My First lesson plan and teaching reflection

The following lesson was written in my step1/2 combo class at UTC, a Uteach program for math and science teachers funded by the race to the top program.   We follow the 5E lesson plan and all of our expirments are hands on based.  We observe the class room once before the lesson is taught but really it is an amazing expirence to actually be teaching, not just reading about it.   


Learn to measure!

Authors: Nick Wilson and Christina Mullinax

Grade Level: 5

Concept: The idea that a scientist’s experiment is only as good as the data they collection.  Even if the experiment is performed correctly, if the data is not recorded the best they can, there is not real value in the experiment. 

Source: Blow by Blow Inquiry Lesson, Wittrock & Barrow, Science and Children, Feb. 2000


Students will be able to:

○       Measure the distance a sponge travels with a meter stick to the nearest .5 cm.

○       Identify a most precise measurement from a list of data. 

○       Contrast between approximation and precise measurement. 


Tennessee Curriculum Standards Addressed:

Grade 5:

GLE 0506.4.10 – Recognize that measurements are never exact.

GLE 0506.4.11 – Understand the usefulness of approximations.

GLE 0507.Inq1 – Explore different scientific phenomena by asking questions, making logical   predictions, planning investigations and reading data.


Materials List and Advanced Preparations:    

Teacher/Class supplies – Will need approx. 9 sets of group materials.  Extra sponges, straws, and paper towels.  Masking tape to tape rulers to the desk.  Power point with data collected to show to students. 

Each group requires(2-3 students per) – 1 sponge, 1 meter stick, 1 plastic cup with hole, 2-3 straws paper, paper towels/napkins. 

Safety: Not letting the students play with materials, this includes throwing and mock sword fighting.   Making sure everyone has enough room to conduct the experiment with out bumping.  Also explain the importance of not sharing straws with their partners. 


ENGAGEMENTMinutes:  5    

What the Teacher Will Do

Probing/Eliciting Questions

Student Responses and Misconceptions

Teachers will explain that they have performed the experiment prior to coming to class, but that the data they recorded was very different.  They will this show two different lists of data on a PowerPoint presentation.  The data sets will vary in that

  • One will have the units of measure,
  • One will have decimals showing how accurate the measurement was.
“Why are the data sets so different from each other?” They will point out that one uses decimals and the other doesn’t. Also that one has the units of measurement behind them.     
  Has anyone ever used a meter stick to measure (ask for a raise of hands.)  What kind of results did they look like?    Various responses to gauge their knowledge of measuring. 



EXPLORATIONMinutes: 20    

What the Teacher Will Do

Probing/Eliciting Questions

Student Responses and Misconceptions

Meter sticks will be taped to table before students return from lunch.  There will also be a taped line as a starting point for the sponges.  Other materials will be handed out after demonstration including paper towels (in gallon bags).  Discussion of straw safety (not sharing straws) Extra straws held by teacher.



 Teachers will demonstrate a one short puff tactic which students will emulate twice.  Teachers will also walk around the room during this time to make sure everyone is catching on.  Also go over that the sponge should be measure at the farthest tip.  Instruction will also be left on the board, and be repeated during class by calling on various students.   Also instructions on how to perform the experiments, regarding letting one person go first and then the others recording their information. These instructions will be left on the power point and repeated verbally by calling on students.  Ask students to demonstrate the one puff.   




 Ask students to repeat steps of the instructions 

Students will demonstrate the one puff.   





Students will repeat the instructions as given by the teacher.   

The students will begin the blow by blow experiment collecting their data on the provided sheets.  “Which line are you using to measure?  Why are you using that line?”  “Why is it important to be very precise when you are measuring?” Measure with a line way off from where the sponge is.  So the measurement doesn’t have to be made twice.  
Allow students to measure for themselves to the nearest.05 cm.  Why do you think it is important to measure to this?  Would you always measure to this line, what situation would you not measure?  That they should always be measuring to the most precise line possible




EXPLANATIONMinutes: 10    

What the Teacher Will Do

Probing/Eliciting Questions

Student Responses and Misconceptions

Ask questions about their results. “What were the results you got?”  “Why did you measure it to that line instead of this one?”   What is do we call when we measure accurately?  What is it called when we just estimate a number?    They will measure to a line that is less precise.  Precision



When differences are found in the data, develop a plan to perform the experiment more precisely.  (repeat small portion of exploration)  “Where is the best place to measure the sponge?” “What line should we use on the measuring stick?” “That it doesn’t matter because we are just measuring a sponge.” 


ELABORATIONMinutes: 5    

What the Teacher Will Do

Probing/Eliciting Questions

Student Responses and Misconceptions

Today, we conducted the experiment, but one of the most important things scientist do is explain how they came up with their data.  In you groups, come up with instruction explain not only how you blew the sponge, but how you measure it.  Pretend they know nothing about rounding.  What are the important things you should include?  How did you round to the nearest .5cm.  Where did you measure the sponge.  Forget what to use to measure.  Not mention units.   
EVALUATIONMinutes: 10                                                               Time: Minutes    

What the Teacher Will Do

Probing/Eliciting Questions

Student Responses and Misconceptions

 Short 3-5 question quiz (see quiz sheet)  



Lesson 1 reflection

Grade Level : 5th grade

Our lesson focused primarily with measuring and how to properly record the measurements.  The power point failed a little and the promethium board was more finicky than I expected.  As planned, we covered the two vocabulary words from the lesson, approximation and precision, and how they are used in relation to measurement. 

I think over all the students grasped the concept really well.  I am afraid almost the lesson was below their skill set, as several students expressed a desire to measure to the mm lines, not the .5cm line.  I have graded and gone over half of the tests, and of those 9 were 100’s and the other 3 missed 1 question each.  The elaboration was weaker though, which I will partly blame on not being the best elaboration in the world and on the time constraints to squeeze it in there. 

I would say I am a comfortable 4 our of 5 in my confidence level.  When dealing with the younger students, and ones I am not familiar with, I start to feel a little more anxiety.  I am lucky though to not really have a fear of public speaking, which I relate to teaching. I am comfortable instructing, though I feel I am learning a lot about how to instruct.

Partner teacher was a unique experience.  I have to admit being unused to sharing the stage and I am aware I can be a very strong presence.  Nick on the other hand, has a very different, more laid back quieter style.  That coupled with a need to be in control, it can be difficult for me to step back and hush.  I was also, really challenged by the need to think quickly on my feet.  So much of my work is well planned and thought out, that it was refreshing to have that kind of an atmosphere.


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Filed under Lesson plans/responces, Responces to articles

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