This lesson is a tie in from two previous lessons: These Bears are Special and Bears of the Pacific Northwest lessons. Earlier in the Alpine Mountain unit, I taught my students about the two species of bears that live in our region in the Pacific Northwest. I did this because I wanted my students to see that diversity did not only mean various types of animals, but that there could be diversity within a species as well. Now, I want them to see that the diversity of a species can actually travel to other biomes.
It makes sense to focus on bears because the bears are such beautiful creatures and they are getting quite a bit of press in the state lately for many different reasons: concern of their lessening populations, their migratory movement into human inhabited areas, and questions concerning how to behave when encountering a bear in the wild.
As often as I can, I try to relate my lessons to the region or state that we live in. I have found that this is good for the students to learn more about the area they live in and it also front loads learning for grades later on that specifically teach state history or environment. I am careful not to teach any learning that would teach grade level standards for other grades.
I explain to the children that we have had a great time learning about three different types of bears and it has been amazing to learn about all the features that make them so special. I remind them about the book that we read a few lessons back; Alaska's Three Bearss. I hear many comments...
"OH! I love that book."
"That has been one of my favorites."
We have used this mentor text for so many different lessons, and several different curriculum areas (reading, writing and now science). It is really incredible when you think of the power of learning within one mentor text. This book really has it all.
I continue explaining that this book has brought us so much learning, but that I am wondering if now we could take all that learning and put it together in one place to see what we have learned.
I ask all the children to gather their journals (that have all their notes inside) and clip boards and come and join me on the meeting rug. I have an anchor chart prepared that shows all the columns ready to be filled in.
This anchor chart is a fantastic strategy to utilize if you are pulling together learning from multiple lessons. It brings it all together into one place.
This lesson is really a culmination for us and an informal summative assessment for me to see and hear what my students found to be important in their note taking experiences from the two bear lessons. It really demonstrated the children's ability to be able to synthesize and pull together learning independently.
During this phase of the lesson, the children are really the ones doing all the explaining. My task is simply to write down what they share with me. I write their information and research that they have gathered on the anchor chart on the easel.
The children see right away, that we are going to begin with the habitats of each bear. I explain to them that I want them to share with me what they wrote down in their notes as we were going through the two lessons. I tell them I will write down all their information.
The children begin looking at their notes and telling me what to write. The chart fills up quickly. The children can barely contain their excitement to share their learning. I explain that we will begin with the habitat column. The children begin sharing all the information they have written in their notes. They have their journals full of learning in front of them while sitting on the floor.
When the children have shared all the information they have gathered about the habitats, diets and special characteristics of the bears; we look at our finished work. It is really a thing of beauty. The kids are incredibly proud of themselves. They know they have just demonstrated what they know.
Some students wanted to share with me verbally what they learned after the lesson from the anchor chart and I gladly listened to their sharing.