Differentiated lesson plans: Science
It can be tricky to write a lesson plan that supports differentiated learning. It is very important that lessons are differentiated to allow for all students to understand and enjoy learning about new concepts. Science is a great area of the curriculum to explore the idea of differentiated instruction strategies. Below, you will find an example of a multi-lesson plan for science.
In this lesson plan I will use a number of differentiating strategies such as Blooms taxonomy, Multiple Intelligences and the 5 E’s, which is a scientific method to explore scientific concepts. These are various methods that can be used to support differentiation in the classroom.
Lesson Plan: The Solar System “What is the Solar System?”
5th Grade Science Lesson
Duration: 4 x 1 hour lessons
Students should gain a basic understanding of what the solar system is and how many planets are located within our solar system. By the end of the lessons students should be able to:
Give a brief explanation of what the solar system is in their own words
Name all planets that are part of our solar system
(Here I have set the outcome for the lessons. This is what I expect the students to achieve as a minimum. Many students will achieve above this. Setting an outcome helps you to make sure that your lesson plan works towards a goal)
The 5 E’s Instructional Model will be used to structure the lesson plan. It various tasks I will also include Multiple Intelligences. I will also include tiered activities and flexible grouping.
Engage: Show students short extracts of the moon landing and a documentary on the solar system (there are plenty to choose from on YouTube). Place a number of large pieces of paper up on the walls on the classroom titled “What we know” and “What we want to Know.”Explain to the students you are going to be learning about the solar system. Provide students with a colored marker and allow them to write on each of the pieces of paper. Encourage them to read what others have written before adding their own contributions (It may be best to divide the class and have four pieces of paper so you don’t have long line ups and wait time). Initiate a class discussion about what has been written on the paper.
Explore: (This is one of the steps that lends itself well to differentiated learning)
Break the students into small scientific teams. Have the students identify a team leader, a recorded and a time keeper. Students will be given time to rotate through a number of stations that will help them to learn about the solar system. In this section Multiple Intelligences, written in the brackets, will be employed to allow the students to investigate the information from different intelligences. It is important to identify for different groups the expectations you have of them. Give each group a piece of paper detailing the work requirements for each station. In this way you can set a higher level for you more advanced students and support your students who find schooling a challenge.
Station 1: Video (Visual/Spatial Intelligence). Students will watch a short documentary together about the Solar System. They will be asked to use the information they have learnt and as a team write a short description of the solar system. This will be placed in a display along with the other teams’ descriptions. Descriptions may include pictures.
Station 2: Model (Kinesthetic/Body Intelligence). Students will investigate a model of the solar system that is in the classroom. They will be asked to record using a digital recorder 5 important things that they as a team noticed about the Solar System.
Station 3: Books and websites (Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence). Students will investigate a number of books and websites on the solar system. They will be asked to create a mind map using a computer program to present their interesting facts.
Station 4: Songs and Pictures (Music Intelligence). Students will investigate a set of songs and pictures related to the solar system. They will be asked to pick one song or picture and describe what information they have learned about space from it.
Explain: Students will be asked to answer two questions:
What is the Solar system?
What are the Planets in the Solar system?
Students may choose to answer these questions in a number of ways: they can create a written poster, they can create a PowerPoint presentation, they can do an oral presentation or a video, and they can do an oral recording of themselves using the digital recorder. (This can be used as an early form of assessment and then a secondary assessment can be done at the evaluate step. By assessing here you will also be able to identify students that require further assistance with understanding the topic.)
Extend: students are to work in groups of 2 to 4 students and are to choose their own planet from the solar system. Together they will design an activity that will teach the other students in the class about their chosen planet. Allow students to prepare and engage in each other’s activities to further their understanding of the solar system
Evaluate: (This is the step at which you assess what the students have learned and whether they have met the outcome that you set at the start of the lesson plan)
Have the students use the product that they produced at the “explain” stage of the lesson plan. Give them time to expand upon what they have done or create a separate piece of work that answers the two focus questions. Have them also include a section that explains what they would like to learn more about the solar system. These recommendations can be used to create further lessons on exploring the solar system.
If you think a lesson like this is something that could keep your students engaged and interested, please be sure to look at these other lesson plans for science too!
I hope that you have found this article helpful. If so, please share it with other educators. I am also including a link to another site that gives another interpretation of differentiated instruction for science.