My students are currently involved in a math unit called, Going Batty Over Measurement and Geometry, which is a project based unit that culminates in the building of 8 bat houses to hang in our community. If you are interested, check out my math folder!
This year, I am adding science to the unit. The students will research and find trends in population, locate information on habitat loss, and inform people of the reasons bats are so important to our environment. It has been reported that the Little Brown Bat is expected to be extinct in 20 years, which would be devastating to our ecosystem not only here in Michigan, but all over North America. These bats help control crop destroying insects, insect populations in general, and help keep control of disease carrying insects. Losing them would cause ample damage to our world.
My students are committed to making a difference.
To begin our lesson, I ask the students to discuss with their table groups what they are wondering about bats and what they think they may need to know in order to help them.
This student had a really interesting question. He knows why bats are important, but he wonders if there is a way they can be harmful as well.
Following the conversations to get ideas flowing, I ask the students to silently write their questions, that will drive their research, for 5 minutes. This student is beginning his writing when I approach. Later, he shares with the class that he is wondering about the bat's litters because he wants to be sure our bat houses are big enough. I also appreciate his question about a bat's eyes.
Following the brainstorming, I show the students a wiki page of resources that I prepared with our media specialist. I then prompted the students to begin researching and to keep track of their sources.
As the students work alone, or with a partner, to research, I circulate and make sure everyone is on task, taking notes, understanding text, and engaging is thoughtful scientific conversation.
This student was writing down some interesting facts and I realized I needed to help her clarify one of her facts. I was then able to discuss other information in the article she was reading and show her how to ask questions while reading.
I use a lot of ideas from Tony Stead. In many of his books, he discusses the importance of students not only researching for new facts, but being able to confirm ideas they think are true and to realize some of their thinking is a misconception. In this video, the student is showing me that her idea of bats being blind is not true.
I was pleased that this student found an article about White Nose Syndrome. She is now on track to realizing what is happening to the bat population, which will give her more purpose for our bat house building activity. She is also able to locate evidence in her article for a question and use that information to extrapolate what may happen if an infected bat roosts in one of our houses.
As the students wrap for the day, I have them share out what they learned, found fascinating, and ask them to discuss what they may now wonder or realize they need to find out.
We will research in this way for about 4 sessions, in order to "triangulate" our information. We have learned to find facts from at least 3 sources in order to deem it valid, so this will take time.
Note: When students do find similar information in various sources, they are instructed to simply put a tally at the side of their note. In this way, they know when they have 3 tallies, the fact is "triangulated".