Curriculum Access System
for Elementary Science
http://cases-soe.web.itd.umich.edu/

How are animals the same? How are they different?
(a K-2 Animals unit)
Author: CASES Team
Modified by: CASES Team

unit overview

This is a K-2 unit on animals. A primary goal of this unit is to have students ask questions about animals (including classroom animals) and answer these questions by making observations and collecting other types of data.

table of contents

unit calendar

Week 1 : What do our classroom pets need to live?

Lessons

Living Things

Additional Material
For more information on choosing classroom pets, visit: Choosing Animals for the Classroom

Prior to the unit you should be planning for the animals that will be in the classroom for the remainder of the unit. Ideally you will be able to get two different animals. They could come from a variety of sources, including a pet of yours or the students such as a rabbit or gerbil or a donation of a fish from a local pet store. Be careful which animals you choose. For example, a carnivore may not be a good idea because of the young age of the students.

It is important to start the unit by introducing the driving question. You may want to post it prominently in the classroom and refer to it throughout the unit to focus students' thinking.

The unit starts by having students explore the characteristics and needs of living things in the lesson, Living Things. This lesson is important because it focuses students on the similarities between all living organisms (the "How are animals the same?" part of the driving question).

Other options for this first week: Have students brainstorm a list of questions they have about animals. Post these questions on a bulletin board and refer to them throughout the unit.

Have students do a journal where they write their initial thoughts about the answer to the driving question. They then can return to this journal at the end of the unit and revise their answers.
Week 2 : What do different animals have that help them live?

Lessons

Bird Beaks

Researching Animal Adaptations

This week focuses on the different adaptations animals have that allow them to live and thrive in certain environments. Animals are the same because they have adapted to their surroundings. On the other hand, animals are different because they have adapted to the environment in different ways.

The first activity for this week involves students using "beaks" to pick up different types of food. The purpose is for students to understand that birds have developed different beak features that allow them to gather the food they eat.

The second activity involves students working in groups to to research the physical and behavioral characteristics animals have that allow them to live and thrive in particular environments.

Week 3 : How are our classroom pets alike? How are they different?

Lessons

Classroom Animal Observations

Students explore the similarities and differences among their classroom animals by making observations. Keeping animals in the classroom is important because students can conduct ongoing investigations on them, which may be their very first science experience!
Week 4 : How are our classroom pets like other animals from around the world? How are they different?

Lessons

Comparing and Contrasting Animals

Based on their observations from the previous week, students ask questions about how the classroom animals compare to another animal of their choice. They perform research on these other animals in order to compare and contrast them.

worksheets

Note that these worksheets are not automatically included in this packet. To retreive and print them, click on each of these links.

Week 1 : What do our classroom pets need to live?

From the lesson plan: Living Things

Click here to download Worksheet One

Click here to download Worksheet Two
Week 2 : What do different animals have that help them live?

From the lesson plan: Bird Beaks

Click here to download Worksheet One

Click here to download Worksheet Two

From the lesson plan: Researching Animal Adaptations

Click here to download Worksheet One
Week 3 : How are our classroom pets alike? How are they different?
(no worksheets for this week)
Week 4 : How are our classroom pets like other animals from around the world? How are they different?

From the lesson plan: Comparing and Contrasting Animals

Click here to download the Animal Research Guide

summary of materials needed for this unit

Week 1 : What do our classroom pets need to live?
Materials needed for the lesson: Living Things
  • Magazines
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Week 2 : What do different animals have that help them live?
Materials needed for the lesson: Bird Beaks
Per student:

Materials needed for the lesson: Researching Animal Adaptations
  • Internet connection (or, information collected ahead of time from books or Internet)
  • Poster paper
  • Markers, pens, etc.

Week 3 : How are our classroom pets alike? How are they different?
Materials needed for the lesson: Classroom Animal Observations
Two classroom animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, etc.

Week 4 : How are our classroom pets like other animals from around the world? How are they different?
Materials needed for the lesson: Comparing and Contrasting Animals
A variety of resource materials (Internet, magazines and journals about animals, if students are able to access these resources)

driving question

How are animals the same? How are they different?

What is a driving question?

This unit addresses the following subquestions:

Why are these good questions?

Feasibility
Students are able to design and perform investigations to answer the driving question as well as subquestions. For example, in the Asking Questions About Our Classroom Animals Lesson Plan, students ask questions about animals based on their previous observations.
Worth
This unit is aligned with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) benchmarks. It deals with rich science content and science processes such as making observations and asking questions.
Contextualization
This unit is anchored in the real lives of students. They examine classroom animals in order to draw conclusions about animals in general.
Meaning
Students should be naturally curious to answer the driving question and subquestions. Elementary age students often have a wide variety of questions about animals!
Sustainability
This unit should take several weeks (depending on the types of data students collect to answer their questions).
Ethics
All investigations should be be ethical. Students should treat their animals with care. Make sure they always have enough food and water and are not placed in settings that are distressing (such as removing their shelter). Often students forget to consider this when planning investigations with animals.

What is a driving question?
A driving question is a question that is elaborated, explored, and answered by the students and the teacher. The driving question encourages students to link together different topic areas and apply knowledge in real-world settings. To use a driving question, you could:

standards

This unit is aligned with AAAS Benchmarks (http://www.project2061.org/tools/benchol/bolframe.htm) for grades K-2

AAAS Benchmarks
1B Describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others.
1B Tools such as thermometers, magnifiers, rulers, or balances often give more information about things than can be obtained by just observing things without their help
1C A lot can be learned about plants and animals by observing them closely, but care must be taken to know the needs of living things and how to provide for them in the classroom.
1C In doing science, it is often helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others. All team members should reach their own individual conclusions, however, about what the findings mean.
5A Some animals and plants are alike in the way they look and in the things they do, and others are very different from one another.
5A Plants and animals have features that help them live in different environments.
5B There is variation among individuals of one kind within a population; offspring are very much, but not exactly, like their parents and like one another.
5C Most living things need water, food, and air.
5D Living things are found almost everywhere in the world. There are somewhat different kinds in different places.
5F Different plants and animals have external features that help them thrive in different kinds of places.

science background

This page compiles discussions of the science content covered in this unit. See the content section in each lesson plan for more specific science content. Note that the explanations provided here are typically in more depth than the level of understanding you would expect from your students.

