New for 2016 – to see the older version with additional lesson details, please visit my post from last year.
Before starting the activity, I set the stage that they are a group of archeologists and have discovered an ancient tablet at an archeological dig site. Unfortunately, the tablet is broken and as they excavate, they only find a few pieces at a time. What does the ancient table say? Scientists all over the world try to decipher the ancient text…
Words to cut apart (pdf) – this year I removed the word “bone” to change it up a little
white paper cut into 1/4ths or small index cards
This year, I wanted to try something different for this lesson. Instead of seeing how close each group came to the original phrase that was on the “tablet”, I wanted each group to analyze the findings from the other groups to compare their findings and look for similarities and differences. This would be similar to a gallery walk (see video below) but without students explaining their posters, they would view posters at their own pace and choose any 3 posters to compare for each category.
Note – this lesson plan is a modification of the original lesson plan from The University of California Museum of Paleontology (link)
I updated my Dunkin’ for DensityLesson for 2016, I use this lesson with my 6th graders as part of our unit on properties of matter. I wanted it to be more data driven and have them analyze the data from all of their trials, and then compare their data to their classmates. I changed the objective to:
Change the density of the film canister so that 90-99% of the canister is suspending under water.
I have been getting a lot of requests for editing access to the Google Slides on my blog, so I wrote this tutorial on how to save and edit any of the Google Slides on my website. I can’t permit editing rights because it will change my copy of the slides and your edits will be visible to everyone that visits my blog.
Lesson Plan: Substituted Sammy Google Slides (Public) modified from: “Substituted Sammy”: An Exercise in Defining Life, Donald F. Shebesta, The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 34 No. 5, May, 1972; (pp. 286-287) DOI: 10.2307/4443933
I love using this activity as an introduction to get my 7th grade students thinking about the idea of living vs. nonliving. How do we define life? How do we know something isn’t alive anymore? How are living things different than nonliving things? How are nonliving things different than things that were once living? What characteristics do living things have in common?
To start the lesson, we brainstorm and try to pin point what it means to be alive. Accept all answers and write them on the board. After our brainstorming and discussion session, I draw Sammy on the board in one colored dry erase marker ( ie blue) and ask students to do the same. I explain that we are going to learn about Sammy and every time something about Sammy changes, I will draw it in a different color (ie red) and ask students to do the same in pencil.
As the story progresses, I also draw a dialysis machine, IV bag and stand, ventilator, etc… and essentially, end up drawing a robot at the end. This leads to some great discussions about what we can do now, and what we can’t do yet, in the medical field. It also brings up the discussion about the quality of Sammy’s life, at some point is he really living his life or just alive? I ask the students to give Sammy a percentage of “living” as we go through the slides, is he 50% living, 80% living, 25% living, etc and they give a wide range of answers. I then reveal it is a trick question, the answer has to be either 0% or 100%, you can’t be partially living, biologically speaking – you are either alive or not alive, there really is no quantitative scale. Quality of life is not a biological definition, instead it is an ethical issue and everyone has their own definition or belief system. (And then there is the gray area that Viruses fall into ;))
This introductory lab is a fun way to analyze data and the students look forward to finding the results each year. Who will be taller, boys or girls? Will we be taller than last year’s class? You can really analyze the data in multiple ways, you can also add the concept of min, max, mode, and range in addition the mean, you can look for trends, and you can talk about sample size, etc…
This post highlights the eight Scientific and Engineering Practices and spotlights a few lessons related to each practice. I had this as eight separate posts but decided to consolidate for easier viewing.
For more details and examples about the Science and Engineering Practices, visit NSTA.
