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Daylan Bakes

The recorded lesson was the second of two parts of an aquarium/terrarium study. In the first
lesson Sarah, Rachel and I, with our students, constructed a terrarium. At the end of this lesson
we took notes on what we thought we knew about terrariums and the systems needed to keep the
organisms alive, recording it on a know and learned chart. At the end of this lesson we spoke at
length about models – specifically what the terrarium was a model of. In the second lesson we
constructed our aquarium, joining it to our terrarium, creating a fully functional, microecosystem. We discussed the water cycle and life cycles, how the two supported each other and
what it meant to observe and take notes/data on what we had built and how these are being
represented in a model.
During our observed lesson we ran out of time to record what we had learned from our study of
the terrarium/aquarium. While the entire lesson was rich with discussion, we failed to write it
down on our chart. The effect of not writing down what was learned then becomes a lack of clear
assessment. The assessment of what my kids learned is now based on our discussion (which was
recorded), instead of what they recorded or identified as their learning.
I learned how difficult it is to work with multiple adults as co-teachers. It can be difficult what
you have different ideas of what learning looks like and it can be difficult to take a step back and
allow someone else to lead. I‟m also always blown away by how innate the scientific curiosity
seems in children. They are so ready to make connections between phenomenon and explore
why and how things exist the way they do.
We were unable to obtain physical data of the student‟s notekeeping/data collection during the
week they spent observing their terrarium; however, their ability to observe change in the growth
of the seedlings in the terrarium, marks a basic understanding of data collection. Also, based on
our recorded session, the students had the beginning understandings of water and life cycles and
the way they interact. Many of their recorded questions were answered in our second meeting.
As stated by Janice Koch, so much of learning is experiential, “it is only by providing students
with meaningful science activities…that we can lead them toward critical exploration of their
world” (1999). While the exchange of explicit, accurate information is necessary, it can come
about organically (and can even be student lead) through the careful planning of a science lesson.
Moving Forward
From completing this observed mini-unit I learned just how profoundly scientific children are.
Their ability to connect and predict and observe change is incredibly organic.
If I were to teach this exact lesson again I would absolutely make more time for written analysis.
Whether that means telling the students we need to hurry the building process to get to


Daylan Bakes
discussion, has yet to be decided. Written analysis includes both completing the think, learn chart
and the data collection/written observations of changes over time. There are no content changes I
would make, except perhaps an initial lesson on data collection and a post lesson on actually
collecting data from our terrarium/aquariums. A „how-to‟ record data and what questions to ask
(questions that seemingly come so naturally for students) and hypotheses are formed, etc. I
would not necessarily structure the actual building of the terrarium/aquarium differently, but
would add extensions on both ends, including larger overall discussion of the scientific principles
at work. I have made it one of my goals to eliminate parroting my student‟s responses or ideas,
instead having them listen to each other, creating a student led discussion, facilitated by me as
the teacher. Janice Koch agrees, “scientific inquiry – the process of investigation, reflection, and
further investigation, whether undertaken by third graders or by adult scientists – benefits greatly
from the collaboration of several people” (1999). Sometimes I lapse back into parroting and
sometimes I don‟t think I make sure students are listening to one another. I think there‟s a way to
make sure a student is being heard without repeating what they‟ve said, creating a meaningful
and authentic space for scientific experimentation and experience.
My next lesson would consist of using the previously learned methods of data collection. We
would continue collecting data, perhaps having the students choose one thing they would
specifically like to pay attention to or have them develop individual or paired hypotheses of what
kinds of change will occur over time or even eventually testing different environmental
conditions on the terrarium/aquarium, and ultimately have a lesson devoted to data comparison
and over-all „concepts learned.‟ In this unit, my goals for my students is the student-led, full
implementation of scientific experiment, starting with data collection (and maybe scientific)
methods and ending with data comparison and written conclusions of what they discovered and
how those discoveries went along with or differentiated from their hypotheses. The greatest take
away, besides my students full propensity for scientific thought, is how helpful some kind of
online tool would be – there are some questions I couldn‟t answer, or could answer, but not in a
meaningful enough way. If there was a tool readily available to my students, they could look up
their questions and it could be integrated into the formation of hypothesis.
Works Cited
Koch, J. (1999). Science stories: Teachers and children as science learners. Boston: Houghton