Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Inventor's Secret Teach-a-long: Invention Predictions

Lesson Two:  Invention Predictions


I love this lesson! Students look at real photographs of Edison's and Ford's inventions and innovations. They have to first predict what Edison's inventions are and then they have to try to put Ford's cars into the order in which they were made.

After this activity, students should be able to:

  • Make inferences and predictions about a primary source, using clues from the document to support their thinking.

A critical element in an inquiry-based learning classroom is helping students learn how to effectively access and analyze primary and secondary sources. This activity serves two purposes:
  1. It provides students with some background about Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's inventions and innovations while engaging them in inquiry and;
  2. It teaches students how to make predictions about primary source photographs using the details in the pictures to support their thinking.



You should already have made the copies of the invention photographs from the Edison Ford Inventions PowerPoint (04EdisonFordInventions.ppt) when you prepared for teaching the unit. If you haven't done so yet, see this post for the details. Make copies of the Invention Prediction worksheet (05InventionsPredictions.pdf), one for each group. You will also want to print the notes in the PowerPoint that tells about each invention.
Notes Pages

The Lesson
Part One: Thomas Edison's Inventions


I divided this lesson into two sessions. In the first session, we only made predictions about Thomas Edison's Inventions. I started by sharing some of the examples of inventions and innovations students found at home.

 I then projected the first Thomas Edison invention in the Edison Ford Inventions PowerPoint (04EdisonFordInventions.ppt) and had the Invention Prediction worksheet (05InventionsPredictions.pdf) copied onto my Smartboard so that I could write in it.
I modeled how to look at the invention and fill in the Invention Prediction sheet. I had students get into groups of 2 or 3. We talked about working collaboratively, what that would look like and what I would expect to see in a group working well together. I let students decide who would fill in the sheet or if they would take turns filling it in. We discussed coming to some sort of an agreement before filling it in and the importance of really using the details in the picture to support their ideas.

After everyone finished, I projected the Edison Ford Inventions PowerPoint (04EdisonFordInventions.ppt) and went over each invention one by one. I had each group share their predictions and I asked some to share their thinking. What in the photo made them think that? Then I revealed what the invention actually is, using the notes in the Powerpoint. A note about the notes. The notes are pretty extensive. I highlighted only what I thought was most important and interesting for my 4th grade students to know. I did not read the entire notes section to my class.

My students LOVED doing this. So much that some groups wanted to keep doing it even when it was time to take a recess break. I was so impressed with the ideas that they came up with. All of their predictions were rooted in evidence from the picture as well as their background knowledge. My 4th graders definitely worked best in pairs so I made enough copies of the photos to support that grouping.

Join the Teach-a-long for the integrated unit:  

The Inventor's Secret

Previous Post:  What's an Invention?

Next Post:  Invention Predictions- Part Two


The Inventor's Secret Teach-a-long: What's an Invention?


Lesson One:  What's an Invention?

In the book, The Inventor's Secret, we learn about Thomas Edison who invented many things over his lifetime. We also learn about Henry Ford, who was an innovator. His goal was to make the car more affordable for the average household. The difference between what an innovation is and an invention seems minor but it is important. This lesson helps students develop a common understanding of the word invention and innovation. It also helps them see how integral they are to their daily lives.

After this activity, students should be able to:

▪ Identify inventions and innovations in their lives.
▪ Understand the characteristics and the purpose of an invention or innovation.


This lesson takes very little preparation. All you need is the Inventions and Innovations PowerPoint and copies of the Invention Search homework. I also copied the Inventions/Innovations in Our Classroom chart onto my Smartboard.

The Lesson

The lesson went so well! Students were engaged and very interested in the topic. The Inventions and Innovations PowerPoint stimulated a lot of discussion in my class and after presenting it, my students were able to create quite an extensive list of inventions and innovations in our classroom.

They were excited to complete the Invention Search homework.


