As I observed Akeni Taguchi teach a science lesson in the presence of her third grade students, the level of engagement in her class was impressive and satisfactory to me. I was also contended with the complex practical experiments the students were exposed to. The main focus of the lesson was how to produce energy using the water wheel. In order to acquire the required hands- on knowledge, the students were required to form small groups of about three.
After forming the groups, they were supposed to come up with an individualized version of a water wheel, by making use of the available materials. As they concentrated on the assignment, Ms. Taguchi’s presence was noticeable throughout the period. She moved from one group to the other as she encouraged the students, gave them suggestions and provided any assistance they required. The following paragraphs are meant to address her directly commenting on the lesson.
As a tool used in scaffolding, you succeeded in the way you reactivated what the students had learnt by allowing them to discuss in groups the field trip your class conducted to Graue Mill, paintings on students, the right vocabulary and the miniature well demonstration you had constructed. This definitely gave the students a chance to review the mechanical functioning of water wells together with the natural resources such as dams, rivers e.t.c that are involved.
Without doing this, it would have been difficult for them to make connections between what they had learnt earlier and what they were reading. I could also clearly tell that the activity played a major role in reminding you the specific instances that characterized your field trip. This was helpful in that you were able to sustain the discussion and gave you a chance to incorporate every single student.
I was particularly interested in your approach that gave the students a chance to become ‘scientists.’ This was possible through the small groups where they used the materials provided with your facilitation. You allowed them to carry on with the procedures without interference. This gave them an opportunity to discover different concepts for themselves. After they were through with the projects, you gave them an opportunity to come up with their conclusive remarks after each individual test session.
However, I would like to offer some suggestions that may be helpful in your class for the sake of advancing the knowledge of the students. If you decide to continue with this particular lesson next year or in the future, you might consider having individual groups conduct their own analysis and record the data they gather. Afterwards, they could make comparisons of the findings they get and fill out a sheet that captures data for all groups or an observation chart showing what they see.
As I progressed with my observations, I noted that you did not make use of technology. In my class, I have discovered that my learners are both hands-on and visual learners. As a result, it is important to incorporate technology in the sessions. One of the useful resources that may be of help to you is YouTube, which an internet resource (Teaching with Technology, 2012).
On YouTube, I found out that there are numerous and useful water wheel demonstrations like 4th Grade Science Fair Project Water Wheel and Perpetual Motion Water Wheel. In addition, there are many ways through which additional knowledge and skills can be obtained. For example, there are development programs such as Science Safari. This program assists teachers to gain important skills used in the design of an engaging lesson (although your lesson was nevertheless fully engaging and appropriate but it can be improved).
There is also another program known as let Science Begin which is concerned with offering new research on how science should be taught. I would also like to suggest that the Curriculum Instruction Specialist (CIS) of the campus should be used well. This is important in that it provides in-house professional science development during staff meetings that are beneficial to all grade levels (Sigafoos, 2007).
In order to ensure that technology is fully utilized, my suggestion is that one student should be allowed to take photographs of the systematic experiments during their group work. These pictures could be used later to generate PowerPoint presentations for purposes of class presentations.
Some of the methods that can be used to take the pictures include the use of cameras, laptops and I-pods. The classes could then be required to select the best presentation through a voting system in order to make a presentation during the school-wide Science Fair. The students can also be allowed to conduct research on historic water wheels and modern energy systems generated by water.
I would like to restate my satisfaction with your science lesson and the impressive engagement level and desire to learn of you students. It was evident that you had taken enough time to prepare for the lesson and that you were committed to equip learners with learning strategies beneficial to the diverse learners in your class. My experience as a teacher has taught me that it is beneficial to compliment one’s peers by copying their ideas. I will undoubtedly copy your ideas.
Sigafoos, J. (2007). Technology and Teaching. New York: Nova Publishers.
Teaching with Technology. (2012). Web.