Observing Horses

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SWBAT record observations and make inferences about how horses use their external body features to stay alive.

Big Idea

Allow students to make observations and inferences regarding horse behavior in the natural environment.

Setting the Stage

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson allows students to make observations on specific defense features for the horse.  They watch video footage and make observations. Then the students record their observations. Students need several lessons sometimes covering defense mechanisms to really develop a deep understanding of the content, and that is what I am trying to do with this lesson. So, we have read about them and now we are going to watch videos and collect data.

So, I have broken 1-SL-2 down into a series of steps.  We have learned about the content by reading and analyzing text, and now we are analyzing horse behavior.  The final activity in this lesson is an application activity ensures the students retain the information. 

Lesson Overview 

In the exploration section of this lesson we are going to make observation about how horses use their external features to stay alive. Then the students get with a partner and share their notes. Next they pretend they are a horse in danger, and they respond to a scenario. We did read an article on horse defense mechanisms in a previous lesson to allow my students to have some content knowledge about what they are seeing in the video.



10 minutes

Introductory Activity 

As the lesson begins I try to excite the class, connect today's lesson to previous lessons, and assess their prior knowledge. Today I ask the class to discuss the defense mechanisms of the kangaroo and the seashores, because I want to assess their prior knowledge. We studied them the day before, and when I remind the class I am trying to help them develop the habit of making these connections between learning.  But, going to the previous lesson also helps the students begin developing a deep conceptual understanding of how these two animals protect themselves. My students need this for the next lesson when they compare the animals. So, while they talk, I listen and see what they remember. Then I share some of the conversations and state the defense mechanisms, so they hear the answer. Kangaroo run, paw, and kick.  Seahorses move and change color.

Now, I share the plan for the lesson, because it really helps students with the flow of the lesson if they know what to expect. Then we chant to lesson goal to make sure they own the goal: I can record observations and make inferences about how horses use their external body features to stay alive. 


15 minutes

 At this point I want to provide my students with real world examples of horses protecting themselves, and unfortunately I can't create an attack scene in my classroom. So, I play a couple videos and allow my students to take notes in their science journal to document their observances in the videos. Basically the students are exploring how horses use their external features to survive by watching the videos.  I provide this model for the note taking: my model.

Before the first video I ask, "Will you please take notes on what defense behaviors you see the horse use?" 

 Now, I play the second video which has pawing, biting, charging, and kicking. Before the video I ask the class to take notes on how the horse behaves. The students are making observations and recording data. This is an example of proficient work.


15 minutes

Now, it is time for some partner work, where they get together and share the behaviors that they saw in the horses. So, the students are comparing and sharing their notes. This is a video of note sharing: discourse.  This provides an opportunity for the students to share their knowledge and engage in speaking to their partner. As they share and discuss their data the students are deepening their understanding of how horses use their body for protection.

After the students share their data, they must work together to make inferences about why the horse was kicking, pawing, biting, and raring. So, I ask the students to discuss, "Why does the horse kick in the first video?" (It is protecting itself.) Why is kicking a better option than running?" (If the horse runs the dog will chase it, and the dog is close to the horses rear legs. Also, a kick from a horse is very powerful, and could really hurt the dog.)

As far as the second video goes I ask, "Why might a horse want to be the boss of another horse? Are there advantages to being the leader or is this horse just mean? What might be some benefits to being the leader horse?  Why might they eat first or more?" Keep in mind in the first video the horse was threatened by the dog, and the horse in the second video is establishing it's dominance.  I anticipate my students to write that the horse wanted the dog to go away, because it might hurt it. In the second video I think they will say the aggressive horse wants the other horse to go away. The students are basically explaining why the horses are acting a certain way. But, I want to try to expand their thinking to get them to see that there are advantages for the horse in the herd to promote it's own survival by being the leader. 



10 minutes

Now, I want to try to engage the students in a higher order thinking activity and allow them to think about a scenario to apply their understanding of horse behavior. So, I allow the students to work with their partner and they have to answer in their science journal in one to two sentences the scenario below:

If you were a horse and a coyote began to attack you, what defense mechanism would you choose? Here are some examples of student work (modified student workstudent work (ELL)student work (proficient) at this point in the lesson. Then I ask why they chose this response?

So, now my students are going to write and apply their content knowledge about how horses react to predators in their efforts to survive.  During their writing time I walk around and listen. I do intervene and help groups get started. Some of my question are: How can a horse protect itself? Why might running not be the best choice?

After they spend about fifteen minutes on their ideas, we meet in the lounge and the students evaluate two or three groups ideas as they present them to the class.


15 minutes

This is the time the students move to the lounge and I select two or three students to read their work to the class. This gives the students practice speaking and listening, but it also allows them to practice evaluating each others work. The students seated are looking to see if their peers are correct in the information they present about the external features of the chameleon and how is uses them to survive.

I find my students need me to remind them to talk loud, listen, and be still. So, I say, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in your laps, talking no more. Keep our eyes on the speaker and think about what they are saying." Now, they are still, and I am hoping to hear the student loud and clear. After each speaker I do ask the class to  evaluate each other. I expect to hear, " I agree that chameleons change colors, because we read it in the text." If they do not volunteer, I simply model. Then I encourage the students to give their feedback and I remind them we are in a risk free environment. We all make mistakes, but mistakes are how we learn. If somebody comments and is wrong I simply redirect the class to the text. Then I read the text, and ask the student if they change their mind. Usually this repeated reading clarifies the misconception.



5 minutes

So, the lesson is winding down and I need to assess my students knowledge of the content. So, I use Plicker which is a neat App that assesses the students. I have it on my iphone, and it even sends me a chart reporting who is correct and incorrect. With this information I can prepare more activities or less to deepen my students understanding. 

On the Plicker site I type in:

What are the two ways horses stay alive?

A. swimming    B. changing color (camouflage)  C. kicking and biting    D. throwing slime on the predator


Then, I share that they kick, bite, and paw. Then we chant the lesson goal: I can record observations and make inferences about horses use their external body features to stay alive.