Join the Teach-a-long for the unit:  

Previous Post:  Preparing to Teach the Unit

Next Post:  Invention Predictions

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Inventor's Secret Teach-a-long: Preparing to Teach the Unit

There are some things you'll want to prepare before you begin the first lesson. I started preparing these materials a few days ahead of time.

Before You Begin Teaching the Unit


If you don’t have your own copy of the unit yet, you can purchase and download it in our Teachers Pay Teacher GetReal! store.

Unzip the file and store it somewhere on your computer or in the cloud. I uploaded my files to my Google Drive so I can easily link to them from my online planbook.  

Get a copy of the book, The Inventor's Secret:  What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade

Find it in your library, order it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or purchase the e-book on Teacher's Pay Teachers.

Print the file, 00InventorsSecretTeachersGuide.pdf.

This is your teachers guide.

Open the file, 22EdisonFordQuotes.pptx
This is a PowerPoint of growth mindset quotes by Edison and Ford. Print out the slides and hang the quotes around your classroom. I laminated mine. To make them POP out, you might want to back them with colorful paper.  These quotes will be hanging up during the unit and they will be used in one of the last lessons of the unit.

Open the file, 01InventionsandInnovations.pptx  

Print the following slides, in color, if possible: 2-7, 10-17, and 20. Then, make enough copies to support groups of 3 or 4 students. This is going to depend on how many students you wish to have in the small groups. I am grouping my 4th grade students into groups of 2 and 3, because that is how they work best. 

You may wish to laminate these so you can reuse them.

Print the file, 03InventionSearchHomework.pdf. 

Make a copy for each student. This homework is assigned after Lesson One.

Read through Lesson One: What's an Invention?

Okay, that's it! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Join the Teach-a-long for our newest integrated unit:  

Next Post: Lesson One: What's an Invention?


Friday, January 5, 2018

Inventor's Secret Teach-a-long: Introduction to the Unit

Why did we develop this unit?


We LOVE to have kids study and learn about the character of REAL people who's actions have changed the world.

It’s important that our children understand that success comes with hard work, persistence and content knowledge as well as good ideas.

We wanted to provide a way for teachers to introduce the Engineering Process/Invention Process (NGSS) to students with a hands-on, fun, non threatening activity that was embedded in their learning and had a purpose beyond “checking off a standard”.

We design our units specifically to use close reading as a way for students to:

  • build knowledge and vocabulary, 
  • study author’s craft and author’s reason for writing
  • engage in reading, writing and speaking around a common interest/content 
  • come up with their own ideas!
We believe that learning should be connected to an essential purpose or idea and not just random lessons and activities.

Why did we choose the book, The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford as our anchor text? 


This book ends with an important message for the reader. Never Give Up! And, it uses two very successful inventors to prove the point.

It is a great book to study author’s craft and character traits.

Using a picture book with close reading activities allows all students to access knowledge and ideas no matter what their reading level. This book introduces the content to be learned in a way that makes students want to know more because it talks about inventions that they know about first-hand.

The book brings up lots of topics/idea that students can pursue individually as mini research enrichment projects.

Where might this unit fit into your curriculum?

I am using this unit because I am currently doing an Energy Unit in science. Studying two inventors that used two different kinds of energy, mechanical (Ford) and electrical (Edison) to power their inventions is a natural fit.

However, this unit can also connect with the following curriculum topics:

  • Inventions
  • Growth Mindset
  • The Engineering Process
  • Timelines
  • Biographies
  • Nonfiction Reading
  • Close Reading

Join the Teach-a-long for our integrated unit:

The Inventor's Secret: Close Reading, STEM, Growth Mindset and Inquiry


Previous Post: The Inventor's Secret Teach-a-Long!

The Inventor's Secret Teach-a-long!

The Inventor's Secret:  Close Reading, STEM, Mindset, and Inquiry


 Welcome to the Teach-a-long!


Teach along with us as we walk you through each lesson of our integrated unit, The Inventor's Secret. 

