Monday, October 24, 2022
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
1. Objectives - stated in terms of what the students should be able to recall or do at the end of the lesson. Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based.
2. Related requirements (I will refer to this later on).
3. Materials. In science, this will include equipment.
4. Procedure – a detailed description of what the teacher and students will do to meet the objectives.
5. Assessment - whatever method you intend to use, such as quizzes, students writing in journals, getting feedback from students.
6. Reflection – after the class is finished, it’s important to record whether the objectives were met and, if not, what should be done in subsequent classes.
I have written several blog posts to explain why I think the National Standards Curriculum is overloaded with content. Teachers are required to write lesson plans based on a template which looks extraordinarily complicated to me. Primary school teachers are expected to write 25 or more such lesson plans a week. To help them, the Ministry of Education provides 'ready to use' lesson plans. I decided to look at one. The full text of it is at the end of this blog post.
I chose “Functions of different plant parts – leaves” from the Science Units of Work, Grade 4, Term 1, Unit 3: Plants and Animals. 7 weeks (14 hours) are allocated to this unit, so 1 hour is a reasonable time for this topic. However this plan contained more material than could possibly be covered in one hour. Attainment targets and Benchmarks are included in the lesson plan. Do they need to be stated here, as they are general and apply to the whole unit? The specific objectives, and the learning outcomes given are not specific to this lesson either – they apply to all the lessons on plants in the unit. They could be classified as related requirements.
Now to Procedure Activities:
1. “Take the children to the school yard for a Nature Walk, on which they should collect leaves and complete an observation sheet with names of plants and numbers, colours and shapes of their leaves.”
This activity might be possible with a small class
but not with 40 students. If a school has very few plants, or even a well-kept
garden, it couldn’t supply 5 streams of 40 students.
It would be more manageable to ask students beforehand to bring leaves from common weeds such as broomweed, morning glory,
guinea hen weed, cerasee, coral vine, duppy gun (Ruellia), water grass, and Spanish needle. (The teacher
could bring a bunch of these for students who don’t bring.)
|Morning glory leaf|
2. Students should observe the leaves and make leaf impressions in their notebook by placing a piece of paper over a leaf and rubbing with a pencil or crayon to make an outline of the leaf. They are then to make posters and categorize leaves according to mathematical shapes.
Mathematical shapes? I couldn’t do that and it tells you nothing about the function of the leaf.
3. Students should construct bar graphs of numbers of leaves on plants, from data on observation sheet.
The range of numbers of leaves on plants would be huge and difficult to plot. If you want children to represent data on a bar graph, it is better to use something with a smaller range of numbers, such as the number of peas or beans in a pod, or number of petals on a flower.
Students will plan and carry out an investigation to determine the function of leaves.
Finding out that a plant dies if you take off all the leaves, as suggested, would not indicate to a student that leaves make food for the plant. Many plants are deciduous and produce new leaves after a cold or dry season, or survive as underground storage organs.
I have taught 8-year-olds and classes of 40 students aged 14 and over, but never a class of 40 8-year-olds, but here is my suggested lesson plan for this topic:
Objective: that students should know that plants make their own food; and be able to explain how the structure of a leaf is suited to its function.
Related requirements: attainment targets and benchmarks as stated in the curriculum.
Materials: leaves from a variety of plants, brought by students and teacher.
Procedure: Revise the characteristics of living things and differences between animals and plants.
Ask students if they know how plants make their food. Students should record in their notebooks the fact that all plants including seaweeds, mosses and ferns flowering plants make their food from carbon dioxide (a gas in the atmosphere) and water, using the energy of sunlight. The function of the leaf of the flowering plant is to make food.
Students should examine the leaves and state the features all leaves have in common - they are green, they are flat and thin and they have veins. How are these features related to their function of making food? How does water get to the leaf? Where does the water come from? Where does carbon dioxide come from and how does it get into the leaf? What feature of the leaf traps the energy of sunlight?
Assessment: Students should make a labelled drawing of a leaf, with a scale to indicate its size.
If time permits, students will make leaf impressions in their notebooks by placing a piece of paper over a leaf and rubbing with a pencil or crayon to make an outline of the leaf.
As far as they are able they should record in their own words how features of leaves help them to make food. However, the many children who will not be able to do so should be assisted to make notes as follows.
Leaf stalk and veins carry water to the leaves, and carry food made by the leaves to other parts of the plant.
The green colour of leaves comes from a pigment called chlorophyll which traps the energy of the sunlight.
Leaves are flat and thin to allow carbon dioxide to get to all the cells and for oxygen to get out.
The leaf stalk holds the leaf so that sunlight falls on it.
Reflection: Since I didn't teach this lesson, I have nothing to reflect on. However, I hope that the objective would have been fulfilled.
Full Text of Ministry of Education Lesson Plan
Full Text of Ministry of Education Lesson Plan
DATE: June 2019
DURATION: 60 minutes
UNIT: Plants and Animals
TOPIC: Functions of different plant parts - leaves
Recognise the variety of living things, their interdependence and their inter-relationship with the environment.
