Why Did the Dinosaurs Disappear? Day 1 of 2

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SWBAT to ask and answer questions to understand key details in an informational text about the different theories of why the dinosaurs disappeared.

Big Idea

Many ideas exist that explain the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Students sift through these theories while learning to hone in on key details and text evidence.


10 minutes

Context and Overview

After reading about dinosaur fossils we continue on to exploring the different ideas/theories scientists have and have had about why dinosaurs disappeared. I feel this is a good to expose my students about how scientists come to develop ideas/theories about the planet they live on. It also continues their knowledge of dinosaurs. Building content knowledge is a key shift with the CCSS. I am building the content today through videos and a selection titled, Why Did the Dinosaurs Disappear? by Karen Sapp.

An emphasis with the CCSS is preparing our students for college and career and to do so, students need to know how to respond to different types of audiences. That is why I am engaging in Socratic Seminar in which we will discuss the question, "Why did the dinosaurs disappear?"

Students will get the opportunity to write about what they learned.

On the rug

After the objective, I am engaging my students in a think-pair-share. Their think pair share is about sharing, "What are theories/ideas?" PairSharing:WhatAreTheories:Ideas? This is an important conversation because it will frame the rest of the lesson.

In working with English Language Learners, it is vital to engage daily in discussion and provide them linguistic support to aid their thinking and their oral expression.

Video: Why did the Dinosaurs Disappear?

15 minutes

One of the ways in which I am integrating technology is by using youtube videos on the topics that I am covering. One of the ways in which I am integrating the listening and the reading and writing is by teaching my students to take notes: WeNeedToListenCarefully.AVI I provide a template with text dependent questions, which explicitly ask about the video states: Why Did Dinosaurs Disappear?.docx In order to do this, I watch the video and keep in mind the question words: who, what, when, where, how, and why to develop the questions. Also, I boldface these words in the beginning of the sentence to help the students notice them.

The video talks about a couple of theories of why the dinosaurs disappeared. I stop the video frequently to discuss vocabulary and allow my students to catch up with their notes. If this video does not fit the needs of the students, other text can be used on the same topic.

Here are some examples of students' notes:

This is the link and the video is also embedded here for you:

Theories on How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: 

Reading in Independent & Small Groups: Why did the Dinosaurs Disappear?

25 minutes

To further integrate reading in the lesson, students will spend time reading the selection, Why Did the Dinosaurs Disappear? by Karen Sapp. There are to be two groups of students reading; one group will be reading independently: ReadingIndependently, and another group will be working with me on the carpet. The students on the carpet need support with having me close to answer questions about what they are reading, questions about what information to choose, or questions about how to read a word: MyGroup.

All students will read as much as they can for 10 minutes. I expect the independent group to finish the first half of this selection, which includes pages 64-71. My group will read as much as they can. 

The rest of the time, the students will reread portions so that they can note the ideas about how the dinosaurs disappeared. To help them find the information, I have asked to pay close attention to the pages that start with, "Some scientists think..." This phrase repeats itself and can help students focus. I wrote this phrase on the white board to give them a visual.

They will use post-its again (UsingThePost-Its). They will use this information in their writing later.

I am curious as to their discoveries: HisExplanationofTheories.

Socratic Seminar

10 minutes

We will come together on the rug for Socratic Seminar. Socratic Seminar is about discussing ideas. To have this discussion, there are rules for participation: Socratic Seminar Rules.docx I have created a chart that reminds them to raise their hand when they want to speak: ChartSocraticSeminarRules. I remind them that their body language is very important during this time, so students need to make eye contact with each other, have their books opened, and sitting in a criss-crossed manner.

I have taught them the process of Handing-Off: ChartHanding-OffDiscussionStarters.This means that when another student wished to speak, they need to be acknowledged by the present speaker. The speaker will state, "I hand off to ______." Then the next speaker can share their thoughts. In this way, the discussion is done in a respectful manner.

I begin the discussion by posing the question, "What do scientist think happened to the dinosaurs?"

As students discuss, I facilitate in the following ways: I interject if I feel there is student who is "hogging" the conversation; if I need to ask a follow up question to have a student elaborate on his or her answer, I will intervene; finally, if I see an opportunity for a student to connect what they are saying back to evidence from the text, I intervene as well.

Students will need to bring their notes from the video and their post its to take part of the discussion with the question. This another opportunity for students to use the evidence in their text, to help them value evidence.

Independent Writing

20 minutes

To help my students synthesize the information they have gathered about the different theories on why the dinosaurs disappeared, the students will now spend time writing.

Students need to be involved in different types of writing throughout the day. Today, they are explaining the different ideas scientists have and have had about why the dinosaurs disappeared. The skill of explaining is another emphasis with the CCSS so students need much practice.ACloudofDustDidBlockTheSun.ExploringSomeIdeas.


As they write, I give support in terms of helping the students spell words, find words, read words, help them form their ideas orally before they write, and I work with 3 students on the round table to give me more support.

Sharing With Whole Group

7 minutes

As a way of closing and reflecting, I like to gather the students on the rug. We review whether we met our objective or not, but we also get to hear from a couple of students about their learning: SharingWhySheLearned.AVI and WhatSheLearned.AVI.

Speakers receive feedback in this manner:

  • Two Stars: Two different students share what they specifically liked about their writing.
  • A Wish: A different student share how they specifically wish for them to improve their writing.

Providing feedback in this manner keeps this a safe and respectful experience.