Name: Specific Teaching Methods – Elementary
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WGU Competency Number(s): 602.4
Competency 602.4.17: Teaching Methods – Science (Elementary)
General Information: Observation and Description
- Activity Title and Subject(s): Solid-State Statics, Mathematics
- Topic or Location in Lesson: Levers and Pulleys
- Grade/Level: Grade 3 (three)/Primary – 7 day lessons
- Instructional Setting: a group of 15 students aged 8–9, seated in a classroom at their tables in pairs, with a clear view of the desk and the objects demonstrated by the teacher. Among the students, there are four ones with ADHD, a student with hearing impairment, a student with Asperger’s syndrome, and three ESL students (a Turkish student, and two students from the UAE).
Your State Core Curriculum/Student Achievement Standard(s)
Objective 602.4.17-15: Leading an activity that requires students to manipulate tools to learn the concept of levers in the solid-state statics.
The standards of clarity and specificity, advanced science content, connectedness, continuity, and safety are going to be used as the guiding principle for the lesson activities (Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Science, n. d.).
- Explain the mechanisms of levers and pulleys to the students;
- Show the principles of the work of levers to the students;
- Help the students formulate the golden rule of mechanics regarding the demonstrated work of levers;
- Show the difference between stationery and traveling blocks;
- Display the properties of a stationary pulley (i.e., its ability to change the direction of the applied force);
- Display the properties of a moving block (i.e., the ability to cut the applied force to ½ of the one applied to the opposite side of the construction);
- Help the students notice the difference between the weight of the load and the applied force;
- Drive the students to the idea of the performance index;
- Train the newly applied skills – calculating the
- Force applied to the opposite lever/length of the opposite lever based on the force applied to the given lever, its length, and the length of/force applied to the opposite lever according to the following formula: F1/l1 = F2/l2, where F1, F2 are the forces applied to the first and the second levers, and l1, l2 are the lengths of the first and the second lever;
- Force applied to the stationary pulley based on the weight transported with the help of the pulley;
- Force applied to the moving block based on the weight transported with the help of the block;
- Introduce the idea of mechanical work, i.e., W = F*D, where W is the performed work, F is the applied force, and D is the distance/length of the lever;
- Teach the students to solve simple problems based on the above-mentioned formula (A = F*S);
- Introduce the idea of performance index to the students (where ή = Pout/Pin, Pout is the output, and Pin being the total work);
- Training the newly acquired knowledge with the help of simple formula-based tasks.
Materials and Resources
- Textbooks, levers, blocks, PowerPoint.
- Textbooks, educational sites.
The sequence of Instructional Procedures/Activities/Events (provide a description and indicate the approximate time for each):
Identification of Student Prerequisite Skills Needed for Lesson
Connection to previous learning about force.
Presentation of New Information or Modeling
Terms definitions (levers, blocks, etc.), formulas (using the appropriate visuals).
A teacher-directed practice is going to be used. Since the topic is new to the students, explanations, and experiments with the teacher’s commentaries on the results will take a considerable amount of the lesson. Therefore, after the explanation part is over, it cannot be expected that the students will be able to deal with the tasks on their own. In the first part of the lesson (exclamation point), the teacher can ask the students to assist him/her and, thus, integrate practice and theory, at the same time supervising the students’ actions. In the second part of the lesson (problem-solving), the teacher should adopt a guided practice approach to allow the students to conduct experiments and do the calculations on their own, yet prevent the students from making mistakes. Thus, it will be able to engage students in participation.
Independent Student Practice
In the third part of the lesson, the students will be offered a small and simple test that will supposedly show whether they have understood the principles of levers and pulleys work and will stir their curiosity, raising the level of engagement. The teacher will no longer assist; however, the teacher will supervise the students’ activity to prevent instances of cheating.
Culminating or Closing Procedure/Activity/Event
At the end of the lesson, the students will be too tired to learn any more information; therefore, it will be necessary, to sum up, the key ideas and principles learned during the given lesson. The teacher can ask students to tell the basic information in turn in their own words. As a student tells a specific segment of information, the teacher writes a corresponding formula down on the whiteboard.
Pedagogical Strategy (or Strategies)
A direct instruction strategy is going to be used. Since the topic concerns the phenomena that are observable in everyday life, it can be expected that the teacher will have only to provide concise and limited directions, while the students are expected to co-create the examples, formulate the key principles of levers and pulleys work, and be able to understand how the elements of the formulas are related rather than learn by heart the key formulas.
|For ESL students||The choice of relatively simple wording|
|For hearing impaired||The emphasis on showing rather than telling|
|For students with Asperger’s syndrome||Repeating the essentials several (3 and more) times|
|For students with ADHD||Offering information in small portions and shifting from theory to practice and back|
By the end of the lesson, the students:
|Grade/Subject Matter||Excellent (A)||Good (B)||Satisfactory (C)||Poor (D)|
|The golden rule of mechanics||Can explain the golden rule in their own words and offer examples||Can explain the golden rule in their own words||Can explain the golden rule using the expression from the textbook||Are unable to explain the golden rule in their own words|
|Solving problems||Can apply the formula F1/l1= F2/l2to practice and derive a performance index||Can apply the formula F1/l1= F2/l2to practice||Can apply the formula F1/l1= F2/l2to practice using the textbook examples||Are unable to apply the formula F1/l1= F2/l2to practice|
|Application to Practice||Can offer 5 and more examples of the use of the formulas in real life||Can offer 3–5 examples of the use of the formulas in real life||Can offer 1 example of the use of the formulas in real life||Cannot offer any examples of the use of the formulas in real life|
- A structure consisting of two levers of different lengths and several sets of weights is shown to the students. The students are supposed to explain how weights balance each other. The given activity will help the students understand the principle of levers work; the manipulative will be used to demonstrate the basic principles and train their abstract thinking skills;
- The teacher introduces a specific weight (e.g., 300 g) and two levers of different lengths (e.g., l1=15 and l2=20 cm). The students are supposed to calculate the weight of the opposite block in case: a) the first block hangs on lever 1; b) the first block hangs on lever 2. The given activity will help the students apply the formula of levers to practice; the manipulative will be used to help students train their mathematic skills;
- The teacher introduces a stationary pulley and a weight, suggesting the students to calculate the force that can lift the weight. The given activity will help the students understand the principle of pulleys work and train their mathematic skills;
- The teacher introduces a moving block and a weight, suggesting the students to calculate the force that can lift the weight. The given activity will help the students understand the principles of moving block work and train their mathematic skills;
- The teacher offers the students to draw examples of levers that they can encounter in their daily life. The given activity will help the students train their abstract thinking skills;
- The teacher offers the students to draw examples of pulleys that they can encounter in their daily life. The given activity will help the students train their abstract thinking skills about the lesson topic.
