Below is a lesson plan that I created for an EPSY 322 class that was originally a journal posting. This post includes the lesson plan but I also included some adaptations that can be made to this lesson plan to suit students of different abilities. I hope you enjoy!
Grade level – Grade 5
Subject Area – Science
Outcome that this will contribute to – Research and represent the physical characteristics of the major components of the solar system, including the sun, planets, moons, asteroids, and comets.
Topic – Planets in our Solar System
This is the first day that students will be formally learning about Space and Planets. This will be an introductory lesson for the unit about the Solar System.
Objective – Students will be able to correctly list at least five things (planets, sun, asteroid, moons, etc.) in the solar system with reference to their notes.
Length of Lesson – 45 minutes
At the beginning of the lesson, I will engage students in a class discussion about what they already know about the solar system to identify what their knowledge is. I will write down everything that students mention on the online notes. This should take no more than ten minutes.
Students will then receive a hand out that includes all of the notes from the PowerPoint presentation that I have created about the Solar System with blanks on each of the slides. On the PowerPoint, I will underline and change the colour of the blanks that I want students to fill in so it is easy to know what they have to do. There will also be small facts on some of the slides for students to engage in. When I am presenting the PowerPoint, I will verbally lecture everything written on the slides and will allow for student question time. I will also verbally state and physically point to the underlined words to let students know those are what they need to fill in the blanks for. I will also include a video that describes the components of the Solar System and some information about the planets.
After going through the PowerPoint, I will give students an assignment that they can complete either individually or in pairs. Students will research a component of the Solar System that they are most interested in. The students will have to research some of the physical characteristics of the component that they choose (size, place in the solar system, temperature, orbit time, and type of planet). Students can present the information in a mode of their choosing from either the list that I have given (PowerPoint, Essay, Video, Class Presentation, Poster, Orally to me in Private, etc.) or another way they think would be interesting. Students can also include any interesting facts that they find about their topic in their presentation. Students will have time in class for completing the project.
At the end of the lesson, students will have time to play a game that is about the planets and the Solar System. This game will assist students in understanding some of the visual characteristics of the planets and other components of the Solar System.
Hand Out Preview
When I created this lesson plan, I had Universal Design in Mind. I used multiple ways of representing the information (visual in the PowerPoint, verbal through oral lecture, and hands-on through the game component). I also thought of flexible options for students to express their learnings in the assignment. Engaging students at the beginning of the lesson in what they already know about the Solar System will ensure students are interested in the topic at the beginning.
I included some accommodations in the lesson plan for the entire classroom that will benefit students that are not at grade level. If students are having difficulty reading and writing quickly, allowing all students to fill in the blanks will ensure students are engaged in the verbal lecture and can have all of the necessary notes that they need later in the course. By giving all of the students time to fill in the blank notes, students that are below level will not feel that they are being singled out for not being able to write quickly enough. The assignment can also be differentiated for students that are below grade level. I will give the entire class a list of websites that they can use to find information about their component to ensure that students find accurate information that is easy to understand. Students that are below grade level, like every other student in the class, have the opportunity to choose the way that they present their learnings. Students can present the learnings orally if they are having difficulty writing. Students can also present the information in an artistic way if they choose or even create a video if that is their forte. A modification that I can make for students that are below grade level is that they do not have to add in any extra information in their presentation; they only have to present the basic information that I required.
This lesson plan can also easily be differentiated for students that are gifted. I included interesting facts that are not on the notes to ensure that gifted students do not get bored during instruction. Gifted students can write down these interesting facts and can research them further if they so wish. I also ensured that there will be two games that students can play on the website; an easier game that requires students to complete puzzles and a more difficult game that requires students to name the constellations after they complete the first game. When I created the assignment, I left the mode of presentation fairly open ended. Gifted students can create a presentation that challenges them. I can also encourage gifted students to look at websites that are geared more towards adult readers to find information. Gifted students can also research their topic more than the basic information that I require. They can research about the scientific knowledge about the component, such as how long scientists have known about the component, pictures of the components, when people can observe the component, how scientists view the component, and so forth. Gifted students can include the extra information in their presentation and can present their learnings in any mode that challenges them that they choose.
Differentiating a lesson plan that is created with Universal Design in mind is easier than trying to differentiate a lesson plan that only benefits a small amount of students. Differing my mode of teaching; verbal, visual, and tactile, can benefit many different students of different abilities. Allowing students to have choice in their mode of presentation also allows students to challenge themselves. Students can also present the information in a way that allows them to succeed and feel comfortable in finishing the assignment. Overall, Universal Design and differentiating instruction and assignments benefits all students of all abilities.
Thank you for reading this post!