I will give a slight recap of what I taught in my lesson so that this post will be easier to understand. My lesson was on aquifers and how they filter water and what we can do to keep them clean. We did this by making an aquifer of our own.
I will start off with what went well in the lesson. At the start of class we did a question and answer session for the students to refresh their brains on what happened the day before. In the previous class they went through a PowerPoint about aquifers and everything they needed to know for building their own. This went really well because the students had taken notes on a graphic organizer and could reference that if they were stumped. From there we moved into cleaning our tables and getting in groups. I decided before-hand that the groups would be formed of who they sit with. I had some concerns that there was going to be griping about being in groups like that, but it was a smooth transition. I think this was due to the fact that their actual teacher has done an amazing job with creating a good attitude when it comes to groups and what it takes to be a good group member. The next part of the lesson that went rather well was the actual pouring of the water and the observations of the aquifers. The students had a lot of questions about aquifers and what was happening to theirs. At the end of the lesson I had reflection questions on the board that they were to dicuss with their group and record. At the VERY end they got a sticky note and, as an exit slip, had to write down a higher order questiont they still had about aquifers. We talked about some of their questions and this went really well. Their teacher has done a great job in showing them what a higher level question really is.
Now some things that could have gone better in the lesson. I had each group come up to the “buffet” to make their aquifer. I had an example of what it was supposed to look like, but a lot of them put way too much of a certain ingredient. This messed some of them up in the end. This also created a problem with groups that had either already made theirs or were waiting to do so. I think if I had to do this again I would have pre-made cups for each group. They would be at the buffet still, but one person from each group could come up and grab item #1 and then another person could come up and grab item #2. This has all groups involved at one time and cuts down on the down time. Down time is not a bad thing for older kids, but for 6th graders it could be chaos. The only times they got “out of control” was when they were not being engaged. This is something for me to think about for future lessons.
From this little exercise I have a few things I can take into my own classroom. I have learned from my experience, now, of down time. I think it is important to always have your student’s minds working. For me that does not mean I always have to be talking, but that does mean having the students engaged in something I have just said or something I have given them to do. The students had a lot of questions about aquifers that I was not able to answer. I know that this will be something that comes up a lot especially as I get the older groups of students. I know that I will not always be able to answer their questions, but I think doing some intense research before a lesson will help with the questions they have. We could always afford to learn something new.