I chose to use turtles for the introductory lesson to this unit for a couple of reasons. The lesson previously taught before this one completed the Oceans Unit. Focusing on turtles allows me to tie the Ocean unit into this unit. It is a great segue. The lesson begins with sea turtles and moves into the the land and freshwater turtles. Turtles are interesting creatures that find themselves in all three areas of land and water. Also, turtles are one of the few creatures that have distinct variations in their migratory and hibernation patterns. In using the turtle to focus on all these concepts, I am able to weave in prior background knowledge and introduce new concepts. Finally, it also allows be another opportunity to focus on diversity of life with biomes. Because turtles find themselves in many biomes, they are an incredibly diverse animal.
I read two children's literature books during my reading block about turtles. The first book, One Tiny Turtle is a non-fiction book that is so powerful. It shares with students the immense struggle sea turtles go through to migrate back to their home beach to lay eggs. This resonates with the students because of earlier lessons about migration during the Shark lesson in the Ocean's Unit.
The second book, Tiffany Turtle is a narrative non-fiction book about freshwater turtles and the importance of their homes. The author does a marvelous job of writing a narrative story, while embedding many factual elements about turtles.
This lesson could easily be taught with any paired books as mentor texts about turtles.
Reading the books is essential, because it provides background knowledge in for students without directly teaching it. However, it offers the children a hook that will pull them into this lesson because they will connect the stories instantly when the lesson begins.
I show the children both the books that we read earlier in the week about turtles. I ask the children if they remember both books. I explain that when we read the books, many of them saw so many similarities and I am curious if they would be able to discriminate between different species of turtles?
I want to pique their interest with this lesson. I have just finished the unit on the Oceans of the world and I want to use this lesson as segue into the Wetlands, Rivers and Ponds.
I pass out the Student Page and explain to the children that I would like for them to cut out all the squares and sort the facts with the correct turtle. I suggest they might want to remember any information from the books that we read earlier to give them some background knowledge.
I allow the children to work on this for about ten minutes. I show the children how to cut the squares into rows and then cut them quickly in a stack into the smaller squares. This can save an immense amount of time. Allowing them more time to sort.
As the children are sorting and puzzling through their ideas, I am circulating the room and observing their thought processes. I do not offer any suggestions or advice. I want to see what they are thinking.
After the children appear to be finished, I will ask them to stop and look at the screen.
When I have all the children's attention, I will begin with the Power Point. It is a digital book based on a repetitive pattern with the text. This allows for easy memorization and application of the information I want to teach. The children really love the rhythm of the words.
I read the slide and hope that the children will begin to chime in. The text is simple and not challenging.
At Slide four, I click the video clip. (It is black in the power point for you to see, but can be accessed here. I put video clips in for a couple of reasons: they are highly engaging and entertaining, also they pack a lot more information in than I could teach verbally and the children are more likely to remember this information.
Slide ten will show this video clip.
Also, on Slide ten is a hyperlink that will take the students to this website. All these resources show the students that scientists need to be able to research beyond field studies. Using media to obtain new scientific information or even evidence is very helpful (SP8).
I read through the entire power point. As I am reading, I anticipate that the children will be rearranging some of their cards. I fully expect them to realize that they may have put some of their cards in the incorrect columns. It is important for them to be able to rearrange their ideas using the observations they make to analyze their own ideas and reconstruct their concepts (SP4).
After reading and watching the power point and video clips, I ask the children to look at their fact sort again. I ask them if they want to make any adjustments. I expect that not all the children will have rearranged their cards while we read. There will be some that will do it afterwards. This is simply a learning style preference.
I explain that if anyone would like to rearrange any cards, they are welcome to. I begin the power point one more time and tell the children we will read it once more. Just to see if we can find the evidence that will back up our claims of where they have each placed their cards. I want them to be able to use any scientific reading they can to support their thinking.
When all the information has been located in the reading and all the children feel comfortable with their answers, I ask them to double check with a neighbor. Just to ensure that we have all come to the same conclusions and found the same information.
At this point, I ask the children to glue their sorts into their journals. I explain to them that this learning could be very important for later lessons.
When all the gluing is completed, I ask the children to look one more time at their journals and I ask for a 'Fist to Five' to demonstrate their understanding of the different types of turtles. I use a quick power point to remind the children what each finger means to show their understanding of the learning. I want the children to begin to do some self-evaluating with their learning.
I pose the question..."If you believe you could teach someone else everything you have learned about turtles, show me a hand with five fingers. If you think you understand the differences with all the turtles well, give me a four....." and so on. The wording is on the power point and I follow it.
After the children have shared where they believe they are on the continuum of understanding, I ask them to turn to their shoulder buddy and share at least three things they learned. I do this because I want to hear that they have really internalized information and they can share it verbally. It is that communication element in science that is so critical (SP8).