Home      Organizing Induction      Improving Practice   

Sample sketch: Leaves (fourth grade)

Like the other sample sketches, this one is more complete than you will need for your work. We made some commentary here on this sketch, just pointing to a feature or two.

Discussion Sketch

Discussion Sketch, Side 1

Curriculum benchmark addressed:  Science Standard III.2, Organization of living things. CS2, benchmark 1: Compare and classify familiar organisms on the basis of observable physical characteristics (Key concepts: plant and animal parts, e.g., roots, leaves, stems)

Objective (what students should know or be able to do): Students will examine characteristics of leaves and use specific language to describe their characteristics.

Object to be discussed (text, data, image, video, map, chart, representation of a phenomenon, students' personal experience, etc.): Leaves from the playground.

Grouping pattern

_x__ Whole class

____ Small groups

____ Pairs

Uses of language

__x__ Students learn language: build descriptive vocabulary (color names, variegated, translucent, veins, withered, parched)

__x__ Students learn about language: language is used to describe and explain real world object (leaves)

__x__ Students learn through language: teacher models how to use language to make descriptions of objects more specific and explanatory and has students try out using language in this way

Type of discussion

____ Recitation:  Teacher asks what students know and builds upon what students know so students share a small body of knowledge. 

__x__Guided discussion: Teacher invites and helps students to comprehend, explore, analyze, or evaluate a phenomenon, concept, problem or issue

____Open-ended discussion (no predetermined end).  Teacher invites students to synthesize and evaluate, and participates with restraint.


Discussion sketch, Side 2*


Teacher's question or statement

Student's statement or question

Teacher's response

Teacher gave 4th-grade students paper bags and told them to collect unusual and beautiful leaves from the playground. Teacher also collected.

Teacher empties his bag onto a small table at the front of the room.

Children empty their bags onto their desktops.

I’ve collected some really interesting leaves. Let’s look at some of the beautiful colors. I have one that is amber (holds up leaf), which is a kind of yellow-brown. If you have an amber leaf, will you hold it up?

[Several children hold up leaves.]

Another one I think is beautiful is a kind of vermilion shade, which is this beautiful reddish-orange color. Who has one?

[Two children hold up leaves.]

Here’s a different one. It’s maroon. How about that color?

[Again, several children hold up leaves.]

Here’s one I’d call chartreuse.  What colors seem to blend together to make chartreuse? (Pause) Elaine?

Elaine: It looks like yellow and green.

Yes, I agree. Do any of you have other colors?

Sarah: Here’s one that’s yellow, but not really.

What would we call that? (Pause) Paul?

Paul: A dark yellow.

Parts of it certainly are. To me, it seems like a dappled or mottled yellow because of the dark spots on it. We might even use the word, “variegated,” to describe the different shades of yellow. 

What about this leaf? Do you notice anything different about it? (Pause) Latoya?

It’s very thin. I can see lines in it and the light behind it.

What do we call these lines?

[No one responds.]

These lines are called veins and, yes, we can see the light behind it so we could say it’s translucent. It lets some light shine through it. 

Can you find a leaf that either has veins or is translucent?

[Several children hold up leaves.]

[Holding up two dead leaves) What about these? How could we describe them?

Ho Lun: Dead

Peter: Brown

Yes, that’s absolutely right and we might also use the words “withered” and “parched.” 

Why do you suppose these leaves look like this while some of the others are so colorful? (Pause) John?

John:  Those have been on the ground longer.

Possibly. Najma?

Najma: They’re older.

That could be very true, but why do they lose their color?

Andrew: They need water.

Yes, that’s so. They’ve lost all their moisture and without moisture, living plants turn brown. 

What questions do you have about the dead leaves or anything else we’ve looked at?

Post Discussion Events (Staab, 1992, p. 41): After discussing the children’s questions, the teacher and children go on to identify common varieties of leaves, such as oak and maple.  Afterwards, children are invited to list words or phrases that provide information about leaves. Labeled pictures or other reference materials are available for those who choose to use them. During this period, the teacher functions as a resource, answering children’s questions and providing further vocabulary and ideas to individuals. Then, the children explain to a partner why they included each word and phrase on their list.

The next day, the children form groups of three or four. Combining the contents of their bags, they decide jointly on a plan for dividing their leaves into categories—by color, size, variety, etc. The leaves in the category are then pasted on a large sheet of paper, which is labeled and presented to the class. Group members explain the category they chose and other students are encouraged to ask questions. These category charts can be used to create a class bulletin board or displayed at the science center.

*Quoted from: Staab, C. (1992). Oral language for today’s classroom (pp. 39-41). Markham, Ontario: Pippin Publishing.

Back to list of sample sketches