What do our classroom pets need to live?
The things around us can be separated into many different categories. Two of those categories are living and non-living. Living things are an important part of the unit because animals are, of course, living. All living things have certain characteristics and needs. The characteristics of living things: made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment. If an object does not exhibit all of these characteristics, like sugar crystals growing on the bottom of a syrup container, it is not living. In order for a living thing to survive, certain resources must be available and consumable. At this young age it is important that students know living things need food, water, and air.
What do different animals have that help them live?
Animals have developed adaptations that allow them to live and thrive in certain environments. An adaptation is any physical or behavioral feature that allows an organism to survive in its environment. This can take many different forms. Some animals have camouflage that allows them to blend in with their environment so they can hide from predators. Giraffes have long necks that allow them to reach leaves at the tops of trees. Polar bears have thick fur that allow them to live in very cold climates.

While all birds have beaks, they are shaped differently. A bird's beak is multi-functional. It serves to gather food, fight off predators, build nests, communicate, etc. The shape of a bird beak is an indication of the type of food it eats. Eagles and other raptors, for example, have a sharp hook that helps it tear apart the flesh of animals. Hummingbirds have long beaks that allows it to gather nectar from deep inside a flower. Pelicans have pouched beaks that allow them to scoop up fish from the water.
How are the classroom's animals the same? How are they different?
The important piece to this subquestion is getting students to make accurate observations. An observation is a description (either through words, drawings, or both) of the organism under study. Students should describe what they see as accurately as possible, including the color, shape, movement, and size of the organism. Observations are different from inferences. An inference is a possible explanation for the observation. For example, students may observe the organism moving around its cage. Instead of describing the organism's movement, which would be an observation, some students might say "the animal is looking for food." Even if this is true, it is not an observation.

Living things are classified into groups based on their common characteristics. These groups are: Eurkaryotes, Prokaryotes, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia. More information about Fungi (http://www.backyardnature.net/f/ 2fungi.htm) at Backyard Nature.

The animal kingdom is then further subdivided into the following categories: phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.
Learn more about 7-level hierarchy of animal taxonomy (http://home.pcisys.net/~dlblanc/ articles/taxonomy.php).

While it may help you to know the above categories, it is not important for students to know at this point. This will come in their future science courses. It is important for students to understand the similarities and differences among the animals under study. For example, based on their observations students may say that the animals are similar because they eat and respond to their environment. They may say they are different because they eat different things and sleep different amounts.
How are our classroom pets like other animals from around the world? How are they different?
Animals are similar to the animals from around the world because of their characteristics (made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment) and needs (water, food, and air, for our purposes) are basically the same. Animals from everywhere have also adapted to their environment so that they can live and even thrive in this environment.

Animals are also different in a variety of ways. They are different in where they live, the type of food they eat, how they obtain this food, how they have adapted to their environment, etc. Find out information about different backyard animals (http://www.backyardnature.net/animals.htm) at Backyard Nature.

students' alternative ideas

What are alternative ideas?

Meaning of Plant and Animal
possible alternative idea
Many elementary students do not hold the same meaning for the term animal that scientists do. They often believe that only vertebrates are animals and use criteria such as number of legs, body covering, and habitat to decide whether things are animals. They also often have a more restricted meaning for the term plant. They often do not recognize that trees, vegetables, and grass are all plants.
scientific idea
Plants and animals are living things. A living thing has the following characteristics: made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment. If an object does not exhibit all of these characteristics, like sugar crystals growing on the bottom of a syrup container, it is not living.
dealing with the alternative idea
The first lesson plan for the week facilitates students' understanding of the characteristics of all living things. See Living Things Lesson Plan (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=120&lpid=63&anchor=)
Living and Non-Living
possible alternative idea
Many elementary students believe things such as movement, breath, reproduction, and death decide whether things are alive. Therefore, many believe that things such as fire, clouds, and the sun are alive and plants are not alive.
scientific idea
A living thing has the following characteristics: made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment. If an object does not exhibit all of these characteristics, like sugar crystals growing on the bottom of a syrup container, it is not living. In order for a living thing to survive, certain resources must be available and consumable, like water, air, food, warmth, mates, and other resources make life more comfortable like communication, shelter, transportation, etc. There is a difference between what an organism needs and what it wants. A living thing needs air, water, food, etc., a living thing (human) wants material things, shelter, etc.
dealing with the alternative idea
Depending on your students' backgrounds and experiences, it might be worth adding in an entire lesson to discuss living and non living things. At the least, try to take some time at the beginning of the unit to find out what your students' ideas about what kinds of things are alive. This lesson is from a 3-5 CASES unit, but it might give you some ideas as you work with your students. Living or Non-Living lesson (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=10&lpid=68&anchor=)
Food
possible alternative idea
Elementary students tend to use the term food in ways that are different from the way scientists use it. They often see food as substances such as water, air, and/or minerals that living things take directly from their environment. In addition, students will often think that plants make their own food.
scientific idea
Food is one way that animals get energy they need to live. They also need substances such as air and water, but they do not need to transform these into energy. Plants don't "eat" the products of photosynthesis. They make sugar and break it down in order to get energy (much in the same way we break down our food)
dealing with the alternative idea
Even very young children should begin making the distinction between food and energy. As the topic of food arises in lessons and in the general caring of the animals, talk with students about how all living things need energy. Animals get their energy from eating food. Plants get their energy from the sun, carbon dioxide, and water to make sugar and oxygen. They use the sugar for energy. You should decide how much detail to give your students. In any case, talk with them about how food is the way animals get their energy.

