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Ryan Copeland Science Methods Term III Assignment

TERM III INTEGRATED ASSIGNMENT: SCIENCE THOUGHT PROCESS: I knew from the very beginning of this thinking process that I wanted my students to be able to do something that was hands-on and collaborative. Across the board, the sixth graders in my classroom came into this year with low PSSA scores in both reading and mathematics. As a result, my classroom mentor has devoted the vast majority of instructional time to these subjects (reading in particular). From my perspective, science activities have been sparse and isolated. The few times they have done science, though, I have seen the students light up and really get into it. Even something like measuring how many droplets of water they can fit on the face of a penny has brought out their curiosity, their penchants for experimentation and inquiry. I overheard students say things like, Ooh, try dropping it like this and, I wonder how many drops we could fit on a quarter? To see and hear this was bittersweet for me; I was happy that they were so engaged and yet also dismayed that these moments have been so rare. I arrived at the idea of doing a model solar system activity pretty quickly, and since then it has only continued to make more and more sense. For a little while, I was actually somewhat reluctant to actually do it because it felt like a copout to do something that we had done in class; it is also such a common science activity that it almost feels like a clich. Sometimes things become clichs for good reason, though. I think that it meets all of the criteria that I set for this lesson, plus a little extra. It is certainly hands-on, and will even allow us to go outside, which is something that students never get to do. They spend all day at their desks, so I imagine this will be a welcome respite for some of them. This activity will involve making a model, which is both a skill and concept that they have touched upon this

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year, and so this can provide more depth and practice in that area. In terms of content, it will hopefully provide them with a foundational understanding of our solar system. If the interview with my child study student is any indication, these students have little background knowledge of the solar system. I expect them to be surprised to find how far apart the planets are, and their size relative to one another. As a bonus, the activity will offer them some more practice with measurement using the metric system. Lastly, it provides a plenty of opportunities from which to build my math lesson, which will be implemented with the same students on the day following this lesson. Fortunately, my classroom mentor was enthusiastic about the lesson when I told her my idea. She said it sounded like it would be a nice fit with the sixth grade science content she planned to cover later on. At that point, I really felt sure that I knew what I was going to do. I felt especially confident given that I had seen an example in our own science class. I knew that I could borrow the materials from GSE, and it was just a matter of getting them to Stanton. In the end, I feel fortunate that I have found a lesson with which I feel comfortable and confident, and that will be beneficial for my students. The challenge, of course, is to implement it smoothly. CORE DECISIONS:

What: For this lesson students will construct a model of our solar system, using clay to
form each of the eight planets. Students will then go outside to see the relative distance of each planet (as much as possible given the space we have) from the sun and from one another. Due to time constraints, the focus will remain on the names, order, and distance of the planets in the solar system; characteristics of the planets will be covered with greater depth later in the year. For now, the basic form of our solar system will be the key takeaway from this lesson.

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This lesson fits nicely with both the Pennsylvania sixth grade science standards and A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (National Academy of Sciences, 2012). I will use the standards in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) framework to rationalize the content goals of the lesson. As the title suggests, the NAS framework includes three dimensions of K-12 science education: scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. This lesson addresses a component within each of these three dimensions. In the area of scientific practices, students will be developing and using a model. As the framework points out, scientists use [conceptual] modelsto represent their current understanding of a system (p. 57). In this case, students will construct and representing a model solar system using a scale based on astrophysicists current knowledge of the planets circumference and distance. They will also address the limitations of the model. The lesson also incorporates the crosscutting concept of scale and proportion. The students will grapple with the awesome size of our solar system; they will see that, even using our greatly scaled down model, the distances between some of the planets are quite large. They will also see that, in an accurate model, all parts (in this case, both size and distance) must remain proportional. Lastly, the lesson connects to disciplinary core idea ESS1. B: Earth and the Solar System (p. 175). While this one lesson cannot cover all of the expectations for students by the end of grade 8, it will lay the foundational knowledge that the solar system consists of the sun and a collection of objects, including planets (p. 176).

How: The nature of this science activity allows room for a variety of teaching and learning
methods. This, along with my guiding question, is what informs my pedagogical decision making for this lesson. The lesson will begin with a hands-on activity of actually building the

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model planets from clay. I decided to wait to tell them what they are making models of, hoping that this will encourage some curiosity and reasoning as they try to figure it out on their own. Eight model planets need to be made, but there will only be five students in my group; I will give students some freedom to negotiate with each other how the extra three models are made. Ultimately, I want students to feel some ownership over this model they are co-constructing, and this could be one way to do achieve that. Once the model planets are completed, I will facilitate a discussion first on models themselves, to draw out their previous knowledge about the characteristics and uses of models. Then, we will discuss what this particular model represents. At this point, I will provide some direct instruction to ensure that all students share the same knowledge of the names and order of the planets. Then we will head outside to the lot behind the school to represent the relative distances between the planets. The students will also take some charge in this portion, as they will be responsible for using the meter wheel to measure the distances between each other. This is a tool with which they will be unfamiliar, so some direct instruction about its uses will be necessary. Finally, we will return to the room for a closing discussion and reflection period. Students comments or questions during the discussion, along with a short reflection in their science journals, will serve as assessments of their understanding.
Comment [NRB1]: This is a lot to fit in. If you had to do some of the discussion at the beginning of the math lesson, that would not be problematic. Will a lesson with this much tactile and visual information, they are going to remember it well the next day. I would even suggest keeping the model balls of clay for that discussion. Feel free to include any parts of your math lesson in the write up of your science Term III. One of the artificial aspects of this assignment (and of how many schools seem to operate these days) is that lessons seem to be so discrete. Me: Yes, it is a lot, and I may have to continue the discussion at another time. For this lesson, the important things are that we actually complete the model. Time management is one of those things that Ive always had a hard time with having a sense of how long things will take. I tend to plan too much and end up surprised that everything took longer than I expected. I think it also feels more comfortable to jam a lesson full of things so that you dont end up with empty space, which is a little scary.

