contact with the light and changed colors. This was an unfortunate accident but it did highlight the point that the objects do not completely protect you from the Sun, which may have led to the understanding that you need to use all of the objects to protect yourself.

At the end of this lesson, I had the students write in their journals as an assessment piece. I try to have the students write each class period so I can use this to inform my teaching for the rest of the unit. This writing allows me to see if the students understand the concept or if there is a misconception that I must correct. This allows me to meet FEAP 1D: “Selects appropriate formative assessments to monitor learning” as well as FEAP 4D: “Designs and aligns formative and summative assessments that match learning objectives and lead to mastery.”

Below are some of the responses that I received for this lesson. I was really proud because the majority, if not all, of my students understood the concept and wrote a correct answer. One student in particular, a boy who has been learning how to speak English after moving to the United States, has really improved in my classroom. At first, he rarely spoke or wrote, but now he raises his hand all the time and is always eager to share his thoughts by speaking or writing. His answer is included in the examples below.

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The student wrote, “I can protect myself b using all of the things that we used outside.”

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The student wrote, “I can protect myself by using an umbrella.”

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The student wrote, “I can protect myself by the roof.” This came from a discussion about how when we are indoors, the roof blocks the sun which helps to protect us. The student’s notes from the station exploration can also be seen: “The beads turned color” and “The sunglasses protect us.”

Many of the students had responses like these, which I use to inform my teaching practices that the students have a good understanding of this concept. At the end of the week, the students took a science test about the Sun and the Stars (the unit in which this lesson occurred). The next unit will be about Land and Water, which will begin next week. Within the next two weeks, the students will be taking their science midterm. The students saw similar questions in the beginning of the year science test and now the students will be able to show what they have learned. I am a bit nervous but excited to see how they do because I have taken the lead on planning and teaching science for a few months now so this will give an idea of how well the students have understood my lessons. I am excited to continue the science content coaching and cannot wait until I can be observed again!

End of Semester – Weekly Reflection

The semester is winding down and the first part of my final internship is coming to a close. I am so excited to be a part of a classroom as a virtually full-time teacher. I have gained so much knowledge and experience by being a member of the Urban Teacher Residency Partnership Program (UTRPP). I am excited to continue my journey to becoming a future educator by co-teaching and co-planning and taking the lead on various subject areas in the classroom. For this semester, I have taken the lead in both Social Studies and Science. I co-plan most subject areas with my collaborating teacher and we co-teach the ELA block as well as Mathematics. I am still absorbing lots of information for my collaborating teacher by observing her lessons and teaching methods.

Although there was no content coaching this week, I still participated in the classroom as much as possible. In Social Studies, I taught the students based on the standard “SS.1.A.2.2 – Compare life now with life in the past.” For this current week and the following week, we will focus on “SS.1.A.2.1 – Understand history tells the story of people and events of other times and places.” I have introduced the topic of biographies to my students and will teach them about famous individuals such as Susan B. Anthony, Jane Goodall and George Washington Carver. In order to make this lesson more meaningful to the students, for the last week of December, my students will write biographies about their classmates. This culturally responsive teaching allows the students to explore facts about each other and make each individual feel important and special.

In Mathematics, we have been working on place value and reading numbers on a Hundred Chart.

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This aligns with the standards “MAFS.1.NBT.1.1 – Count to 120, starting at any number less than one 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral” and “MAFS.1.NBT.2.2 – Understand that the two digits of a two-digit number represent the amounts of tens and ones.”

One of my favorite activities for these standards is Hundred Chart Puzzles. The students are give a “piece” of a hundreds chart and must use their knowledge of counting by ones and tens to fill it out.

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These standards are important to help students understand concepts in the later grades, for example, a student needs to understand the basic concepts of place value before learning about hundreds and thousands as well as decimals. Teaching students to count by tens also helps create a basic understanding of multiplication by tens.

In Science, the students have participated in multiple design challenges not only through the Inquiry Monday lessons but through my science lessons. The science content that we are learning about aligns with the standard “SC.1.E.5.1 – Observe and discuss that there are more stars in the sky than anyone can easily count and that they are not scattered evenly in the sky.” This is an important concept to teach because it introduces the idea of the vastness of space and types of stars in the sky. It is important that students notice that even though there are constellations in the sky, the stars are not arranged in specific patterns that match these constellations.

