External Parts

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SWBAT describe external parts of birds.

Big Idea

Head, shoulders, knees and toes! To meet standard 1-LS1-1, the first step is defining and understanding external parts. Let's boogie!

Field Guide (Instructional Notes)

In this lesson, we will begin unpacking NGSS standard 1-LS1-1 Use materials to design a solution to a human problem mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.  Wow!  That's a complicated standard!  When we break it down into a manageable progression of lessons, the first step is to define external parts.  In order for the students to design solution for a human problem by mimicking animals, it is important that the students first understand what an external part is and how an external part is beneficial to the animal.  One of the aspects I like best about the NGSS standards is that content is not specified (in other words, all first graders across the country don't need to learn about, say, insects).  For the purpose of this unit, I will be exposing the students to the external parts of a bird.  However, the concepts of external parts helping animals meet their needs is transferable to other animals as well.  

In the first few lessons of this unit, we will address how birds find food to survive.  In this lesson, we review external parts and label external parts of birds.  In the subsequent lesson, we learn about beak adaptations that help birds find food based on their needs and habitat. Then, we learn about adaptations to bird feet that help them find food and meet their needs.  

In my introductory "Wiggly Worms and Wiggly Scientists" unit, I began introducing the terminology of external parts.  We will define external parts today as well, as a refresher course. After observing a number of birds, we add to our KLEWS chart that all birds have common external parts, like wings, feathers, feet, and beaks.  Then, I bring in the Disciplinary Core Idea that all animals have external parts that help them meet their needs.  Students will decide what "meet their needs" means, and then infer how bird body parts help them meet one of those needs.

In closing, students will describe how an external part of a bird helps it survive.

Take-off (Warm-up)

5 minutes

To warm-up today, it's time to shake those tail feathers!  First, I have students sing, "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes."  I chose this song because they touch their external parts as they sing!  Plus, it's just fun!

Then, I remind them of the term external parts.

Friends, in our last science unit, we made diagrams by labeling external parts of animals.  Turn-and-talk with a friend to remind them what an external part is, and tell them why you think I picked, "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" for you.

Discussion is so important!  It gives *all* students the chance to process the question, get their ideas together, and practice listening and speaking skills.  Discussion also works wonders for your shy students!  Plus, if there isn't a lot of excited discussion, that's a clue to me that I need to build a bit more background knowledge.  I have students turn-and-talk, and then I call on a few to share with the larger group.  Hint: While students are sharing, I make sure all friends have found a partner.  Then, I try to listen in and find unique ideas that will take our conversation farther. 

Next, I remind students that we have a song all about External Parts.  My students take home a Study Buddy binder each night, and inside is a Songs and Poems divider.  I ask them to return to their seats and turn to the External Parts Song.  Then, we sing it together!

For the beginning of this lesson, I use a flipchart display to guide us through each step.

Soaring to New Heights (Exploration)

20 minutes

Now that we've sung songs and moved about, it's time to get serious.  I ask students to come back to the rug.  I want to set their focus today on this unit, so I reread the Essential Question and set the purpose for today's learning.

Friends, let's reread the Essential Question that is guiding us in this unit, How do birds meet their needs to survive?  Today we will start by making observations of different kinds of birds.  I am wondering, do all birds have the same external parts?  Today, we will identify and describe the external parts of birds.

The NGSS standards place just as much emphasis on Science Practices as they do on content knowledge.  One of the science practices is to construct explanations.  Today, students will work in collaborative groups of 2 or 3 to observe photographs of birds.  They will use their observations to construct an explanation about common external parts of all birds.  Now, I describe the activity.

Today, you will work in groups of 3 to make a list of external parts that all birds have.  Before writing a part, you will need to carefully observe and make sure that all of the birds have the part.  I will be giving you pictures of 5 birds to compare and observe.  I will also give you a recording sheet.

I am not going to pick student groups for this assignment, although many times I do pick groups.  Instead, after students glue in the bulleted list, they will put themselves in groups of 3 according to who finishes gluing at the same time.  This approach limits wait time and also allows students to work with students I may not have thought to place them with.  I will assign each group a place in the room to work, though, to make sure we are spread out.  I try my best to have students work and read around the room in comfy "nooks" whenever possible, and this is a great opportunity to spread out!  

I give groups about 10 minutes for their work, give or take depending on if they are finishing up or not.  During group work, I circulate and ask questions like:

Which external parts have you listed?

Did you observe closely to make sure all birds have a ___?  Take a moment and double-check.

Why do you think this bird's ___ looks so different from this other one?

When I sense that all groups are wrapping up, I play a transition song.  Students bring the photographs and their recording sheet to the rug.  I write under the "E" Evidence and Observations section on the KLEWS chart that we saw all birds have common external parts.  I ask students to list the parts, and I record them (eyes, winds, beaks, etc.).  

Then, I bring in the Disciplinary Core Idea that all animals have external parts that help them meet their needs.  I add an arrow from the "E" to the "L" Learning section and write the DCI.

Now, students will decide what "meet their needs" means.  I reveal the question, What needs do birds have? under the "K" Know section.  (I cover it with sticky notes until this part of the lesson.)  I have students turn-and-talk, and then share.  I create a bulleted list of their responses under the question.  If students say, "to fly" is a need, I make it a teachable moment by asking, "Do all birds fly?  Can you think of any birds that do not fly?" 

Landing (Closing)

5 minutes

Now it is time to put the pieces together!  My students use marbled composition notebooks as Science Journals, but if you don't have them, students can respond on the back of today's response sheet or on any lined paper.

I explain their task.

Today we have identified, or named, the common external parts found on all birds.  We have also listed needs that all birds have in order to survive.  (I point to the relevant parts of the KLEWS chart to support developing writers by reminding them where the words and spellings are.)  

Now, you will pick one external part.  Watch how I circle one on my list.  How does that part help a bird meet one of its needs?  Here is a sentence frame to help you, "A bird has ___ that helps it ___."  (I display the sentence frame on the board for students to copy.)

While students are writing, I circulate to assist developing writers.