Macro-Structures of Animals - Flying Animals

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Students will understand how the macro-structure of a plant or animal supports its efficiency and survival.

Big Idea

Animals and plants have macro- and micro-structures that support their ability to survive.

RAP - Review and Preview

3 minutes

I call students to the gathering area and we review that we looked at how a quadra-creature moved. We compared and contrasted a two-legged and four-legged animal using our Venn diagram.

Today, we are going to round out our investigation, looking at flying animals and how their skeletal structures ensure their efficiency and survival. We will then engage in a socratic dialogue about how animals skeletal structures contribute to their efficiency and survival.

Active Observation and Investigation

15 minutes

We watch a movie of birds flying. One of the best videos I have ever seen on birds flying. It is taken from an ultra-light plane and zooms in close for excellent detail of shoulder movement. 

I ask students how these birds are able to move in such a way. Students often start to say things like, because they have wings. We discuss how birds don’t use their legs so much for movement, like the other two animals we have previously studied. I ask students what body part, birds use to fly. They are often stunned to think about wings being arms and hands.

We watch the video a couple of times, looking at different parts of the animal: shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands.

After we have done this, we discuss how different body parts are used for different kinds of movement. I show students a picture of a bird skeleton. We discuss how the skeleton is designed to facilitate the manner in which a bird moves. 

Independent Work

20 minutes

Students move back to their work-space and begin to look at a poster of a bird skeleton. Students work to make a scientific drawing of the lion’s skeleton.

When students are done drawing they begin to make observations of the differences and similarities between the human leg and a lion’s leg, and a bird’s arm. They fill in the third part of their venn diagram. 

Socratic Dialogue

25 minutes

I call students back to the gathering area. I tell them we are going to have a Socratic Dialogue about how different animal structures facilitate different animals interactions with the environment. During this dialogue, I have students extrapolate their learning to thinking about how the skeleton of a whale might look, given it’s manner of movement, and environment.

To begin the Socratic dialogue, I remind students of the expectations. I refer them to the poster that is posted in the classroom, regarding conduct during a Socratic Dialogue. In order to keep this part of the lesson moving and lively, I do a quick, competitive Socratic dialogue, using a fishbowl method. I use the resources from The Institute of Play. The have a wonderful game, called Socratic Smackdown. My students beg to play it, almost daily.

The questions that I pose for this Socratic dialogue are the same for each group. They are:

  1. What is a unique structural component for each of the different kinds of animals we have studied so far?
  2. Why is it important that we have such a variety of animals on Planet Earth? Why not just a few varieties?
  3. How do you think the skeletal structure of a whale might look the same or different from the skeletons you have observed over the last few lessons?


Wrap Up

5 minutes

I remind students that we observed the movement of three different types of creatures. We have hypothesized about a fourth type of creature (it is here that I reveal the poster if I am not planning a field trip) and how its movement may result in similarities and differences in their skeletons.

Looking ahead: In our next lesson we will look at the skeleton of a mystery animal and hypothesize how it moves from the information we can observe.