This lesson is really the first in a series that focuses on the biome of the rain forests. While I want to expose my students to the forests beyond our own home and state, I also want them to become aware that rain forests are not just tropical. That a beautiful rain forest is literally in our backyard. Earlier in the school year, during a unit on the Alpine Mountains, the students learned that much of our state is covered in forests. Most of the forests surrounding our home are temperate deciduous, however, we also have a temperate coniferous forest as well.
The children are familiar with the words deciduous and coniferous from the Alpine unit. During that unit and many of the lessons, the words deciduous and coniferous came up often. In fact, we even had physical signs to demonstrate what those words meant and to trigger our brains to remember the meaning of each word.
But the difference here is that we never distinguished between the two forests. We simply called the Alpine mountains, forests. Now, we have the opportunity to take that learning to a deeper level and make the distinctions between the temperate and tropical forests.
Also, because we are using maps to help us discover where these forests are located, we are indirectly focusing upon ESS2-2. The lesson does not create physical models out of clay or a three dimensional medium, but with an anchor chart. The model is created by labeling and adding information to the anchor chart as a teaching tool.
Because it is the first in a series on the biome of jungles and tropical forests, I begin this lesson like most of lessons, with a GRASPS power point that spells out what the unit will encompass.
I begin the lesson showing the children a map...the maps are not up to date, but are current enough for my students to find the continents, oceans and geographical regions. I explain that I will be bringing each team two maps. Two maps per team, allows the children to look and observe with a partner, rather than an entire team. I wanted to make this a bit more accessible because the maps are not the easiest to read and reading upside down is not always easy either.
After passing out the maps, I get the children's attention and ask them, "Do you know where we would find the jungles of the world?" I allow them about four or five minutes to look at the maps and make any connections they may have.
Strategically, I have already front loaded a bit of information without the students knowing. Earlier in the day, during our reading block, an article was read from Readworks, about the Amazon River. My hope is that someone will remember the writing and the information that was written about the river and where it was located.
For this lesson I am using a Graphic Organizer Chart to dispense new information. It will take two days to complete. Smaller doses of information are brought out this way for the children to digest and not feel overloaded. For this lesson, some of the information is also review because of previous learning during the Polar Regions and Ocean units.
When the children have made their predictions about the locations of the jungles, I ask them to join me on the rug. My empty anchor chart is taped to the Smart Board with painters tape (I use this tape because it allows me to attach the paper to the board without harming the board in any way).
I have also put ink stitches around the outsides of the map (This is rooted in brain research. Boxing in the new learning tricks the brain into keeping all the learning in one place). I have drawn a faint outline of a world map on the blank chart. I do not draw this free hand, I find a clear picture of a world map from the internet and enlarge it). Because I want my drawing to be accurate, I "cheat" and do this before the lesson begins.
The children are familiar with this teaching strategy and they are prepared for what comes next. They know I am going to begin filling in the shapes with a colored ink pen. Mr. Sketch markers are my favorite to use on these charts.
As I am filling in the continents, I am asking the children about the continents and the oceans, eliciting any information they can offer from their background knowledge. In this way, we are all involved with the exploration of learning.
When all the land masses are drawn in, I change my colors and begin to color in the areas where the tropical jungles are found. I ask the children if they notice anything about their location on the world map. Most of the children notice the jungles are located around the central part of the Earth. I draw an equator line and explain to them that this is where we would find many of the tropical jungles. I overemphasize the words many and tropical.
I draw a compass rose on the chart. I want to establish the north, south, west, and east connection. I also explain about the hemispheres and label these on the map as well.
I choose another color pen and begin writing facts about the temperate rain forests on the chart close to where they are located. I then write facts about the tropical rain forests down farther on the chart close to the tropical zone. The information is not random, but information I have gathered that I believe is important for the children to know about the jungles.
When all our new information is on the map, I show the children a new foldable. They are very familiar with these and know exactly what to do. I pass them out and explain I want the children to quickly return to their desks and cut these out. I further explain that when they have finished this, they can get a clipboard and return to the anchor chart.
I share with them that all along the way this school year, I have guided them in documenting new learning and information to keep for their learning. However, it is really time for them to begin determining themselves what is most important. And for this reason, they will document independently themselves.
After the children are finished with this, they glue their work into their journals for further lessons.
The next morning when the children come into class, I put outlined maps of the world on their desks.
I explain to them "because we have one anchor chart, each of us cannot put that into our journals. So they will need to make their own."
I continue to explain that the map they have does not have any of the features we included on our anchor chart, so they will need to put everything they can on the map themselves. I allow them about twenty minutes to work and add all the features they believe will be important to complete their map.
As the children are creating their maps, I am circulating throughout the classroom and observing the work the children are doing on their maps. If I see something that is significantly out of place and does not match the anchor chart we have created, I will point it out and suggest it be corrected.
Allowing the children to complete the map, offers them an opportunity to work on ESS2-2.