What are alternative ideas?

Why is it important to know the alternative ideas my students hold?

How do I obtain information on the alternative ideas my students hold?
Asking questions and listening carefully to students' responses is key to learning about their ideas. Some guidelines for doing this include:

inquiry adaptatons

What is inquiry in CASES?
What are the benefits of doing inquiry? In addition to helping students better understand the process of investigating the question, engaging in inquiry-oriented activities helps students better understand the topic they are investigating (content) and develop, carry-out, and evaluate investigations that are best suited to their question (problem-solving).
What is inquiry in CASES?
What are the benefits of doing inquiry? In addition to helping students better understand the process of investigating the question, engaging in inquiry-oriented activities helps students better understand the topic they are investigating (content) and develop, carry-out, and evaluate investigations that are best suited to their question (problem-solving). [?] What is inquiry in CASES?[?] What is a driving question?[?] When should students develop the questions? When should the teacher develop the questions?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?[?] What makes a good representation?
What is a driving question?
It is an overarching topic that helps organize activities and investigations in a project-based science classroom. It encourages students to see connections between various learning activities and apply their knowledge to the real world.
When should students develop the questions? When should the teacher develop the questions?
Both teachers and students can pose questions in science class. It might be easier to decide on these questions as you plan. Within the unit however, both teachers and students can create questions to answer, depending on time considerations, available resources, and students´┐Ż comfort level with inquiry.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.
What makes a good representation?
Representations should be (scientifically) accurate and appropriate, understandable, helpful for promoting learning, and reasonable given your instructional context.

The tables below will give you ideas about how to change the lesson plans in this unit to meet your students' needs.

Questioning & predicting

If the lesson focuses on questioning & predicting and if your students have:

more experience with engaging in questions, you might consider... less experience with engaging in questions, you might consider...
Encouraging small groups of students to ask and answer their own questions Having the whole class answer the same questions
Letting student-generated questions drive the investigations within the unit (you might guide them by making a shorter list from their questions) Letting students investigate answers to questions you provide for them
Remember: Giving kids ownership over questions will make their investigations meaningful. Remember: It's important that students are engaged with questions -- even if you're the one asking them

Explanations & evidence

If the lesson focuses on explanations & evidence and if your students have:

more experience with explaining their results, you might consider... less experience with explaining their results, you might consider...
Encouraging students to use the word "evidence" as they explain their findings and making sure they actually do use evidence Spending as much class time as is needed to explain to students what "evidence" means - talk about what would and wouldn't count as evidence
Allowing groups or individuals to come up with their own explanations using evidence
Modeling the process of using evidence to explain a result. Use "I think....because..." templates to help students organize their thoughts. Do these as a class for the first few investigations.
Making sure students focus on showing "why" something happened, not just "how" or "that" it happened Making sure students focus on showing "why" something happened, not just "how" or "that" it happened

Communicating & justifying

If the lesson focuses on communicating & justifying and if your students have:

more experience with communicating and justifying their findings, you might consider... less experience with communicating and justifying their findings, you might consider...
Encouraging students to design their own method of communicating and/or choose their audience Having the entire class present findings using same procedure.
Allowing students to form their own argument Providing guidelines to help students communicate their argument.
Encouraging students to question each other on their findings so students will justify their conclusions to each other Encouraging students to justify their findings by asking them "How do you know?" while guiding them in learning how to rely on evidence.

teacher bios

Who are the (fictional) teachers depicted in this unit's images of inquiry?

Kayla
Kayla is an early elementary teacher. Her school is under pressure to boost reading and writing scores. She wants to integrate science into her language arts time and encourage her kids to write about their science ideas during their investigations. Reading about her experiences will give you ideas about how to emphasize writing during science time and how to emphasize science during language arts time.

Lesson plan: Living Things

(a K-2 Animals lesson plan)

From week 1 of the unit: How are animals the same? How are they different?

Abstract
Students learn about the characteristics and needs of living things.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • In doing science, it is often helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others. All team members should reach their own individual conclusions, however, about what the findings mean.
  • Most living things need water, food, and air.
Objectives
  • Students will be able to differentiate between living and non-living things.
  • Students will understand the characteristics and needs of living things.
Class Time Needed
One forty minute class period
Materials
  • Magazines
  • Glue
  • Scissors
Science Background

What do our classroom pets need to live?
The things around us can be separated into many different categories. Two of those categories are living and non-living. Living things are an important part of the unit because animals are, of course, living. All living things have certain characteristics and needs. The characteristics of living things: made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment. If an object does not exhibit all of these characteristics, like sugar crystals growing on the bottom of a syrup container, it is not living. In order for a living thing to survive, certain resources must be available and consumable. At this young age it is important that students know living things need food, water, and air.

Students' Alternative Ideas

Living and Non-Living

Alternative idea: Many elementary students believe things such as movement, breath, reproduction, and death decide whether things are alive. Therefore, many believe that things such as fire, clouds, and the sun are alive and plants are not alive.

Scientific idea: A living thing has the following characteristics: made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment. If an object does not exhibit all of these characteristics, like sugar crystals growing on the bottom of a syrup container, it is not living. In order for a living thing to survive, certain resources must be available and consumable, like water, air, food, warmth, mates, and other resources make life more comfortable like communication, shelter, transportation, etc. There is a difference between what an organism needs and what it wants. A living thing needs air, water, food, etc., a living thing (human) wants material things, shelter, etc.

Dealing with the alternative idea: Depending on your students' backgrounds and experiences, it might be worth adding in an entire lesson to discuss living and non living things. At the least, try to take some time at the beginning of the unit to find out what your students' ideas about what kinds of things are alive. This lesson is from a 3-5 CASES unit, but it might give you some ideas as you work with your students. Living or Non-Living lesson (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=10&lpid=68&anchor=)

Description
1. Pose the following scenario to the class: Suppose a group of aliens just landed on Earth. They see all of the different things around us and become curious about what things are living and what things are not living. In your science journals, answer the following question: How would you explain to the aliens how they can tell the difference between living and non-living things?
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate

Emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers to this question. The goal is to get students thinking about the topic. Students may also want to simply list the things around them that are alive and those that aren't alive. Encourage them to go a step beyond this by explaining how they know whether something is living or not.