Instructional Strategy (or Strategies)
It is important to mention that for the given activity, the use of such manipulative as levers and weights is crucial. Besides, it is necessary to bear in mind that different weights and levers of different lengths must be used to demonstrate to the students the golden rule of mechanics. Also, it is necessary to make sure that the students differentiate between the notions of mass and weight. The activity helps the students understand the principles of pulleys and levers work.
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To conduct the given activity, one must incorporate the use of blocks and weights. It is crucial to make sure that the teacher has moving blocks and stationary pulleys, as well as weights of different mass. The activity helps the students understand the principles of the work of blocks.
The given activity does not involve the use of any materials, since the students are supposed to find the examples of levers and pulleys in their school environment, as well as display the ability to think abstract and come up with their examples of levers and pulleys in real life. The activity provides the premises for a deeper understanding of the topic.
The thinking process for each activity will consist of recognizing the problem, analyzing the offered data, recalling the basic formula, deriving the required formula, and calculating the results.
Apart from other elements, manipulatives must be introduced into the lesson activities. Being the basic means to attract the attention of third-graders, manipulatives will help not only provide a better understanding of the lesson material but also keep the students engaged. Thus, it will be required to use colorful plastic/wooden levers (each lever painted in a specific color), and weights of different color, shape, and size. With the help of plastic/wooden colored pulleys and ropes of different lengths and colors, it will be possible to demonstrate the properties of stationary pulleys and moving blocks.
Explanation and Rationale for Instructional Strategy
The choice of the instructional strategy can be defined by the needs of the students in the context of the chosen topic. While the students need to learn the formula, understand the key principle of levers and pulleys, and solve simple problems, they will also need to learn the purpose of the problem-solving process.
As is shown above, the learning activity will incorporate the elements of the ability to analyze and calculate, as well as an ability of abstract thinking.
Explanation and Rationale for Learning Activity
The above-mentioned learning activities help the children not only understand how levers and pulleys work, i.e., understand the topic of the lesson better, but also understand the algorithm of solving problems in general (Reys, Lindquist, Lambdin, & Smith, 2012, 107).
Analysis, Exploration, and Reasoning
Although the students did not display much interest in the theoretical issues at first, with the help of the visual aids, i.e., levers, pulleys, and the experiments that could be carried out, they started showing curiosity. They were rather puzzled with the nature of the inverse proportion between the applied force and the length of the lever. As soon as the first experiment was conducted, the students started trying to understand the theoretical premises behind the experiment.
Connection to Other Effective Teaching Practices
It would be wrong to consider the chosen teaching practice the only possible one for the given lesson; apart from the chosen tactics, it would be a good idea to introduce some elements of reflective teacher practice, which will allow the evaluation of the results of the conducted work and consider the possible improvements (Koch, 2010, 49).
Since the given lesson involves the introduction of completely new notions, it must be mentioned that the evaluation system should be rather mild. The students are supposed to be able to define each of the elements in the formulas, though may not have the formulas learned by the end of the lesson. Also, the students will have to be able to explain the key properties of levers and pulleys, as well as show the forces applied to the levers/pulleys and define the resultant.
Though the given course of activities seems efficient enough for the students to learn the basic rules of the solid-state statics, it still could use certain improvements. To be more exact, the given activities could be more diverse, i.e., aimed at dealing with the specific issues that might emerge in the course of dealing with the topic. However, since it is impossible to consider all possible nuances that might appear in the process of learning (Elser & Elser, 2010), it is reasonable to develop a more general set of exercises.
Personal Meaning and Professional Growth
In terms of professional growth, the given experience was extremely useful. Allowing to understand the specifics of the knowledge management process, as well as the mechanisms of processing and interpreting the newly obtained information, helped see the way teaching theories can be applied to practice. The professional implications of the given lesson concern the process of helping the students understand the key principles of lever and pulleys work, as well as train their mathematical and abstract thinking skills. The personal implications of the given lesson will concern a better understanding of how to make the students interested in the lesson. The given experience has changed my teaching methods, switching them to being more balanced between the theory explanation and practical tasks.
Esler, W. K., & Esler, M. K. (2001). Teaching elementary science: A full-spectrum science instruction approach (8th ed.). Stamford, CT: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Koch, J. (2010). Science stories: Science for elementary and middle school teachers (4th ed.). Stamford, CT: Wadsworth Cengage Publishing.
Reys, R., Lindquist, M., Lambdin, D., & Smith, N. (2012). Helping children learn mathematics (10th ed.). Hobokon, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Science (n. d.). Web.