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Scrambled states: Ag in math

πŸ“– Standard

NGSS 4-LS1-1:  Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.MD.B.4 Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot,

⏰ Time

3-4 hours over 4-5 sessions. The data collection will need to be completed at least two weeks after the seeds are planted.

πŸ“² Technology Required

No technology is required. Students may use Jamboard for line plots and Google docs for word journals, but both of these activities can also be done on paper.

πŸ“ƒ Summary

Teachers read an age appropriate book about plants and record new vocabulary in their personal dictionary. The teacher or student selects an agriculture activity from the booklet More Scrambled States of Agriculture. Garden in a glove is one recommended activity. Students collect and record data on the number of days until germination, showing the results in one more more line plots.

πŸ“š Lesson

It is recommended that this lesson follow the Scrambled States: Ag in Language Arts unit.

Read an age appropriate book about plants.

Both the lesson plan for Garden in a Glove and More Scrambled States of Agriculture booklet have several recommendations for age appropriate books on plants in general or specific plants, like wheat. Teachers may wish to read the book aloud to the class, have students take turns reading aloud, either in groups or as a whole class, or assign to students to read on their own. I recommend 2-3 sessions of 15 minutes of read aloud or 20 minutes of independent reading.

Update Word Journals

Students should update their word journals, what some teachers refer to as a “personal dictionary”, with any new words from the book. If this is your students’ first experience using a word journal, you may wish to give them this Google doc to read or read it together as a class, “Creating your personal dictionary.

Select an Agriculture Activity (1 hour)

Garden in a glove lesson plan, found here, is my favorite and it could relate to almost any book on the list. You need:

  • Food prep gloves – 1 for each student – that you can probably get from your school cafeteria,
  • A bag of cotton balls
  • 5 different packs of seeds
  • A marker

Soak the cotton balls in water, put 3-5 seeds in each one and put five cotton balls, each with different seeds, in the five fingers of the glove. Don’t forget to write on each finger what is in it. Create a chart of the germination time for each type of seed. Read the lesson plan for more detail.

If Garden in a Glove doesn’t suit your needs, check More Scrambled States of Agriculture for ideas you might like better.

Ask students to generate hypotheses about how long it will take for the seeds to germinate, whether all the seeds will take the same amount of time (assuming you did Garden in a Glove).

Record your measurements

Students create either :

  • Create 5 line plot showing the number of seeds that germinated for each number of days, one plot for each type of seed, OR
  • Create one line plot with a different color used for each type of seed.

Ask the students whether their hypotheses were supported.

OPTIONAL: WATCH THIS VIDEO ON CREATING A LINE PLOT

If your students are not familiar with line plots, you may want to have them watch this seven-minute video which explains line plots step by step.

Now that students have watched the video and collected the data, their final task is to create two line plots of their results. Feel free to copy and paste the text below into your Google classroom or other assignment.

LINE PLOT ASSIGNMENT

OPTIONAL: IF STUDENTS ARE LEARNING ONLINE, THEY CAN USE JAMBOARD TO CREATE A LINE PLOT, AS SHOWN IN THE VIDEO BELOW.

Assessment

Three forms of assessment are included in this assignment.

  • In the personal dictionary or word journal, students are required to include a minimum of five words with definitions for 50 points. Each word, spelled correctly is 2 points and a correct definition is another 8 points. I deduct a point for grammar or spelling errors in the definition, but only one.
  • For the agriculture activity, this is simply pass/ fail marked as completed or not.
  • The line plots are scored based on accuracy. I give 10 points for each plot/ type of seed for a total of 50 points possible and another 10 points each for stating a hypothesis and answering whether or not it has been supported.

Scrambled States: Ag in Language Arts

πŸ“– Standard

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

⏰ Time

Three to five hours total. We recommend spreading this lesson over 3 to 5 days.

πŸ“² Technology Required

None required. Students may used a computer or mobile device to access the states’ page or to watch a video on the Scrambled States but these resources are also available in print.

πŸ“ƒ Summary

Teachers read The Scrambled States of America book, or have students read book or watch video. Students select a state from National Ag in the Classroom site and take notes on their state, including new vocabulary. Students read a book related to their state – link to a list is provided. Students complete a notes page and then use this page to write an informational essay.