2. Facilitate a class discussion students' journal responses.

3. Do not correct any misunderstandings at this point. Use this discussion as an opportunity to learn more about the alternative ideas students might hold. Some students may believe that all living things move or breathe. So, they often think that things such as fire and clouds are alive while plants are not.

4. Place students into groups of 2-4.

5. Explain the task to students: Each group will be given several magazines. They are to work in their groups to cut out three things they think are living and three things they think are non-living. They then paste these on the worksheet (See Worksheet One). Finally, students should explain why they think each thing is living or non-living. The groups should be in agreement about the things they think are living and the things they think are non-living.

6. Once groups have finished, hold a class discussion. Have each group explain two or three of their choices. List the reasons students wrote for why they made the choices they did. If more than one group has the same criterion, put a check by it.

7. Try to steer students toward the following criteria: obtain and use energy, grow, reproduce, respond to their environment, adapt to their environment. Though students might not use the above terms, they should have be able to put these in their own words. Though being made of cells is a criterion, students at this age are too young to understand this abstract concept.

8. Explain that the list created on the board will be the criteria they use to determine whether something is living or not living.

9. Go through the list. Ask students if they want to add anything to the list. Ask students if they disagree with anything that is on the list.

10. Students will probably explain both the characteristics of living things and the needs of living things. Be sure to help students distinguish between these.

Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities

How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data


11. Explain the next part of the lesson to students: They are going to work in groups to determine whether several things are living or non-living using the criteria they developed as a class. Provide students with the second worksheet (See Worksheet Two).

12. Collect both worksheets. Using what they learned from the lesson, have students revise their original journal entries: How would you explain to the aliens how they can tell the difference between living and non-living things?

Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Assessment
Collect students' worksheets and journal entries. You should be looking for whether or not students understand the characteristics and needs of living things.
Images of Inquiry

This lesson focuses on Questioning & Predicting and Explanations & Evidence.

For ideas about how to change this lesson plan to meet your students' needs, see the tables on in the inquiry adaptations section of this packet.

How Kayla taught this lesson
One of Kayla's science goals is for students to learn to use evidence to back up their ideas. One of her language arts goals is writing complete thoughts in complete sentences. Kayla decides to scaffold both of these by using a sentence starter. On the board, she writes "I think ----- is/is not living because -----." After she looked at How you could customize this lesson above, she decided to use "I think ---- is/is not living. My evidence for this is ----." for some of her more advanced writers. She asks students to use this sentence starter in their journals and on the worksheet (she considered added in the sentence starters before she printed out the worksheet but decided to ask students to copy the entire sentence). She also encourages them to use this sentence verbally when they share their ideas.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Bird Beaks

(a K-2 Animals lesson plan)

From week 2 of the unit: How are animals the same? How are they different?

Abstract
Students use different "beaks" (utensils such as tweezers) to pick up different types of food. The goal is to facilitate students' understanding of the different types of features animals have that allow them to live and thrive in their environment.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • In doing science, it is often helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others. All team members should reach their own individual conclusions, however, about what the findings mean.
  • There is variation among individuals of one kind within a population; offspring are very much, but not exactly, like their parents and like one another.
  • Different plants and animals have external features that help them thrive in different kinds of places.
Objectives
Students will understand that animals have certain features or behaviors that allow them to live and thrive in different environments.
Class Time Needed
One class period
Teacher Preparation
Find pictures of birds (http://birds.ecoport.org/Identification/ EBbeaks.htm)
Materials
Per student:
Science Background

What do different animals have that help them live?
Animals have developed adaptations that allow them to live and thrive in certain environments. An adaptation is any physical or behavioral feature that allows an organism to survive in its environment. This can take many different forms. Some animals have camouflage that allows them to blend in with their environment so they can hide from predators. Giraffes have long necks that allow them to reach leaves at the tops of trees. Polar bears have thick fur that allow them to live in very cold climates.

While all birds have beaks, they are shaped differently. A bird's beak is multi-functional. It serves to gather food, fight off predators, build nests, communicate, etc. The shape of a bird beak is an indication of the type of food it eats. Eagles and other raptors, for example, have a sharp hook that helps it tear apart the flesh of animals. Hummingbirds have long beaks that allows it to gather nectar from deep inside a flower. Pelicans have pouched beaks that allow them to scoop up fish from the water.

Description
1. Show students pictures of birds with beaks of different shapes. Pictures of various birds can be found at http://birds.ecoport.org/Identification/EBbeaks.htm (http://birds.ecoport.org/Identification/ EBbeaks.htm). Ask the class to respond to the following questions in their science journals:
  • What do bird beaks do?
  • What is the same about all of the beaks?
  • What is different about the beaks?
  • Why are the beaks shaped differently?
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate

2. Facilitate a class discussion around their answers. Students may say:
  • What do bird beaks do? (Beaks serve a variety of purposes, including gathering food, defending themselves and their young, making nests, attacking competitors, grooming, and communicating).
  • What is the same about all of the beaks? (Students may say that they are all used for at least some of the purposes discussed above).
  • What is different about the beaks? (Students may say something about the way the beak is shaped).
  • Why are the beaks shaped differently? (Students may say that the birds were born that way, the beaks help them get food or fight off predators, etc.).
3. Explain the task to students:
  • They will be placed in groups of 4-6.
  • Each group will be assigned a location around the room (this location should have an adequate amount of table space for the food).
  • Each student will get one type of "beak" (utensil) and one "stomach" (cup).
  • The goal of the activity is for each student to use their "beak" to put as much food as possible into their "stomach."
  • Students should predict which food they think can be picked up the most by their "beak." After each round of food gathering, students should record the amount of food they collect on Worksheet One (worksheets/BirdBeakworksheet.doc)
4. Place one type of "food" at each group's station. Allow each group 10 seconds to collect as much food as they can. Repeat the procedure for each type of food that is available. After each round make sure students record the number of food pieces they picked up with their "beak" on their worksheet.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities

How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data

5. Once the students are finished, tally the results as a class. Place these on the board or on a large piece of butcher paper posted prominently in the room. You may want to do this in a table similar to the one on Worksheet One (the "beaks" would be in rows and the food would be across the top).

