Next Generation Science Standard Connection
This lesson is about helping students discover a human problem that is caused by a specific animal behavior. In my barn these birds have started creating nest, and they made some in the wall. Well, they could not get out and they died in the wall. This wall is also connected to my mothers apartment. So, here is the problem: we have the dead bird smell, bird feces all over everything in our barn, and birds carry diseases. This connects to 1-LS-1, because the students are using materials to design something that solves a human problem that an animal is causing. After several minutes of productive discussion and thought, I share some already made human solutions, which I actually purchased. Then the class has to add to or change their model. Last the students present their solution and the model to the class. As the students engage in their presentation they are working on SP8 because they are effectively communicating information they have gained. The students that give the feedback to their peers after their presentations are actually engaging in SP7, because they are making an argument and supporting it with evidence from the text we read in the lesson.
The lesson begins in the lounge where I engage the class, then they explore the problem, explain their understanding, and begin to design the solution to the problem. After productive creating, I share some existing designs, and the students add to their work. Then they present their design and explain their reasoning behind their solution.
I have three big strategies that I think really help the lesson flow smoothly. I use peanut butter jelly partner and transitions. These strategies are one of the big reasons my students persevere through very rigorous tasks.
This is my time to excite the class and assess their prior knowledge. So, I ask them to tell their partner everything they know about problems caused by birds, and I project the lesson image on the Smart Board to add exitement. Kids love seeing big photos of animals. While my students are sharing their knowledge about problems caused by birds I listen to see what they know. If somebody does know a lot, I let them share. It is always more engaging when the students can teach each other than when I tell them information. After, their discussion I do a: fun ways to stop discussion, and I say, "Can I get a volunteer to share your knowledge?" Then I listen.
Next, I say, "Class, I need your help. I have had an awful mess at my barn. These birds have made nests and their home in my barn. This is a huge problem, because birds carry diseases, dead birds stink, and they leave their feces everywhere. Today I need you to help me come up with a solution to my problem. Will you design something to keep birds away from my barn?" Then I read this text: why birds are a problem. Now my class is feeling really needed, and ready to work. So, we transition to the desks in the center of the room.
During this section of the lesson we explore different things that birds are afraid of so the class can prepare to design their solution. I explain, "If we are going to get rid of the birds we must learn what birds do not like, so we can make them leave. I am going to read you a piece of text that tells us the things we need to know to get the birds to leave my barn. We are also going to learn why birds like my barn. So, when you see the answer in the text you can highlight it as I am reading."
I give each child a text and I read this text three time to allow all students exposure to the content, since many of my students cannot read. Providing students complex text is one way to expose them to rigorous vocabulary and engage them in a complex task. During my third reading I ask the students to highlight any information they think answers the question, "Why do birds want to live in my barn?" My question to the class after I read this text is, "What are some things birds try to avoid?" This short text: why birds are a problem answers the question, "Why do birds nest up high in barns?" I know some of my tasks are really complex, so I made a video about how I help my students persevere through complex tasks.
During this section the students look at the images from my barn and explain why this is such a problem. I ask my students to say, "Talk to your partner about why birds are a problem in the barn" Then I listen to assess their understanding, and I ask for a volunteer to share their conversation with the class. Then I add their knowledge to the board by highlighting, and then we transfer it to notes: model.
Next, I ask, "What are some things birds are afraid of? Talk to your partner about what you learned from the text that birds are afraid of." Then they discuss the things that birds are afraid of. I listen and then ask for the class to engage in discourse about the question.
Now, I ask the students, "What are some possible things that we could do to solve this problem? Tell your partner what you are thinking." Again, I listen to see where my students are in their understanding, and I provide support or let them share their ideas.
The students work with a partner to design one solution to my bird problem. This can be in the form of a model using legos, an illustration, or something else using materials I have provided. After ten minutes, I stop them and show the class the things I bought to get the birds to leave. Then the students are encouraged to modify their work.
Now I read an excerpt from this article: bird solutions about how some humans keep birds away. After the students learn about my solution and information from the article they add to their work.
Last the students engage in an activity to communicate their information, and defend their peer feedback about their classmates work. So, several groups present their solutions: presentation and evaluation, and they explain how their solution will work. The other students engage in peer evaluation.
I am looking to see that the students create solutions that are based on detering the birds, and they are based on evidence we learned in the text. I find that many first graders tend to refer to prior knowledge instead of evidence they learned in the text. My other expectation is that the students actually provide evidence based peer feedback that connects to the information they have gained in this lesson.
I have a spreadsheet: assessment I keep taped to my white board that I check off to see who's turn it is to present, so each child gets to present and work on their individual communication skills. I also keep a spreadsheet where I give a check or minus for correct content, speaking loud and clear, and for giving evidenced based peer feedback.