πŸ“š Lesson

Begin with The Scrambled States of America – book, audio book or video

Begin the lesson by reading the book The Scrambled States of America aloud to the class or you may play the audiobook in class along with the book (which I recommend). It’s very likely your public library has the audiobook available for free download. Students learning at home can download the audio book on to a phone or tablet. If you prefer, you can have students watch the video, in class or at home.

Students Select a State and Learn about its Agriculture

National Ag in the Classroom site has an agricultural facts sheet for every state. You can add this link to their assignment in Google classroom (or write it on the chalkboard – https://www.agclassroom.org/teacher/agfacts/ )

If your students don’t have access to devices or Internet, you can print out the 51 sheets (including the District of Columbia) here.

Update their Word Journals

As some of the words in the fact sheets may be new to fourth-graders, this is a great opportunity to update their word journals, what some teachers refer to as a “personal dictionary”. If this is your students’ first experience using a word journal, you may wish to give them this Google doc to read or read it together as a class, “Creating your personal dictionary.

Read a Book Related to Agriculture in the State

Time required for this activity will vary depending on your students’ reading speed and choice of books. I recommend allotting 20 minutes per day over 2-3 days. If your school library does not have these available, you may be able to get from your public library. Also, remember, many public libraries have ebooks your students can read on any computer, tablet or phone. If you have not taken advantage of these services, now might be a great time to introduce them,

The Illinois Ag in the Classroom program has produced More Scrambled States of Agriculture a combination of agricultural fact sheets. reading list, agriculture science and art activities. Recognizing that students at a range of reading levels, books included range from Pre-K to grade 5-9 reading level, with reading levels listed next to each book. My favorite quote, from the book, “A Hog Ate My Homework.”

I would like to be a farmer when I grow up, because farming is easy!
They don’t need to go to school, because they just play in the dirt and ride around on ATVs. When it rains, they can just stay inside and play video games. When the sun comes back out, the corn just grows out of the ground by itself. In the fall, someone comes by, cuts it down, and gives the farmer a bunch of money. They use that money to buy candy and video games. The end.

– Willie

Take Notes

Since this is likely your students first experience with research, I recommend the “foldable notes” to help them prepare. All they need to do is fold a piece of paper in half, then fold it again and a third time so now they have eight boxes. You can also have them use a Google slide with 8 boxes but often students like the physical activity of creating their notes.

Next, label each of the 8 boxes.

Crops    Livestock      Farms    Climate

Soil        Interesting    Book      Quote

You can use the foldable notes example here since students almost always ask for an example. I recommend having students go back to the state agricultural fact sheet and the book and take notes after having done the reading. It’s not a bad habit to learn to re-read something for information you may have missed the first time.

Write a State of Agriculture Report

As this is likely to be the first informational essay students have written, I recommend providing students an example and sentence stems as prompts. You can find an example in this Google doc that uses the foldable notes from above to write an essay. The first page of the Google doc gives an outline, with sentence stems. The second page shows a completed informational essay.

Assessment

Three forms of assessment are included in this assignment.

  • In the personal dictionary or word journal, students are required to include a minimum of five words with definitions for 50 points. Each word, spelled correctly is 2 points and a correct definition is another 8 points. I deduct a point for grammar or spelling errors in the definition, but only one.
  • For the foldable notes assignment, each note is 10 points for a total of 80 points. I do not grade grammar or spelling in the notes because these are for the student, however, I do highlight errors and tell students there will be a deduction if the error is in their essay.
  • The essay is on a 0- 100 scale. I give 5 points each for title and author and 10 points for each of the prompts completed with one or more grammatically correct sentences. If a student does not respond to one of the prompts but instead includes other relevant information, for example, the number of people working in agriculture, that would be acceptable, too.

Related Lesson

It’s recommended that this lesson be followed by Scrambled States: Ag in Math Class.

Problem-solving with pigs: Start at the end

πŸ“–Standard

CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4 Model with mathematics.

CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

⏰ Time

60-75 minutes

πŸ“ƒ Summary

This cross-curricular lesson includes activities and instruction in agricultural science and math. Students begin by watching a video and learning about pig farms. After making their own pig barn, they watch two short videos about solving math problems. This information is then applied to solve problems during a presentation on math around the pig farm. Students end playing one of the Making Camp games to reinforce skills and knowledge.