6. Place students in groups of 2-3 to analyze the data. Have the class discuss the following questions:
  • Did some "beaks" pick up certain types of food better than other "beaks"? Why do you think this is the case?
  • Did some "beaks" NOT do a very good job in picking up certain types of foods? Why do you think this is the case?
  • Was one "beak" type successful with more than one food item?
  • How does a bird's beak help it live where it does?
  • What other types of things do animals have or do that allow them to live where they do?
7. Facilitate a class discussion around students' answers to the above questions.
  • There are two goals for this discussion. First, it should facilitate students' understanding of how a bird's beak helps it live in its environment. Second, it should facilitate students' understanding that different animals have or do things that allow them to live where they do.
  • A bird's beak allows it to pick up and eat certain types of food. Some beaks are well suited for specific food types. For example, eagles have sharp, hooked beaks to tear the flesh of animals. Hummingbirds have long, thin beaks to suck the nectar from flowers.
  • Other beaks are well suited for a variety of food types. For example, robins have beaks that jut out from their heads slightly and are uniform on the top and bottom. This makes them able to eat a variety of foods including fruits, berries, worms, and caterpillars.
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Assessment
  • Distribute Worksheet Two (worksheets/BirdBeakWksht2.doc). This worksheet has the students applying what they learned in the lesson.
  • Listen to students' responses during the discussion.
    • Do they understand that the utensils they use represent bird beaks?
    • Do they understand that a bird's beak allows it to live and thrive in certain environments?
Images of Inquiry

How Kayla taught this lesson
Kayla really wanted her students to think about the type of question they were answering. This improved their reading and writing skills as well as focused them on providing evidence for their ideas.

During science time:
Kayla spent some time going over the questions at the beginning of the lesson and on Worksheet Two. She circled the first words of the questions (and had the kids do this on their worksheets). The class talked about What and Why questions. She said that in science, we call answers to What questions a claim. Claim is a scientific word for your educated opinion. We call answers to Why questions evidence. It is very important for scientists to give reasons for their opinions. Kayla knows that at this age, many students think something is true just because they believe it, so she emphasizes giving reasons for your opinions.

During Language Arts Time:
Kayla knew that thinking about the different types of answers that come from different questions was confusing. She had students look at their work from the Living/Nonliving lesson. In this lesson, students used "I think - because-" prompts. Kayla helped them see that these were other forms of answering What and Why questions. She had students think of their favorite books. Students walked around the room asking "WHAT is your favorite book?" and "WHY is it your favorite?" This helped students get in the habit of providing evidence for their opinions. Kayla reminded students of this activity when she asked them for evidence during science class.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Researching Animal Adaptations

(a K-2 Animals lesson plan)

From week 2 of the unit: How are animals the same? How are they different?

Abstract
Students collect data on different animals in order to answer the question, What does my animal have or do that allows it to live where it does?
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • In doing science, it is often helpful to work with a team and to share findings with others. All team members should reach their own individual conclusions, however, about what the findings mean.
  • Different plants and animals have external features that help them thrive in different kinds of places.
Objectives
Teacher Preparation
Animal Information (http://www.seaworld.org/AnimalBytes/ animal_bytes.html)

Materials
  • Internet connection (or, information collected ahead of time from books or Internet)
  • Poster paper
  • Markers, pens, etc.
Science Background

What do different animals have that help them live?
Animals have developed adaptations that allow them to live and thrive in certain environments. An adaptation is any physical or behavioral feature that allows an organism to survive in its environment. This can take many different forms. Some animals have camouflage that allows them to blend in with their environment so they can hide from predators. Giraffes have long necks that allow them to reach leaves at the tops of trees. Polar bears have thick fur that allow them to live in very cold climates.

While all birds have beaks, they are shaped differently. A bird's beak is multi-functional. It serves to gather food, fight off predators, build nests, communicate, etc. The shape of a bird beak is an indication of the type of food it eats. Eagles and other raptors, for example, have a sharp hook that helps it tear apart the flesh of animals. Hummingbirds have long beaks that allows it to gather nectar from deep inside a flower. Pelicans have pouched beaks that allow them to scoop up fish from the water.

Description
1. Review the previous lesson with students by asking:
  • What did we learn about bird beaks in our last lesson? (Students should say that the shape of the beak helps the bird find and eat certain kinds of food).
  • What things do other animals have that let them live in certain places? (Students may bring up the fur on animals that live in cold weather climates, the hard shells of turtles, or the claws of lions. When students mention these characteristics, ask why these things help the animal live).
2. Explain the task to students: They are going to work in groups of 2-3 to research different things that animals have or do that help them live in different places. The goal of this research is to answer the question: What does my animal have or do that allows it to live where it does?
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate

3. Place students into groups of two to three. You may want to organize the groups depending on the animals they are interested in.

4. Have each group decide on the animal they want to research.

5. As a class, have students brainstorm what information they should gather about their animals in order to answer the question, What does my animal have or do that allows it to live where it does? Students should probably collect data on:
  • The physical structure of the animal such as its outer covering (fur, skin, hard coating, coloration), appendages (number of legs, shape of legs), location and shape of other structures such as eyes and ears, etc.
  • The type of environment in which it lives (climate, location, vegetation, shelter, etc.)
6. Allow the students time to spend on the Internet to research their animal of choice. You may want to use Worksheet One (worksheets/AnmlAdaptations%20.doc) to help students organize their data. There are two options for this.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities

How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data

7. Once the students have finished, have them review the data they collected. In their groups, students should be able to draw some conclusions about the different things that animals have or do that allow them to live and thrive in different environments. For example, polar bears have very thick fur that allows them to live in very cold climates. Camels have long eyelashes that allow them to live in the desert (the eyelashes protect eyes from blowing sand).

