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Explore/Explain Lesson Plan

D. Sarnovsky


Lesson Description: This one of the unit launching lessons for ECO-DECTECTIVES. There have been modifications from original BCPS unit.
Maryland State Stem Standards of Practice (STEM LESSON)
STAR Key Question: Can humans and nature work together to solve the trash problem? Can the problem ever truly be solved?

Draw Conclusions

Engagement/1st Explore
Address the content you are teaching today. Do
not spoon-feed, rather give students ownership
and empowerment and pull it out of them.
Students work in small groups or pairs with ONE
set of materials. Encourage group discussion and
have manipulatives and motivating materials to
engage student interest.
EXAMPLE: Today we will be combining 3
numbers and I want to see what you and your
group knows. Your numbers are 5, 2, and 8.

Preparation: Gather leaf litter and other evidence of natural decay from outside, along with plastic and
paper. These should of varied ages.

Explore Essential Question. Students make notes on dry erase paddles w/ attached pens as they
Present TABLE OF TRASH. Students sort trash in response to essential question.
Display posters for different types of trash. Students will again think/pair/share and place post-it
with question on each poster focusing on the essential question. (Post its will be on easel below
posters. Students will carry pencils.)

Ask students to explain why humans and nature have to share the trash problem.
Begin to build concept of nature having a process for dealing with some trash.
Chart as concepts develop

1st Explain
Students come back to the rug for discussion.
Pose questions and chart student thinking,
addressing each piece of the lesson. Use the
chart to set up expectations for the lesson, ask
questions, record strategies/skills, record look
fors, record process the students are explaining.
Have your explain questions and anticipated
responses from your students prepared ahead of
time. These ideas will be content specific to the

EXAMPLE: 1. Tell us about what your group did.

2. How do we combine? 3. What does it mean to
combine? 4. If we combine do we have more or
less? 5. How did your group record your thinking?
6. How do you check your work?

2nd Explore

Tell students that they are now ready to choose a

strategy and apply it (practice, scaffold for more
complicated skills, make connections, move to
next level) with their group or partner.

Research decomposition on website. http://sarnovsky.weebly.com/eco-detectives.html.

Collect information on post-its to add to each poster (for each type of trash).

Build definition for decomposition.

Add information to posters.

Use ESR response for discussion (students use hand signal for agree/disagree).

EXIT TICKET: 1) What is the name of the process that allows trash to disappear into the
ground? Does this happen to all trash? 2) What do you think so far? Can humans and nature
work together to solve the trash problem? Use evidence from your research or observations
today to justify your response.

The web-based unit serves as the center for this lesson

2nd Explain

Students come back to the rug for discussion.

Share their findings. Ask questions to have
students discover errors and processes. Guide
the discussion so students can fix the errors
together. Add ideas to the CHART.
EXAMPLE: 1. What did you notice about the way
group 1 combined their numbers? 2. How can we
help group 2 with their process? 3. This is so
close, what can we change to help group 3 get
the correct answer? 4. Lets listen to group 4s
process and see if we agree. 5. How did your
group solve the problem? 6. Did your group do
anything differently?

Quick Assessment and Data

Tell students that they are now ready to try a
problem or task on their own. While students
complete the quick assessment, collect +/- data
as students are working. Prepare to reteach
students marked with a - while students marked
with a + can move onto the Assessment.

Formative Assessment
Students who are successful with the Quick
Assessment move on to the Formative
Assessment while teacher works with the reteach

Revisit skills/instruction. Provide responsive
teaching and feedback to students. Guide them in
error analysis and encourage them try again.
Students are not completing the assessment with
the teacher.

Differentiated Centers (3)

Upon completion of the Lesson Assessment,
students will move to centers differentiated for
their needs. Centers may include real-world
application, extra practice, enrichment, creative
application, etc. Students who were in the

Reteach group will complete the Lesson

Assessment at this time.

Turn and Talk explain what you learned today.
Share what was easy and what was difficult.
Refer back to the Essential Question and Skills,
Chart, discuss processes and learning and
celebrate a job well done.

Students will share ah-has from learning.