What Do Ornithologists Do?

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Students will observe like ornithologists by using bird identifiers to explore how different birds from our state look and sound.

Big Idea

Ornithologists contribute to society by helping humans understand how birds live among us.


5 minutes

My students start this lesson out in our meeting place.  I tell my students to "Think about the words in the title of the scientist's job - ornithologists. Can you determine what this scientists does based on the job title or name."


I know that this is not an easy word to pronounce and there a few clues to its meaning for my students.  So we use the ENO Board to find Dictionary.com.  I type in ornithology.  My students enjoy hearing the voice pronounce the word.  I also write it on a piece of paper then I tell my students to "say the word and to spell it." Then I use it in a sentence.  On the board, I write ornithologist.  I also write "ornith" is Greek for bird. I add "ist" is a British suffix for a person who practices in a specific field. I say, "Now we can understand that an ornithologist is a person who studies birds."


Now using what they know, my students began to express their understanding of what an ornithologist does in the world of science.


10 minutes


The students view a video about birds.  


Now I asks questions about what we have seen.  For example, what are the body parts of a bird? We discuss the sounds that birds make and the arm motions necessary for a bird to fly.


I reiterate that writing, exploring, identifying things, reading, mathematics, and working on the computer.  I ask the students for a tumbs-up if their shoulder partner said one of the practices I lists. Finally, I say "Why are these practices important?"  A few students are allow to share with the group.  Then we turn our attention to the "Important Practices Chart" that will remain on the wall throughout the duration of the unit.  We simply add science practices to the list.



10 minutes

Once again, I have to employee my local conservation center.  This requires pre-planning, because I want to borrow one of their Educational Trunks., the Bird Kit.   In most cases, it requires a telephone call and having specific dates for using the materials.  Because this was prearranged, the students can move onto to the segment of the lesson.


A team of students are exploring the work of an ornithologist by using bird field guides and bird identifiers that release sounds of various birds. (The one shown is an example of a bird identifier.)


After students view the materials about birds, they record what they viewed in their science notebooks.  Students work in partnerships to discuss their notes.  


10 minutes


In this segment of the lesson, my students share their findings.   The students share with the other team members and me what they notice and what they have learned.


After each student shares, the students will have opportunities to ask each other questions.  I say, "Remember that questions begin with who, what, why, when, where, which, and how.  The goal is to get students to ask questions and not make statements.  At this time, I am able to conduct informal evaluations of students presenting information and students asking questions.  I listen in as students share with their team members.



3 minutes

As our lesson comes to a conclusion, I encourage my students to think about all they have learned. Because this lesson was very rich with ideas and opportunities for learning different concepts,  I say, "Share with your shoulder partner what you have learned."  I ask if there are any questions that the students have lingering.


Once again, I tell my students to consider becoming an ornithologist if they really enjoy studying about birds.  I also tell them that tomorrow's lesson should be fun because we will have an opportunity to look for birds outside.







The students will have an opportunity to extend this lesson by using binoculars to sight birds on our school campus.  The Bird Trunk has twelve pairs of student binoculars. That means that students will work in pairs to share the them.  


There are several trees on our campus.  I will require the students to take their science notebooks and pencils.  They will record their sightings.  As one student uses the binoculars, the other student can sketch or write.  In addition, I will take pictures of any birds that we see.


Upon complete of our outdoor investigation, the partners will share their findings with the group.  I will download any photographs that I have taken and show them on the ENO Board.