Next Generation Science Standard Connection
In this lesson I am connecting to 1-LS1-2, since the class is working on determining how orangutans use their external features to help their offspring survive. I really felt like the standard was extremely complex and would go over the students' heads. So, before this lesson, I taught several lessons where the students analyze how animals use their external features to enable their own survival. Now, the class is going to watch videos and observe the interaction between two animals, the parent and offspring. With some background knowledge from reading and watching previous videos, the students are going to be prepared to make observations, collect data, and draw a conclusion based on their observations and data.
The science process skills in this lesson is SP8, obtaining, observing, and communicating information. The students take observations from videos, and then they communicate their observations by explaining what they see to their peer. Students also record their observations in a science journal. Communication connects to the speaking and listening standards for Common Core, but it also is a chance for the students to engage in productive collaboration and learn from each other.
The class begins in the lounge where I show some images, assess their knowledge, and get them excited. Then we move to the desks in the center of the room, which are in groups of four. The next transition is to the center tables, and this is where the students explain their understanding based on the information they have collected. Last, we meet back in the lounge to evaluate each others work.
Another essential component to keeping the lesson running smoothly is assigning students peanut butter jelly partners. I made a video explaining how this works.
To excite the class I project the lesson image on the board, and show the image of the baby orangutan. Then, I ask the class to discuss how orangutans use their external features to survive. This allows students to reflect upon past lessons, and the behavior of other mammals we have studied. So, while I am listening I am assessing the students knowledge. I expect several groups to have some ideas, since we have studied several animals. I hope my students are making the connections that animals are similar in the way they interact.
Whatever they say, I share some of their conversation, and then I tell the class, "We are going to learn how orangutans interact with their offspring to help them survive." I say, "Let's chant that three times so we all remember what we are learning: I can make a conclusion after collecting data from observations about how orangutans interact with their offspring to help them survive."
During the explore section, my students gather information from reading specific texts. First, I read paragraph 4, 5, 10, and 12 from the website Orangutan Foundation International, and then the students listen to me read about orangutans from this website about orangutan communication. This is one way I incorporate reading into the science classroom.
After I read paragraph four I ask the students to discuss, "What does a parent orangutan do to help their offspring survive in the first two years of life? Record your notes in your science journal on the t-chart." This is a chart we add to daily. I assess their understanding by looking at their notes.
I reread paragraph five and then ask, "What else does a parent do to help their offspring survive? Add the information to your t-chart." I hope they write: they are carried, breast-fed, remain close, or sleep in the same trees.
I reread paragraph 10 and then ask the students, "How do they protect themselves at night? Add your notes on your t-chart."
Last, I reread paragraph 12 then ask, "How do the orangutans use tools to help themselves survive? Add your notes in your t-chart." I hope they write, "They use the leaves for shelter, and they can get food with sticks."
During the explain section the students verbally share what they have learned so far. Basically, the class works with their partner to share the data they collected from their observations. I say, "Talk to your partner about what you have learned." After I listen and look at their notes to assess their knowledge, I say, "Will somebody please share your information?"
Then I add, "What kind of conclusion can we make about orangutans based on our observations?" So, they have their notes, but I am not sure if they will use them so I say, "Look in your notes. What do they do?" (They carry, breast feed, remain close, sleep in nest in the same tree, and use tools for shelter or to get food.)
Now, it is time for the students to watch the videos and add to their notes.
After this video I ask two questions and the class records their observations in their science journal. Basically they are adding to previous notes.
"How does the mother and her offspring communicate?" (The baby makes a noise.)
"How is this similar or different to how human mothers communicate with their babies?" (They hold them in their arms in a blanket or cover. When the baby cries the mother moves it.)
Now I ask , "How does the mother protect her chimps?" (She puts her arms around them. They move away from the danger. She fights physically hitting the enemy. Then she runs up a tree with her chimps. She lets out a sharp high pitch call when they are threatened.)
This is my question to generate notes for video 3: "How does the mother teach her baby to eat?" (She models eating and holds the food.)
I ask this after video 4, "How do mother communicate with their chimps to tell them to climb on their back?"
After I play video 5 I ask, "How is the mother teaching her offspring to survive?" (She is helping it find food.)
Now we begin working on speaking, listening, and evaluation. I inform the class, "I need three groups to stand in front of the class and share their conclusion." Most of the time my whole class wants to participate, so I let others present during snack or recess. I actually have a rotation, so everyone get the same number of opportunities to present. I inform the groups that they present when they arrive in the lounge, and they must decide who will be their speaker.
It is my observation that some first graders speak in a very soft tone, and often fail to enunciate their words. I try to be proactive in getting the class to speak loud and clear I say, "Speak loud and clear. enunciate your words." Another proactive way I support positive behavior is by chanting, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." Then I go on to say, " Our eyes are on the speaker and we are listening to what they say. Be ready to give your peers academic feedback. You must add to what they say, agree or disagree and tell why."
It is September when I am teaching this lesson and I find there is a huge difference in my students evaluation abilities early in the year and in April or May. To help my students I offer a great deal of modeling. In addition, I encourage students to try and evaluate a friends work. I say, "We are all friends. I make mistakes, and we just need to try evaluating each others work."
I know that the students understood the lesson goal by looking at their notes in their science journal, and by listening to the groups present. If their data is accurate based on our reading and videos I know they got it, but if they add things that were prior knowledge or not in the video or text I know we need more work. I expect some groups to just not be able to identify the behavior as a way to help the offspring survive, so this is my challenge to be sure they all get it. My goal is to see at least three behavior notes that are correct in their notes, and in the presentations. My other goal is to get at least two evaluations that are on topic.