8. Students should be expected to present their findings to the class. The presentations should include:
  • A visual aid that will help explain their findings to the class.
  • A discussion of the data they collected during their research.
  • A discussion of the conclusions they drew from the data. It is important that all of their conclusions are supported with the evidence they collected during their research.
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Assessment
  • Collect students' worksheets. Make sure they collected the appropriate data.
  • Students' presentations should include examples of the things animals have or do that allow them to live in certain environments. They should support their conclusions with evidence.
Images of Inquiry

This lesson focuses on Explanations & Evidence.

For ideas about how to change this lesson plan to meet your students' needs, see the table on in the inquiry adaptations section of this packet.

How Kayla taught this lesson
Kayla was worried about this lesson because of her students' reading abilities - she knew that independently reading text for appropriate information would probably be too difficult for most of her students. In addition, Kayla was worried that just filling out the worksheet would not be enough for students to draw conclusions between an animal's features and its habitat.

She made a few changes to the lesson based on these concerns. She selected several books from the library that described different animals. She made a transparency of the worksheet and modeled filling it out as she read through one of the books. She emphasized ignoring information that doesn't pertain to the topic. Then, she assigned students to groups (making sure every group had at least 1 strong reader) and assigned them an animal and book or website she found.

She also built on the discussions of what and why questions from previous lessons. On the back of the worksheet, she asked students to write: "Why is my animal able to live where it does?" After students completed the front, she had a discussion that encouraged them to think about how the characteristics they learned about help the animal adapt to the environment in which it lives.

Kayla feels that by providing students with more scaffolding, she's helping them provide evidence for their ideas and is improving their reading of informational text for relevant information.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Classroom Animal Observations

(a K-2 Animals lesson plan)

From week 3 of the unit: How are animals the same? How are they different?

Abstract
Students make observations about their classroom animals to answer the questions, "How are our animals the same? How are they different?"
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • Describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others.
  • A lot can be learned about plants and animals by observing them closely, but care must be taken to know the needs of living things and how to provide for them in the classroom.
  • Some animals and plants are alike in the way they look and in the things they do, and others are very different from one another.
Objectives
  • Students will make observations of classroom animals.
  • Students will use their observations to compare and contrast the classroom animals.
Class Time Needed
Part One: One thirty minute class period. Part Two: one thirty minute class period and ten minutes each day for a week
Teacher Preparation
The teacher should choose two classroom animals for this lesson. For more information, visit:
Animal Information (http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/ mcvittiej/resources/livingthings/ animals.htm)
Materials
Two classroom animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, etc.
Students' Alternative Ideas

Living and Non-Living

Alternative idea: Many elementary students believe things such as movement, breath, reproduction, and death decide whether things are alive. Therefore, many believe that things such as fire, clouds, and the sun are alive and plants are not alive.

Scientific idea: A living thing has the following characteristics: made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment. If an object does not exhibit all of these characteristics, like sugar crystals growing on the bottom of a syrup container, it is not living. In order for a living thing to survive, certain resources must be available and consumable, like water, air, food, warmth, mates, and other resources make life more comfortable like communication, shelter, transportation, etc. There is a difference between what an organism needs and what it wants. A living thing needs air, water, food, etc., a living thing (human) wants material things, shelter, etc.

Dealing with the alternative idea: Depending on your students' backgrounds and experiences, it might be worth adding in an entire lesson to discuss living and non living things. At the least, try to take some time at the beginning of the unit to find out what your students' ideas about what kinds of things are alive. This lesson is from a 3-5 CASES unit, but it might give you some ideas as you work with your students. Living or Non-Living lesson (units.php?frame=frameset&nav=showplan&dqid=10&lpid=68&anchor=)

Description
Part One: Making Good Observations
1. Ask students the following questions:
  • What is an observation?
  • Why is it important to make good observations?
What makes a good observation?
  • Good observations describe the object(s) in detail including their color, shape, relative size, movement, etc.
  • The descriptions should be detailed enough so that students can understand them weeks and months later
  • Students should NOT make inferences. For example, describing a white powder as "salt" is an inference, not an observation. An accurate observation of this substance might be that it is white, looks like a cube under a magnifying glass, and has jagged edges


2. Facilitate a whole class discussion around these questions. The more students respond to these questions, the more you will be able to assess their prior understandings.
  • Using the word "observe" rather than "observation" may help students understand its meaning
  • Students should eventually agree that an "observation" means to describe something in detail
  • They should understand that making accurate observations is an important part of everyday life (as well as science)
3. Ask students: How can we make good observations? Facilitate a whole class discussion around this question - record student responses on the board. Students should mention that good observations:
  • Describe the object(s) in detail including their color, shape, relative size, movement, etc.
  • The descriptions should be detailed enough so that students can understand them weeks and months later
  • Students should NOT make inferences. For example, describing a white powder as "salt" is an inference, not an observation. An accurate observation of this substance might be that it is white, looks like a cube under a magnifying glass, and has jagged edges.
4. Explain to students that someone is going to run very quickly through the room. It is their responsibility to make good observations about this person.

5. Have the person run through the room. You may want to dress this person in a "funky" way to make it more interesting to students (wig, colorful coat, etc.)

6. Record students' observations on the board. Have other students critique these observations given the criteria above (are they descriptive enough? could they use these observations in a month and still remember what the person looked like? are there no inferences?)

7. Explain to students that observations are a very important part of science. Making good observations is an important part of a scientist's work. They need to be able to make good observations to create scientific questions and draw conclusions. Others may want to read a scientist's observations - so they need to be very detailed.

