Common Core Connection
This lesson is the first in a series of twelve lessons about animal defense mechanisms. The science standard is 1-LS1, because it includes how animals use their external features to stay alive. This lesson is the most simple, and the complexity of the unit increases with each lesson. I chose the strategy: gradual release or breaking down a standard into smaller pieces because it seems to really work for me. I find that if I can pick apart the standard we can accomplish the goal in one hour and eventually the students are able to do what the standard asks. For this lesson, I am just exposing my students to the content and engaging them in questioning.
In this lesson, the students are going to ask and answer questions that are text dependent which is standard RI1.1. This means we are looking at specific things in the text that tell us the defense mechanisms for horses and kangaroo.
The lesson also connects to SL1.1, because the students engage in a section of the lesson where they present their work. They also have to orally evaluate their peers' work. So, the students really get some speaking and listening practice.
Throughout the lesson the students work in collaborative groups I call peanut butter jelly partner, and I have created a video to explain how it works. They also move around a lot. The video on transitions: transition shows how and where my students move.
Basically the students create some questions and answer specific questions in the guided practice and the partner work section. For the guided practice the students use the article Kangaroo Fleeting Foot Tracks from Wildlife Fun for Kids: Nurturing Little Nature Lovers, and we analyze Seahorse Camoflauge by Natalie Gibb. Now, I do not actaully use these exact articles. I modify them by shortening sentences and changing words I know will confuse my students. It's not that I want to lower the rigor, but I want my students to be able to comprehend the text. Also, we are going to echo read, and long sentences do not work with echo reading. The students cannot find where the sentence starts, neither can I on long sentences. Last, the class engages in a reflection, presentations, and we close the lesson.
So, I want to make this lesson relevant. I tell the class what I did to defend myself when I did karate, because karate is one way humans can help themselves survive. I will show them some deflective techniques. "Oh class, I bet you will not believe this but I am a brown belt in karate. It's true. My mother said I looked like I was doing ballet when I practiced my karate, but I did learn to defend myself if I was attacked. Okay, Owen punch me, (I move my hand to deflect his punch). Let me show you my version of the karate kid move. Owen, run at me (I softly kick him)." But, if you don't want to be a super warrior in you class, just show this cool video: act it out. Oh, they will love that I did karate. Then I share that these are ways humans protect themselves. Next, I ask the class to discuss how animals may protect themselves. I listen to assess their knowledge. Then I share some of their conversations.
Next, I ask the class to chant the lesson goal three times: I can ask and answer questions about defense mechanisms in animals.
As we transition to the desks, I pass out all of the copies of the text about defense mechanisms in kangaroos. Then I echo read the text to the class to familiarize them with the vocabulary and content. Echo reading is just me reading a sentence and the students reading it aloud after me. It is a nice strategy to help build content knowledge and fluency in the first grade.
After echo reading, I ask the students to talk to their partner about any questions they have regarding the text. After one minute, I say, "So whoever wants to share their ideas, just start sharing." The students are probably going to say a statement, and I am going to remind them of the words that questions begins with and point to the list on the board. Next I say, "Somebody else share your question and remember to start with a question word." Does everyone agree that "How do kangaroos run so fast is a good question? Show me thumbs up if you agree. (I add the question to the board). Next, "Partners talk about how they run so fast. Who has the answer?" Somebody say, " They have powerful legs." I say, "Where did you find that in the text? Do we all agree that is the answer? If you agree pat your head. So, what else do you wonder about the kangaroo after reading this article?" The students might say, "When do the kangaroos balance with their tail?" Then I say, "If you think that is a good question show me a thumbs up. (I add the question to the board.) Then the students volunteer and share, "They push their tail on the ground when fighting." Next, I say, "What is another question you have?" They may say, "What animals attack kangaroos?" Then I say, "If everyone agrees that this is a good question raise your hand. (Then I add it to the board.) The students next look in the text for the answer, "They fight each other."
Basically, I take about three questions, write them on the board, and I ask the students to discuss the answer to each question. I have a nice video explaining partner talk: talk to partner strategy, which is a strategy I use often to assess prior knowledge and to get my students to discuss things. Another fun thing I do to stop the discussion is saying a chant: fun ways to stop discussion.
Next, I present my questions one at a time. After each question, I ask the students to discuss the answer. Then one person shares their ideas, and we have a class discussion about the idea. We either agree, disagree, tell why, and I add my comments. My comments really are to model evaluation, and confirm the students accuracy.
My questions are:
How do kangaroos protect themselves? (We find the specific evidence is in the text by highlighting it.)
What are some other words that mean the same a s protect? (This question helps my ELL students make the connections, develop vocabulary, and find evidence on the topic in other texts.)
The questions and our work are in this link and in the resource section: board work.
Next, the class moves to the center table to practice finding the answer to a question about the text. The only question I have is: How do seahorses protect themselves? The reason I only have one question is, because I am trying to really concentrate on the science content.
I read the question to the class, and then I read the text three times aloud. First graders are not able to read fluently, so I am scaffolding here the students can learn the content and develop comprehension skills.
The students all get a copy of the text, so they can highlight the answers and revisit the text as needed. The partners need to write the question and the answer on one sheet of paper.
My job at this point is to walk around and see who needs help. As I do this, I ask the students additional questions to help them get started. Some of my questions are:
What happens when seahorses get scared? (I am really scaffolding the questioning to make the the students think about how the animal's physical features change in order to survive.)
How do they change? (Basically, I am hinting that something changes in the animals body: the color and they move.)
What do we call a color change? (I am telling them the answer: they change color. But, I am also focusing on getting the students familiar with the vocabulary: camouflage.)
How does this protect them? (This is my question to focus the students on the fact that these physical body changes are essential to the survival of the animal. They will die with change, because it makes them harder for a predator to find and kill.)
This discussion is my informal way of assessing the students knowledge as I walk around and observe them working.
At this point in the lesson my class is back at the lounge and we are going to evaluate their work, practice speaking, and being learning to listen. So, my big strategy here to promote the desired behavior is saying, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in your laps talking no more. Your eyes are on the speaker, speakers are talking loud, and listeners are thinking about their peers' work." Many first graders speak really softly, so I remind each speaker to talk loud and enunciate their words.
So, two or three students read their work. As they read I am assessing their content knowledge to see if they know the defense mechanisms of the kangaroo and the sea horse. After each presentation, the class is asked how the can respond. Do they agree, disagree, or want to add to their peers work. Based on what the students say I know if they know the physical behavior of animals in defense or not. Now, in the beginning of the year, I model this and add my own evaluation, because my students do not know what to do. But, by October they are usually commenting in complete sentences about their peers work, since we do this everyday.
Some students might say, "I agree that seahorses become camouflaged, because the image shows the seahorse almost the same color as the surroundings." Well, this is what I say if the students don't have any comments.
So, now the lesson is ending I want to assess what my students know about animal behavior regarding defense mechanisms. I ask each child to write one way animals protect themselves on a sticky note and place it on the Tweet Board. This is the board:Tweet Board with the sticky notes. Hopefully, they will say, "They become camouflaged." I am sure to remind my students to sound words out, invent the spelling, and if you have no idea write a smiley face. This differentiates the activity. As they place their notes on the board, I comment and add to what they write.
Last, we chant the lesson goal to help the students remember the content.