Science, Student-Led

Crayfish You Say?

We do Foss curriculum and for 4th grade one of our units is Structures of Life.  So imagine the excitement and chaos that ensued when upon returning from winter break, crayfish had arrived in our room.  You think you have seen excited kids before?  Add some crustaceans, and the noise-level will go up about 50 decibels.  So as any good teacher would do, I squealed along with them and inside groaned in repulsion at the critters.

Foss is a great science curriculum for new teachers like myself because it gives you a great spring board for actual hands-on science.  However, this unit is a bit lackluster.  So instead of pushing the students through all of the investigations, we did the first one, and then I asked, “So what do you want to know?”
Those hands shot up and here is a partial list of things they wanted to learn:

  • Why do we have to transfer them to feed them?
  • How will they grab the food?
  • Do they like to be alone?
  • Why are they so aggressive?
  • How long does it take for them to regenerate a limb?
  • Do they have ears?
  • Can they see us if we sneak up behind them?
  • How do they fight?
  • Do they sleep?
  • Do they swim?
  • If the water is above their heads, do they die?
  • Can we get them to mate?
Once again, my students showed me that their questions are much better than the ones posed by the curriculum.  This unit will now become a student-led exploration for the next couple of weeks, where we will pose new questions as well as revisit our original list to see what we have learned.  This project will then culminate in a class research report about crayfish.  That way, I can sneak in how to write a research report while we do something super fun.  Letting go of the set curriculum is proving to be even more worthwhile than I had hoped.
We have also done a crayfish scavenger hunt to get more information for our research papers, so here is link to that.

1 thought on “Crayfish You Say?”

  1. Excellent Pernille! I admire that you allowed and championed student inquiry into your lesson, as well as allowing it to continue. I can't wait to hear the rest of the crayfish journey and the kids thoughts as they answer their questions.

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