Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards
In this two part investigation, students use the Science Practices of making observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties (5-PS1-3), support an argument with evidence and data (5-PS2-1); and use the Crosscutting Concept of using standard units to describe physical quantities (e.g. mass) (5-PS1-3).
Please Note: The Lexile Level for What's The Matter Plaid Pete? - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 4 is 960 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010).
The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 30 minutes.
1 balance and mass cubes for each team
2 plastic cups to fit into each balance (if needed)
1 tape measure for each team
8-10 sticky notes per team
2 magnifying/hand lenses per team
1 materials tub per team
6 potatoes (see below before purchasing)
One copy of What's The Matter Plaid Pete? What's The Matter Plaid Pete? Vocabulary Practice Lesson 3 for each student - This is may also be accessed as an online computer activity by clicking here. (Constructed using the Puzzle Maker App.)
One copy of
Preparation - I did the following to prepare for this investigation:
Review & Practice
I post the question on the white board, Name and describe in your own words one of the eight essential Science Practices. I make this a quick paced practice that gets my students ready to dive into today's activity.
Share Learning Objective and Success Criteria
Note: Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson. These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.
I share the learning objective and success criteria:
Learning Objective: I can observations to produce data, to serve as evidence for a claim.
Language Objective: I can construct a simple claim and support it with one or more reasons. [ELP.4-5.4]
Success Criteria: I have correctly collected and identified the two types of data, and have used evidence to support my claim using that data on the lab sheet that I will paste into my Science Notebook.
I place the What's The Matter Plaid Pete?- Lab Scenario Lesson 4 on my document camera, and read it out loud. It isn't necessary at this point for students to have their own copies, as they will have them in Lesson 4. Just to get students interested in the activity, I pose the question, "What would be so difficult about figuring out which potato was Plaid Pete's? As I call on students to answer, I am listening for responses that help me direct the answers towards the idea that all of the potatoes probably have similar properties and that might make it difficult to tell them apart. This question throws them at first, and I have to really nudge my scientists to get used to thinking this way. It is the beginning of the year, and I must get them to work honing their skills of observation. I also realize that I have to read the scenario twice, and then talk about what happened. Their listening skills are rusty!
Important Vocabulary & Habits of Mind
I tell my students that today, we are going to be working on a very important skill that scientists use - observation. I point to the word wall card that was introduced in Lesson 1 of the unit and ask a student to read that definition. I ask, "What does it mean to do observation in a scientific way?" I call on students to respond. I am specifically looking to establish habits of careful observation during this investigation. I know if I am not explicit, students will rush through these activities and it will create bad habits that will impact the rest of the year.
I also point out the vocabulary word - property. I tell my students that the "properties" of objects they will be working with in this unit will be absolutely critical, and that they need to pay special attention to them.
Concept Building - Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data
This task is important because it helps students to a) examine an everyday object in a scientific way b) develop a conceptual understanding of the two different types of data that they could not get by just telling them, and c) prepares them for tomorrow's investigative experience by building engagement.
I hand out a tub to each research team in which I have placed an apple, sticky notes, a balance (and plastic cups if needed), gram cubes (used to calculate mass), magnifying lenses, and a measuring tape.
I quickly review the science tools included within the tubs to ensure that students know what they are and how they are used. I tell students that our friend Plaid Pete has a problem that he is going to need our help, but before we begin that task, we need to have some common understandings about scientific observations. I ask them to put on their "Science Glasses" and to examine their apple very carefully. They are to work in their teams to make observations about their apple. I tell them that they may use their knowledge of the definitions we discussed and anything in their tub. They are to write one observation on each index card.
As students engage in this task, I move around the room observing them. I am watching to see if they know how to use measurement tools. I am also prompting them to look at the definitions.
Some students will only make observations using the tools. I interrupt the class and prompt a student to look at the definition and read the word "sensing." I ask another student, "What does that mean? How do scientists sense things?" We come to an understanding that scientists also include sensory details as observations and these are used to determine an object's properties. This discussion of properties will become a touchstone for understanding properties of different states of matter in later lessons. I have to really push my students to make scientific observations because after all, they think this is just an apple.
When students have finished writing one observation on each sticky note, I ask them if they can sort their notes somehow into groups that go together. At first they don't understand what I mean. I further clarify the idea of organizing these slips into categories by using the analogy of fruit. I tell them that they can have a general category of fruit, but then have sub-categories of berries, and melons, and so on. One group's beginning sort looks like this:
As they work I am nudging and prompting them. I want them to be able to see that the slips can be grouped into the two types of data. I am listening to them work in their groups, talking to each other and trying to find commonalities between the slips of paper. They make comments such as, "These are observations you can make with your senses, but these are observations you have to make with Science tools and they have numbers in them." Questions I use with my students as I circulate between the groups include: "Are some of these pieces of data alike in some ways? Are some of them different? How are they alike? How are they different?
I do my very best to use the 5E model of inquiry to develop my Science lessons. This is an instructional model described by Rodger Bybee, Executive Director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.
The instructional sequence has 5 distinct phases, Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, and Evaluate. This model is based on brain and learning research. Field studies have shown impressive academic learning gains in science content. I know that when my instruction is built on a foundation of proven research, it is likely to be more effective.
In this particular two part investigation, the presentation of the investigation scenario is the "Engage" activity that creates interest and generates student curiosity. The "Explore" portion is the Guided Exploration Section. The "Explain" where students receive teacher explanation, along with student discussion, is provided for in the Instruction part of the investigation. In Day 2, students "Extend" what they have learned by applying their skills to solving the identity of Plaid Pete's Prize Potato, and the "Evaluate" portion of the lesson happens during the Closure and Reflection section on Day 2, when students have to justify their claims and evidence.
