Your students will learn how plants and animals depend on each other. They will BUZZ right along by taking a close look at pollination by bees and butterflies. The kiddos will also learn how animals help with seed dispersal. As a culminating activity, they will use the engineering design process to create their own vanilla plant pollinator to help Ben and Jerry's ice cream shops. You can even pay your employees with ice cream!
The children will be divided into "expert" groups to collect information about an assigned pollinator using an interactive website and books as their source. A short video showing the critters pollinating will be watched. Then the expert groups will present their learning to the rest of the class.
At the end of the unit, the children need to be able to design their own pollinator. This unit introduces them to the pollination process to help build their foundational knowledge.
Teacher prep: You will need to fill out your class pollination Expert Group Chart showing the group member assignments (see Pollination Expert Groups example). I combined higher achieving students with lower achieving students.
You will also have to make sure each of the devices are bookmarked with this website.
I gather the children in my corner to begin our discussion.
Who knows what an expert is?
A girl answers that it is someone who really knows how to do something.
Exactly! I remember my boys were little, Kyle was an expert at taking fish off of the hook. He didn't mind grabbing the fish and taking it out carefully and releasing the fish. He was very skilled at doing this "job." Zach loved fishing but hated taking the fish off. Zach knew Kyle was good at it so he used to pay Kyle a quarter if he would take the fish off of the line for him. I would say that Kyle was an expert at doing this since he knew the best way to do it and got it done efficiently.
I try to get them hooked into the lesson by telling them a story about my own experiences. They love hearing about my sons, so this true story is a perfect backdrop for them to understand what I mean by the word expert. They can relate to the story and then think of their own experiences that would be similar.
Are you an expert at something?
Oh my! It seems like I have a lot of experts in my class....we certainly are not short on talent. I have experts in ballet, tumbling, soccer and hitting home runs, just to name a few. We stop and discuss the expert stories which helps get them hooked into the lesson.
How would you like to become an expert today in science? You are all going to get a chance to become an expert in our new unit about pollination.
To start, I introduce the topic of pollination by going to an informational website designed by the Bug Chicks! It gives a great overview of the process in 5 minutes. We also take a look at an e-book about plants. We don't read the whole book, just pages 9-12 which deal with pollination. Then I click here for a great visual of the process if it needs more explanation.
For the main component of this activity the children will be working in "expert groups" of 2-3. This is a basic beginning variation of the jigsaw strategy, where the content learning is divided into subtasks, similar to a real work environment. Each group will research using media to obtain scientific information about their assigned pollination topic and then communicate their information to the class.
For example, students assigned to research the bat pollinator will meet as a team of specialists, gathering information and becoming experts on their topic. We call this the "expert" group. Using this strategy is an efficient way to learn the material. My students need to learn how to engage in rich academic peer to peer conversations, so this is just the ticket. Group members must work together as as team to find out information about their pollinator. This also facilitates interaction among the students in the class. Also the children get to practice their communication skills for both the speaking and listening standards.
I announce the groups to the class. I tell them their group, but not the name of the pollinator until I have explained what a pollinator is. If I tell them at the same time I tell them who their group is they will forget since they will be immersed in their excitement of who is in their group. Then I have the students gather in their assigned groups.
You are now in your expert groups. Each group is going to be responsible for learning about a critter in the garden that helps with the pollination process. We call that critter a pollinator.
I write the word pollinator on the board.
Your expert group has an assignment. You have to research how your assigned pollinator helps pollinate flowers. I am going to give you each a Pollination Expert Graphic Organizer in which to record your findings. I would like you to put your name at the top of the paper and your partner's name(s) beside it. Listen for when I call out what the name of your pollinator is. Write it down on the empty blank.
I tell each group what their topic is that they will be researching.
We know that scientists are guided by (what)? Yes, they are guided by their own questions. Think back to when we practiced writing questions (see link). Do you remember using question stems?
I pull up the Question Stems Poster used in a previous lesson titled Questions Have Clout! In the lesson they practiced writing good questions that might lead to a scientific investigation. We begin the research by asking questions to find more information about the natural world. They need to be like scientist and ask questions that are going to help guide their research.
So I would like you to think of some questions you have about your pollinator. What is something that you wonder about it? Write down two questions you would like to find out the answers to.
I give them about 5-10 minutes to think and then write down their questions. Since they were so excited to get on the website without putting into thought into it, I had to make a rule that they could not go on the website until they had written down both questions. I walked around the classroom and tried to make sure they were on task and asked questions about their process. This group had some very interesting questions that they came up with. They really were thinking like scientists! The girls in this video clip were working very well together and had some good questions as well. Here is a pair of boys that really surprised me with their questions since they had the only non-animal topic--pollen. These two were working like scientists, too!
You will be doing your research on a website called Kids Growing Strong and looking through books. They both have some great information about pollination and pollinators. You should be looking for answers to your questions plus some other interesting facts about your pollinator.
I give each group at least one ipad to work with and at least 1 book. I show them how to get to the website by clicking on the this pollinator site which has been bookmarked on the school website.
On this website you will see a photo of your pollinator. Under the pollinator is some very important information. I would like someone in your group to read the information to the rest of the group. The group should be listening, asking questions and then taking notes on your organizer.
When you have finished looking at that information, click on the photo. By clicking on some of the photos, it will take you to a new page about your pollinator. It will give you some extra information. Also, look in the books for other information. When you have read and taken notes about all of the information, make sure that each member of your group has down the same information.
I have each child keep notes on their own recording sheet (see Student Sample). I find that if they keep notes on just one chart at this stage, that some children don't participate. Also, when they present later on, it will make it easier since they should have all of the information written down on the recording sheet.
Then I have the children watch this utterly gorgeous wordless video that shows the beauty of pollination. It is one of my favorite videos, such unbelievably amazing footage! The world is so fascinating!
We are going to watch a gorgeous video that shows the beauty of pollination. See if you can spot your pollinator. Watch how they pollinate. Add to your notes if you find out any additional information.
After the children have completed their research, I have them plan their short presentation.
Each group will be presenting their expert knowledge with the rest of the class. The most important part of your presentation is how your critter or the pollen helps with pollination. So after you tell us the name of your animal, make sure to tell us how your animal pollinates. If you researching the pollen, tell us its job in the process. Then you may tell us your interesting facts and anything else you have learned.
So you and your group members will have to figure out who is going to say what and what order you will all be speaking. You are going to have to practice with your group and decide who is going to present what specific information with the class. Everyone in your group should have something to present, whether it be telling us some facts or showing us a diagram. Again, remember to make sure to tell us something about how the critter helps with pollination.
Then I walk around the room and question the children to make sure they all know what everyone is doing. It was really interesting watching who was taking charge (see video clip). Here is another video clip of the children figuring it out.
I give the students some additional time to practice their short presentation.
Then each group has the opportunity to present their findings with the class. They are using their knowledge to communicate new information (see videos--Expert Presentations--Butterflies and Expert Video Clip Beetles). Their presentations were short and simple, and not well polished. But they were successful in their intent--presenting information on pollinators. When the presentations are finished, I make sure to commend the children on their hard work.
You were wonderful experts today. I learned so much from you! I love how you worked in groups to find out information. Your presentations were spot on! Did you have fun? What was the best part? We are going to go around the classroom and I would like everyone to share one fact that they learned about a pollinator from one of your classmate experts. It cannot be a fact about your pollinator.
As they are sharing I am listening for them to at least one thing that they learned about pollinators. The knowledge they have gained is immense and will ultimately help them design their own pollinator at the end of the unit.