What Do Ornithologists Do? Part II

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Students will explore like ornithologists by using binoculars to observe birds and bird nests in their natural habitats.

Big Idea

Ornithologists contribute to society by helping humans understand how birds live among us.


5 minutes



My students gather on the carpet then I say, "Today we are going into the field like ornithologists do.  I want you to watch these student ornithologists do field work just like you are doing to do." This video is less than two minutes and will be very empowering for the students.


After we watch, I say, "I want you to hold onto all that you have seen and learned from this video and use the information when you go into the field."  I do this because I want the students to internalize the information and interpret it how they see fit when they go into the field or outside to our school campus.


Finally, I move on to elicit their information about what type of birds they think we will sight on our campus.  I allow students to share out.  




5 minutes


My students are already eager to engage in this investigation.  They see the binoculars on the table. They already know how to use them, nevertheless, I give them instructions on how to care for the science equipment at the appropriate time.


I say, "It is very important that you take care of the Conservation Center's binoculars.  First you must keep the strap around your neck at all times and hold the binoculars with two hands."  I include the care of the lens caps and bag.  I also give instructions for the actual lens.  I emphasize that the lens should not be place on the dirt or concrete.




25 minutes


"We are going outside and explore like ornithologists do," I say.   I have a few instructions to give to my students before we go.  I add, "You must be respectful of your partner and take turns using the binoculars.  If one of you is using them, the other partner can sit quietly and listen for bird sounds with their eyes closed."  


There is a fence surrounding our campus so my students will always be in my view.  If students need a safety reminder to walk and stay focused on the investigation because they will be accountable to share their findings with the group.


The exploration begins with students sitting quietly and looking through the binoculars.  No one talks, we simply use the binoculars for possible sightings of birds.  I also have camera to take pictures.




20 minutes


Upon complete of our outdoor investigation, we return to the classroom and the partners sit together to share their findings with the group.  They do have the option of sharing individually.  I give the students a few minutes to plan their presentations.  I do this because they need an opportunity plan beforehand or they will attempt to plan while others are talking.


I give the one minute warning that we will start.  Next I say, "When my hands clasp together or close, I should see all eyes and talking will stop."  I ask for volunteers.  The volunteer selection is made and the two students introduce themselves and one partner begins to talk.  If the other partner is reluctant, I probe them with questions such as "Was it difficult for you to sight birds on our campus?"


After the students share, the other students may ask questions.  The speakers call on their classmates.  I simply give the reminder that questions begin with who, what, why, when, where, which, or how. This process continues until all students have shared.


5 minutes


I thank the scientists for sharing their findings with the class.  We applaud each other for our good work.  We celebrate each other because this builds positive pride in the students.  My students are experiencing science as real world scientists do.  This unit of study is creating a love for science and creating the next generation of scientists.


Next we turn our attention to the Science Practices Chart.  Because this is the final lesson in the unit of study, I will briefly talk about the chart.  Students have a final opportunity to share what they have learned about science practices and the types of scientists we have studied with a shoulder partner.







Because my district uses a pacing guide and I have other requirements to address, I say "The Extend in this unit is optional for students.  However, during indoor recess, you may decide to create a book to preserve what you have learned about birds or the different types of scientists."  After teaching many years, I have learned that students can make bona fide contributions to lessons.  So, if a student comes up with an idea that trumps my book idea, they are free to create it if we have the materials within the classroom.


I remind the students of the purpose of their science notebooks.  I say, "You have a science notebook to house your thoughts about investigations and to record your findings."  I  tell the students that if they want to share more ideas and information about scientists with their families, they may elect to do a project own their own.  Of course they will solicit my support if necessary.