I am excited to continue working with my collaborating teacher as we finish up the final weeks of the semester. I cannot wait to go on my first field trip to a farm during the last week of school (December 15th through December 19th). I will continue to work in my internship during the final week of school. My college courses ended last week and this week is considered “finals week” although technically speaking I do not have any finals. I am happy that I can put all of my efforts into focusing on my internship and making the most out of my experience. There is so much to come and I cannot wait!

Science Lesson Plan – STEM Lesson – Sheep in a Jeep – Reflection

Science – Week 3 – Lesson Plan – Sheep in a Jeep

This past week was the third and final week of the science content coaching cycles in which I wrote and designed a science lesson plan that I taught to my students. For this past week, I taught a STEM lesson that I designed based on “Sheep in a Jeep.”  I modified the lesson heavily to meet the needs of my students and to make the lesson fit the STEM requirements for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. When I modified the lesson, I designed it to meet the following standards.

  • MAFS.1.MD.3.4 – Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories, ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more of less are in one category than in another.
  • SC.1.P.13.1 – Demonstrate that the way to change the motion of an object is by applying a push or a pull.
  • SC.1.E.5.2 – Explore the Law of Gravity by demonstrating that Earth’s gravity pulls any object on or near Earth even though nothing is touching the object.
  • SC.1.P.12.1 – Demonstrate and describe the various ways that objects can move, such as in a straight line, zigzag, back and forth, round and round, fast, and slow.
  • SC.1.N.1.2 – Using the five senses as tools, make careful observations, describe objects in terms of number, shape, texture, size, weight, color, and motion, and compare their observations with others.
  • SC.1.N.1.3 – Keep records as appropriate – such as pictorial and written records – of investigations.

 

This allowed me to meet the Florida Educator Accomplished Practice (FEAP) 1A: “Aligns instruction with state-adopted standards at the appropriate level of rigor.” I designed this lesson by myself and implemented it by myself in the classroom. (I was unable to; however, implement the lesson one day of the week because I was not in the classroom since I was taking my college courses so my collaborating teacher took my place for me).

By designing the lesson myself, I was able to structure the days in order to make sure that the students received the content knowledge necessary to understand the lesson. This allowed me to meet FEAPs 1B: “Sequences lessons and concepts to ensure coherence and required prior knowledge.” I sequenced the lessons based on the following schedule, which can be studied in depth in the lesson plan link in the beginning of this blog post:

  • Day 1 – Introduce the Sheep in a Jeep challenge through a read-aloud and engaging videos
  • Day 2 – Students design, build, and test ramps in groups
  • Day 3 – Students learn about gravity
  • Day 4 – Students redesign, build, and test their ramps in groups. Students determine if the changes helped and why the jeep moved the way it did.

By doing this, I was able to meet FEAPs 2A: “Organizes, allocates, and manages the resources of time, space, and attention.” For further details of my step-by-step plan, please see the lesson plan at the beginning of the page.

On the first day, I had the students listen to a read-aloud of the book “Sheep in a Jeep” by Nancy Shaw.  Since I did not have access to the physical copy of the book, I found a read aloud online and played it for my students. I had the students hold a thumbs-up if they saw or heard a force or a motion. It was at this time that I noticed a misconception that my students had. My students believed that unless they heard the words “push,” “pull,” or “forces” that none of these actions could occur even if the picture clearly showed the characters pushing or pulling the jeep. When I noticed this, I would stop on each page and asked the students what they saw and read. By taking the book page by page, my students were able to better understand and notice the motion and forces in the book.

After this I introduced the contest for designing ramps. Based on my experiences with the students, I have noticed that they really enjoy challenges and contests because they feel special when they can accomplish them so I decided to make the Sheep in a Jeep lesson a challenge for the students: “The sheep broke their jeep because they accidentally crashed into a tree. Now it’s time for us to try moving a jeep down a ramp. This week, we will participate in a special challenge. We have been learning about forces for a long time and I want you to show what you know about forces and motion. You will work in groups to design a ramp so a jeep can travel as far as possible.” By doing this, I made the students feel engaged and excited about the lesson to come.

I also inspired the students by showing them videos of water slides. I was going to show the students videos of ramps; however, man ramps do not simply go down but have an upward curve at the end.