A paper describing The BSCS 5E Instructional Model and 21st Century Skills can be accessed by clicking on the link.
Comparative Input Chart
I call students up to the whiteboard, where they make a half-circle. Although some students may not be quite finished with the sorting activity, I begin this next instructional routine when I can see that a chunk of them have made the leap and the others are on the threshold. I tell them that I am going to give them some new information that might help them complete this sorting task.
I tell students that in order to help out our friend, Plaid Pete, we need to know the two types of data that we will be working with. I hand out the Qualitative vs. Quantitative Graphic Organizer - Lesson 3. I keep the Answer Key - Qualitative vs. Quantitative Graphic Organizer - Lesson 3 to the side so only I can see it to remind me what needs to go on the chart.
I call students up to sit "criss-cross applesauce" in front of the whiteboard while I put the information on the graphic organizer. In GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) this is also known as a "Comparative Input Chart." As I put each piece of information on the chart, I use a different colored marker for each type of data, to assist students in comparing the two. Students are writing exactly what I write on the chart on their own graphic organizers.
When I ask for examples of each type of data, I am pleased when students say, "The stem was 4 cm. long. That is quantitative data." And another student volunteers, "Our apple was reddish yellow. That's an example of qualitative data."
I make a special point to highlight and identify the root of quantitative (quantity) and qualitative (quality), as I know that this will assist my students in remembering and differentiating between these two terms.
After I have finished constructing the chart, I ask students to go back to their teams. I place the following on the whiteboard:
This is one team's sort just before they glued it onto the chart paper:
When all teams have finished, I call on each team to share a piece of data from each of their columns. The charts will be collected and displayed.
Students get out their Science Notebooks, and get ready for Vocabulary Instruction.
I ask a student for the definition of the word data. I am asking for the following definition from Lesson 1: data - facts in the form of measurements or observations that can be collected for analysis.
I tell students that today they learned that there are two main types of data, and that they will be collecting both kinds of data in their investigation tomorrow to help Plaid Pete find his Prize Potato.
I tell students that I need to again give them some vocabulary and definitions that they will need to understand, as we are learning the language of Science. I introduce the lesson vocabulary using the What's The Matter Plaid Pete?- Word Wall Cards Lesson 3. I use the same procedure that I have used previously.
After introducing the words, I again demonstrate for students how to make a three column table with rows for each of the eight vocabulary words. I model for them in my own Science Notebook how to write the word in the first box, a non-linguistic (e.g. picture) representation of the word in the second box, and work with the class to generate an example sentence for the first word in the third box. They cut out their copies of the word cards, place them in an envelope, and glue the envelope to the back of the page on which they have constructed their columns. They will finish sentences for the remaining seven words either for homework, or for seat-work later.
Although it seems like I am giving scant attention to Vocabulary, with only 10 minutes allocated to its introduction - the lesson is designed to be "language embedded." I am attending to vocabulary throughout the entire lesson - prompting its use, questioning students on meaning, and ensuring they understand the concepts behind the words.
My task is to ensure that when they go back to create their non-linguistic representation and sentences, that they can use this new language correctly. Tomorrow morning during check in, as a part of our morning routine, their Science Notebooks will be on the corner of their desks and I will be checking them. A completed student notebook will look like this Example 1.
Students who are learning English as a second language, as well as those who have low levels of academic language, need intermittent practice in order to acquire difficult content area language. I give the What's The Matter Plaid Pete? Vocabulary Practice Lesson 3 sheet a week or two after the investigation is completed. (I am also including the What's The What's The Matter Plaid Pete? Vocabulary Practice Lesson 3 Answer Key. In between this time, we have been doing other vocabulary work, and will continue to practice these words. I use every moment I can - for example, lining up for lunch, specialist classes, and when it is time to line up to go home.
I have students work on these sheets in their team with their team members, using the vocabulary cards from their Science Notebooks. I want my students to have as many opportunities as possible to interact with content area language, and in social situations where they have to negotiate meaning with others. I know the research behind socially mediated language learning is strong, and I want my students to acquire the academic language they need to be successful in middle school, high school, and on up through colleg
Repeated Vocabulary Work + No Opt Out
I know that the research says my English Language Learners must say and use a word correctly at least eighty times, before it becomes a part of their spoken vocabulary. I am continually reinforcing the use of precise Science Vocabulary, and asking my students to define these terms.
This means that there is no opting out of answering a question - even if you don't know the answer. Students can ask a team mate - and even if they just repeat word for word what their team mate says, they are still practicing the word and saying its meaning. I praise them for saying it and this expectation becomes a part of the fabric of our classroom. Nobody is allowed to say, "I don't know." I give students a choice of whom they would like to ask in their team, and almost always, their team members vie for the opportunity to assist them. In this video clip it is the end of September, and we are building a classroom community where everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner.
During a grammar lesson a few days later, in which we worked on reviewing the complete subject/complete predicate and simple subject/simple predicate, I used another GLAD Strategy, a Sentence Patterning Chart. I have constructed this chart from a piece of chart paper, and laminated it several times to make it sturdy. We use our Science Vocabulary words in this lesson, because it is another opportunity for my English Language Learners and students with low academic vocabulary to hear these words yet again, and discuss their meanings in yet another context.
First, I write a plural noun in the noun column (It is easier to use a plural noun rather than a singular noun, as there are less difficulties with awkward combinations), and then ask my students to look through their Science notebooks to help supply the other parts of speech. I call on students to come up and use a meter stick to pick a word from each column to create a sentence. We discuss word meanings, and parts of speech, in addition to using it to teach sentence structure