Content Knowledge: The teacher uses content area knowledge, learning standards, appropriate pedagogy and resources to design and deliver curricula and instruction to impact student learning. This standard focuses on the most critical elements of the lesson design process. It establishes that teachers create purposeful learning units that align with core instructional standards, along with the needs and interests of students.
Students in my class recently started a science unit that involves exploring different types of wood, how they are produced, and how they are used in real world buildings and structures. Students delved into the scientist’s role by experimenting to figure out which type of wood was the most absorbent.
In Picture 1 below (on the left) a student is testing five different types of wood by placing two drops on each piece and waiting to see how long it takes for the water to soak in. After students observed the results of this experiment, they discussed what type of wood they would want to build a house with and what type of wood their desks are made out of. In Picture 2 below (on the right), two students look closer at a desk before deciding that the classroom desks are built from plywood.
During the next lesson, students made predictions about whether it would take more or less paperclips to sink the plywood than the pinewood. In Picture 3 below (on the left), a student colors in the “more” choice. In Picture 4 (middle), students work with the pieces of wood and paperclips to prepare them for the float or sink test. In Picture 5 (on the right) a student anxiously awaits to see if the wood will sink.
These lessons were very exciting for the students as they investigated using hands-on experiments, made connections to what they know, and learned new scientific terms such as absorbent, repel, and prediction. These activities are part of a kit that was designed over a decade ago, but I learned that the tasks are adaptable to modern standards. The school district is currently in the process of adopting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The new standards emphasize the importance of students practicing in-depth experiments to delve deeper into core scientific concepts through hands-on experiments and investigations (Joyce, Weil, Calhoun, 2015, p. 72). Despite being created under a different set of standards, this wood unit and activities align with NGSS’s K-2-ETS1 Engineering Design standards. So far students have practiced making observations, gathering information, and analyzed the results. At the end of this lesson sequence, students will build their own structures out of wood, an activity that aligns with the developing and using models objective. It will be really exciting to see what the students create and learn why they wanted to build certain structures!
As this lesson sequence continues, my goal is to develop a stronger understanding of the new science standards. I am particularly interested in increasing my knowledge about how the standards relate to the Common Core State Standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. I think it is so beneficial to plan lessons that incorporate students’ skills and knowledge across all subject areas.
Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.