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When researching videos of ramps I realized that I had a misconception about actual ramps. I did not realize that the small ramp at the end would be used in so many real life ramps. I decided not to use those videos because they would create misconceptions in the eyes of my students because the toy jeep would be unable to climb the ramp at the end. So instead, I decided to inspire students with videos of waterslides. I used these videos because they had the downward ramp that I wanted my students to mimic in their designs.

One of the videos that I had the students watch was about the tallest water slide.These videos allowed me to make connections between the experiences and interests of my students and the content of the lesson. This allowed me to meet FEAPs 3E: “Relate and integrate the subject matter with other disciplines.” But instead of having students simply watch the videos, I had them take quick notes to use for another activity. By doing this, I believe I was able to keep my students focused and engaged. The students were to write about what forces and motion they saw in the videos, which connects back to the first activity. I chose this formative assessment because it would allow me to quickly see how many students were able to see forces that were not explicitly stated in the videos.

After the students took their notes, we performed an activity called “Commit and Toss.” The students balled up their papers and threw them into the middle of our circle and then each student grabbed a different sheet of paper. I was pleasantly surprised at how calm my students remained during the activity but the excitement was definitely palpable. This helped me to meet FEAPs 3A: “Deliver engaging and challenging lessons.” The only issue that we ran into; however, was that when it came time for the students to share out their peer’s responses, many students could not read the papers so I had to walk around the room and decipher the writing for them. I really enjoyed this activity and would love to use it in the future but I think I will reserve it for mathematics lessons.

Another pleasant surprise with this activity was that every single student was able to name a force and/or a motion that they saw in the video. One detraction from the lesson; however, was that I was unable to see if the students truly understood the forces/motion that they saw or if they just wrote down an answer. This formative assessment; however, was simply used to monitor their learning and inform me if there were any misconceptions that I needed to address. By doing this activity, I was able to meet FEAPs 1D: “Selects appropriate formative assessments to monitor learning.”

After this activity, the students glued charts into their notebooks to record the data that they would collect later on in the week. I handed out this chart and explicitly explained how to fill it out. On the chart, I put purple boxes around the “observed” columns so the students would understand where to record their data. I did this because in previous lessons, my students had some difficulty filling out the information in the charts that I gave them.

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I also designed a class chart on chart paper that matched the charts that I gave to the students. The chart looked similar to this design:

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I made the same purple boxes around the “Observed” columns and I put blue boxes around the “prediction” columns so students could see the difference between the two. I also changed the color marker that I used to fill out each column so the students could definitely tell the difference between what they predicted and what they actually observed. Below is a picture of the actual class chart that I used.

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After I handed out the individual charts; however, I realized that they were incorrect. I put three trials on the chart but since last week was a shortened week, there was no time for the students to complete a third trial. I avoided this mistake on the actual class chart though. I was surprised that none of my students asked my about the third trial but this mistake reminds me that I need to always double check my copies and paperwork before every lesson to make sure they are correct.

The last part of the lesson was to explicitly model how to move the jeep and what data we would collect. I decided to use a nonstandard unit: the tiles on the floor of the classroom. I had learned in my mathematics class that when students measure, it is important that they understand the concept through non-standard units before using standard units to make sure they understand how to measure and what measuring means. If a student tries to measure with standard units first, he or she may make a mistake and it will be unclear if the mistake came from incorrectly using the standard unit (for example, not starting at the zero on the ruler) or not understanding the concept of measuring.

I made sure to demonstrate how to count the tiles many times for the students. It was very interesting for me to see just how explicitly they followed my model during the rest of the lesson. I used my foot to count out the tiles instead of bending down and every single group used their feet to count out the tiles by taping their foot on each tile as they counted. It amazed me just how much the students paid attention to my model, which reminds me to always explicitly explain what I want the students to do and to make sure to avoid creating misconceptions in my students by doing something incorrectly.

At the end of the first day, I had the students decide whether they wanted to write about what they had learned today or make a drawing of their idea for a ramp design. The majority of the students drew a ramp design but I gave them this option so they could get their ideas onto paper to remember for tomorrow.