πŸ“² Technology Required

If teaching in person, the teacher will need a computer and projector or smart board to show the videos, or students can be given the links to watch on their own devices. Students will need a PC, Mac or Chromebook or tablet. Making Camp Premium, Making Camp Lakota and Making Dakota are all playable on any web browser on those devices.

πŸ“š Lesson

This lesson starts with resources from National Ag in the Classroom

Virtual tour of pig farms

Virtual Field Trip to Ohio Pig Farms

Make a Pig Barn

This activity requires a few supplies but it is probably things you have lying around and your students will probably enjoy it.

  • Business-size envelopes, 4 per group
  • Paper towel, 1 per group
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape

OPTIONAL

  • Markers
  • Toilet paper rolls, 2 per group
  • Drinking straws, 2 per group (cut into 8 equal pieces)
  • 8.5″ x 11″ white paper, 1 per group (cut in half)
  • Extra paper for making fencing, pipes, feed troughs, etc. (optional)

Instructions

Use the following instructions to model for the students how to create the barn:

  1. Barn: Cut an oval hole in one envelope, making a large side window for the barn. This window provides the proper ventilation for the pigs.
  2. Cut the paper towel in half and tape it onto the top of the window for the curtain.
  3. Cut another envelope in half for the ends of the barn.
  4. Tape the ends of the barn to the “sides of the barn” envelopes, one of which has the hole for the window and paper towel curtain, so that you have four sides, or a rectangle.
  5. Use the final envelope to create a roof by creasing it in half lengthwise and attaching it with tape to the top of the rectangle.
  6. Food Storage: Tape four straws, or legs, to each toilet paper roll so that the structures will stand on the legs.
  7. Use a half piece of paper, and make a cone shape by twisting and taping the ends. Tape the cone shape on the end of the toilet paper roll without the straw legs.
  8. Use the other half piece of paper to make another smaller cone shape and tape it between the straw legs on the other end of the toilet paper roll.

If you’d like, you or your students can watch the instructions here. You can also assign this video for students learning at home to watch so they know how to make the barn. The plus is that just about every house will have every single one of these items except possibly the straws.

Optional additional science and language arts content

This link to the National Ag in the Classroom lesson has more information on pigs and pig farming, including some of the vocabulary used in the math lesson as well as a discussion of the ways farmers care for animals. I highly recommend checking it out.

Watch a video on operations key words

Trust me, this does come back to pig farming!

Students watch this video on operations keywords. This two-minute video has been watched over 14,000 times, which gives some indication of how useful students and teacher find the concept of looking at the words in a problem to decide which operation to use.

Watch a video on problem-solving – Start at the end

This 3 1/2 minute video explains that the end of the word problem is where you usually will find the question you are expected to solve. It includes one easy and one harder example, as well as a couple of useful tips.

Start at the End
piglets

Give a presentation

This 34-slide deck on problem-solving reinforces the information in the two math videos and gives students three problems of increasing difficulty where they have to start at the end, all centered around Laura’s pig farm.

Play a game

Now that students have been introduced to problem-solving with multiplication and division word problems, it’s time to play a game and reinforce those skills. Which game depends on what you feel your students need most. There is overlap among the games as each includes some review.

Making Camp Premium – focuses primarily on multiplication of one- and two-digit numbers. Also includes division with one-digit divisors. The content is taught in the context of Ojibwe history and culture.

Making Camp Lakota – focuses primarily on division with one-digit divisors. Also includes multiplication of one- and two-digit numbers. The content is taught in the context of Lakota history and culture.

Making Camp Dakota – focuses primarily on division of three-digit numbers with one- and two-digit divisors. Also includes multiplication of one- and two-digit numbers and division with one-digit divisors. The content is taught in the context of Lakota history and culture.

Assessment

Assessments are built into the presentation, as teachers can have students submit their answers in writing or in a Google chat prior to giving the answers during the presentation. Teachers can also see which standards students have attempted and how many problems they have answered correctly in the Making Camp teacher reports.

Related lesson : Problem-solving Two ways

As the title suggests, this lesson introduces students to two other problme-solving strategies. They watch a video on visualization, then solve a problem that asks them to visualize. After watching a video on building a model, students build and/or draw their own model of a multiplication problem or property.