Students learn best when they can build on a concept they know something about. It is up to each teacher to know their own students’ prior knowledge and how to build upon this to create new learning. Taking time at the beginning of each lesson to get ideas activated will help students’ understanding in the long run.
Several of the lessons contain charts and graphs. While the exact organization isn’t important, having students write and organize their data or thinking can be valuable. Merely discussing a concept is valuable, but putting it in their notebooks with words, pictures, or another organized way can make it more memorable and effective.
Each teacher decides how to organize their students’ notebooks. A standard organization that the children know can help support learning as well. It takes a few attempts and support to get this going. I have found that the scientific process works well. We begin with the title of the lesson, and then state the purpose (the objective). After the purpose, we list the materials and basic procedure. A hypothesis is next. (This isn’t about being correct, but having a line of thinking to follow as they learn.) Throughout the lesson, the children will make observations. This is generally done using their senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste (when safe). These should be facts that they have seen. Observations can be words or pictures (or both). Finally, students write a conclusion. What have they learned, and why do they think it’s important? This is a place for them to share their opinions using scientific principles. Of course, some lessons will have fewer or more parts based on each activity.
June 22, 2008
Purpose: Learn about the water cycle and the importance of conserving and protecting the small amount of fresh water on Earth.
Materials: 4 bowls, salt, water, plastic wrap, something to stir, a larger bowl that does not let light in to cover one of the smaller ones, notebooks
Procedure: We will prepare the four bowls with water. Cover the first with plastic wrap, leave the second uncovered, dissolve salt into the third, and cover the fourth with the larger bowl. We will place these in the sun.
Hypothesis: (A good guess about what may happen.) I think the covered bowls will keep the same amount of water in them. I think the salt bowl will get very hot. The uncovered bowl will allow the water to disappear.
Observations: (What I see, smell, hear, touch, or taste.) The salt bowl left white, square crystals behind.
The uncovered bowl has the least amount of water and feels the hottest. Both of the covered bowls are cooler and have the most water.
Conclusion: (What I learned.) I think that the heat from the sun makes the water disappear. I also think that water is light enough to go away, but the salt was too heavy.