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Melanie Petrillo

October 14, 2014


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Lesson Analysis and Adaption
Learning about science education in the elementary classroom has been a journey of
questions, discoveries, and experiences that Ive had to face within a short amount of time during
my final internship. After reading an extended amount of research about science education and
discussing with my colleagues about what science education should look like in our future
classrooms, Ive learned that my science lessons must be deeper than the typical, run-of-the-mill,
activity-based lessons one would find on the internet or in the teachers edition of a science
textbook. By deeper I mean that I will focus specifically on the three legs of science (as Molly
Weinburgh would suggest) to demonstrate my learning by modifying the science content,
science process skills, and the nature of science of a 1st grade life science lesson titled A Plant
Begins from Aims Education Foundation, (www.aimsedu.org.)
Science Content:
The science content in this lesson involved the study of life science, specifically plant
growth and the cycle that involves how a seed changes from a seed to a plant. This investigation
also included the needs of living organisms, such as the fact that living organisms need water and
food in order to survive, as well as an environment that supports the needs of that organism. The
lesson also supports the idea that plants need air and light to grow. I found these in the Guiding
Benchmarks section of the lesson plan, which I assumed to be the content area benchmarks or
standards of Project 2061. I researched the benchmarks, and found the content standards to be
derived from the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) website. The
NSTA & NGSS (National Science Teachers Association & Next Generation Science Standards)

differ in their wording of the same standards, specifically as the wording relates to the
application of the science process skills, which I will address later.
Interestingly while reviewing this lesson plan, Ive noticed that although it is
developmentally appropriate for the grade level suggested, it does not explicitly provide
instructions or connection to the science content except through the Connecting Learning
questions at the end of the lesson. The whole plan is more of an activity than a lesson. My
assumption would then be, that as a teacher I would facilitate discussion based on my essential
questions, which I would stem from the connecting learning section of this lesson plan. But, who
is to say that another first year teacher, (or any teacher for that matter) would do the same? My
point is that if A Plant Begins is a lesson that supports the learner in developing concepts
involving science content, it needs to be more explicit, as well as more specific, in order for the
lesson to embody my view of an accurate representation of science content.
Science Process:
I noticed some of the science process skills were already stated in the beginning portion
of the lesson plan, which included: observing, comparing and contrasting, and communicating.
Sure, the children were exposed to the science processes, I could argue. But honestly, I would be
cheating myself as a science teacher and cheating my children if I truly believed that students
were really doing science regarding the delivery of this lesson plan.
Several science education researchers would agree: With groups of students answering
their own operational questions, the teachers role becomes more that of a facilitator of scientific
research, (De-Cookbook It! By Thomas Shiland.) Teachers cannot expect children to learn the
practice and application of science process skills if students are not allowed to practice and apply
science process skills. Just because students can accurately answer a teacher-directed question

about the life cycle of a bean plant, doesnt mean they are authentically observing, comparing
and contrasting, and communicating. The same goes by having students just observe the plants
by drawing a picture of them. Drawing a picture might be developmentally appropriate for 1st
graders, but drawing a picture without labeling and/or having a discussion about why the student
made the decision to draw or label a certain way, means nothing unless discussion and reflection
relate back to the scientific community.
Nature of Science:
I think this lesson did a really great job of addressing the first aspect of science: the world
is understandable. This lesson really does give a developmentally appropriate view of the growth
and life cycle of small bean plants. If students had misconceptions, they could be addressed
through discussion in the classroom and by actually seeing the plants grow such as a seed
sprouting roots or a stem growing leaves. Another nature of science aspect I could argue for is
that science explains and predicts. Science can explain why a bean plant may sprout after a
certain number of days, and by learning that information students can predict how long they
think other types of plants will take to sprout or grow.
I do think this lesson could improve on the nature of science aspects. For example,
discussion could really be facilitated in the classroom to support that science is a complex social
activity. Gallery walks could be included to see other student depictions of the plants. The
teacher could even have students justify why they drew their plant observation drawings the way
that they did. Also, the teacher could let the students come up with their own questions and
wonderings to provide more of an inquiry-based environment where science demands evidence,
that way students would be able to understand that aspect through guided discovery of their own
research questions.

References:
Access the Standards by Topic. (n.d.). NGSS Hub. Retrieved October 14, 2014, from
http://standards.nsta.org/
Project 2061. (n.d.). AAAS. Retrieved October 14, 2014, from
http://www.project2061.org/publications/bsl/
Shiland, T. (1997). DeCookBook It!. Science and Children, November/December, 14-18.
Retrieved October 14, 2014, from the Canvas Course Reserves database.
Lesson Modifications:
My lesson modifications will be added to the lesson in red ink and then numbered and
explained in this section.
1. I would alter the essential question to incorporate a broader range of content standards.
There is more to this lesson than just plainly observing the growth of seeds. Making this
modification relates to the content portion of the three legs of science. Adding more
essential questions ensures that I teach a boarder range of content.

2. I would modify the objectives of this lesson to make sure that at the end of the lesson
students are able to practice and apply science process skills, which relates to the process
skill leg of science. I also made sure to include that students will be able to discuss and
explain their observations with peers as they relate back to the science content, which
supports that Science is a complex social activity from the nature of science aspects.

3. I would enhance the background knowledge section to incorporate a video, which shows
real-life scientists engaging in science process skills, such as observing, and recording
data collected from measuring and studying plants. I would also facilitate discussion to
enhance connections to plants to engage my students and get their minds ready for
learning. This relates back to the nature of science aspect that The world is
understandable because children will be able to see a real-life scientist studying and
understanding the world around them.