Gain an understanding of and apply aspects of the scientific method.
Begin to appreciate the influence and limitations of science.
Demonstrate a positive attitude towards the use of scientific language.
Devise and carry out a fair test in a familiar context.
Predict the outcomes of events based on their knowledge
Display curiosity, objectivity and perseverance in their approach to activities
Identify and name a variety of common plants
Investigate the functions of different structures of plants (root and shoot systems)
Construct graphs and analyse data collected from investigations on plants
Make labelled drawings of the external parts of plants
Show concern by being responsible towards plants and animals
Show curiosity in exploring plants and animals in the surroundings
KEY SKILLS: Observing, record, report, construct graphs, analyse, create, communicate, collaborate, plan and design, draw conclusions,
KEY VOCABULARY: leaf, make food, shoot, leaf vein,
MATERIALS/RESOURCES: leaves of different colours and shapes, pencil, crayon, plain paper, marker, cartridge paper, scissors, glue, tape,
Leaves come in a variety of shapes and colours and form part of the shoot system of a plant. Leaves play an important role as they make food for the plants and other animals. Leaves contain a green substance which help them to use the light energy from the Sun to make food. Plants would eventually wither and die if they had no leaves.
PRIOR LEARNING: Check that students can:
Classify plants as living things
Describe the characteristics of living things
5 E L E S S O N P L A N T E M P L A T E P a g e | 2
Prepared by Science Section, CCU, MoE June 2019
LEARNING OUTCOME: Students who demonstrate understanding can:
Explain the functions of the basic structures of plants
Make labelled drawings of the external parts of flowering plants
Appreciate the need to care for plants
Accurate observations noted
Observation Sheet contains accurate information
Correct mathematical shapes identified
Leaf impressions are neat and accurate
Investigation plans reflect a fair test
Conclusions supported by evidence
PROCEDURES/ACTIVITIES Engage - How can I get students interested in this? Use of an interesting picture. (15 min)
Students will participate in a Nature Walk. They will collect leaves from different plants (or use phone/ tablets to take pictures), noting the name of plant and the number of leaves observed on each plant examined. The information collected will be recorded on the Observation Sheet provided.
Students will be asked to handle plants with care and why this is important.
Teacher will clarify any misconceptions and direct students to form groups to carry out the next activity. Explore - What tasks/questions can I offer to help students puzzle through this? Use of a simple investigation. (15 min)
In groups, students will carefully examine samples or pictures of the leaves collected, noting their colour and shape. Students will use a magnifying glass to note the structure of the leaf. These structures will be identified as veins and midrib.
Students will make leaf impressions in their notebook by placing a piece of paper over a leaf and rubbing with a pencil or crayon to make an outline of the leaf.
Teacher will assess how each group is carrying out the activity and offer guidance as needed. Explain - How can I help students make sense of their observations? Class presentation and discussions. (15 min)
Leaf impressions will be placed on charts/ posters for display in the class. Students can also arrange pictures taken for presentation using poster or PowerPoint.
Students will present their posters and discuss the different leaf shapes and colours. The leaves will be categorized using mathematical shapes. Students will recall the function of leaves and will suggest why leaves are important to plants.
Poster will be assessed using a teacher-prepared rubric.
5 E L E S S O N P L A N T E M P L A T E P a g e | 3
Prepared by Science Section, CCU, MoE June 2019
Teacher notes information presented by students on the board and offers clarifications of any misconceptions held and provides additional information to students. Elaborate - How can my students apply their new knowledge to other situations? Application of what they learned. (10 min)
Students will use information on the Observation Sheet to construct graphs showing the number of leaves present on different plants (or use Microsoft Excel to generate graphs)
Students will be introduced to a scenario where two similar plants are presented (or using pictures). One with leaves and the other without. Students will predict what would happen to the plant without leaves. Students will plan an investigation to determine the function of leaves. Students will discuss what will make it a fair test and present plans to the teacher.
Students will carry out the investigation over a number of weeks and present their findings using spreadsheets/ graphs. Students will make conclusions as to the importance of leaves to plants.
Teacher offers guidance during the process of planning the investigation and instructs students to use the Designing Investigation Template. Misconceptions will be clarified by the teacher. The need for proper care of plants will be highlighted and discussed. Evaluate - How can I help my students self-evaluate and reflect on the teaching and learning, and how can I evaluate the students learning of concepts and skills. Assessment (10 min)
Leaf poster will be assessed using a teacher-prepared rubric.
Observation Sheet will be assessed for accurate observations and information.
Plans for investigation will be assessed to determine if they reflect a fair test.
Bar Graphs constructed using data from the Nature Walk will be assessed for correct labelling and display of information.
EXTENDED LEARNING: Students will use Internet to research plants which do not have leaves and determine how the plant makes food for itself.
