Mimickry to Survive: Dolphins

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SWBAT collect data and make a conclusion about how dolphins behave that promotes the survival of their offspring.

Big Idea

Watch amazing videos that bring the ocean and dolphins right into your classroom!

Setting the Stage

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson connects to 1-LS1-2, because the students are going to be making observations of videos in order to make a conclusion about how dolphins use their external features to help their offspring survive. The students watch some videos, record their data in their science journal, and then make a conclusion about how dolphins behave to promote the survival of their offspring.

Prior to this lesson the class has engaged in several lessons allowing students to collect data and make observations on how animals use their external features to promote their own survival. I felt like before we started looking at how the parents interact with the offspring the students needed some experience looking at animal behavior with out the offspring. I find that breaking the standard down into achievable sections really helps me teach, and my students seem more capable at developing an understanding. When I try to jump right in and cover the entire standard it often feels overwhelming for me and my class.

Lesson Overview

The class begins in the lounge where I engage them and get the students excited about learning. Then we move to their desks in the center of the room, which are still in group seating for the actual exploring. For the explain section we work at the center tables. Last the class comes back to the lounge for the evaluation portion of the lesson. These transitions really keep my class engaged throughout a lengthy lesson.

We also work in collaborative groups that I call peanut butter jelly partners. The partners remain the same and support collaboration during the lesson.


10 minutes

This is the time in the lesson when I want my students to get excited so I project the lesson image on the board. Then I need to assess their prior knowledge. So, I say, "Please turn and talk to your partner about how dolphins use their external features to help their offspring survive." Now, I listen to see what my students already know. I am expecting that they have little knowledge, but I need to find out. After I listen, I ask, "Will a volunteer share what they know?" Then I listen. I also share some of their conversations.

Now, I tell the class, "Today we are going to learn about how dolphins communicate with their offsprings and other predators to help the offspring survive. We will watch several videos and you will record your observations in your science notebook on your t-chart. You will add to the one you have been using." To make sure the students understand the objective I say, "Lets all chant three times: I can determine the ways dolphins use their external features to help their offspring survive."


20 minutes

I say, "While watching the first video please think of the possible ways the dolphins in the video are protecting their offspring." (mimickry and traveling in a group)

First Video

Now we watch the video again and I specifically point out the dolphin mimicking its mother to find food.

Second Video

Before the second video I ask the class to think of way that animals learn to eat and find food while they watch the video.

Third Video

So, now I ask the class to watch the third video and think about how the animals may protect their babies  They also need to think about how dolphins show they are unhappy (jaw snapping, head shaking, bubble blowing, or charging).


Throughout the video watching, students are taking notes: original t-chart on what they observe.


20 minutes

After the students have watched all three videos, I ask the class to talk about what the dolphins do to show anger. I say, "What might the mother do to show she does not want anyone to mess with her baby? This was in the third video." After about one minute I ask a volunteer to share: discourse and hope they say, "She may snap her jaws, shake their head, blow bubbles, or charge each other." To assess what the class knows I ask them to show thumbs up or down. Then I play the third video again and point out the baby in the middle, the bubble blowing, the charge, and the head shaking.

I also point out that another thing they do to protect their babies is to travel in a group. I say, "I think I saw the baby in the center of the synchronized swimming. This is one way to protect it that we have not discussed. This was in the first video."  I play the clip and point to the calf in the middle.

 Now I ask, "Will you please talk to your partner about the way dolphins interact with their offspring that help the offspring survive? Be sure to look at your notes." Then I listen to assess the students understanding. After about thirty seconds I ask, "Will a volunteer please share your conclusion?" To encourage discourse I ask other students to add to what the person said. If nobody adds anything I model "adding to what a student said." This is what we came up with: board work and here is one student work.

Then I say, "Please work with your partner to create a conclusion about how dolphins use their external features to help their offspring. We will share this in the evaluation section."  I hope they come up with: Dolphins mimic, make noises, and keep their baby in the middle of the group. This is our work.


15 minutes

This the time when I like to concentrate on speaking, listening, and evaluation.  So, I say, "I need three groups to stand in front of the group and share their conclusion." Usually everyone wants to participate, so I let others present during snack or recess. But, since we are limited on time I just let two or three groups present. 

I do find that many first graders speak soft, and often fail to enunciate their words. To help students and be proactive in getting the class to speak loud and clear I say, "Speak loud and clear. Enunciate your words." First graders also tend to struggle with sitting still and listening, and I have a fun chant we say as a class to get the class to sit and listen. We say, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." Then I add, " Our eyes are on the speaker and we are listening to what they say. Be ready to give your peers academic feedback. You must add to what they say, agree or disagree and tell why."

Now early in the year my students need a great deal of modeling and I provide that with the evaluation. I also encourage them to give it a try with feedback by saying, "We are all friends. I make mistakes, and we just need to try evaluating each others work."

In addition to getting the students to talk, and evaluate each others work I try to do my own assessments. I have a checklist, which is really a standard class roster on a spreadsheet.  At the top I write, "evaluating doplins lesson speaking and evaluating." So, I have a column for speaking and a column for evaluating. At this point in the year, September, I just let volunteers participate, since I don't want anyone to cry. But, as we get used to each other I will use popsickle sticks and really assess their speaking and listening. For speaking and listening I look for the students to speak loud, clear, and in complete sentences. I put a check in the box if they do it and a minus if they don't.  The same works for the evaluating, but the evaluation criteria is different. To get a check in evalution the students need to give a specific and correct evaluation. Since many first graders give random comments as peer feedback, I give a check if they are giving a correct evaluation.