"Hands on learning" is the buzz word throughout school systems. The best way for students to learn is through doing. Subject content areas are filled with hands on learning ideas and activities. A student can learn and discover through experimentation. Most lesson plans available on the Internet are full of activities and learning styles that are facilitated by innovative instruction styles. "The value of peer interaction depends not only on children’s abilities to engage with one another, but also on the teacher’s ability to engage sometimes as a peer" (DeVries and Zan, pg. 56). Teachers are no longer dictators standing at the blackboard while students sit at their desks with their hands folded. Now students are teaching each other through cooperative learning groups. Students are working together to learn.
Once in a Blue Moon is a science lesson plan for primary students to learn about features of the moon. The lesson plan introduces a literature tie-in which is an appropriate and engaging start for the lesson. Hands on learning is also included through watercolor paintings. Art is important for young students. Students enjoy the activity while improving their fine motor skills.
The conclusion of the lesson is a class discussion focusing on facts about the moon. A class discussion can be highly effective when it is generated and facilitated correctly by the teacher and students. With primary students class discussions tend to be side tracked very easily. If a class discussion is facilitated properly it can stay on task and allow students to speak openly about the topic. Discussions are a terrific wrap up to any lesson.
For grade levels 4, 5, and 6 students study the moon through an experiment offered in the lesson plan Phases of the Moon. The lesson plan is not heavily detailed. It relies on the book The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn M. Branley to explain the experiment. The overview of the lesson describes the lesson almost as much as the activities and procedures does. The lesson plan is a general idea of what can be done with the book and experiment. There is no set procedure to follow. There is a list of five activities that the class can do. Although the lesson may be effective the lesson plan is useless except for the well broken down evaluation.
Evaluation may become more descriptive when using it for language arts. Most subject content areas use rubrics to decipher a students understanding of the material, while some just use sounds. The language art lesson plan on poetry was listed under music because of its use of instruments to recognize equal and unequal rhythms in poetry. This lesson, with a few alterations, can be useful in having students create their own poems and, most importantly, for recognizing that some of their favorite songs are poems.
To engage students at an elementary level a lesson must structured around them. If it relates to them as an individual, then it relates to them as a class. Using music to identify with poetry can be an astounding link for students. The lesson offers a poem for groups of students to put to rhythms. The recognition of equal and unequal rhythm is important for younger students to acquire because of the rhyming poems they are introduced to. When students are first taught poetry it rhymes. At the third grade level they are now being introduced to a whole new type of poetry. This lesson plan presents students with a hands on experience to redefine poetry.
In grades 6 to 9 students are being introduced to imagery through poetry. The lesson plan includes each student’s silhouette which will include pictures(images) from magazines and other resources. The students are using their fine motor skills to collect their images. Students are also brainstorming their ideas and images while they are searching. In later school grades students usually have authority problems. They are displeased when forced to complete an assignment. This lesson plan assignment effectively engages students to do work without noticing the extra work their mind is completing. Without commanding the student to brainstorm the lesson has forced the student to do so.
While the student is brainstorming and collecting images they are also creating their poem in their mind. When asked at the end of the lesson to write their poem they should already have ideas. Their poems, use of images, and the presentation of their silhouettes are a good evaluation.
Lesson plans offered on the Internet can be used for a range of grade levels. With a few adjustments any lesson can accommodate the grade level a teacher is using it for. In comparing the lesson plans Once in a Blue Moon to Phases of the Moon one must notice the difference in hands on learning. Learning through art is emerging at a primary grade level, however, students at an elementary grade level are using experiments to learn.
Both of the science lesson plans are creative and incorporate the students’ motor skills. The lesson plans also involve class discussions and illustrations. Discussions about the moon are very interesting to young students. Extensions can easily be created for each lesson. The downfall of Phases of the Moon is the lack of procedure. The lesson was more of an outline than a plan. It must be structured to keep the students involved and on task. The discussion must also be defined more by actual questions that should be asked to fluently provide the students with thoughts. Their responses will generate the discussion, however, thought stimulators and mind teasers must be introduced to have the students produce thoughts, opinions, and predictions.
In poetry, music is a superior way of engaging students. Although the lesson is targeted at third grade it can easily be adjusted to use at any grade level. Both poetry lesson plans encourage student’s creativity. They are both structured and well planned. The ideas offered in each lesson are applicable to the age groups and can be extended across the curriculum. The rhythm and patterns can be integrated with other subject contents as well as the silhouettes which are a good development of a student’s self actualization.
Out of the four lesson plans, Once in a Blue Moon is the most resourceful. The grade level is applicable to all of the activities it offers. The objective of the lesson is clear and concise. A literature tie-in for primary grade levels is effective. The lesson plan uses the book "The nightgown of the Sullen Moon" . This picture book is a terrific choice to engage a child’s imagination. A picture of a moon can create a million thoughts and ideas in a child’s mind. The picture book gives the student’s their own depiction of the moon through its pictures.
Cooperative learning is essential in primary grades. "Cooperation is a method of social interaction that creates the most productive context for all aspects of children’s development"(DeVries and Zan, pg. 54). Students will be more successful throughout their school years and lives if they learn how to produce within a group. Once in a Blue Moon encourages cooperative learning, hands on learning, and class discussions which are all constructive learning styles.
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