Part Two: Observing Our Classroom Animals

1. Ask students: How do you think our classroom pets are alike? How do you think they are different? Facilitate a short class discussion around their answers. It is important to listen carefully to what students say because it will give you insight into any alternative ideas they may have.
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate


2. Explain to students that they will be asking questions about their classroom animals that will help them answer this week's subquestion.

3. Place students into groups of three. Have them write several questions they could ask about their classroom's pets. Option: if you have time, you may want to have the class brainstorm the following criteria for good questions:
  • They should help to answer the week's subquestion (How are our classroom's pets alike? How are they different?)
  • Feasible - can be answered by making extended observations of the animals (over at least a week)
  • Ethical
  • Interesting
  • Sustainable over extended periods of time (at least one week). For example, students should not be able to answer their question after one observation.
4. Have each group of three decide on one question they want to answer. Have them share these with the class. Write each question on the board. Have the class critique these questions by answering whether or not they meet the above criteria. Option: You may want to have students brainstorm questions individually and then place students in groups based on their interests.

Examples of good questions include, but are not limited to: What types of foods do our pets prefer? When do our pets prefer to eat? When do our pets prefer to sleep? What type of shelter do they prefer? What types of things do our animals do? When do they do these things?

5. Assign each group a time where they can observe the animals for ten minute periods throughout the week (some observations should be in the morning, some in the afternoon). Each trio should be able to observe each animal several times throughout the week.
Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
Collecting evidence
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
  • Facilitates problem solving skills
  • Facilitates understanding of content
  • Facilitates inquiry abilities

How can I help my students collect evidence?
  • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
  • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
  • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
  • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
  • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data


6. Once students have finished all of their observations have each group do a short presentation of what they found. The other groups should be responsible for recording this information.

7. Have students work in groups (either the same or different groupmates) to analyze and summarize the data to answer the question: How are our animals alike? How are they different? Each group should be should be expected to compile some or all of these findings to answer this week's subquestion.

8. Have each group do a short presentation that answers this week's subquestion. They should be expected to use the information from their classmates (at least some of them) to answer the subquestion. It is important that they use evidence to support their answers.
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Assessment
1. Students should know how to make accurate observations of the world around them.
2. Students should be able to draw conclusions based on their observations.

Author(s): CASES Team

Lesson plan: Comparing and Contrasting Animals

(a K-2 Animals lesson plan)

From week 4 of the unit: How are animals the same? How are they different?

Abstract
Students will ask and answer questions about the classroom's animals.
Standards and Benchmarks
AAAS Benchmarks
  • Describing things as accurately as possible is important in science because it enables people to compare their observations with those of others.
  • Some animals and plants are alike in the way they look and in the things they do, and others are very different from one another.
  • Living things are found almost everywhere in the world. There are somewhat different kinds in different places.
Objectives
  • Students will ask questions that compare and contrast their classroom animals and other animals
  • Students will collect and analyze data to answer their questions.
  • Students will draw conclusions about their questions and communicate these to the class.
Class Time Needed
One week to several weeks (depending on data collection)
Materials
A variety of resource materials (Internet, magazines and journals about animals, if students are able to access these resources)
Science Background

How are our classroom pets like other animals from around the world? How are they different?
Animals are similar to the animals from around the world because of their characteristics (made of cells, obtain and use energy, grow and develop, reproduce, respond to their environment, and adapt to their environment) and needs (water, food, and air, for our purposes) are basically the same. Animals from everywhere have also adapted to their environment so that they can live and even thrive in this environment.

Animals are also different in a variety of ways. They are different in where they live, the type of food they eat, how they obtain this food, how they have adapted to their environment, etc. Find out information about different backyard animals (http://www.backyardnature.net/animals.htm) at Backyard Nature.

Description
Note to K and 1st grade teachers
This lesson will probably be too difficult for your students. Reading text for information is a pretty complex task, and it's likely your students will need much more direction from you than this lesson describes. One alternative activity you might consider is helping the class ask a comparison question (as described in Part One). Instead of allowing students to research on their own, however, you could find a few picture books that provided the information needed to answer the question. As you read the book aloud (or project a website to the class), model how to keep track of facts that help you answer your question. You could do this through keeping a list or making a Venn diagram. You might even give students a simpler version of the Animal Research Guide (worksheets/AnimalResearchguide.doc) and fill it out with them on the overhead. Not only will they learn about how animals are the same and different, they will also learn how to glean information from text.

Part One: Asking Questions

1. Ask students to respond to the following question in their science journals:
  • What is your favorite animal?
  • Why is this your favorite animal?
  • What do you know about this animal?
  • What do you want to know about this animal?
2. Have several students share their journal entries with the class. Try to get a diversity of animals, including large and small ones, animals that live in far-away areas, etc.

3. Explain to students that they will be using their observations and natural curiosity to ask questions about how their classroom animals are the same and different from other animals from around the world. They will be answering the subquestion, How are our classroom pets like other animals from around the world? How are they different? They can pick their favorite animal that they wrote about in their journal, or another animal. It should be their choice. Option: Students will be performing research on their chosen animal through the Internet, books, magazines, etc. If you have limited resources, you may want to place them into groups of three and have them choose one animal per group.

Use the Animal Research Guide (worksheets/AnimalResearchguide.doc) to guide the students through each step from choosing a question to presentations.

