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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thematic Teaching with Trees 2

Our tree day was a smashing success!

Students spent more than two hours planning, drafting, editing, and illustrating their personifications of trees. One of the most difficult parts of the assignment was giving a tree human qualities but not making it a human in a tree's body. After extensive planning, some children reverted to writing about a tree as just a tree while others simply made their trees talk. Fortunately, we could look back at the planning sheets and work together to make their choices in figurative language more effective.

Mid-day we explored factor trees and completed a close read about how leaves change in fall. Then after lunch, students cut and mashed leaves (red and green) for our chromotography experiment. I added a bit of isopropyl alcohol, and we let them set for one hour. Next they cut coffee filter strips and awaited the results. This step took longer than anticipated. I thought we'd be able to see the lines clearly after about fifteen minutes. In reality, it took about an hour, but the results were spectacular! Students could really see that chlorophyll leaves the leaf after food production is finished for the summer.

Since my class is learning how to conduct valid scientific investigations, I made sure to control as many variables as possible for this experiment. All leaves came from the same burning bush. We used the same type of cups, and the isopropyl alcohol was the same temperature for both cups. 

Have you tried this experiment with success in your classroom? Please share by commenting! I'd love to know how you did it.

P.S. We decided to leave the filter paper in the liquid over the weekend and see what happened. Guess what?

Wow! With science, sometimes patience really pays off!