Adaptations: Research and Summarizing Traits of the 5 Vertebrates

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Students will learn to summarize their research by using a gathering grid and writing skills.

Big Idea

This second part of the lesson helps students learn to use their gathering grids to summarize the traits of the 5 vertebrates effectively and thoroughly.


10 minutes

To engage students today and extend our research lesson from yesterday, I had cut out  enough pictures of animals of both vertebrates and invertebrates for each student and placed the pictures face down on their desks. I asked them to talk in groups and show their picture. They were to decide which were vertebrates and which weren't using their prior knowledge from their research only. After 5 minutes, I stopped them and asked them to share what they had decided. I asked them to share how each photo should be classified based upon their research from yesterday. This reinforced the idea that the research was what we were going to depend upon for the time being. Photos of the octopus were the only ones that they were confused about. They had thought it was a fish and that they had spines. 

This activity really stretched their minds and applied their new knowledge. Photos included animals like anteaters,  blob fish, bilby, octopus ( squid), sea slugs, ants and other insects as well as domestic pets that were unusual. I didn't include birds because they were so obvious. I chose unusual and puzzling animals. I simply thought of as many weird creatures I could think of, Googled them and then downloaded photos.

Summarizing the Research

45 minutes

Each student has a copy of  Writer's Express for a writing resource. I had sent the second website to research as homework the day before and they got out their completed gathering grids to be ready for class. We turned to the chapter on summarizing as I brought the Summarizing Data From a Gathering Grid SB file to help them understand how they should take their data and plan to summarize each vertebrate from their gathering grid information. 

As soon as everyone was done asking questions about what they needed to do, I let them work independently and told them they needed to use their Google Docs to produce their final copy. I told them that in this case, the gathering grid also served as a plan and that this type of summarizing could be used later for a report or for reference when we research platypus.

As students started to work, I conferenced with each child to check the completeness of their grids from the night before. I started out with my below grade level achieving writers to be sure they were on track. Then I moved through the classroom, checking each student and questioning them to be sure they understood the information they had written down. I also wanted to know if they noticed the difference in the two articles and what those differences were. I think it is important to make my students aware of quality articles and what makes one better than another so they can make better choices about what to glean from research. This was an important part of assessing their growth and understanding, even though summarizing was our ultimate goal.

Students wrote for over 45 minutes. This allowed them to go over notes, ask questions of me and of one another. It gave me ample time to conference and support those needing help with more information. 

After 45 minutes, if they weren't done, it became homework. I could tell it was time for closure.


Wrap Up: What Have You Learned About Small Research Projects and Summaries?

10 minutes

To close the lesson today, I wanted to assess what they had learned about researching. Students shared ideas about what they had learned like: what if your prior knowledge is wrong? I had taught them to be sure to read and have facts correctly written down and understood. There was a part about amphibians in the research that we did need to use prior knowledge so we could understand, but this was using our inferences skills in research to understand the text. Students shared their thoughts quite confidently and I felt confident they could finish any work and editing at home.

I told them to send me the copies on Google Docs when they were finished and I would help them edit as soon as they were done.