What’s the Matter in Mr. Whisker’s Room?

Contributor
Michael Elsohn Ross
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Informative Text
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This classroom read-aloud leads students to engage in the science and engineering practices through the exploration of the structure and properties of matter. Questions presented by Mr. Whisker's facilitates student observation and leads them to grapple with the disciplinary core ideas surrounding matter and its interactions. This book could be used in multiple ways in the classroom. The book could be used to start an investigation about matter.The first few pages of the book might set the stage for beginning of a sequence of learning. A teacher might choose to use relevant pages at different parts of the instruction. The book might be a model for how a teacher would introduce the phenomena.

Students might also read this book independently to reinforce learning that has happened in their own classrooms. This book might be used to teach reading while deepening  students' understanding about the properties of matter.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Elementary School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

Performance Expectations

5-PS1-3 Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.

Clarification Statement: Examples of materials to be identified could include baking soda and other powders, metals, minerals, and liquids. Examples of properties could include color, hardness, reflectivity, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, response to magnetic forces, and solubility; density is not intended as an identifiable property.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include density or distinguishing mass and weight.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In this story, many of the students' observations are shared as they engage in the various investigations. To more fully address the performance expectation, it is suggested that Mr.Whisker's investigation stations be duplicated in the classroom and data collection be explicitly inserted to include measurement and graphs. Students could document the measurements in data tables and include graphical representations in science notebooks. Prompting students to compare and analyze data mathematically is also recommended.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The intent of the story is to encourage open-ended investigation of phenomena. To have the student's own wondering and questions drive their investigations. Throughout the text there are opportunities for the teacher to elicit student questions. The teacher would have crafted the questions for each section of the book ealier to use as scaffolds if necessary. On pages 12-13, at the start of each station the teacher might have an index card with questions such as: What can we learn about matter from water droplets? How do water droplets support Mr. Whiskers statement “Matter is stuff”? Its recommended teachers not read pages 12-13 to students until they have come up with to the understanding that water is matter and matter takes up space. Include a question such as “How many water droplets fit on a penny? in a bottle cap? Students would count and graph the quantities and compare the data with data from other students. Students could explore water displacement and practice their measurement skills through the section called “Water Tubs” by measuring the amount of water that has been displaced by different objects. The students could then be engaged in a class discussion where the focusing question might be " What patterns did you notice about the water displacement by similar objects?"

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Through the investigation presented on pages 30-31, consider setting up stations with materials and a card with the question: What can we learn about matter from these materials? Density is beyond the grade 5 assessment boundary, but students might focus on the “weight” or "heft" of rocks and other objects instead.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Explore with students how patterns emerge in outcomes which leads to predictability in future trials or across several groups performing the same investigation. For example, “whenever we put the rock into the water tub, it displaced the same amount of water. I think the rock only displaces this much water because...”

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Drive students toward the use of quantitative measurement by asking questions to explain their matter descriptors further. For example: “What do you mean when you describe a rock as heavy? How cold is the water?, or as a container full of juice, What do we mean by that?” This might happen in a scientist meeting after students have worked at the measurement station but before the pages are read aloud. After completing the station, students might write a claim about matter that includes a standard measurement being used to describe physical properties supported by evidence from the investigations done at the station.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Weak if used as is, but could be excellent if tips are implemented.

  • Instructional Supports: Teachers need to consider the needs of their own students and how to best use the book is dependent on the needs of students. The book could be used to start an investigation about matter. The first few pages of the book might set the stage for beginning of a sequence of learning. A teacher may choose to use relevant pages at different parts of the instruction. The book might be used as model for the teacher for how one might introduce matter phenomena in a way that is student oriented..

  • Monitoring Student Progress: In the text, Mr. Whiskers is continually formatively assessing but there is no explicit reference to assessment anywhere in the resource. It is recommended students record their data, graphical representations, and claims in their science notebooks which could then be assessed by the teacher.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is an ebook version of this book available but was not explored for this resource review.