Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
The student will effectively communicate through research and writing the processes of the water cycle, including the three states of water, while using essential vocabulary.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
Students should have an understanding of:
- Condensation, precipitation, and evaporation
- The three states of matter in relation to water
- Research skills (finding important information/details when reading)
- Informational/expository writing
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
What information is most important to have on display for others to understand the water cycle?
How are the different processes of the water cycle related?
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- After assessing students' prior knowledge (quick write assessment) group students according to their content knowledge and skills.
- Describe to students that the water cycle or hydrologic cycle has many processes. The main processes they are familiar with are condensation, evaporation, and precipitation. Through these processes and others all of the water on the Earth is recycled again and again.
- Now pose this question to the class, "If water is recycled on a global scale, how can we learn anything about it from our classroom?"
- Record student answers and try to remind them of the different types of scientific investigations (Field Study, Systematic Observation, Controlled Experiment, Model, Simulation).
- Remind students that a model is a simplified representation of a system, and that since this is a global process we will have to understand the overall process and make it more manageable but accurate for a model.
- Ask students how we can get new information. Most students will talk about research but may not identify it by name.
- Go over the available materials to use during research. (This is where you need to look at your available resources. For digital resources have available computers or create print outs or copies if necessary. Have books available from the library, classroom library, or text books. Under independent practice are some recommendations.)
- Ask students to explain the scale of understanding for the content.
- Let students know that when their research is finished they must write an expository/informational writing piece using the information from their group research. They will be graded on the (attached) scale similar to the one they vote with.
- Advise students that they are doing research as a group and sharing what they think, but each student will create their own writing piece.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Display the NASA Science article attached. (You can print copies for students, print a copy for the document camera, and/or display it from your computer and projector.)
- Tell students that you would like to review how to read an article for information and how to take notes on the information found.
- Show students how to organize vocabulary into sections to help them better read the article by making a chart with three columns.
- Column one will have everyday words (tier 1) found in the article such as: together, land, water (This part of this list is so familiar that you do not need to spend very much time on it.)
- Column two will have vocabulary words needed in school (tier 2) such as: system, cycle, solid, liquid, gas (This area is more concrete and students must have an understanding of these tier 2 words to really understand and interact with tier 3 words in text.)
- Column three will have content specific vocabulary (tier 3) such as: hydrologic cycle, precipitation, evaporation, condensation, freezing, melting.
- Read the article with students stopping to underline or highlight important information and write down notes as a group.
- Next rewrite the information in your own words.
- Allow students to ask questions about materials, research, and the writing piece.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Now that students have a scale for understanding, know what they need to research, and where/how they can research; give them the appropriate materials and begin visiting groups.
Make sure to visit groups and:
- Ask how their research is going
- See if they start sketching or taking notes
- Have students describe the process that they are researching
- Find our how they decided to share information with their group
- Make sure groups stay on task
- Ask where each student is on the scale
Materials Available For Student Research On The Water Cycle:
- Discovery Education Article It's Only Water Lexile 750 (also available on DE Science Techbook as EReader if you have an account with your district)
- Discovery Education Article Going Around In Circles Lexile 610 (also available on DE Science Techbook as EReader if you have an account with your district)
- Discovery Education Article Can You Repeat That Lexile 620 (also available on DE Science Techbook as EReader if you have an account with your district)
- Website Interactive Global Water Distribution
- Website Animation Water Cycle Local to Global (This is a visual representation of the water cycle that shows rain falling on a plant and how it travels from there. Students may have to play it a few times and make observations before understanding everything that they are seeing.)
- Website Reading/Diagrams Water Cycle Information
- Website Animation/Reading Water Cycle
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
Play "What's Wrong With My Water Cycle?"
Show a diagram in the water cycle with mistakes and ask students to use their content knowledge to find errors. (Listen carefully to student answers because this would be a quick formative assessment to see how to adjust instruction for student needs. You can also write over and correct these models with student help.)
You can print these in advance and use a document camera or show them with a projector.
Here are links to some not so great models of the water cycle:
- Picture 1 This model gives the impression that it only rains when clouds move over land. It also gives the idea that there must be a large body of water for evaporation to occur.
- Picture 2 This model implies that there is a step by step cycle but in the wrong order such as you need rain then sunlight then snow. Also the trees are floating in the air.
