Prep:Prepare the following materials ahead of time: From an 8 1/2 x 11 white sheet of paper, fold it into fourths vertically so that you have strips that are about 2 1/2" wide. Cut enough of these for each group of 4 students. Label them: Head and Neck, Body, Legs, & Feet. Also have a large black sheet of construction paper for each group of 4. Students should have their drawing and coloring supplies as well as their iPads for reference.
Open the Lesson: Crazy birds come from the minds of creative students who have studied and can demonstrate how external structures either help or hinder their created bird's survival. This lesson is a culmination of all the research and new understanding of birds they had gathered in yesterday's lesson. But to get them warmed up and engaged, as well as give me a little idea of how well we were mastering the standard, I had asked students to think about what kind of a bird they would be if they could be a bird? I told them I wanted them to answer with solid factual answers they had derived from research and not share things like, "It would be cool" or " I just think they are awesome." I demonstrated that I would like to be a puffin because, "Puffins live by the sea and like to fish like I do. They also have brightly colored faces that always look happy. I would be happy to be able to swim, dive, and paddle along on the waves near Ireland or Maine." This helped them formulate how they would present their thoughts using factual information. I told them to think for two minutes and set my timer.
As the timer went off, I asked them to turn to a buddy and share their thoughts firstly because I knew there wouldn't be time to share everyone's thoughts. This helped them collect their thoughts, hear their words out loud and also ensured they had shared, helping me assess their thinking.
I gave them about 5 minutes to talk with one another and then asked if everyone had really had a chance to talk. This was ample time. At that point, I asked them to share, whole class. "I want to be a hawk," one student shared briefly without sharing about the external structural reasons. "I wanna be a parrot," was another student's opinion as others chimed in with specific "on standard-mastery target" ideas. The last group began by one student sharing that she would like to be a hummingbird as the others shared different choices with good reasons. Most seemed to grasp the idea that birds had unique structures that made them adapt to their environment. I could see that they were connecting the ideas about specialized structures.
It was now time to start the process of creating our own "Crazy Bird!"
I had prepared strips of paper using an 8 1/2 by 11 inch white sheet cut into fourths. I had labeled each strip: Head & Neck, Body, Legs, & Feet. Students were in groups of 3 to 4 and each had one strip. I passed them out randomly, but made sure that each group had parts of a whole bird.
I told them to design, using what they had learned about birds,the external portion they had received. So, for example if a child received the head and neck, they might create a bird with a huge head and a short neck, including a beak or bill of their choice. They were able to look back at any resource for a visual example if needed. The fun began as they began designing their portion of the bird. I roved the classroom to discuss their work and answer questions. I stopped to see one student who was working on webbed feet. The collaborative discussion was interesting because I think they thought that their group would be one bird. They had figured out that we would put these parts together. What they weren't suspecting was my next trick!
Now the real fun began! I asked all the "head and neck" artists to gather together and place their drawings face down in a pile on the floor. I asked each body part groups to come up and do the same. They returned to their seats. I shuffled the head and neck parts asking one person from each group to come and pick from my hand. I continued this with each body part so that the groups eacg had a drawing from each part of the bird and they were all mixed up and different! They were so surprised! They thought for sure that they would be creating their bird from their own desk team's work.
I had given them a black sheet of construction paper and then asked that they create their Crazy Bird by cutting out the parts and carefully gluing them together using a glue stick. As they worked, I listed a series of questions on the white board for them to consider after the bird was created. The directions and questions were:
With your table group, discuss these following questions.
How do each of the body parts work so that your bird will survive?
Explain each part of the bird carefully.
Where does your bird live? What does it eat? What kind of eggs does it lay?
I roved the classroom and started to see the birds take shape. As each group finished, I directed them to look at the board and went over each question with them. I told them that there should be one note taker in the group as they listed their ideas relating to the questions.
Now was the time I needed to intercede in many of their discussions because the energy that came from how funny the birds looked was starting to take over and making them lose focus. I coached students to identify their bird's strengths and weaknesses to figure out how it would survive and think of where it could possibly live. As students started to identify the problems it could have, I sometimes had to talk about that it probably won't survive very long unless it was in the perfect habitat without predators or competition for food. They started to use their understanding of the structural parts they had put together and then problem solve. This problem solving led them to understand more deeply that the specialized structures of birds are from adaptations animals make in order to survive. This lesson provides a rich discovery opportunity for students to critically think about the standard and prove why or why not their own bird's structures will either help or hinder it.
A lot of time needs to be allowed for this discovery to occur. It can't be rushed. As soon as I had seen all of the table groups and made sure they had a plan for writing about their specific bird, I told them it was time to wrap up today's lesson and pick up our work tomorrow.
To close up the lesson today, I explained that tomorrow we would be formulating our paragraphs and presentations. I expected that the presentation would answer the questions that I had written on the board.
I asked about what they learned by today's experience. Most explained that they really didn't understand how hard it was to figure out from the bird how and if it could survive. But, they did agree that figuring out what it could eat by its beak or bill was the easiest part. I told them that they had to consider how everything worked together for the bird to survive and that tomorrow would be the proof that they understood exactly how their bird would survive using their knowledge from research and lessons.