This series of step by step lessons begin with the beautifully written picture book, The Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, which tells the tale of how these two men achieved success through a growth mindset; goal setting, perseverance, and learning from their mistakes.

Our goal is to help you have the most successful experience possible as you implement close reading in your classroom and this teach-a-long gives you another method for learning.

Our posts will feature clear instructions and photos meant to supplement the Teacher's Guide that comes with the unit.

Your Teacher 


Your teach-a-long will be taught be me (Rebecca). 

I have been an educator for 26 years and have experience teaching grades PreK-6. I left the teaching profession for 10 years, providing professional development and instructional coaching for teachers.  This is my 9th year back in the classroom as a 4th grade teacher. 

I can't wait to teach the unit, The Inventor's Secret, with you!

How it Works


Our Teach-a-longs are simple. We’ll publish a series of posts detailing each step in the process of implementing the unit. You can teach along with us, ask questions, and share your experiences and ideas with others.

Feel free to leave comments with thoughts, questions, and photos. We try our best to answer as many questions as possible, but encourage you to jump in and help each other out as well.

If you can't join us real-time, no worries! These posts will always be available and we will be here to respond to your comments and questions.

What We Cover 


Introduction to the Unit
Get the details on why we created this unit, why we love it, and where it might fit into your curriculum.

Preparing for the Unit
What you need to get ready before you begin teaching the lessons.

Lesson One:  What is an Invention?
This lesson helps students develop a common understanding of the word invention and innovation. It also helps them see how integral they are to their daily lives. 

Lesson Two:  Invention Predictions- Part One
Students look at real photographs of Edison's inventions and innovations. They have to first predict what Edison's inventions and support their thinking with evidence from the photographs.


Next Post:   Introduction to the Unit



Monday, January 1, 2018

Teachers Pay Teachers Sale and New Freebie!

Everything at our Teachers Pay Teachers store is 20% off until January 4th. 
These are just a few of our products to check out!





Free Download!

We are offering Close Reading Highlighting Keys free!

Do you have your students highlight while they closely read a text? Provide students with a focus while they closely read with these Close Reading Highlighting Keys. These can be used with any article or text excerpt.



Friday, July 7, 2017

Developing an Engineering Mindset

The NGSS Framework recommends that students explicitly learn how to engage in engineering design practices to solve problems. Engaging in engineering practices requires an engineering mindset.  

So how do we develop an engineering mindset in our students? 

Teach students how to track their own thinking processes during STEM challenges!

The Engineer’s Log Top Tab Foldable® can be used with any STEM challenge. Students label the steps of the engineering design process on the tabs. There is plenty of room under each tab for them to jot down their thinking, draw diagrams, and record data. Using it to track their process will help students develop an engineering mindset as they learn the importance of asking, imagining, designing, testing, improving and reflecting, all thinking processes that are central to engineering design.

We've created a packet that includes the following:

-A lesson to introduce the engineering design process to your students
-A Engineer's Log Foldable® cover and cutting guide and directions for how to make top tab foldables® that will be used as logs for students to track their engineering design process during STEM challenges
-A STEM lesson, The Mint Mobile Challenge, to use with the Engineer's Log Foldable®. The lesson includes questions for the teacher to ask which will guide students log entries.
-A Powerpoint presentation that introduces the STEM Mint Mobile Challenge
-A printable Engineer's Log Question Guide which will help students remember what to record in their logs during STEM challenges

We have included a sample STEM activity, The Mint Mobile Challenge, which will provide students with a problem to solve as they apply the engineering thinking processes.

Using this Foldable® to capture their thinking as they complete STEM challenges will help students develop the mindset of engineers; understanding that asking questions, engaging in teamwork, learning from trials and errors, being flexible to new ideas, recording data, and reflecting on results will all lead to better solutions.

You can find the Engineer's Log Foldable® packet at our Get Real TPT store.