January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Primary Science, Common Core, and NGSS

Posted: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Valerie Joyner and Michelle French

With special thanks to the Tulare County of Office of Education and the K-12 Alliance

Spring is here! And with it comes many opportunities for adding science and NGSS to your Common Core Curriculum! As flowers bloom, snails and spittle bugs emerge, and creeks flow, look around your school and home for science opportunities for your students to explore. It might take some digging or turning rocks over (don’t forget to put them back) and you have instant enthusiasm for a new primary science lesson! Remember, the focus for K-2 science is: choose ideas about phenomena that students can directly experience and investigate (adapted from A Framework for K-12 Science Education 2012).

To get started, look through your ELA and math CCSS to see what you still need to cover this year. It might be strengthening your students reading for understanding, engaging in argument, graphing, or descriptive writing.  Then identify and highlight any standards or curriculum materials that could be taught through science. Look closely at the texts and/or trade books your students will be working with and determine what local flora or fauna you could use to integrate into your curriculum.

Let’s say for example your students will be reading “Earthworms Underground” by Kevin Beals, “An Earthworm’s Life”, by Himmelman, or “Diary of a Worm” by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss. This is the perfect time to allow students to make first hand observations and experiences that they can use to strengthen their reading, writing, listening, and oral language skills.

SAMPLE ACTIVITY

Material You Will Need:

  • Collect or buy earthworms (available at your local bait shops) – 2-3 for each pair of   students
  • Small 3-4” containers – 1 for each pair of students
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Water to moisten towels and clean up

ENGAGE

Before you begin an earthworm observation ask students to share with each other what they know and wonder about worms.  You can use a sentence frame like: “I know that worms are/have _______________________________.” And “I wonder if worms are/have _______________.” Record ideas on chart paper.

EXPLORE:

Set-up: Place 2-3 worms in a small dish, one for each pair of students. Moisten paper towels for students to place on work areas for observing their worms.  Have clean-up materials ready.

Part #1 – Observation

  1. Start the observation with a discussion about how to safely and responsibly handle earthworms.
  2. Explain to the students that they will be observing the structures and behaviors of earthworms. Instruct them to record 1-3 things they observe in their science notebook.
  3. Distribute worms and paper towels and allow time for students to observe and record (or dictate) their observations.
  4. Ask students to share their observations about the structures and behaviors of their worms.  Compare their observations with the “I Know and I Wonder” chart.  This is an excellent time to check for misconceptions and to allow students to increase their reading and oral vocabulary. Common Core!

Part #2 – Guided Reading

Using Text Features – identify the vocabulary words from the chart that are words in the Glossary, read the definitions of the words noted on the chart.  Next ask students which words from our chart are missing from this glossary? Make notations on chart. Then ask students to think about this question: “If you were the author, what word(s) from the chart would you add to the Glossary?  “I would add the word ___________________, because _____________.”

Reading for Understanding – Choral Reading, questions to ask during reading (depending on text).

  • What structures do earthworms have that help it live underground?
  • What is an adaptation that allows earthworms to survive?
  • How do earthworms protect themselves from sunlight?
  • What structures do other animals have that live underground?

Engaging in Argument – partners and then whole group

  • Discuss with your partner how earthworms protect themselves. “Earthworms protect themselves by ____________________________.
  • Whole group – “From your observations and readings, what new information can we add to the chart?

EXPLAIN:

Notebook entry

  1. Draw a picture of a worm in its underground habitat.  Include at least 1 predator that shares its habitat.
  2. Explain how the earthworm protects itself from these predators.  Write in complete sentences.
  3. Have students share out their pictures and writing (dictation).

EXTEND:

Observing – Have students observe other local animals and record their observations.

Comparing – Have students, work with partners to compare and contrast the structures and behaviors of the animals they have observed

Designing (NGSS) – Identify a problem a worm or other animal has, brainstorm possible solutions, make a plan with drawings and materials, create a model and test it, and then discuss what didn’t work and modify and improve your original design.  Finally retest and modify.

References:

National Research Council (NRC).2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education:   Practices, Cross-Cutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press

NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Resources:

 

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is CSTA’s Primary (grades K-2) Director.

One Response

  1. […] to get started? Here’s a great K-2 observation and critical thinking lesson on earthworms (and the district elementary libraries have lots of books about earthworms you can use […]

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