 

For day 2, the students worked in groups to design the ramp. I made sure to explicitly tell the students that each group could only have one design. After the students created their designs, each group predicted how many tiles they believed the jeep would travel. I could immediately tell that the students were greatly overestimating how many tiles they thought the jeep would move because two groups predicted 20 tiles and the remaining groups predicted 10 tiles.

Each group then built their ramp. I gave the students approximately two minutes to build their ramps. I told the students about this time limit but did not hold them to it because I wanted to give them the opportunity to explore. The students were able to use five textbooks and one clipboard in order to create their ramp. Every single group created their ramp in the same way—they all stacked the books flat on top of one another and laid the clipboard down at the end.

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The students really loved performing this part of the investigation. I was a bit nervous that the other students would be bored but they were just the opposite—the students who were watching were so eager to see what was happening that they kept moving and trying to get a better view! I had originally planned to do the lesson in the hallway outside of the classroom but my collaborating teacher and I did not want to disturb the other classes. If I were to re-teach this lesson, I would make that change because it would allow the students to have a better viewpoint because there would be more space.

After everyone recorded their data, we analyzed the chart by looking at which group had the jeep travel the most. As you can see below, group 4’s jeep traveled the farthest. After the investigation, I wondered if I had chosen the correct tool. It seemed that the jeep would only travel about 6 tiles so I think if I were to do this lesson over again, I would choose a different car to get more varied data. But since the students had almost the exact same design, that may have influenced why the jeep traveled an average of 6 tiles.

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Since I was unable to teach on day 3, I will simply skip ahead to day 4. On day 4 I was formally observed by the science content coach and my PRT. On this day, the students redesigned their ramps and make new predictions. Most of the groups made more realistic predictions this time but one group had difficulty agreeing with each other and made a very large prediction (23 tiles).

The students redesigned their ramps and each ramp had a steeper incline than last time. One group designed their ramp and realized as they were building it that they could not do what they had planned. The students wanted to stack the books against each other to make triangles and have the jeep travel up and down each book. I realized that this was the exact misconception that I wanted to avoid in the beginning but I wanted to let them try it out anyways. The students; however, realized that they could not actually make their design when they have difficulty holding up the books (I informed the students that they could hold up the books/clipboard to give them more options for their new design).

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I allowed this group to change their design because they immediately recognized that it would not work and instead of arguing worked to make changes. I explicitly pointed this out to the entire group and then allowed the students to continue working. I was amazed at the end of the second round of testing because I realized that my students and I shared a misconception which was that the higher the incline, the farther the jeep will travel. In the end, the jeeps traveled less distance on the second day than the first.

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I really appreciated these results; however, because my students were able to clearly describe that their changes did not work.

After this discussion, I had my students describe what forces, motion, direction, and gravity they saw during the lesson. I noticed immediately that almost all of my students had misconceptions about gravity. They believed that gravity was a push not a pull. I realized that this occurred because the students saw the jeep move away from them (which is how we defined a push from the Nat Geo science text) so they assumed the gravity acted as a push as well. By noticing this misconception, I met FEAPs 3C: “Identify gaps in students’ subject matter knowledge.” I immediately addressed this misconception by returning to the text and having the students listen as I read it over multiple times. I also used many demonstrations and examples to help the students understand. By taking the time to discuss gravity in this way, I was able to help some students understand the concept better, which allowed me to meet FEAPs 3D: “Modify instruction to respond to preconceptions or misconceptions.” I think some students were able to address their own misconceptions but many did not understand that gravity was a pull so I will have to address this sometime later on.

At the end of my lesson, I had the students write briefly about what they had learned. I was very surprised to see that many students took the gravity content and integrated it into their answers. Some students also discussed how they used a force (a push) to move the jeep because it moved away from them. Other students described the motion/direction of the jeep (forward, away from me, down, etc.). I also had the students self-assess their knowledge of the lesson using the smiley face system. I made sure to explicitly explain to my students to be honest and fair—I told them not to say that they knew everything when they did not but also not to say they knew nothing when they really understood the lesson. I think the students are still a bit intimidated by this system but they may also be unsure of how to self-assess so I think more practice with this system will be beneficial for the students.

 

I am really happy that my final lesson for this first content cycle was a lesson that I planned all by myself. I took some inspiration from the Sheep in a Jeep lesson plan but I made many modifications to meet the needs of my students. Next week, I will begin the literacy content coaching cycle with a new content coach.