I Will Survive

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SWBAT determine what animals need to survive.

Big Idea

Lay the foundation for analyzing different animal survival strategies.

Setting the Stage

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson addresses 1-LS1-2 because students are being introduced to the term survival. My students need to understand the word "survival" before we begin analyzing how animals use their external features to help their offspring survive. As we explore the different things that help an animal survive the class becomes aware of different challenges that face each animal.  

The class is also going to engage in SP8, because they are going to communicate their understanding of what "survive" means. The students communicate their design by presenting it to the class in the evaluation section, and they provide verbal academic feedback as they evaluate each others work. It is during the collaboration, talking with their partner, presentations, and evaluations that I really engage the class in meaningful scientific discourse. The students are sharing their understanding, and I provide models of how to speak academically about animal survival.

Creating a model also goes with SP2, and the class actually uses evidence to create a model.  This is the very early stage of creating a model, so my students are illustrating their animal and its needs to survive. These models really help the students reflect upon survival as they design, and the reflecting is what I believe really creates a concrete understanding of survival. 

Lesson Overview

I read the text to the class in the explore section, and then they research an animal of their choice based on what that animal needs to survive. The class moves about every fifteen minutes. We start in the lounge for the engage section, then move to the desks for the explore, to the center tables for the explain and elaborate, and we close the lesson by evaluating work in the lounge. Another useful strategy is using collaborative partners I call peanut butter jelly partners throughout the lesson.


10 minutes

This is the beginning of the lesson and I want to do two things: excite my class and assess their prior knowledge. So, to excite them I play the song, "I Will Survive," by Gloria Gaynor for about one minute. I just use my phone since it is so easy, since I have it down loaded on my itunes account.

Then I ask, "Will you please turn and tell your partner what it means to survive? She says she will not lay down and die, she will survive. So, what does survive mean?" I listen to assess their prior knowledge.

Then I ask the class for a volunteer to share what they think survive means. I listen and add what the other groups said. Now, I don't just tell them what it means yet. I will try to help the class discover what it means. I say, "Today we are going to study survival, and you will find out what animals need to survive."


20 minutes

Now I read this text to the class and we answer some questions to support developing the concept of survival. Each child has a copy of the text, but I also project it on my smart board for the students that are unable to track, so I can track for them.

After reading I begin with my first question, "What does an animal have to have to survive? Share your response with your partner. Now lets record this in our science journal. Write the word survive then put a dash beside it. You can write what the text tells us by the dash." Then I listen and walk around to assess my students understanding. Hopefully everyone is writing: food, water, and shelter. Check out one example of student work

I often give my class choices when I see they are not sure. If nobody has any answers I say, "Okay if you think it means stay alive raise your hand, but if you think it means die cross your arms." Basically, I give two choices, and the correct one is obvious, so I tell them the answer in a fun way.

Now, I show the class three different image: animal images of animals and ask them to record what they think each animal needs to survive.

Then I ask the class to think about a hypothetical situation. I ask, "If you were lost in a snowstorm, how would you survive? Then ask, "So, what do you think polar bears need to survive in the icy polar region?"

So I ask, "Will an animal survive if it gets the things it needs: water, food, and shelter are not available? What will happen to that animal?" I listen and then ask for a volunteer to share their thoughts. "The animals will not survive. Basically they will die."


10 minutes

Now we have made notes in their science journal, I ask the students, "Will you walk to the center tables and discuss what animals need to survive." 

The class shares their information about what they think each animal in the pictures needs to survive: animal images. (A polar bear needs shelter/den, fish/seal, or and water. Dolphin need clean salt water and fish/ food. The elepahnt needs vegetation, water, and shelter/trees.)  The after each child talks to their partner we engage in a class discussion. 

Then I ask for a volunteer to share their response to the hypothetical situation. After the response I ask for a peer to add to, disagree, or agree. Then I add my own comments. "I would need a a shed or heated room, layers of clothes, food, and water. A polar bear is faced with frigid temperatures, so they may need a den or cave for shelter, a thick coat, and available food."


10 minutes

The students go to the center tables to research their favorite animal. I have several books available like Tough Beginning: How Baby Animals Survive by Henry Holt, but I also provide access to the internet. After researching their favorite animals they illustrate and design a habitat for the animal of their choice. This habitat must show the resources the animal needs to survive: food, water, and shelter.

While the students are researching, I remind them: If you need help raise your hand and I can help you. We may need to go to a computer to find out what your favorite animal needs to survive. Write down the name of your favorite animal and what it needs to survive in your science journal." For example, "My favorite animal is a horse. They need water, grass, and shelter to survive. They eat grass, drink a lot of water, and in the winter they need shelter: horse shelter from the cold. Then I show an few images of what shelter can be for a horse."

After the students are finished researching, I say,  "Turn and talk to your partner about the things your animal needs to survive. Then share your habitat with your partner, and show them the specific things your animal needs in your design." Turn and talk really allows students to practice communicating their science related evidence, knowledge, and begin to use evidence to support their thoughts. It gives me a chance to informally assess my students: student work understanding of the content.


15 minutes

This is my students favorite time, because they get to present their work. They are presenting the their model and the information they found about their favorite animal. I ask each presenter, "What does your animal need to survive?" I am basically looking to see that each child has accurate information about their animal. They need to show what they eat, drink, and any kind of shelter they may need to live. This shows me the students understand animals need food, water, and shelter to survive. 

Now I do have a rotation, but I often allow the ones that really want to present to present during snack or recess. So, I try to be proactive, since many first graders are quite wiggly and have selected hearing. I say and they can chant it if they want, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in your laps, talking no more." Then I add in a real serious tone, well as serious as I ever get, "Our eyes are on the speaker and we are listening, and really thinking about how we can give them academic feedback: evaluation." I have a strategy video on peer evaluation that might explain what this looks like a little better.