4. Since it is important to me to teach science in an inquiry-based environment where


students have the opportunity to research their own questions, I would introduce the topic
and let my students come up with their own wonderings to research. This makes the
whole inquiry and learning process more authentic, as well as more student-centered.
Doing this supports the nature of science that Science demands evidence and in order
to find evidence, we first must have wonderings to explore and study.

5. Since I support the idea of guided discovery rather than forced discovery, it is
important to me not to have the cookie-cutter instructions that this lesson provides.
Instead I would let my students be the creators of their own instructions, and I can guide
the class to create this as a guide or as a suggestion, not as a menu. This supports the
notion that Science is not authoritarian since Im letting my children come up with their
own rules for planting a seed.

6. I would let my students plant their own seeds. There is no reason to micro-manage them.
I believe in a student-centered environment where students have control over their own
learning. Giving them a specific procedure for them to follow for planting the seeds is
basically like me doing the activity for them. I want them to be able to discover how to
plant on their own, and be able to discuss and reflect on why or why not their method of
planting was or was not successful. To me, this type of approach is more authentic,
inquiry-based learning which teaches students life skills such as observing and
communicating which are also science process skills.

7. I would use the science journals first as a tool that students could use to brainstorm and
record conversations with table groups about what they learned that day and about their
plan to plant the seeds. I would also use the science journals to record predictions about
how long it will take their seed to sprout as well as how long it will take their seed to
reach the adult stage of the plant. The journal could then be used for data collection and
reflection, as well as drawn and labeled pictures of their observations. This would be
done daily and become part of my class long-term-investigation, and would be authentic
because it relates to the nature of science aspect Science demands evidence.

8. Again, I would have students make predictions, instead of telling them what is going to
happen once they plant their seeds. More learning occurs when students are able to
construct their own knowledge from previous experiences than by me telling them what
to do and having the students follow a strict procedure. This relates to the nature of
science aspect that Science explains and predicts.

9. The lesson stated that students would observe every few days. I would pay very close
attention to our seeds, and have the students observe every day, and be consistent about
it, because I wouldnt want the students to miss the first time that their seed sprouted,
which could happen if you only observed the plants every few days.

Topic: Plants
Key Question: How do my seeds grow? 1. What is the life cycle of my plant? How can I draw a
picture and label it to represent my seed at different life cycle stages?
Learning Goal: Students will observe and record the growth of seeds. 2. Students will be able to
observe, discuss and explain the life cycle of a plant, and the differences and similarities between
different plant types. Students will be able to draw and label the parts of the plant at different life
cycle stages.
Guiding Documents
Project 2061 Benchmarks
Describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people
to compare their observations with those of others.
Plants and animals both need to take in water, and animals need to take in food. In addition,
plants need light. NRC Standard
Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water, and food; plants require
air, water, nutrients, and light. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs
can be met. The world has many different environments, and distinct environments support the
life of different types of organisms.
Science: Life science plant growth
Integrated Processes: Observing, Comparing and Contrasting, Communicating
Materials: Seeds (lima, corn, radish) Potting soil, Daily log , Container (see Management
1) Watering container or misting bottle
Background Information: Seeds start to grow when conditions are right to support the needs of
growing plants. Water, air, and proper temperature are all necessary for seed growth.
Germination rates vary according to type of seed used, the amount of water given, and the
temperature. 3. I would start this science lesson with a video showing a real-life scientist
growing and studying plants in a garden. I would also facilitate discussion using the Turn and
Talk strategy by asking students if they can personally relate to a time when they have seen
plants growing.

Management: 1. Each student should have a container in which to plant a seed. Styrofoam cups,
plastic cups, and milk cartons all work well.
2. Prepare a daily log for each child. Duplicate several of the recording pages. Cut the papers in
half and staple them inside the cover to make a logbook.
3. Misting bottles will help to prevent students from overwatering their plants.
4. By using a variety of different types of seeds, students can compare the germination rates.
They can also compare what the various plants look like.
Procedure
1. Ask the Key Question and state the Learning Goal. 4. Instead I would ask the students what
questions that they have about seeds and how they grow. I would record these questions on a
class anchor chart. I would make sure the students know that they are going to be studying their
own wonderings, just as scientists study their own wonderings.
2. Distribute the materials and the page of instructions. 5. I would not submit the page of
instructions. I would facilitate class discussion and come up with a class set of instructions for
what procedure my students think is reasonable.
3. Direct the students to follow the directions to plant their seeds. Caution students against
overwatering. 6. Instead I would let the students plant their own seeds, and not micromanage
exactly how they plant their seeds.
4. Have students assemble their daily logs. 7. Im not sure what the lesson means by assemble.
I would first have the students Turn and Talk about what they did today and then they could
record the conversations they had with their table groups in their science journals, along with the
date.
5. Explain to students that when their seeds sprout and grow above the soil, they will start
recording the growth by drawing and writing their observations. 8. Instead, I would have
students make predictions about when they think their seed will grow, and explain that we will
watch everyday and record our observations to see if our predictions were accurate.
6. Have students continue to record their observations every few days. 9. I would make sure
students observe every day, even if they only write 1 sentence in their science journals.
Connecting Learning (This whole section would be altered to be student-specific questions.)
1. How many days did it take for your seeds to sprout?
2. Did they all sprout on the same day? Explain.
3. What did the sprouts look like? Who else had plants like yours? How did you know
they were the same?
4. How many different types of plants did we use?
5. Did we have any plants that didnt sprout? What might have caused that?
6. What are you wondering now?