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Kristen Pashkoff

ELED 3221
edTPA Indirect Instruction Lesson Plan Template
Parallel & Series Circuits
Central Focus/Big Idea: Electricity in a series circuit and parallel
Subject of this lesson: Circuits
Grade Level: 4th grade
NC Essential Standard(s): 4.P.3.1 Recognize the basic forms of energy
(light, sound, heat, electrical, and magnetic) as the ability to cause motion
or create change.
Next Generation Science Standard(s): PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects or through
sound, light, or electric currents.
21st Century Skills: Critical thinking and problem solving (Students will
have to observe and predict why water condenses on the outside of a cup.
This will also tie into climate and humidity)
Collaboration (Students will be working in groups)
Initiative and Self-direction (Students will be working in groups and
going at their own pace/figuring things out for themselves)
Academic Language Demand
Language Function: Students will have to explain the differences
and similarities between series and parallel circuits.
Analyze Argue Categoriz Compare/contras Describe

Interpret Predict




Scientific Vocabulary: Parallel circuit, series circuit, closed circuit,

open circuit
Instructional Objective: Students are expected to learn how electricity
flows through the different circuits. Students will explain the differences
and similarities between a parallel circuit and a series circuit using a Venn
diagram with 2 similarities and 2 differences
Prior Knowledge (student): Students will know what a circuit is. They
know the materials in a circuit and that it carries electrical current.
Content Knowledge (teacher): The teacher must know what a circuit is
and that it carries an electrical current. They must know that there are
different types of circuits; series and parallel. In a series circuit all of the
light sources are connected to the same power source. Therefore, if one
goes out they will all go out. They also need to know that in a parallel
circuit there are different pathways for the electrical current. Therefore, if
one goes out, the others will stay lit because they are directly connected to
the power source.
Accommodations for special needs (individual and/or small group):
Students with accommodations only need one similarity and one
Materials and Technology requirements: (class of 26)
26 Tennis Balls (two groups of 13)
6 D-batteries
6 battery holders
18 wires
18 alligator clips

Total Estimated Time: 60 minutes or 30 minutes over 2 days.

Source of lesson: 4th - Physical Science - Magnetism & Electricity |
Science Matters. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from
Safety considerations: I will make sure my students detach the batteries
from the power source before putting the materials away, preventing
anything melting
Content and Strategies (Procedure)
Engage: I will put the class into 2 groups of 13. One group will act as a
parallel circuit and the other will act as a series circuit. Discuss with
students What is a circuit? What is the purpose of a circuit? Do you think
there are different types of circuits or just one? What type of energy is
carried along a circuit?
Give 12 students a tennis ball and 1 student (the power source) will
hold a bag/bucket. Tell students that the tennis balls they are holding
represent lights. Students will number themselves 1-12. Starting
with the power source, hand the tennis balls 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4 etc.
Then pick 2 numbers to drop the ball, showing obstruction in the
current. In this model, when one light doesnt work, the rest go out
too. Why do you think this happens?
Then give 12 tennis balls to the other group (representing the
parallel circuit). Place students in a circle with students in the
middle representing the light source. When one light goes out the
students can still pass it to someone else in the middle, completing
the circuit.

Explore: Students will be in groups of 4/5 students. Each group will get a
set of materials to make circuits. Students will receive a kit with a Dbattery and holder, multiple wires, and 3 light bulbs. The students know
how to create a series circuit prior to the lesson so each group will quickly
show a series circuit model. Ask students How do you know this is a
series circuit? Can you prove it? Why do all the lights go out if one light
gets disconnected? How is that different from a parallel circuit? Then they
will create a parallel circuit. How are you going to create a closed
circuit? How will you make it so the rest of the lights will stay on if one
goes out? Why does this happen?
Explanation: Students will return to their desks and take out their
notebooks. They will cut and paste given diagrams into their notebooks.
Ask students: What type of energy moves through circuits? How do
circuits work? What is the difference between a series and parallel circuit?
What did you notice about the brightness of the light bulbs in the different
circuits? What did you observe? They will turn to a partner and share
what they noticed about the two types of circuits. They will highlight
definitions in the given reading and read to themselves all about parallel
and series circuits on the worksheet.
Elaborate: Challenge students to design the brightest light bulb. Have
students explain why they think their design created the brightest bulb.
Evaluate: To formatively assess students, walk around and observe while
asking students questions. For a summative assessment, students will
draw a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting parallel and series
circuits. They will need 2 similarities and 2 differences.
To be completed after the lesson is taught as appropriate
Assessment Results of all objectives/skills: Students were able to
successfully elaborate the differences between a series and parallel circuit.
Reflection on lesson:

During this lesson the students built on their prior knowledge of

circuits. They learned the difference between a parallel circuit and a series
circuit. First, the students acted as the actual circuits and we discussed the
flow of electricity through a series and parallel circuit. Then they got into
their groups with the materials and began exploring. They worked
cooperatively in their groups to build circuits. They do science instruction
through project-based learning and are familiar with working as a group.
There were no problems. Some students asked to take a field trip which
means take a trip around the room and look at other groups to see what
they did to make a closed circuit successfully. The task did require the
students to make a series and parallel circuit and have it checked by me.
They did begin to put their own twist on it. Some groups realized in a
series circuit the lights were very dim so they added another power source
(battery). My instructions had been to only use one battery but I was
impressed with their innovation and critical thinking.
To extend the investigation, students added more wires, batteries and
light bulbs if they had successfully created both circuits first. The students
reflected on the fact that household appliances are connected to parallel
circuits and that is why not every appliance turns on when one is turned
on. To accommodate learners with disabilities, I had them paired with
someone who helped them through the activity. I did not integrate much
technology besides the actual materials. Ms. K wanted them to have a
print out of the notes in their daybooks. To integrate technology, however,
I could have posted the notes/reading online for them to access.
Overall, I think the students got a concrete understanding of the
differences between a series and parallel circuit. They were kinesthetic
and discovered the differences themselves after briefly talking about the
characteristics of each type of circuit. I would absolutely do this lesson
again. Next time I would go over the notes/reading passage first to give
the students a better understanding.
This experience taught me things as a teacher and a learner. I had to
read about what a series and parallel circuit is. I needed to become a
master on the topic before teaching it. As a teacher, I learned that things
dont always go just as you planned them. I was pleasantly surprised at
the discoveries and observations the students were making.

CT signature/confirmation: Ms. Kenny

Date: 3/21/16