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SWBAT describe how birds use external parts to meet their needs for food.

Big Idea

Dinnertime! What's on the menu tonight? How about fish, worms, and some bird seed? Learn how adaptations to bird beaks help different species meet their need for food.

Field Guide (Instructional Notes)

In this lesson, we continue 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.  Then, we focus on how external parts help animals survive.

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

First, students will use observations to answer the question, "Are all bird beaks the same?"  Then, we will ask the question, "Why are bird beaks different sizes and shapes?"  When reading an April 2011 National Geographic Young Explorer article entitled Beaks, we will make connections between pieces of information in the text.  Namely, we will connect the photographs to the beak descriptions.  We will also connect the text about birds to one another through comparison of the habitats and nutritional needs.  Making connections in informational text is Common Core ELA Standard RI1.3.  

Finally, students will construct an explanation of why birds have different beak sizes and shapes.  Students today fulfill the Science Practice #1 asking and answering questions, and #6 constructing explanations of natural phenomena.

Throughout the unit, I utilize a KLEWS chart as an anchor chart throughout the unit.  Here's a video I like to call KLEWS chart 101!

Take-off (Warm-up)

5 minutes

In the previous lesson, students used photographs of birds to make a list of common external parts of birds (like feathers, beaks, wings, and eyes).  First today, I connect to the previous lesson by referring students to the notes we took on our unit anchor chart.  I use a KLEWS chart throughout the unit, which is a science version of a KWL chart.  Check out my video introduction and sample completed KLEWS chart for this unit for more information!  While we read portions together, I point to each word to support my developing readers.

Friends, let's take a look at our the KLEWS chart after yesterday's lesson.  Yesterday we observed photographs of birds and came to the conclusion that all birds have certain external parts.  Let's read the list we made together.  Great.  Today we will be working specifically with beaks.  I am going to highlight the word beaks on our chart.

Next, I refer them to the background knowledge "K" section of the KLEWS chart.  In the previous lesson, we made a list of the needs birds have to survive.  I want students to make the connection that beaks are an external part that help birds meet their need for food (this is the NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea LS1.A).

Next, let's review the ideas we already know about what needs birds have.  Read them with me.  Great.  Today we are focusing on beaks.  Which need to do you beaks help birds meet?  Turn-and-talk, and then we'll share.

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. 

After students share, I highlight the word "food" under birds' needs.  Then, I set the purpose for learning by sharing the objective.

Today, we will describe how beaks help birds meet their needs for food.

Soaring to New Heights (Exploration)

20 minutes

The NGSS standards place just as much emphasis on Science Practices as they do on content knowledge.  Science Practice #8 is obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.  This includes making observations and communicating what students learned from them.  The first activity in the exploration is for students to observe and compare photographs of birds.

First, I introduce the focus questions for today.  

In order to describe how beaks help birds, we need to look closely at beaks today.  You will work in groups of 3 to look at photographs of different birds.  Today, I want you to focus on the beaks.  When we come back together, I will ask the question, "Are all bird beaks the same?"  

I write the question on a sticky note and put it in the "W" section, which is for What we Wonder.

I love breaking students into collaborative groups.  It's a great opportunity for them to practice communication and listening skills.  It also really makes students think about the question. Rather than simply glancing at photographs and saying, "No," students in groups can get into discussions about how the beaks are different.  I will be assigning the groups and location in the classroom where they will be working.  In this way, I can be sure to separate any students who do not work as well together, shy students, and any behavior issues.  While they work, I will circulate and facilitate discussion by asking, "How are the beaks different?" and "Why do you think the beaks are different?"

I give students about 5-7 minutes for their discussions.  

Here are 2 small groups!  Video #1, Video #2

Then, I play a transition song.  Students clean up the photographs and return to the rug to share.  I ask the same two questions I asked while circulating so that we can discuss them as a whole group.  Then, I write our observations on the KLEWS chart under "E" Evidence/Observations.

