Ellen Herman JOHN Q THOMAS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, FLAGSTAFF, AZ
4th Grade ELA : Unit #21 - Lesson with Writing : Lesson #2

My Life as a Water Molecule

Objective: SWBAT write an informative narrative explaining how water moves within the water cycle.
Standards: W.4.1a W.4.2 W.4.3d
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Cycle Back Through: - 2 minutes

In science, we have been studying water and how the water cycle works. We have concentrated our efforts in Arizona's watershed and also with the how water can move within the water cycle. To begin this activity we go over the water cycle: condensation, evaporation, precipitation, and collection. This lesson is focusing on where water ends up when it collects and how it becomes part of the cycle again. 

 

2 Water Wondering: - 10 minutes

This activity was developed by the University of Arizona and their efforts to teach students about water and it's processes. 

Students are going to build a bracelet using beads to represent the different areas water can collect within the water cycle. There are eight water stations, some of these include: glaciers, animals, ground water, rivers, oceans, and clouds.

Each of the eight collection sites have a different colored bead to represent it. At each station, students will take turn rolling a dice that tells them where their water molecule will travel. To show that water collects in the oceans, and clouds the most, there is a higher chance of rolling to that station. Once the student rolls they collect a bead and move to where they roll. They keep this up for about ten minutes. This gives them just enough beads to tell a story. 

3 Color Naming: - 3 minutes

To review what they did I ask them to explain what they were trying to simulate through the activity. Many remember the water cycle, but do not think about the beads as a collection spot. We go over why they were rolling and why they moved. I also want them to try to figure out how they got from the river to an animal. Once we get rolling students can make the connections of how water moved from area to area. 

It is going to be important to have a guide to help them remember the stations. Using chart paper, we make a cheat sheet that is color coated to our beads. We label each color with the spot it represented. Clear = glacier, Dark Blue = River

4 Modeling: - 3 minutes

I model some sentences that show how my water molecule might have moved based on the beads I have collected. I call special attention to how I am trying to tell my story through the molecules point of view. 

I start with a topic sentence that explains myself as a water molecule and that I am beginning my journey in the river. The next sentence I write is, "OH NO! Here comes a deer, I think I am going to make a nice drink for her." I then find myself in the dirt as ground water. Only a group of students understands what just happened to me, which is apparent by their giggles. I then model one more sentence on moving from ground water to the clouds. 

5 Drafting my Water Molecule Adventure: - 15 minutes

Students are now going to use their beads to draft a story. The title of the story will be "The Life of a Water Molecule." They can come up with something more clever if they want. They are going to use their beads to show the adventure that their water molecule goes on. They will have to be creative with adding details to the location. 

This is their draft so I am giving them time to think and write. I am wondering the class helping students with creating complete sentences or facilitating their thinking to help them with their idea. 

I will follow this activity with proofreading their papers myself and looking to see if they got the gist of the activity. They will then write a final draft for their writing portfolio. 

Water Travel Trip Up:
Staircase of Complexity

I found that many students were struggling with how to describe their water molecule getting from one place to another. I decided that I was getting very similar questions and they were coming from a large number of the class, that I needed to stop them and offer some more structural support. 

I decided to write some ideas that class could use to explain their water molecules traveling or where they might be located if they were in a place like ground water. I had them help create the list and we tried to give an example for every colored bead on our chart. This really helped them a lot and their writing really took off from there.