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This lesson, if well planned out and conducted properly, addresses every component of the benchmark it is intended to cover. It involves a whole-group segment, during which the teacher provides a demonstration for students to observe. It also involves a segment that requires the students consult other sources of information related to what they observed in making their hypothesis and planning their investigation. It also involves a group-learning segment, that can easily be adjusted to incorporate differentiated instruction to accommodate students with special needs, during which students conduct the investigation they planned. Finally, it also involves a segment that allows the students the opportunity to communicate the results of their investigation and to evaluate the results of investigations conducted by others. It may also involve another segment involving direct instruction of the components of the scientific method and practice opportunities for students to develop their understanding of these components if this is determined to be necessary based upon the results of the pre-lesson assessment.
Learning Objectives: What will students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
Students will understand the components involved in defining a problem and be able to do the following:
pose questions about the natural world
conduct systematic observations
examine sources of information to see what is already known
review what is known in light of empirical evidence
use tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data
pose explanations of events
generate explanations that describe natural phenomena
use appropriate evidence to justify explanations
communicate results of scientific investigations
evaluate the merits of explanations produced by others
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
Students should understand each of the components of the scientific method as well as how these components form the process as a whole prior to this lesson. Teachers must assess student prior knowledge in regards to student ability to develop a testable hypothesis, design an experiment that addresses the hypothesis, identify and distinguish between dependent and independent variables, and analyze data to determine the need to include a segment in the lesson that addresses these aspects at the beginning of the lesson.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
What are the different modes of observation?
How can you verify the validity of sources of information?
What are the components required in planning an investigation?
What are the different types of measurements that can be made?
What are the different types of graphs that can be used to analyze data?
How can evidence be used to justify explanations?
Predict: What event, related to the focus topic, that may surprise students, will the students make a prediction about?
Teacher will perform a demonstration that involves hanging a weight from a fixed point for the students to observe. The students will be asked to observe the demonstration, focusing on the movement of the weight, and to make a prediction of what will happen if something involved in the scenario (height of ring stand, length of string, mass of weight, height at which weight is dropped from, etc.) is changed.
Observe: What will the students observe and/or infer during this step of the lesson? How will students communicate their observations and inferences?
Students will observe the demonstration of the weight hung from a fixed point and infer why the weight moves as it does. The students will communicate their observations orally during the whole-group segment of the lesson during which the weight is hung from the ring stand. The students will communicate their inference explaining their ideas of the reason for the weight's movement by writing their hypothesis for teacher review.
Explain: How will students be encouraged to develop explanations using their observations and scientific or mathematical concepts or principles?
Students will be encouraged to develop explanations using their observations through the requirement that they generate a hypothesis that includes an explanation for what they observed when the weight is hung from a fixed point.
The teacher will determine if the students have reached the learning targets for the lesson by creating a rubric that assesses the students' mastery of each component of the benchmark. This should also include a measure of the improvement and/or mastery of the components of the benchmark that were considered in the pre-lesson assessment. This will require that the teacher develop a post-lesson assessment that requires students utilize skills gained through the lesson to complete tasks similar in scope to the pre-lesson assessment.
The teacher will create a pre-lesson assessment that will assess students' understanding of planning and conducting planned investigations. This should focus on the most basic components of planning investigations (developing a hypothesis, planning an experiment to test a hypothesis, identifying variables, establishing controls, etc.) The teacher will use the results of this assessment to determine the need to include a segment of the lesson that addresses these components prior to beginning the lesson.
Feedback to Students
Students will get feedback about their performance or understanding during the lesson from the teacher as part of the step-by-step process that is inherent in the lesson. Students must receive teacher review and approval for each completed step before they continue to the next step of the process. If a step is not completed correctly, the teacher works with the student to identify mistakes and to correct the mistakes before moving on to the next step.
Feedback to Students: Students will get feedback about their performance or understanding during the lesson from the teacher as part of the step-by-step process that is inherent in the lesson. Students must receive teacher review and approval for each completed step before they continue to the next step of the process. If a step is not completed correctly, the teacher works with the student to identify mistakes and to correct the mistakes before moving on to the next step.
Summative Assessment: The teacher will determine if the students have reached the learning targets for the lesson by creating a rubric that assesses the students' mastery of each component of the benchmark. This should also include a measure of the improvement and/or mastery of the components of the benchmark that were considered in the pre-lesson assessment. This will require that the teacher develop a post-lesson assessment that requires students utilize skills gained through the lesson to complete tasks similar in scope to the pre-lesson assessment.
Accommodations & Recommendations
The lesson can incorporate differentiated instruction to accommodate students with special needs in several ways. Most notably, the segment of the lesson that involves the students working with materials to conduct their planned investigations can be differentiated by having the students work in small groups composed of students with different skill levels and breaking the task into several components that can be assigned to students based upon abilities. For instance, you can assign the student in each group with the lowest ability level the task of physically hanging the swinging the weight on the pendulum for each of the trails. You can assign the student in each group with the highest ability level the task of collecting the data from the trials and converting this data into graphical form for analysis. Finally, the student in each group with the most moderate skill level can be assigned the task of making measurements of the variables to be provided to the group member collecting the data. This process would only require that the teacher create groups in such a way that ensures that every group is made of one student from each ability level.
This segment of this lesson (planning investigations) can be extended to include all of the other components of the benchmark. For instance, the teacher should make sure to provide a variety of sources related to pendulums and the movement of objects for the students to review as part of developing their hypothesis and planning their investigations. The teacher should also provide an opportunity for the students to communicate the results of their findings and evaluate the presentations of the findings of other students. Additionally, the skills gained through this lesson can be applied through the year as students define problems and plan investigations related to the content that you are currently covering in your curriculum.
Special Materials Needed:
The teacher must create a pre-lesson assessment as well as a post-lesson assessment that measures students understanding of and ability to utilize the components of planning and conducting investigations. These assessments should assess the students' ability to develop a testable hypothesis appropriate to the situation, identify and distinguish between dependent and independent varaibles, and analyze data and draw conclusions. The teacher must also develop a rubric for use in assessing student mastery of the learning goal that encompases all components of the benchmark. Finally, the teacher must have the materials necessary for the students to conduct the hands-on segment of the lesson, which are ring stands, string, weights of different masses, and stop watches. The teacher must also be prepared to provide a variety of sources of information related to pendulums and the movement of objects for the students to consult in developing their hypothesis and planning their investigations.
The teacher needs to plan ahead to ensure that everything necessary to conduct the lesson is collected ahead of time, as the lesson requires that the teacher constantly be available to reveiw student performance between every step in the process. This requirement is very demanding and time-consuming, so the teacher also must ensure that the students understand what is required of them during the lesson. This may best be achieved through developing a checklist that the students can consult as they move from one step to the next as part of the process. Finally, have a procedure established that the students understand in regards to how they can get you attention if they need your assistance, as the lesson can become hectic as each student is likely to have multiple questions as they move along in the process.