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Using problem-based learning to teach across the curriculum in a first-grade
A teacher began to notice her students growing fascination with teeth. The teacher took this fascination and used it to teach the students about their own teeth and the teeth on animals. On the first day, the teacher engaged the students in a discussion about what they know about their teeth. This lead the students to identifying the types of foods they eat and how those foods affect their teeth. The flowing day the students tested the effects of different items on “teeth”. The students poured liquids over eggs allowing the liquid stain the eggs. The students were then asked to brush the stains away using a toothbrush. This was a great activity that allowed the students to see how difficult it is to brush away the stains of certain drinks. On the third day the teacher introduced the students to animals teeth. The teacher began the lesson by asking the students if animals brush their teeth. The discussion lead to the being able to identify what an animal eats by looking at their teeth. The fourth day the students were assigned to design a toothbrush for an animal. The students were given information on the animal and told to create a toothbrush for that specific animal. Finally, on the fifth day the students were given the opportunity create the toothbrush they designed the day prior. The students were able to test their designs by brushing the teeth of a model of their animal. I absolutely love this lesson because it allows the students to have a hands-on experience and use their problem-solving skills. I loved that the teacher used a topic that was relevant to the students to tie in a science objective. This lesson teachers about so much more than just teeth. It teaches about predators, prey, habitat, physical features, and even making healthy choices. I love that this lesson can be used to teach so many topics while still staying relevant and engaging for the students.
Jessica Byard (Tyler, TX)
“How Do Animals Brush Their Teeth?” is an exceptional way to implement project-based learning and provide a week-long unit that is engaging and interesting for students. This activity consists of a five-day process that guides students through the exploration of our teeth, why they are important, if animals brush their teeth, and how students would design a device to brush an animal’s teeth. Each day of the week provides specific details on how to execute the lesson and what activities students will participate in to reinforce the content. Students get to participate in hands-on projects during this unit, as well as read alouds, and technology. This article also describes strategies that can be used to aid English Language Learners strengthen their language and social skills as the participate in the lessons. Brilliant! I love the idea of this lesson because it is relevant to information that students at this grade level are interested in. Many students at this age are beginning to lose their teeth and become interested in the human body. In fact, the article states that students began to create a “competition” around who could lose the most teeth! This unit could be executed to teach a variety of lessons in the classroom. I can envision referencing this article to teach various subject matters regarding humans and animals alike. Some of these lessons include: habitat, diet, hygiene, hunting rituals, and daily routines. I really enjoyed ready this article and I will definitely be referencing to it as I begin teaching.