Monday, June 02, 2014

Science and You! Building Class Community with Science Share

I have many favorite places in nature, and one of them is the rocky
summit of Mt. Gorham in Acadia National Park. 
The curriculum and prep for fourth grade is complete, and the focus is on leading students through the end of the program with care.

For the study side of life, I find myself beginning to embark on next year's focus, the teaching of fifth grade math and science.

I took a look at the newly revised science standards draft for Massachusetts, and found the following introduction to fifth grade science:

Grade 5: Overview
 Connections and Relationships in Systems

In grade 5, students model, provide evidence to support arguments, and obtain and display data about relationships and interactions among observable components of different systems. By studying systems grade 5 students learn that objects and organisms do not exist in isolation and that animals, plants and their environments are connected to, interact with, and are influenced by each other. They study the relationships between Earth and other nearby objects in the solar system and the impact of those relationships on patterns of events as seen from Earth. They learn about the relationship among elements of Earth’s systems through the cycling of water and human practices and processes with Earth’s resources. They also learn that matter and energy cycle through plants and animals, and the ecosystems within which they live. An ability to describe, analyze and model observable components of different systems is key to understanding the natural and designed world.

As I read over this summary, I notice so many connections to the Standards of Mathematical Practice with regard to intent, vocabulary, and action.  I also note that this introduction provides a great framework with which to begin the school year. We'll begin with a focus on students' favorite places in nature.  For summer study, I'll ask students to think about a favorite place in nature--a place they will use at the start of the year to introduce themselves to the class. Then at the start of the year, we'll get to know each other and the vocabulary of the science year with a project related to our favorite natural places. 

Science and You! Our Favorite Places in Nature

  • modelCreate a model of your favorite place in nature. Use a shoebox, drawing, clay model, fabric and/or other materials to create this model. 
Collect Data:
  • evidenceList evidence (examples) as a bulleted list of 4-5 sentences that demonstrate why this is a favorite place for you. 
  • observableObserve your special place online or in real time for ten minutes--list what you observe.
  • data (display data): Complete a data chart about this place listing your favorite objects and organisms in the place, and the numbers of each object.
  • relationships, interactionsTell how the organisms (living things) and objects in this environment interact and relate. 
  • patternsWhat patterns do you notice? 
  • elementsWhat elements do you notice?
  • cycle: Do you notice any evidence of cycles related to the organisms, resources, or objects in this place. 
  • natural world, designed worldWhat objects belong to the natural world, and what elements of this place below to the designed world. 
  • components, systems, ecosystem, organism, influenceHow do the organisms and objects in this place interact and influence each other as a system.  Draw a diagram to show how this ecosystem connects. 
Present Arguments with Evidence
  • arguments (support arguments)Write an argument that describes why this is a great place in nature. Use the 5-paragraph persuasive structure including argument introduction, 3 specific points with supporting evidence, and a closing paragraph that sums it all up. 
  • What do you think will happen to your favorite place in nature in the next year, ten years, 100 years?  
  • Why do you think this will happen?
  • What can we do to protect your favorite place. 
After connecting the most important vocabulary for the year's science study through this personal share, we'll then begin to tackle the essential questions below and our system-wide units one-by-one throughout the year.

Essential Questions:
  • What is a system?  
  • How do plants and animals connect and influence each other and their environment, and how does the environment (and the objects in it) influence plants and animals. 
  • How does the relationship between Earth and nearby objects in the solar system impact their relationships and patterns of events as seen from earth?
  • What are the elements of Earth's systems, and how does the cycling of water demonstrate the relationship of those resources with respect to human practices and processes? 
  • How does matter and energy cycle through plants and animals, and the ecosystems where they live? 
Current system-wide topics chart.