Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Using Interactive Notebooks to Learn Electrical Circuits: A Guest Post by Lynda R. Williams

Lynda R. Williams is a Lecturer at Utah Valley University. She enjoys working with science and social studies pre-service teachers on methods of learning.   Most importantly she models how to make instruction engaging. You may remember that Lynda wrote a previous guest post for Teaching Learning Leading K12 in May of last year. 

For more information about Lynda check out this introductory post and to take a look at her original post on Teaching Learning Leading K12 go to this link: Using Foldable Graphic Organizers with Interactive Notebooks.

Here is a link to her blog Teaching Science with Lynda. 
Make sure you check out other links at the end of the post.

Thanks, Lynda for taking time to share with us your ideas on Interactive Notebooks! 

And now her lesson...

Using Interactive Notebooks with a Lesson on Electrical Circuitsby Lynda R. Williams

In this blog post I plan to take you through a hands-on science lesson and show how I incorporate the interactive notebook.   I have chosen the topic of electrical circuits.  It aligns with the standard S5P3 Students will investigate electricity. It also aligns with S5CS5 Students will communicate scientific ideas and activities clearly as well as S5CS8 Students will understand important features of the process of scientific inquiry.

Let’s assume the students have already learned to make a simple circuit.  In this activity they will be testing various objects to discover if the are conductors or insulators. 

Give students the materials they will need to complete a circuit.   They will need a D cell battery with a large rubber band or electrical tape to hold the wires in place, three electrical wires, a light bulb (light bulb holder if desired) and items to test.   Items to test can be house hold objects such as a penny, a paper clip, a tooth pick, a plastic tie, a balloon, a slice of potato, paper, a piece of foil, etc.  

Making Predictions: Have the students predict and record in their notebook which items will allow electricity to pass through and which will block the electricity.  

Testing Items and Recording Data: After the students have made the predictions they will test the materials and record their findings on a T-chart, which will be placed in their notebook. 

Discussion: When the students are finished testing materials, the teacher will lead them in a discussion.  What were your findings? What similarities and differences did you find between materials?  Did you notice any patterns? What would you call an object or substance that allows electricity to pass through it?  What would you call an object or substance that stops the electricity from passing though?  Can you think of any conductors or insulators in our room? 

Students Record Conclusions: In their notebooks students will add conclusions and ideas.  Here are a few examples: 

So, as you can see, the students used the interactive notebook to record their predictions, write definitions based on their exploration, record ideas and explain concepts.  To challenge students I would ask them to create a switch using the same materials.  

For more information on electrical circuits and interactive notebooks, see my blog post on Squishy Circuits 

You can find templates for use in your interactive notebooks at