Unit Topic – Plant Science: Class Garden
Grade Level: 4th grade (ages 9 and 10)
During this unit on plant science, 4th grade students will learn about plant growth and plant classification through a variety of lessons, activities, and projects.
They will be engaged in the following ways:
- Hands-on learning with real-life gardening
- Virtual learning through the use of online databases
- Collaborative learning, through the use of shared digital media
- Inquiry learning through their own, independent research
- Kinesthetic and Tactile activities that solidify the main content objectives
- Whole-group, small group, paired, and independent learning opportunities
The unit is designed to be student-centered, featuring very little direct instruction from their teacher. Instead, students will be provided with materials, technological tools, directions, and guidance as they investigate plant science according to their unique skills and interests. As a result of the high levels of student choice, especially in terms of engagement and expression, the process and products will be differentiated according to interest and ability.
Students begin the unit by learning about the plant growth cycle through a flipped classroom video. The first day, they create their own narrative of the stages of plant growth, from a wide array of choices, and they plant their seed, charting its early growth by taking photos twice per week. Next, they learn about the “big idea” of classification, by classifying familiar objects. They develop their own definition of classification to show their understanding. Then, they apply their knowledge of classification by classifying plants in a hands-on, group activity. The research begins after this, and students use textual and virtual resources to conduct research on the plants they chose for their garden plot. Finally, students will share their research online and in-person, and they will each complete an independent project, during which they create their own, unique classification system, thus fulfilling the big state objective covered in this unit. The technology they use will make the collaboration and synthesis possible, and it affords them endless methods of designing and presenting their finished products. These classification systems serve as the summative assessment for this unit.
Lessons will be designed according to UDL principals, to reach, engage, and excite all learners.
They will address the following standards, according to the Montana State standards, as well as the National Technological standards:
- Montana State Science Standards:
3.3 describe and use models that trace the life cycles of different plants and animals and discuss how they differ from species to species
3.5 create and use a classification system to group a variety of plants and animals according to their similarities and differences
- ISTE Standards:
ISTE Standard 6. Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
6d Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.
ISTE Standard 7.
7b Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
The lessons cover the following objectives:
Unit Objectives –
- Students will create a visual or audio presentation of the plant growth cycle, incorporated 5 different stages of growth
- Students will demonstrate verbally or visually the reason scientists classify plants
- Students will correctly classify a set of given items based on at least 3 similarities and differences
- Students will use a variety of online and classroom resources to research their chosen plant
- Students will use technology to create a presentation based on their plant research
- Students will integrate their learning from peers, their own research, and their observation of real plants, choose an appropriate technological application, and create a personalized classification system for the plants in the class garden.
21st century skills addressed in this unit:
Collaboration: Students will share knowledge through online and in-person platforms. Additionally, they will complete classwork in pairs or groups at least one time per lesson.
Communication: Students will express their new knowledge during the inquiry learning within this unit, by creating and sharing their research, both in-person and through digital media.
Critical Thinking: Students will complete the main objective of this unit – to create a classification system of different plants – by evaluating the new information they learn, and building their own comprehensive classification system.
Creativity: Students will express their own unique voice by choosing the medium that most embodies their vision to present their material. They will also make a variety of personal, artistic choices throughout the included activities.
Innovation: Students will be given a list of suggested applications for their summative assessment, and they will be shown various examples of classification systems throughout the unit, but their finished products will be according to their own design.
Problem Solving: The use of any new technology requires problem-solving skills. Students will work through the setbacks that occur during their own work, and they will aid classmates in solving problems that arise during group work.