Tag: SEP8 – click for more lessons that cover this practice
print and cut apart the 8 cards for each part of the lesson
to set up the cards, use large 4×6 index cards and store in ziptop bags.
on one side of the index cards, glue on the nonsense letters
on the reverse side, glue on the fossil layers
laminate for durability
Replace the letters for each fossil layer, see my ppt for new random letters
spelling out the word “ORGANISM“ is way too easyfor students to figure out and they will not really have a chance to work on the activity with the depth of thinking and problem solving that you want them to do
be sure to stagger cards so that the order of the cards is not the same, otherwise they will flip over the cards and have the answer for part 2
This is a fantastic lesson and I have used it successfully with both 5th and 6th grade students. When introducing this lesson I use the analogy of a laundry hamper, or in most cases, the pile of dirty clothes on the floor in their bedroom. Today’s clothes would go on top of the pile, each day adding a layer of dirty clothes. The older clothes would be on the bottom of the pile, kind of like a timeline of what they wore this week. When that laundry is collected and moved to the laundry room, the layers would get disrupted. With rocks, the layers form on top of each other, and the older layers are on the bottom. We then brainstorm how those layers can be disrupted: earthquakes, tectonic plates moving, landslides, digging, etc…
For this activity, they have to figure out the pattern of how these layers are formed, and there are clues in each layer, they just need to know what to look for. For the nonsense letters, there is a pattern that connects all the layers together. Many will think it is alphabetical, but I tell them that it is not. Once they have worked on it a few minutes, I have them share their theories. Once each group has shared their theory, I give them the clue. And suddenly, the pattern is clear now that they know what to look for. Using the same strategy, they will then sequence the fossils on the reverse side of the index cards.
Google Drive Folder: I have all of my vocab sheets posted in one folder so they are easy to find and access. If I find or create any more vocab sheets, they will be included in this folder.
Below are some fun ways to incorporate vocabulary into your lesson plans:
Cut & Paste: Have students cut out the definitions and paste or tape them next to the correct word.
Flashcards: Students will cut out each vocab word and paste it to the front of an index card, then they will cut out and paste the correct definition on to the back of the index card.
Find Your Partner: Give half of the class a vocabulary word and the other half of the class a definition. They will look for their partner and record their answer. Have them come to you to pick up a new word and a new definition and find new partners.
Quiz, Quiz, Trade: Using the flashcards, give each student one vocab word. They will go around the room and quiz each other. After quizzing each other, they will trade flashcards and find a new partner.
Matching: Create a vocab set by laminating and cutting out the words and definitions. Place the words and definitions into a ziptop bag. Have each student or pair of students match the words with their definitions.
Go Fish: Using the matching set above you can play Go Fish. Deal out 3-5 cards per player (depending on the number of students and vocab words) and place the rest upside down in the center. Students will ask each other for a vocab word or a definition, if they don’t have it, they will say “Go Fish” and the student will pick a card from the pile. If they have a matching set, they will place it down. If not, they will add the card to their hand. The first person to place all their cards down wins.
Old Maid: Using the matching set above, you can remove one of the vocab words or definitions from the set. Students will deal out all the cards. Students will pick a card from the person to their right. If they have a matching set, they will set it down. The first person to place all their cards down, wins, the person left with the vocab word or definition without that doesn’t have a matching card is the “Old Maid”.
Dominoes: Using the matching set above, you can have 3-4 students shuffle the words and definitions and deal out to each student. Have one person start by placing a vocab word on the table. If the next person has the definition, have them place it on the table touching the vocab word. The next person will place a vocab word on the table touching the definition of the previous word, and so on until all the words and definitions are used. The first one to get rid of all their cards wins. If a students doesn’t have a definition or new vocab word to put down, they will skip their turn.
Stations: You can set up stations around the room with different vocabulary activities and students can rotate through the stations.
To make any of these games more challenging, you can combine 2 or 3 related sets of vocab into the mix. If you have any other fun ways to review vocabulary, please add to the comment section below.
Note: If you are having trouble seeing the handouts in ‘preview mode’ and it seems to be stuck in the loading phase, click on the boxed arrow (pop-out button) on the top right to open the pdf and view the rest of the pages.