Polar Bears Teaching Their Offspring

31 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT determine ways polar bears interact to help their offspring survive.

Big Idea

Combine informational text and videos to bring the behavior of polar bears alive in your class.

Setting the Stage

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

Polar Bears interacting with their offspring is a very exciting lesson where students listen to information from text, and watch videos to gain knowledge. The class is making observations about how polar bears use their external features to help the survival of their offspring.  By listening to the information I read, making observations, and analyzing their data the students are able to draw a conclusion about how polar bears interact to help their offspring survive. Prior to this lesson I taught about ten lessons where the students just made observations on how animals use their external features to promote their own survival. I find that by breaking the standards down into smaller parts my students and I are more capable of meeting the expectation. I think if I jumped right in and started with observing parents and offspring the class would be overwhelmed, so I started with observing one animal. Now the class has some prior knowledge, we are observing the parent and offspring.

Lesson Overview 

I know in the first grader we are really learning to read, but I want to begin bridging the gap and teaching my class to learn from reading. So, I read a selected excerpt from Polar Bear Survival Article. The students make notes based on the text I read as well as the videos I show the class.

We begin in the lounge where I show some images, assess the students knowledge, and get the class excited. Then we transition to the desks in the center of the room, which are in groups of four. The next transition is to the center tables, and this is where the students explain their understanding based on the information they have collected. Last, we meet back in the lounge to evaluate each others work.

I also like to keep the class in small groups throughout the lesson. I call them peanut butter jelly partners, and I  made a video explaining how this works.



10 minutes

Now I want to excite the class and I do that by showing them the lesson image on the board. Then I need to assess their prior knowledge. Now we have studied how a variety of animals protect themselves and their offspring, so I am hoping the students are able to make some kind of prediction or guess when I assess them.

I say, "Please talk to your partner about the ways some animals protect their offspring." While they are talking I listen and I can assess their knowledge. Knowing what the students actually know before I begin teaching really helps me be prepared. I can add more detail, explanation, or scaffolding if they need it. If there is one child that knows alot about polar bears then I can engage them and allow them to share their knowledge. Its always better if the students can share knowledge rather than me telling them. But, in this lesson the students are going to gather their own information from video. 

Now, I share the plan for the lesson and ask the class to chant the lesson goal three times. So, we chant: I can determine ways polar bears interact to help their offspring survive. Chanting the goal just engages the class and makes sure everyone knows what we are supposed to be learning.


15 minutes

The students are going to use the t-chart that is already in their science journal. They add their observations from the video to their previous t-chart notes. Students actually record their observations in their journal while the video is playing. Another thing I do to scaffold the instruction is to play each video twice, since the students are writing while the video is playing. 


I play 2:30 to 3:00 so the class sees the mother move her cubs away from the male. She also stays between her cubs and the male.

I ask, "How is the mother helping her offspring?"


20 minutes

Now the class is seated at the center tables, and I ask, "Will you please talk to your partner about what you learned about polar bears and how they protect their offspring. Think about who the big predator is to the polar bear. What does the mother do?" (The male polar bear is the predator and she is moving the cubs away from him.) Then I walk around and listen and I look at their notes to assess my students understanding.

After the partner share, I say, "Will somebody please tell the class what you learned?" 


10 minutes

Now I distribute the text (I read the two paragraphs under the link: Join NWF on a trip to see Polar Bears in Hudson Bay. ) to to every child in the class, and I display it on the Smart Board. Then I read the information to the class. After reading I ask the class to discuss with their partner what they might add to their t-chart. Then as I ask students to share their information. So, after they share we all highlight: exemplar highlighting and basic highlighting the information in the text, and we add it to the t-chart. I model the whole process on the Smart Board. Then the partners help each other find the part to highlight, and then they can add it to their notes after they highlight.


15 minutes

This is the time in the lesson when I try to support my students and teach them proper speaking: presentation and evaluation, listening, and evaluating skills. Now, I attempt all this in a proactive manner. So, I start of by getting the class seated and quiet by saying, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." The class can chant this with me if they choose, but I don't them. Then I add, "Our eyes are on the speaker, and we are listening to what they say, so we can give them academic feedback." Now, I do a great deal of modeling this in the beginning of the year.  I often model an evaluation, and then encourage my students to critique their peers' work. I say, "We are all friends here, and it is important to just try evaluating each others work."

I am looking to see that the class has accurate notes, and identified the two ways the mother protects her cubs. (She moves them and keeps them close to her.) In the presentations I want to see students speaking loud, clear, and reading accurate observations.  The students presentations:  are a collection of their observations and their partners. So, they read what they and their partner agreed upon for how polar bears protect their offsprings.