Next Generation Science Standard Connection
In this lesson we concentrate on 1-LS1-2 because we are now going to begin analyzing patterns in how animals communicate with their offspring in order to help them survive. We have already learned about animal defense mechanisms that help animals survive, and now we are looking at specific patterns in behaviors between the parent and the offspring. I really find it easier to break the standard down into small pieces that my students can understand in a lesson and build upon these lessons to develop a more complex understanding of animal behavior. The last few lessons in this unit are really about engaging the class in higher order thinking and reflecting upon our prior lessons.
I am also teaching about SL1.1, because the students work with a partner, present their work, and evaluate their peers' work.
In day 1 of this 2 day lesson we analyze our notes from previous lessons and organize them on the TIDE graphic organizer. I stop after the class explains their graphic organizer. Then day 2 is where the students analyze an exemplar paragraph and write their own paragraph. So, this is basically two lessons in one.
The students work in small groups: peanut butter jelly partner throughout the lesson and transition frequently. I find these strategies really help my students keep their energy up and stay focused throughout the lesson.
Setting the Stage
Prior to this lesson I have taught a unit of eleven lessons about how different animals use their external features to survive, and six lessons where students observe animal behavior between the parent and offspring. I feel like understanding animal behavior is essential to be able to understand how parents communicate with their offspring to help them survive. So, now I am ending the unit about how parents use their verbal and physical communication skills to help their offspring survive. This lesson is allows the students to reflect upon their notes, new knowledge, and learn to write to inform. This is one of the last few lessons in this unit about parents and offsprings. The next unit is going to be more related to designing a solution to problems faced by humans and animals.
When the lesson begins I try to excite the class and get them interested in the content. Now, most of my topics have been about parents and offspring so I think it is appropriate to post a picture of myself and my son. It kind of brings relevance to the lesson, because we have been studying parents and offsprings in animals. Plus I just want to get the class interested, so I also say, "Hey, look at my picture with my son. I am a parent and he is my child. I think I would protect him in many of the ways the animals we have observed protect their children. I scream if he scares me, or there is danger, and I keep him close to me no matter where we go. Today I want us to analyze our notes and see what are some of the patterns between the animals we have studied."
Then, I ask the class to tell their partner just the ways animals protect their offsprings they remember that might be similar. While they talk I listen, and then I ask for a student to share their knowledge. This creates discourse, and another student may add to or share their knowledge. Based on what the class already knows I can gauge my instruction to provide more scaffolding and guidance; or I may ask a student to do a lot of sharing.
Then I share the plan for the lesson to help the class understand what is going to be expected. I say, "We are going to analyze our notes, place them on a graphic organizer, and write a paragraph."
In this section the students are going to analyze their notes: previous data and write the patterns they identify on the graphic organizer. First I say, "Remember that we have already studied patterns in numbers. Remember counting by 2, 5, and 10. We are just looking for patterns in behavior. It's kind of like what happens that is the same. For example, I always hold my sons hand when we cross the street. That is a pattern human parents have in protecting their children." So, I say, "Look at your notes and create a list of ways the animals protect their offspring." Now, I post my notes I recorded in case they cannot read their own, and I read what we recorded in previous lessons. As I walk around and observe their productive struggle I engage in conversations like this: discourse.
After about five minutes of allowing the students to think, I allow them to share their ideas with their partner. Then they add to their list. I say, "Please talk to your partner about the patterns you see. Then add them to your graphic organizer."
After another five minutes, I ask the partner to share what they discussed with the pair on the opposite side of the table. This collaboration allows the students to share their information with each other, and they learn from each other instead of me telling them all the answers.
Now we have had partner share and table share, so it is time to have the class share their patterns with the entire class. To begin the entire class discussion I say, "Will one person please share the patterns that your table identified?" Maybe they will say, "Animals feed, make noises, and keep their offspring close to protect them." After sharing, I say, "Will anyone add to that?"
Then I add the patterns to my graphic organizer on the board, so we have a big model of our work.
This is where I begin on day 2 of the lesson. In this section I present the class with an exemplar paragraph: model paragraph and show them all the parts. We talk about the topic sentence, and how is simply restates the prompt. Then I show them the three details. Last, I talk about the ending and how is restates the details.
Now it is time for the students to take their graphic organizer and go write. They are supposed to create a paragraph using their TIDE graphic organizer. So, I have students at all levels and I have some students meet with my co-teacher and they create a paragraph that she writes. This group is really for students that have special needs.
Then I actually write what three others tell me to write and let them trace. These students' are ELL and I am trying to scaffold my instruction. I just ask them to come to my table and I write the first sentence for each child as they individually tell me what they want their topic sentence to say. I say, "What do you want your topic sentence to say? Remember to restate the prompt." Then I ask them each what their details are and I write each one for each child. I say, "Tell me your details." Last, I ask what do they want their ending to say and I add each child's response to their paragraph. I say, "What do you want your ending to say? How can you restate the details in a simple way?"
Now, we move into the most challenging portion of the lesson for me, because I try to get the students to speak loud and clear as two or three groups present their work: presentation and evaluation. I select several students to read their paragraph. But, I also attempt to get the class to evaluate the work of their peers: peer evaluation. Now, modeling evaluation is my biggest strategy to get the students to evaluate each other. Sometimes I call this "peer feedback." I basically attempt to get the students critiquing each others ideas, adding to them, or disagreeing.
So, I have a cute little chant we say that is my proactive strategy to get the desired listening behavior I want. I say, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in your laps, talking no more." If they want to chant it with me it is fine, but this is optional. Then I say, "Remember to keep your eyes on the speaker, think about what they are saying, and be prepared to give your peer academic feedback."
As my last resort I just start begging and say, "Remember we are all friends. Simply agree or disagree with your peers. Then tell us why." Also, sometimes first graders give off topic comments, so when this happens I listen attentively. Then I redirect them with a question. "So, do you agree or disagree."
What I want to see is my students getting up and presenting their paragraph. The topic should be, "Animals use their external feature to help their offspring survive." I teach them that the topic sentence should really restate the prompt. Then they need to have three patterns identified correctly in their paragraph. They are: noise, keep close, and feed. They should be in a complete sentence, but it is September. I am not expecting perfection. The ending needs to restate the topic sentence, or restate the important details. I am looking for something like: Animals use their body by helping the offspring get food, and keeping them safe.
Presenting and evaluating is another great application activity that helps students build content knowledge. Even though it may seem redundant or not necessary in this lesson, it really is essential to help the students reflect upon what they have created and learned.