- Picture 3 This model is over generalized and implies again that it will only rain near large bodies of water.
- Picture 4 This resource has no land at all and is over simplified.
Student Writing Piece From Research and Investigation
Describe the three states of water that can be found in the water cycle and the following processes: condensation, evaporation, precipitation.
All students will complete an individual informational/expository writing piece using any previous notes about water (three states of water, and processes condensation, evaporation, precipitation) and research conducted using multiple print and digital resources. The piece will be scored on the same scale students have been using to vote for content accuracy.
***Bonus: The top three writing pieces will be showcased in the classroom or in the school next to the completed model of the water cycle. This is why it is important to have accurate information to teach others about the water cycle within the writing piece***
Prior Knowledge: Three Picture Prompts For Quick Writes
Approximately 10 minutes
Step 1: Gather students' attention and tell them that they will be doing three quick writes for three different photos from National Geographics. (Quick writes are timed writing prompts that can be with videos, written prompts, or photographs. Students have two minutes to write silently on their own.) The prompt is, "Describe where the water is in these photographs."
Snowfall, Wyoming, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, Apartment Buildings, Singapore
Show one photo at a time for two minutes each. Make sure to tell students to switch from one quick write to the next as the pictures change without talking. (You may choose other photographs for this prompt on the same site. The Wyoming photo shows snow which most students should identify. The photo from Bolivia has a waterway and clouds which most students should identify. Lastly the Singapore photo should be more challenging but some students should note that water vapor is invisible and spends time near the ground before it rises and condenses into a cloud.)
Step 2: After all three quick writes are complete have students talk with their partner sitting next to them about each photo. Let students know they will have three minutes to discuss all forms of water they found in all three pictures. After they discuss these forms of water they can add to their written responses.
Step 3: Gather students attention and start a whole group discussion. (The following are some guiding questions to elicit student responses; "Are all forms of water visible?" "Is water only found on the ground?" "Are condensation, evaporation, and precipitation represented in all three photographs?") Write down all student responses and ideas on the board.
***Teacher Note: during steps 2 and 3 make sure you are moving around the room and listen to student conversations and reading student responses. This way you will be able to identify students who area already successful with the standards, those that have misconceptions, and students who are ready for the activity/instruction.
Assessment Throughout: Finger Voting on the Scale (attached)
Approximately 5 minutes
(This assessment should be done several times throughout the lesson. I often will call for a vote after finding groups of students who are struggling or moving through the content quickly. To remind yourself, you can call for a vote every 15-20 minutes so you can stay informed about how the students think they are progressing. You must visit all students because some students are very confident but are still believing misconceptions or misunderstood a reading passage. You can assess them with the scale when you visit and help explain or expand on the content when necessary.)
Step 1: Introduce the scale by reading each area from 4-1 (see attached scale for details).
Step 2: Show (or remind) students how to vote with the scale by closing their eyes and raising their hands. On the teacher's command, "please vote," students will show a number with their fingers relating to where the student is on the scale.
Step 3: Write down or mentally take note of which students feel they have mastered the content and which students feel that they are struggling.
***Teacher Note: Now you have lots of information on where your students started the lesson and if they are moving toward mastery. You can implement accommodations and extensions to these students to assist them in moving forward with the standards.***
Feedback to Students
Feedback After Three Picture Prompts For Quick Writes: This is the time to discuss what the students saw. All misconceptions about water processes should be addressed. If there are many you should work on the missing information or misconceptions (three states of water, condensation, evaporation, precipitation) and possibly complete this lesson at a later date. Most students (80%) should have found most of the water in the photographs. If this is the case you should let them know that they obviously worked hard on understanding the processes that water goes through and now will be putting these processes together.
Feedback After Finger Voting on the Scale: This is a time to give whole group feedback. Talk to the group about their voting. If most of the group is low on the scale (1 or 2) ask, "What is the most difficult information they are working with?" "Why is the task difficult?" If they are high on the scale (3 or 4) ask, "What can we add to our project to make it more effective?" "How can we expand our knowledge beyond what we have learned today?" (Sometimes the content, the way it is being presented, or student difficulties in reading/writing may be the problem. This is where you can use accommodations and extensions for small groups of students.)