Scaffolding Scientific Conclusions - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide

Scaffolding Scientific Conclusions

Howdy, friends. Sorry for the delay in this post. My husband has made about 75 calls to the cable company since we moved into our new house and still we have yet to receive a good solid signal. Shockingly, my husband still is sweet! Our internet issue has made blogging tremendously difficult! But... I have a stockpile of lessons and activities coming your way in the next few weeks to make up for it!

Last week, I really started focusing on scientific inquiring and investigations. This is something that is a newer nugget of knowledge for me to initiate in my classroom. I have always had my kids speak and draw pictures, but writing can be a daunting task, especially for someone who has never had a class on "How to Teach a Kid to Write!" Needless to say, my students are always excellent authors because I model writing so often and we practice daily. In kindergarten, the student expectation in our district is two sentences! That's not so bad!

Field Investigation: Bumpy Seat

We focused on the five senses and how we use them to conduct investigations. We did an investigation each day to explore our five senses. We went on a listening walk and heard our assistant principal's high heels clicking on the tile floor. We also heard boxes dropping on the floor as new textbooks were being delivered. The scientists thought this was pretty neat. Then, we traveled to the playground where we heard the coach's whistle, basketballs bouncing, and children screaming while playing a game.

The following day, we explored my favorite sense, touch (texture- the way an object feels). I read a small children's book, I Touch, about a small child touching soft, hard, and gooey things. This text introduced the scientists to the describing words we used and activated prior knowledge as they related to the small child touching a teddy bear, blanket, cereal, etc. We discussed that we use our hands as a tool to identify texture and I wrote the investigative question on our chart paper (see photograph of chart paper on easel below): How can we describe objects on the playground?

Field Investigation: Smooth Bridge
Then, we went on a field investigation to our playground. We felt the BUMPY metal seat and the SMOOTH bridge, along with the ROUGH rock wall around the perimeter of the jungle gym, and the HARD plastic slide. It was amazing how quickly the scientists built the academic vocabulary since they had a sensory experience. At each object, I said, "The ____ (object) is _____ (describing texture word). The scientists repeated after me. This helped them achieve the goal of describing the playground using texture words.

I did a lesson last year with objects in the classroom (blocks, Legos, books, etc.). It surely did not have the same results. THIS LESSON WAS A BIG IMPROVEMENT. Plus, these field investigations helped me continue teaching safety rules so when we go outside later in the year to observe the patterns of movement, weather, and organisms, there are no problems as the expectations have been taught and practiced.

We came back into the classroom and washed our hands (continuing to practice science safety.) Scientists gathered back on the rug to debrief after our investigation. We repeated the question together, "How can we describe objects on the playground?" I posted a sentence stem. *This is the first time my students have seen a written sentence stem (they have used oral sentence stems so they have a little experience with how they work. I highlight the words they will need to copy as a scaffold for my students.

Together, we decide that we will write about the slide. I model how I would use the posted sentence stem to write my own sentence. I copy the word "The," emphasizing that the sentence begins with a capital letter. I place a finger space and write the playground object that I would like to describe, "slide". I copy the word "is" after placing a finger space. Finally, I select a texture word from the word bank at the bottom of the chart, "hard." I show the students how I use my finger to create another space and write my final word and add a period which signifies the end of the sentence.
Normally, I would take down our shared conclusion so the students do not copy it, but I left it up for additional support for my struggling students... plus this is the first time doing something like this for them. I handed each of them a strip of paper to write their conclusion and turned them loose!

Independent Conclusion: The ____ (object) is ____ (texture describing word).
It was so exciting to see how the conclusions came out. Look at the photograph on the left. This really was a great formative assessment to show me what the students learned during our science lesson.

The first student wrote, "The hard is" (That student read it, "The slide is really hard.") The second student copied my conclusion. (This is why it should be removed. Only a sentence stem should be left up.) The third student wrote, "CTYD s in in." (That student read it, "The wall is hard." CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE SCIENTISTS READING THEIR CONCLUSIONS!

I look forward to seeing what these scientists come up with next investigation!

Happy Scaffolding!


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