More than a Life Cycle

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SWBAT describe facts about butterflies other than the life cycle.

Big Idea

Other than being pretty and having an amazing life cycle what’s so special about butterflies?


Any time you see Life Science and ELA combined you will find an informational text about the life cycle of the butterfly.  I have to agree, the metamorphous transition a caterpillar goes through is pretty amazing.  And let’s be honest most butterflies are beautiful, so carefree and graceful.  No wonder the cricket wanted to be one.  In this end of the unit lesson, though, I wanted to expose my students to more than the life cycle of the butterfly.   

Common Core Connection:

When we started this unit my students appeared very familiar with the life cycle of the butterfly, I wanted them to learn more and discover there is more to this graceful creature. I myself learned that some butterflies drink salty tears from turtle and alligator eyes.  (Before Common Core, I would have just taught the life cycle)  I could have left it at the life cycle.  It would have been easy to compare butterfly life cycle texts- there’s so many to choose from.  I could have compared informational butterfly life cycle texts to fictional butterfly literature- again there are several resources to choose from.  However, I started to think about exposing my students to a wide range of reading and learning experiences, complex tasks, and rigor that would help build their foundation of knowledge in both science and ELA.  Through RI.1. and RI.1.5, I boldly stepped away from the comfort zone of the butterfly life cycle and entered the larger world of butterflies. 

Lesson Overview:

In today’s lesson my students will work in their differentiated reading groups to rotate through 4 learning stations, where they will read and record different facts about butterflies.  Each group rotation will last between 15 and 20 minutes.  After each group has completed all the work stations they will use the new information to write in their journals.  Note, to provide a structure and because I wanted my students to learn new facts about butterflies, I told them they could not use the life cycle as one of their facts.



5 minutes

We began this lesson on the rug where we reviewed what we have learned about the butterfly life cycle, and what we learned about comparing informational texts and literary stories about butterflies.

After which I told my little ones today they will learn more about butterflies through reading and working on the computer.


Guided Practice

10 minutes

At this point I instructed my students to gracefully and silently float to their chairs like a butterfly.  It sounds whimsical, however, during our week of reading and learning about caterpillars and butterflies my students are also learning new descriptive vocabulary words.  On this day, by adding a movement to the words gracefully and silently float my students are learning another way to describe the way a butterfly flies.  The accompanying video, Float to Your Chairs, is an example of how I use movement in the class.

Once settled at their desks I displayed the Finding the Facts Activity sheet on the Promethean board.  I explained that today they would work in their differentiated reading groups to read, discuss, and record new facts they learned about caterpillars and/or butterflies; stressing they could not use information about the butterfly life cycle as one of their facts.  I explained they were to write the name of the book or article that was at the work station they were at and describe the picture that was on the cover.  As I continued to explain, I also modeled how to fill out the sections by holding up a copy of That is Symmetry and looking at the table of contents until I found the "chapter" entitled Butterfly.  Using the group of students in the front row I pretended we were a reading group reading and talking about the text.  Then I said: "I think we should add this to our activity sheet", as I wrote it on the Promethean board.  The accompanying picture, Modeling, is an example of what this looked like.

I checked for understanding by pulling a student name from the magic cup (see the Magic Cup video) to restate the directions.  The video also shows how students show a thumb up or down if they agree or disagree. 

After checking for understanding that they understand what they are going to do, I will place each reading group in their first work area.

Collaborative Activity

60 minutes

From there I directed my differentiated reading groups to different work areas, where I had already set out the books and materials they would need for this activity.  Each student had his/her own activity sheet, that they brought with them as they moved from area to area, to record information.  Students were allowed to discuss and share what they found within their group.   The accompanying pictures shows each reading group at on work area. 

Once my students were in their work areas, I joined my least independent group to listen to and help them read and/or record the information.  Every now and again I circled the room to monitor the rest of the class’s progress. About every 15 minutes (which is about how long the Scholastic News On-line Magazine: Brave Butterflies? article/activity last)  my students rotated to the next learning area.  For the most part I stayed with the dependent learners. except while they were on the computer because the article was read to them through the computer.


Independent Practice

15 minutes

When all my students completed rotating through all the work areas I had them re-group at their desks and called on students to a new fact about caterpillars and/or butterflies they or their group discovered.  My students shared and were amazed that there were so many types of butterflies, that not all caterpillars look alike, not all butterflies drink nectar, and they learned a new word: symmetry.

After hearing all that they discovered, I challenged my students to write those new thoughts in their journals.  As I displayed the prompt: Besides growing and changing what else is so special about butterflies?  I reminded my students to start with a writing hook.

The accompanying video shows a student from the Third Highest Reading Group.

Ticket Out the Door

5 minutes

To earn a sticker my students will have to tell me one thing new they learned today about butterflies.