Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let the raisins dance!

I received a text from the students of Room 7 this morning, thanking me for teaching them while their teacher, Mrs Mador, was away. The text put a smile on my face and I responded by thanking them for the shared science experience and what they taught me.
It reminded me of the Māori concept 'ako' and how important it is to thank students for the personal growth they give teachers through the knowledge, experience and understanding they bring into the classroom everyday and share.

This week I was asked to relieve in New Entrant and Year 1 classes. I haven't had much experience teaching this age group and was interested to see what science concepts the students had. 
I decided to teach the lesson Dancing Raisins, which shows air bubbles can cause objects to float.
I began by simplifying my learning intentions and explained to the students we were "learning to be a scientist by using our five senses." 
I had to clarify what a scientist was, as the students were learning about how to manage themselves in a school environment and were focused on giving me answers about friendship, which is an extremely important skill to have even as a scientist. I ended up explaining a scientist was a person who makes discoveries and today we were going to find out how raisins danced. Naturally, this got the students excited and I could see they were picturing the ways a raisin could dance in their minds.
Introducing the lesson took some talking on my part, and to keep the students' attention I used energiser science songs like Hi-5's Five Senses
I got the students to head up their pages with the titles Input and Output. In hindsight I would do this myself and write the learning intentions and necessary information on the input page (see first post for info about input and output pages). The students were developing their ability to form letters and this slowed them down and wasn't a focus for the science lesson.

I gave each student a small science cup, a large science cup and a plate.  I asked them to draw their science equipment to develop their observation skills. 
All material can be found in the party section of any supermarket.
In each small science cup I placed a few raisins for the students to investigate using their five senses.

Lots of talking took place and fantastic scientific language was used. I recorded their language on the interactive board. Once we were happy with our information I moved onto the lemonade. I got the students to be quiet while I opened the lemonade bottles, making sure they heard the sound of the carbon dioxide escaping when the cap's seal was broken. This sound brought great delight and I posed the question 'why do you think lemonade makes that sound when I open the bottle?' Nobody could answer, so I suggested we keep the question in mind while we continued to be scientists.
After pouring the lemonade into the small science cups, students got to investigate the lemonade using their five sense and drew what they saw. Again, students came up with great scientific language to explain what they were experiencing.

I began to set up the experiment and during this time students spontaneously began to share their predictions about what they thought would happen when the raisins were dropped in the lemonade. I quickly recorded their thoughts on the interactive board.
"It's going to explode."

"They will go to sleep."

"It will sink."
"They will dance and pop out."
Students dropped the raisins into the cups and watched what happened. It was lovely to share in
their wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm for what they were seeing.
After ten minutes of observing and group discussion I brought the students down to the mat to have a class discussion about what they experienced. I repeated the bottle opening with the New Entrants and talked about how the sound is air trying to escape from the lemonade, and asked questions relating this to the dancing raisins experiment. A few of the students could see the relationship with the air bubbles and lead the discussion.
I took this discussion further with the Year 1 class and, together, we researched other 'scientists' work on the interactive board. We looked on Youtube and found a Dancing Raisins experiment. After watching the clip the Year 1s were able to explain how the raisins danced in more detail.
It was a great opportunity to relieve at this level and observe the developmental thinking taking place. The students may be limited by their various communication skills, but they show an ability to grasp scientific concepts and, definitely, renewed my vigor for teaching through their joy and happiness for learning.

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