LINKS TO OTHER SUBJECTS:
Visual Arts, Mathematics
5 E L E S S O N P L A N T E M P L A T E P a g e | 4
Prepared by Science Section, CCU, MoE June 2019
Activity 1: Plants and their leaves
Aim: To determine the number of leaves on plants in the school environment
Skills: Observing, manipulating, calculating, collaborating
What you will do:
Go on a Nature Walk in your school yard.
Explore the environment and note the names of plants and the number and colour of their leaves.
Complete the Observation Sheet below.
Number of leaves
Colour of leaves
Shape of leaves
1. What number of leaves is most common on plants?
2. Which is the most popular leaf colour?
3. Which leaf shape is the most common?
4. Use the information to construct bar graphs when instructed by your teacher.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Should we be burning leaves and other garden waste?
If tobacco smoke is toxic, wouldn’t other kinds of smoke be toxic also?
Attitudes to smoking have changed over the last hundred years. In the 1990’s, doctors proved that tobacco smoke causes lung cancer, not only in the smoker but also in other people. So, countries all over the world, including Jamaica, have placed bans on smoking in public places.
In Jamaica, we like to tidy the yard by raking up leaves and other garden waste and burning them. Perhaps we should reconsider this practice. Smoke produced in this way is even more toxic than tobacco smoke. It is a mixture of particles and chemicals produced by incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. All smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, many different chemicals, and particulate matter (PM or soot). Inhaling carbon monoxide decreases the body's oxygen supply. This can cause headaches, reduce alertness, and aggravate a heart condition known as angina.
Heat from a fire makes the smoke go up in the air, but when it hits cooler air, a lot of the chemicals condense and gradually fall to the ground. The smoke is spread out by wind and air currents in areas where people live, so it is hard for them to avoid breathing it in.
Source: Particulate Matter Basics US EPA
Very small particles are those which measure 2.5 microns or less. (10,000 microns = 1cm.) They are about a quarter the size of a red blood cell and would even look small under a microscope. They can seep through cracks in closed doors and windows. They can get deep into the lungs and possibly into the blood. Inhaling fine particles can cause a variety of health effects, including respiratory irritation and shortness of breath, and can worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
Other health impacts of open burning include increased infant mortality, low birth weight of babies, onset of childhood asthma, coughs, and wheezing. While the seriousness of these depends on how close people are to fires, how long fires persist and the number of fires people are exposed to, open burning increases risk of death among the general population, particularly the elderly, children, and those with preexisting respiratory and cardiac illnesses.
The alternatives to burning garden waste include:
1. Composting – all garden waste will gradually decompose. It will decompose more quickly if it is broken into smaller pieces, kept moist and layered with kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings, in a compost pile or bin.
di In districts where there is garbage collection, it can be bagged and put out to be collected.
N.B. We should never burn garbage. The smoke from it is more toxic than that from garden waste. It should be bagged and put out to be collected. Where there is no garbage collection, it should be buried far from water sources.
Friday, August 7, 2020
I don’t have a problem with how children wear their hair, provided that it is kept clean. In relation to self expression, I’m not sure that in the case of children it is theirs or that of their parents. I know of girls who have wanted to cut their hair, but have been prevented from doing so by their fathers. It would be hard to gauge the effect of being told to change their hairstyle would have on their self-esteem.
Children are taught that their mother tongue, Jamaican Creole or ‘patwa’ is their home language which they speak among friends and family, but they are not taught to read it or write it. They are allowed to play roles, sing and express themselves orally in patwa, while at the same time being encouraged to speak Standard Jamaican English. This is the language they are taught to read and write. In order to read and write in patwa, a child must first learn to read and write in the English Language. The injustice meted out by this system is not so much that it’s harder to learn in a language that is not of your thoughts, but the implication that this language is superior to yours and by extension, those who have command of this language are superior to you. This surely must affect your self-esteem.
The ineffectiveness of this system is shown, not by the large numbers of Jamaicans whose command of the English Language both orally and in writing is better than that of many native speakers of this language, but by the large numbers of children who don’t learn to read, and those who have difficulty expressing themselves in their own words both orally and in writing. They can learn swathes of text by rote, but struggle to write a description, explain a process or recount an event.
Another way in which schools damage children’s self-esteem is by the system of assessment – testing and grading and failing children. It’s not entirely the school’s intention – parents and the whole society are programmed to judge children’s performance in relation to one another. But that is a topic for a future blog post.
Saturday, August 1, 2020
I think this curriculum was implemented in 2017. It's worth noting that performance in the Grade 4 Numeracy Test has been showing steady improvement from 53% mastery in 2012 to 74% in 2018, so something good must have been happening in grade 1 classes between 2009 and 2015 before the introduction of this curriculum. Perhaps we should try to identify what that was.
In a subsequent blog post, I will compare grades 6 and 7 curriculum, where there is a great deal of overlap, to show that many of the topics in the grade 6 curriculum can in fact be left until grade 7.