Next Generation Science Standard Connection
This lesson connects to 1-SL1-2, SP1, and SP3. The students ask questions about a animals behavior, conduct observations, and make inferences about the data collected. Their data is collected in their science journal for analysis at the end of the unit for the culminating activity. I am trying to deepen my students understanding about how animals use their body for protection by allowing them to watch videos showing how animals use their body to stay alive. I feel that by building on previous days work I can engage the class in higher order thinking which really aids them in retaining the information and deepening their understanding of the animals and their use of their body features. The previous lesson is about how horses defend themselves, and the way they use their external features for survival is similar the the kangaroo, so that is how they are building on prior knowledge. Both animals kick, paw, and run away.
Now the students have identified the defense mechanisms in several animals it is time to allow them to see some live video footage and make observations. Based on their observations they make conclusions about how and why animals use their body for defense. Then the class evaluates their peers ideas.
I do use partners: peanut butter jelly partners throughout the lesson and we do transition: transitions often. My videos really explain how these strategies work. In addition, I encourage a lot of partner talk: talk to partner strategy. But, I also have fun ways to get my class to stop talking and you may enjoy this video: fun ways to stop discussion.
This is the section where I try to engage my students in the lesson, excite them, and assess their prior knowledge. So, I show them the lesson image and ask them to discuss an animal that has similar defense mechanisms. This is my way of assessing their prior knowledge, and reminding student to remember the previous days learning helps them develop the skill of doing this on their own. So, I am kind of also trying to teach my students to think about what we have already learned. When the students talk I listen and assess what they know. Then I share their conversations.
Last, I tell the class the plan for the lesson, because it really helps my students understand what we are doing. Then we chant the lesson goal: I can collect data from observations regarding how kangaroo defend themselves. We actually chant the lesson goal three times, because one day my Principal ask one of my students what he learned and he told her he learned about dolphins. We did not see or discuss dolphins all day. So, by getting the class to chant the lesson goal they seem to remember what we are learning about.
So, I play the video below and ask my students to take notes on how the kangaroo protects itself. I play from 1:30- to 2:00 on the clip. I do lay the foundation and share, "These are two males. So, take notes in your science journal about how the kangaroo defends itself. Just write what behaviors you see. Later we will discuss why they are doing these things"
Now the students move to the center tables and share: discourse their notes that they wrote in their science journal with their partner. This is one source I can use to check to see if my students understand. Then I have the student share with the class. I typically use a spreadsheet with the skills at the top and either put a plus or a minus by the students names based on my observations of their work. I am looking for the students to record at least two defense mechanisms, and expecting them to see the pawing and kicking.
So, after the students share their notes they discuss why the male kangaroos were fighting. I ask, "What were they fighting over? How is fighting going to help them survive?" This is how I lead the students to the answer.
I ask the students to discuss the answers to these questions and then try to create one or two sentences explaining their reasoning. I am expecting the students to say something like: One male wants to be in charge. The dominant male will be able to reproduce and have more babies. The winner of the fight is the leader. This is another place I can check for understanding. So, if I see the student didn't make the correct observations in the previous section, they may have learned from their partner and actually have the sentence with adequate reasoning. Learning over the partner collaboration time can even change and be assessed. So, if I see early in this section the student does not understand, I can stop and discuss my evidence with the group. By watching the video again I can allow the student another chance to find the defensive behavior on their own or allow another student to point it out to them.
The students now gather for a whole group meeting on the lounge where I ask two or three students to present their work and volunteers to evaluate their peers' work. I find many first graders typically speak in very soft voices, and frequently get the wiggles. So, to get them to speak loud and listen I say, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in your laps talking no more. Speak loud, enunciate your words, look at the speakers eyes, and listen to what they are saying."
Now the next issue is to get the students to evaluate their peers' work in an academic way. This requires higher order thinking and practice. So, I hope they might say something like, "I agree that the kangaroo fights with its paws and kicks. The male wants to be the leader and have more offsprings." Ideally they will even tell where they saw it in the video. But, this takes practice. So, I frequently model my evaluation, and the students eventually are able to evaluate each other. Modeling, questioning, and eventually maybe begging really gets students to engage in this complex task. I find myself saying, "What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Why? We are all friends, and any evaluation is appreciated." I try to create a risk fee environment.
So now I ask, "What kind of conclusion can we make about animal behavior in regard to using their external features to survive?" I ask my students to talk to their partner and I listen. I am thinking they will say that males compete to be the leader. Kangaroos not only defend themselves from predators, but they fight for a leadership role in their group.
Now I am trying to bring the lesson to a close and I really want to focus in on the content that I hope the students learned. So, this needs to be done quick, and I like to get the class talking. I ask the students to tell their partner two defense mechanisms of the kangaroo. Being very specific really helps here when questioning, because first graders can learn many things that are not related to the goal, but I want to know about the defense mechanisms. As my students talk, I listen and share what I hear them say.
Last, we chant the lesson goal: I can collect data from observations regarding how kangaroo defend themselves.