Lesson Study

Cycle 2

1st-3rd Grade

Science and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

View Cycle 1

View Cycle 3


Host: Lilly Wageman

Members: Michelina Miedema & Dayna Motta


If we launch a topic on scientific classification of insects to a 1st - 3rd grade classroom using literature, then students will collaborate and understand the diverse roles within a society; resulting in more participation (scientific discourse and research) with motivation toward a responsible and engaged classroom community.


 How can students in a 1st-3rd grade classroom engage in critical conversations, and make cultural connections in relation to science?


Content Goal: Explore the roles of ants and their communities with a focus on comparing human and ant communities.

Equity goal: All voices are heard and all ideas are valued during the designing and building process. All voices are heard and respected during discourse.


Focus Student #1 (FS1) is a 1st grade student.  He loves animals, and is especially interested with insects.  He is very empathetic and is comfortable sharing his feelings.  Sometimes FS1 is quite silly, which leads to some distracting behaviors and disruption in class, such as blurting and laying on the floor.  In addition, FS1 has low reading and math levels in school and doesn’t self-advocate as often as he should.  Our group would like for FS1 to be more engaged in lessons, having a stronger interest in learning how to read with a peer.  Hopefully, he will have the chance to share his knowledge of insects with his team. *It should be noted, that final observations and FS1 work samples are limited due to his absence/s, but felt necessary to include this student for the Lesson Study Cycle #2 process. 
Focus Student #2 (FS2) is a 1st grade student.  She enjoys reading, following direction, helpful with teachers, and is a good listener.  However, she’s very shy when speaking in a group, doesn’t share her thoughts in class and is reluctant to take the initiative in academic tasks.  FS2 prefers to work in smaller groups of 2-5 children.  Our group hopes that she will be an active participant in her group, as well as share about her group's ant colony design.
Focus Student #3 (FS3) is a 3rd grade student.  She’s a very kind and artistic student, who always wants to please and is an overachiever.   However, her extreme attention to detail sometimes diminishes her ability to be accepting of mistakes, and staying-on task with time management in class.  Although FS3 prefers to work with a partner, she sometimes compares herself with others and can be hard on herself.  Our group hopes to observe her make decisions and act more as a role-model and leader for the younger students in her group.  





Lesson 1

Goal:  Hook /Launch/Inquiry/Story

Task: Hear story about ants. The Life and Times of Ants

What do you wonder and know about ants?

Lesson 2:

 Goal:  Students learn about ant life 

Task: Research/Share

Lesson 3:

Goal: Ant Observations

Task: As a class, set up an ant farm and observe ants.

Lesson 4:

Goal: Ant food experiment

Task: Leave out food see what they prefer. Students make hypotheses and report on their findings.

Lesson 5: *Lesson Study Observation Day*

Goal: Build Ant Nest Models
Task: Students work together to create nests.



Michelina  observing Focus Student 2 - 1st grader

More telling than speaking, with 8 times being interrupted.  It was difficult for the 3rd grader to share the process, but FS2  non-verbally communicated her wants and needs with supplies and ideas.  There was some reluctance, but she was smiling the whole time and stood up for herself (ie. pipe cleaner incident).  

She seemed excited to share, and generate her ideas and contributing.  She was very positive with the project process. She didn’t mention her “spa” idea in the whole group share, and instead mentioned other chambers co-created.




Lilly taught a run through lesson to adults from our class. We drew ant colonies instead of building them. This activity helped us better shape our questions for the sharing section of the lesson 

Focus Student 2 Group Work


Dana observing Focus Student 3 - 3rd grader

She took initiative, made the decision. She did things for the other kids, babied them a little bit. The 2nd grader  seemed like she wanted to do more. She was very focused on making ants, she needed a prompt from the teacher to make chambers. Her group had an unfinished product they were happy with their contributions and roles. She was very focused on tiny details. She was in charge the entire time. I feel that she was listening to others ideas but then overpowered other’s ideas. I think the first grader needed that type of support, but the 2nd grader felt a little frustrated at times. Overall I felt that it was peaceful and they were not arguing. They really were collaborating.   One of my wonders is that if the students should have stood near their work instead of being in their circle spot. Her hand was up every time that Lilly asked something. I like how Lily gave her a job in the end. 

Focus Student 3 Group Work



Debrief  - Lilly


I think it went well, most of them were engaged!  Some of the groups surprised me because I tried to make groups I thought that they would work well with… but some of the groups went the opposite direction. I feel like most students made the ant to home connection.  I want to talk to the group who didn't finish. What would happen to ants if they didn’t finish building? Focus Student 3 group did not finish, which I predicted. Overall the class surprised me! All of them were able to create something. Maybe one voice wasn’t heard but overall  I think it helped them with collaboration, and I think this group work experience will stick with them.  As far as sharing out…. I am struggling with whole circles. I only used the ant [talking stick]  for the first graders. I think that a lot of the kids agreed and used our signals for me too and no. Russells comment was amazing! In comparing the nest to your home. The queens chamber is like my mom and dads room. They are the ones in charge. I though it was cool connection. I feel like this whole thing ended up being more social emotional and about equity than about science. Which was great! It turned out to be a social science project and I really liked that it did! I wish we did a  little bit more research on group work. Most of them sat pretty well today. “


Discussion - Did we have successful group work and discussion from an outsider's perspective?

Overall it seemed successful! The children were discussing their wants and needs within the group, it didn't seem like students were overlooked or ideas were not shared. Every table was focused on their building and all conversation was around the project and products. Everybody was doing something, no one was sitting around or wandering. Students followed prompts and used checklists. For a class that doesn’t do a lot of group work it really looked like they did. It was never quiet, kids seemed to have connections with each other to support learning. There was empathy because of the age range… it really seems like the 3rd graders were considerate. 


Possible next steps... “I would like to do more group work! I want to do more research on group work strategies, and facilitation strategies. I think they did do well, as far as making sure everyone is included in the decision making, I am interested in learning more ways to do this.  Science…. I would totally do this again with a different insect or topic. I think that the high interest topic (science/ants) is what made the communication and collaboration work so well. It made me feel a little bit more comfortable with science! I feel relieved!”- Lilly 


I am beyond proud of our team’s hard work. I have never seen a lesson shift in so many directions before finally landing on something so beautiful and amazing! I am thankful for Lilly’s interest in stepping out of her comfort zone. Dayna and I have strong science backgrounds and we were eager to get her excited about science! Together we used our research to investigate new and different ways that we could create a series of culturally relative, play based,  science lessons for Lilly’s students. Ultimately Lilly was able to find a balance with her classroom and all of these new elements. Her students learned collaboration, dove into their backgrounds, and bad some incredible science projects!!


In reflection to the lesson study process, I really enjoyed data/resource collection from the USCD's Geisel Library.  This allowed our team to have a little off- campus field trip in a different learning environment.  We were able to gather more research materials and to dive deeper into the process of designing and refining our study lesson.  During this lesson cycle, our class had also devoted more time and reflection on the "Literature Synthesis", in which I felt further growth in that area as well.  Throughout the weeks of research and data collection in both reading and interviews, our team developed/ tracked other big ideas that we wanted to keep in mind for the study lesson planning, as well as the project that reflects the study lesson cycle.  I found this lesson study process to be quite an enriching learning experience, as we discovered more ways to develop and co-create the upcoming lesson plan/s together.