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- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
This year our district has been focusing on integrating science with ELA. This is not a new idea, but one that has been a joy to implement. We spent three days over the summer looking at our standards, resources and designing lessons for students. Focusing on keeping science alive with inquiry and hands on exploration while adding a depth of reading during our ELA time has been wonderful. In our last unit, life systems, I was able to integrate art as well. The projects were better than I imagined!
During our study of life systems we looked at plants and animals. We spent time dissecting flowers (always a favorite activity), dissecting fruits and vegetables and finding plants in our environment. We looked at the systems involved in the life cycle of plants. We also reviewed animal systems. The focus here was on insects. Students studied and compared the systems plants have compared to animals. We talked about human systems. Poetry and informational text helped us learn details about these systems. The balance of informational reading combined with hands on exploration of the information we had learned allowed for connections and deeper learning. It was nice to have time for a balance of both in the classroom.
To finish the unit I decided to pull in an art project. The students looked at insect diagrams and discussed the body parts. We talked about how insects survive in their environment and the adaptations they have to survive. Students drew an insect with the 3 body parts (head, thorax, abdomen) and 6 legs. Their insect could be real or they could create their own. Only about ⅓ of the class used the creativity option, but each student had great conversation about how the structures help the animals survive. Sketching their insects in pencil and then using permanent markers for color and detail was fun.
The next step was to add a habitat. Students used coffee filters and added the color of their background. Jungle insects were given variations of green, desert insects were given variations of browns. The invented yeti moth was given variations of blue. The next step was to use a spray bottle (over the sink) and provide water for the markers to then bleed into the coffee filter. The students allowed the art to dry and then glued their insect onto its background.
Integrating our ELA piece we used details to write complete sentences. The students worked through the writing process to create a paragraph explaining the animal adaptations. Through peer editing they highlighted the topic and concluding sentence, started the details and gave feedback on a paragraph. Each student also asked one question to help them understand the adaptations of the insect that were not explained. After discussion and revision, their paragraphs were written into final copies. Students focused on the specific details to explain the adaptation of their insect. I will use a rubric to grade this on informational writing. I found given meaning for their work the students paragraphs were phenomenal.
As educators we never have enough time in the classroom. This year as we are truly integrating the science and ELA standards I have felt a relief. Students are deepening their meaning and making connections with science. For students who lack background knowledge, I am able to provide them information through videos, pictures, poetry and articles in ELA. I see excitement and true conversation during our hands on exploration and all students are participating in the discussion about science phenomenon. The excitement, engagement and discussion during our art project were real. I look forward to integrating our next unit of geology and seeing the students knowledge base on rocks expand and explode. How do you work smarter in your classroom?
Insect Adaptations Lesson
4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support
survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][Clarification Statement: Examples of structures could include thorns, stems, roots, colored petals, heart, stomach, lung, brain, and skin.]
4-LS1-2. Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the
information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on systems of
information transfer. ]
4-W3 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W4.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W4.12 Strengthen writing craft—both independently and collaboratively—through a recursive writing and revision process and the use of the common vocabulary of the 6-Trait model.
W.4.2d – Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
W.4.2e – Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
Materials: 3 x 3 inch white construction paper, coffee filters, pencils, permanent markers, watercolor markers, glue, spray bottles, water, paper towels, 9 x 18 inch blue, brown, green construction paper, writing paper
Show students diagrams of insects. Discuss how their parts are used to help with survival. Talk about adaptations. Provide students with a 3 inch by 3 inch piece of white construction paper. They should do a pencil drawing and then trace in permanent marker.
- Draw an insect and think about the adaptations it has to survive in its habitat.
- You can draw a real insect or create your own.
- Trace it with marker.
After the insect is done, students need to think about the habitat it lives in. Use a coffee filter to create the background (habitat) for their insect.
- Decide the major color of your insects background.
- Scribble different tones of that color on 1 coffee filter. (You do not have to color the entire coffee filter, just scribble.)
- Hold the colored coffee filter over the sink and spray with water.
- When it is saturated, place it on a paper towel to dry.
While the coffee filters are drying students can write. They will create a 5-8 sentence paragraph about their insect. They need to use a topic sentence and then details to describe their insect and how it's body structures help it survive.
- Write a paragraph explaining the adaptations your insect has.
- Include a topic sentence, 3 or more details and a conclusion.
- "This insect has many adaptations for its environment." Be specific in the details. Explain what is special about this insect from other insects.
After writing the paragraph students should peer edit. Use highlighters and colored pencils to mark the paragraph. Discuss their question and observation after each peer edits. The last step is to revise and then rewrite their paragraph on clean notebook paper.
- Highlight topic and conclusion
- Underline what you like
- Circle what is confusing
- Put a star by each detail (there should be 3 or more)
- Ask one question that helps you understand the insects adaptations.
Finally the students should put all of their work together for display. They should cut out a leaf or background from their dried coffee filter. Glue the coffee filter and insect onto a piece of construction paper that also represents the background. Glue their final draft on the bottom. Remember to put a title and name on the finished work.