The question I want the students to consider today is, "What is happening to the population of the Little Brown Bat and why?"
I ask the students to discuss what they have learned through their research and why they think the bats are in trouble. We will then share out as a group.
I give the students a text that depicts the blight of the Little Brown Bat. It will also have a chart organizing the population over 5 years of 5 bat roosts.
I read and discuss the text with the students as a whole group. I will remind them that sometimes, with a lot of data, it is easier to understand and make claims when it is organized in a graph.
Then, I ask them to create a plot graph using three different colors (one for the Little Brown Bat, one for the Big Brown Bat, and one for the Combined Population). This should help the students "see" what the data is teaching.
When I approached this student, I simply asked her, "What are you working on?" I love asking this question, as it is not attached to any predetermined answer or response. I am also able to just listen and then engage in whatever conversation is necessary for that student in that moment.
This student was preparing to plot her combined population data and began explaining what she thinks is happening to the bats. We were able to discover and make a claim, together, that the decline is happening quickly, which supplies us with even more purpose to learn about the bats and help them with our houses.
After I helped this student revise her graph, I was able to have a great conversation about her claims, which she could support with data evidence. She also went back into the text for some information to make sense of why this decline was happening. Next, she was working to explain how the Brown Bat, although it has a population in the lower numbers, it is staying stable and healthy.
Listen to how she pulls in some of her previous research to begin weaving together all the ways she thinks our bat houses can help this dilemma.
Though this graphing activity is rigorous on a mathematical level, it is also a high quality science activity. The students are able, during this work, to formulate answers to the question, "What sometimes happens to organisms when their environment changes?" They are also expected to use the data to construct an argument with evidence that with those changes, some organisms survive well, less well, and not at all. In addition, while they are considering these claims, they also begin to consider solutions to this problem. This is rigorous and real work for these students and they are motivated to carry on.
Listen to the conversations in the below clips for evidence of my student's deep thinking and passion around these topics…all from a graphing activity:)
The boy in this video starts our conversation claiming that both the Big Brown Bat and the Little Brown Bat are in danger of extinction. The students begin discussing this, using talking moves, data from the graph, and information from their research. This is science at it's best!
Our conversation then shifted to other reasons that the bats may be in trouble. These students were able to bring the idea home and make a connection to what is happening in our own town.
Finally, some theories about the difference in data is discussed using prior knowledge from our animal adaptation unit. In order to set the students up for the rigorous task of building a scientific theory, I have given them plenty of time to research the plight of the Little Brown Bat. I have had them read, watch videos, and take notes on all the reasons the bat's population is in decline. In doing this, as we look at data, they are more prepared to discuss and draw their own conclusions.