We observed that beaks are different sizes, shapes, and colors.  I will write that here, under our Evidence and Observations.

I move the sticky note to the "K" section, because now we Know the answer.  Now I add a new question to the "W" section and read it, "Why are beaks different?"  Then, I tell students that when scientists have a question, they can read for more information.  To answer the question, "Why are bird beaks different sizes and shapes?," we will read a National Geographic Young Explorer article entitled Beaks.  National Geographic articles are wonderful because they have gorgeous photographs and often incorporate a few text features.  I order the magazine subscription because I like students to hold the magazines while I display the digital copy on my whiteboard.  The website is free, so if your students have 1-to-1 devices, they can read along there as well.  The website also reads the text when you press the speaker buttons, which is great when developing students are rereading and looking for text evidence.

Before reading, I display the cover.  First, we take a moment to enjoy the photograph and point out details.  I say, "What do you notice about the photograph?"  Students turn-and-talk and then share.  Many wonder what kind of bird this is!  I point out the introductory statement.

Nonfiction articles often have an introductory statement.  The first sentence or two tells you the main topic-- what the whole article will be about.  Read the introductory statement with me.  Who can put that topic in your own words, what is this article about?  Right.  The main topic is "beaks" and we will learn how birds use beaks to eat.

During reading, we will make connections between pieces of information in the text.  Namely, we will connect the photographs to the beak descriptions.  We will also connect the text about birds to one another through comparison of the habitats and nutritional needs.  Here are some of the questions I will ask:

p.4-5  How are the stork's and flamingo's beaks different?  Let's look in the text.  What does the text tell us about why the beaks are different?

p.4 Let's connect the text and illustrations.  I see in the photograph that the stork's bill is very long and pointy.  Look how the text uses the word, "jabs."  Let's make our hands look like the beak in the photograph.  Now, let's "jab" a fish!  Now I can see why the author chose the word "jabs" for a long, pointy beak.

p.5-6  How are the pelican's and toucan's beaks different?  Let's look in the text.  What does the text tell us about why the beaks are different?

p.6 Let's connect the text and illustrations.  I see in the photograph how long the toucan's beak is.  Let's read the fact bubble.  Why is the toucan's beak so long?

I also have students act out the beaks.  Movement is so important in first grade, and by turning our hands and arms into different shape beaks, we reinforce the information while appealing to kinesthetic learners!

After reading, we come back to the question, "Why are bird beaks different sizes and shapes?"  Students turn-and-talk, and then share.  While students are talking, I am looking for students who are going back in the text to provide examples.  Text evidence is the crux of the Common Core ELA standards, so those are the friends I want to have share.  I will follow-up after their response with a question like, "How did going back in the text help you?"

Then, we construct our explanation and add it to the KLEWS chart under "L" Learning.  Most teachers draw an arrow from the Evidence to the Learning it produces, so I'll add that to.  

Today we asked the question, "Why are bird beaks different?"  Now we have our new learning: Beaks are different because birds eat different things.  The beaks help them eat their favorite foods.

Here is what our KLEWS chart looks like by the end of this lesson:

KLEWS chart

Landing (Closing)

5 minutes

The objective for today is to describe how a bird's external parts help them meet their needs for food.  Now, I want students to respond with writing and/or drawings to communicate their descriptions.  I use marbled composition notebooks as Science Journals, but you are welcome to use the response sheet I included or any lined paper with space for drawing too.

While students are writing, I will circulate and read "over their shoulders."  I will prompt students to add more details if necessary.  Another reason that I love having paper copies of the magazine is that students have the magazine with them as they work, so they can go back to it for correct spelling and to accurately draw an example from the text!

Here are some samples of student work:

Student work #1 Here a student draws quite extensive drawings of the birds catching their meals!

Student work #2  Here a student goes back to the National Geographic article to label the flamingo. 

Student work #3 Here a student refers to a recent "poem of the week" to find out how to spell "mouth" for her labeled diagram!