Why: My small group will consist of five boys. Two of these boys have IEPs, each being
identified as beginning readers. Furthermore, my guiding question centers on bringing these academically marginalized students back into the fold of the regular classroom. For this reason, I chose instructional strategies based in hands-on and discussion centered collaborative learning. Use of text would immediately set these students at a disadvantage,

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but when it comes to building models and participating in discussion, they are on equal footing since they do not struggle with any intellectual disabilities. I chose this type of hands-on, active lesson for another reason. Due to the scarcity of science education in their classroom, and the traditional, test-prep style instruction of their other subjects, I wanted to provide these students with a tactile, mobile, collaborative experience. If for no other reason that its contrast to their typical lessons, I suspect the students will remember this activity (which will come in handy later on when they begin their traditional space unit). Lastly, I chose this activity for the way that it intersects with each of the three dimensions of the NAS framework, as well as hitting on components of the sixth grade state standards. _______________________________________________ LESSON PLAN: Note: The scaled measurements come from Larson (2009)
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Objective: Students will understand the basic structure of the planets within our solar
system (ESS1. B of NAS Framework), understand that a uniform scale applies to both the size of and distance between the planets in this model, and be able to discuss the limitations of a clay model of the solar system.

Materials: Eight index cards, with circumference measurements for each model planet;
modeling clay; metric rulers; a meter wheel; science journals; pencils.

Independent Work: Index cards will be placed on a table in the back of the classroom.
Students will be directed to pick one index card and a ruler, and then see me to receive a chunk of modeling clay. Students will be asked to make a ball of clay as wide as the measurement indicated on the card. I will provide help figuring out which lines represent

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millimeters on the rulers. When students finish, they can decide on their own how to make the remaining three model planets. (10 minutes)

Guided instruction: Students will be asked whether they have made a map or a model (this
has been discussed previously in class), and identify which characteristics make it a model (it is three-dimensional). Then students will be asked to speculate what this model represents. If theyre unsure, I will provide hints with some guiding questions or statements (e.g. These are models of things that are actually very big.). Then, we will identify who made which planets, and review the order of them from closest to furthest from the sun. Students will be asked to keep this in mind as we then go outside to examine the distance between the planets.Then, using a poster of the solar system, I will ask students to try to infer which planet they made. Once they know that, they will write it on their index card and we will head outside to measure the distances. I will introduce the meter wheel, model how to use it, and then hand it to the student who is Mercury. The fence will represent the Sun, and I will tell the student how many meters away they should go. Then that student will give the meter wheel to Venus, and the process will continue. We will only be able to fit the first three planets, so I will verbally provide the distances for the other planets, using known landmarks when possible (Broad Street, for example). We will then return upstairs. (20 minutes)
Comment [NRB3]: That would be great! Later, if you wanted to, you could show them all of this on Google Earth. Me: Thats a great idea! As I actually looked closer at the scale, I realized that we will probably be able to fit most of the planets in the space we have (which is a little bit longer than the length of the school). Still, it would be interesting to use Google Earth to look at where the planets would be if we used a different scale. What if Earth were the size of a baseball, for example, rather than a few millimeters across? Comment [NRB2]: Is it review? Me: Youre right. I actually think this will be new for all of these students. I suspect they will have a some vague ideas, but certainly not the whole order.

Formative assessment/reflection: Once we return upstairs, I will facilitate a discussion


about what the students were surprised by, what they learned, what theyd like to know more about, and what this particular model did not tell us about the solar system. and anything else that they find interesting. I will use their comments as a formative assessment to gauge their understanding of the content. Last, I will ask one student to hand out science journals, whereupon the students will reflect on whatever aspect of the activity/discussion that theyd likeupon what this model taught us about the planets, and what it did not. This Taken

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together, these two activities should allow me to see what stood out for them and how much they engaged with the activity and material. (15 minutes) Total time: 45 minutes _______________________________________________
Comment [NRB4]: I am sure you know, especially in the group you have chosen, the verbal discussion is a better indication of what they understand than what they can write. This might, however, be a good opportunity to point out that scientists almost always use diagrams or graphs in their writing, so making a diagram and then putting a few words with it, can be meaningful. (And now is it a map or a model?) Me: Yes, I absolutely agree with you. I think I was feeling some pressure to end up with tangible student work at the end of the lesson. This is what will ultimately go toward their science grade. But thats why I wanted to start with just a discussion, which will be the real assessment for me.