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Systems and Scale | Lesson 1 - Pretest and Expressing Ideas

Students complete the unit pretest, observe a demonstration of burning ethanol, and use the Expressing Ideas Tool to document their ideas about what happens when ethanol burns.

Guiding Question

What happens to ethanol when it burns?

Activities in this Lesson 

  • Activity 1.1: Systems and Scale Unit Pretest (20 min)
  • Activity 1.2: Expressing Ideas about Burning Ethanol (40 min)

Unit Map

Unit Map for Lesson 1

Target Performances

Activity Target Performance
Lesson 1 – Pretest and Expressing Ideas (students as questioners)

Activity 1.1: Systems and Scale Unit Pretest

Students show their initial proficiencies for the overall unit goal: Questioning, investigating, and explaining how matter and energy changed during combustion of organic materials.

Activity 1.2: Expressing Ideas about Ethanol Burning (40 min)

Students ask and record specific questions about changes in matter and energy in response to the unit driving question: What happens when ethanol burns?

NGSS Performance Expectations

This lesson helps prepare students to meet the NGSS performance expectations, but does not feature a mastery of any of them.

Three-dimensional Learning Progression

Lesson 2 focuses on essential foundational knowledge that students will need to achieve the objectives for this unit. In this lesson students learn to read nutrition labels to identify the key materials in the foods we eat, which are also the materials in plant and animal bodies. The activities in this lesson serve as the Foundational Knowledge and Practice Phase of the The Carbon TIME Instructional Model, where students are introduced to key ideas and practices that they will use throughout the rest of the Animals unit.

At this stage in the unit, the students will be Expressing Ideas. The table below shows specific talk and writing goals for this phase of the unit.

Talk and Writing Goals for Expressing Ideas Phase

Teacher Talk Strategies That Support This Goal

Curriculum Components That Support This Goal

Treat this as brainstorming and elicitation of student ideas.

Remember, there are no “right” answers at this point. We want to hear all ideas.

Unit Pretest

My Students’ Answers

Listen for student ideas about matter and energy at different scales, but do not correct wrong ideas.

Where did the energy come from?

Where does the matter go next?

Are you talking about matter or energy?

What about the atomic-molecular scale?

Unit Pretest

Expressing Ideas Tool

Elicit a range of ideas. Press for details. Encourage students to examine, compare, and contrast ideas with the ideas of other students.

Who can add to that?

What do you mean by _____? Say more.

So I think you said _____. Is that right?

Who has a different idea?

How are those ideas similar/different?

Who can rephrase ________’s idea?

Unit Pretest

Expressing Ideas Tool

Encourage students to provide evidence.

How do you know that?

What have you seen in the world that makes you think that?

Expressing Ideas Tool

Document student ideas so they can be revisited later.

Let’s record our ideas so we can come back to them and see how our ideas change.

Sticky notes on class poster or Activity 1.2 Presentation

Expressing Ideas Tool