Saturday, November 3, 2012

Setting up my young scientists up to succeed!

Our latest lab in 5th grade science was a HOOT! Seriously, we dissected owl pellets, and it was a phenomenal experience for the kids. While I knew the lab would be a great experience, I wanted to set my young scientists up to have the most success possible. Here's how we did it...

Flip that learning! Giving the students a chance to develop prior knowledge for the lab was really important. So, I gave them a homework assignment that would get them ready. They were given the week to watch a 2 minute video that described the procedure for dissecting owl pellets.

I loaded the video from KidWings Website to our Edmodo site for students to view.

While watching, they were asked to write the steps of the lab, 2-3 safety concerns, and 2-3 ways they could share their results after the lab. They also had the data recording sheet ahead of time to get prepared for the big day!

Out of 100 students, 2 were not prepared for the lab. How's that for homework completion! Given an assignment that they were genuinely interested in, I was able to get a GREAT percentage of students to complete their work, and they were READY to learn with me on Friday!

And...did we ever learn!

Students were so ready to go! As they entered, they rolled up their sleeves and jumped right into the lab. I didn't have to waste time with directions or explanations. With a quick review of safety concerns and a quick overview of where materials were located, we were into the lab.

While working with the students, I was able to dip into the BEST conversations! They were comparing the pellet bones to many other animals (including themselves). They were sorting, classifying, and TALKING science all period. No disruptions, no arguments, no short cuts! Just great questions, great discussions, and solid science work.

Some of my favorite conversations were related to:
*soft tissue vs. bone and fur
*how the ball and socket worked together
*how the bones around the eye were SO big that must mean large eyes...which must mean night time animals
*how hands on was the MOST fun
*comparing this dissection to the fish dissection at Stone Lab
*energy transfer from the food to the owl

Setting my students up to succeed was as simple as front loading the content with a short, descriptive video. We didn't waste time...we were ready to learn!

***FYI- some kids still misunderstood...some thought I killed the owls to get the pellets!

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video


  1. I love this for so many reasons. Making a homework assignment real for the students gives them a reason to complete it. Using Edmodo to achieve that 'flipping' of the class and setting prior knowledge is just a great way to motivate kids as well. I love the hands on part to this experiment. Always love seeing what fascinating learning takes place in your class. By the discussions it is clear this project was a success!

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Leah,
    @tjhouston suggested I follow you and I'm so glad I did! I saw a beautiful owl picture that I thought you'd like to see. Hope you enjoy!

  3. Thank you, Tracy. The image was beautiful! I had to send that to my kiddos through twitter! :)

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