Students need to develop questions that will focus their investigations. In other words, they should not be researching the broad question of how their animal of choice and their classroom animals are the same or different. Instead, they should focus their research on several smaller questions. For example, a student might ask:
  • How is where a rabbit lives the same as where a tiger lives? How is it different?
  • How is what a rabbit eats the same as what a tiger eats? How is it different?
Why should my students ask and answer questions in science?
Asking and answering questions
  • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
  • Engages students in a search for answers and explanations
  • Motivates students to learn about a topic
  • Helps students learn to do inquiry
  • Improves problem solving skills

How can I help my students ask and answer questions in science?
  • Have students make observations about what they are studying (cells under a microscope, a simple machine, a mealworm)
  • Encourage students to ask questions about their observations, including a combination of descriptive questions (ex. What kind of food do mealworms eat?), relational questions (ex. Which dissolves faster in water - salt or sugar?), and cause and effect questions (ex. How does fertilizer affect the height and size of plants?)
  • If students need help getting started, provide them with question stems such as, I wonder what would happen if . . .?, What if . . .? or How does . . .?
  • Have students develop and critique questions as a class
  • Provide students with good questions to answer (students do not always have to come up with the questions) or select a question from a list the students generate


Part Two: Collecting Data to Answer Our Question
  1. Explain to students that they will need to collect data to answer the questions they developed in part one. This data collection will take place over several days (or even over several weeks, time permitting).
  2. Why should students collect evidence to answer questions?
    Collecting evidence
    • Engages students in working and thinking like scientists
    • Engages students in gathering the evidence needed to draw conclusions
    • Facilitates problem solving skills
    • Facilitates understanding of content
    • Facilitates inquiry abilities
  3. How can I help my students collect evidence?
    • Encourage students to actively participate in planning and designing investigations whenever possible
    • Have students develop a way to record the data they collect (data table, journal, etc.)
    • When possible, have students double-check their measurements and repeat experiments to verify the accuracy of their data.
    • Provide students access to as many resources as possible, including the Internet, books, magazines, etc.
    • Model how you expect students to gather and record their data
  4. Have students brainstorm all the different types of data they can collect to answer their question. Write these on the board.
  5. Students may mention: making observations (including carefully watching the animals, which may mean they need to make additional observations of the classroom pets), looking on the Internet or in magazines and journals, asking questions of scientists, bringing videos or other information from home, etc.
  6. To focus students' observations, you may want to send them to specific websites that have a lot of information on animals. These can be found in the Ideas and Resources section in this unit.
  7. Have students collect their data by reserving the technology center or library, checking our relevant books and magazines, etc. If students are not able to use the Internet, you may want to print the information for them and provide it as another source of data in the classroom.
Part Three: Communicating Findings

1. Have each pair of students do a presentation on the question they asked and the conclusions they drew. Stress to students the importance of backing up their claims with evidence. Other students in the class should be expected to record this information in their science journals.

2. Be sure to have the class ask questions at the end of each presentation. The class should be asking questions like:
  • Do you think the data you collected answers your question?
  • Are there other types of data you would collect if you could?
  • What would you do differently next time?
3. What other questions do you have now that you've done this?
Why should students communicate and justify their findings?
When students share their findings, they are participating in an important part of the scientific process.
  • Provides students with an opportunity to enhance and expand their ideas, grapple with the findings of their peers, and improve communication skills.
  • Provides other students with an opportunity to ask questions, examine evidence, identify faulty reasoning, and suggest alternative explanations.
  • When communicating and justifying findings, students should use the data they collect to answer a scientific question. You may also want to have students apply their knowledge to a new real world question or situation

How can I help my students communicate and justify their findings?
  • Make sure students know that they will always be expected to share their findings with others: the teacher, classmates, younger students, the community, or other interested parties.
  • Develop guidelines for communicating findings so that students know what is expected of them. (this one is very similar to the next bullet point)
  • Explain to students that they will be expected to explain what they did during their investigations, why they did it that way, what they learned from it, and how their findings helped them to answer a question
  • Encourage students to ask themselves How do I know? about their conclusions to help them justify their findings and show how evidence from their investigations supports their conclusions.
Assessment
Classroom presentations should serve as the assessment for this lesson. Students should be able to ask questions, find ways to answer these questions, draw conclusions, and communicate findings.
Images of Inquiry

How Kayla taught this lesson
Kayla decided that this was too big of a project to turn over to groups. She spend a few days selecting 3 questions and 3 sources for each question that she knew were appropriate for her readers. Then, she let each group choose from the 3 questions and go from there.

Kayla decided to walk her students through each step of the Animal Research Guide (worksheets/AnimalResearchguide.doc). She knows that helping them read for specific information and learn to use that evidence to craft an answer to their question is difficult for them, but she also knows that her students are not only learning about scientific inquiry and animals but learning the basics of informational reading and research as well.

Author(s): CASES Team

Animal Assessment

(a K-2 Animals lesson plan)

From the unit: How are animals the same? How are they different?

Description
1. Place students into pairs.
2. Explain to students that they will be working in pairs to answer the driving question, How are animals the same? How are they different?
3. Explain to students that it is their responsibility to pull the ideas together from what they have learned over the last several weeks. Students should present their findings to the class once they are finished.
4. Focus students by brainstorming a list of things they might want to put into their presentations. Ask: What types of things do we need to think about in order to answer the driving question? What have we learned over the last several weeks about animals? Students should respond by saying things like:
  • The characteristics of living things - all animals will have these characteristics
  • The needs of living things - all animals will have these needs
  • The variance in specific needs of animals such as the amount and kind of food different animals need or the climate they can live in
  • The adaptations animals have developed
  • The ways animals respond to their environment
5. Ideally students will pull together the ideas they have learned in the unit. Or, this may require additional research, but it doesn't have to. The students should have learned enough information by the end of the unit to be able to answer this question.

Author(s): CASES Team

ideas and resources

The following resources might be helpful to you as you teach this unit:

Technology (for teachers and kids)
Information on Birds (http://www.oaklandzoo.org/meet_the_animals)

Pictures of Bird Beaks (http://birds.ecoport.org/Identification/ EBbeaks.htm)

Sea World Animal Lesson Plans and Resources (http://www.seaworld.org/teacherguides/ index.html)
This website is an excellent resource for animal lesson plans.
Animal Lesson Plans (http://www.proteacher.com/110006.shtml )
This website has different animal lesson plans on birds, fish, mammals, worms, arachnids, endangered animals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.
Electronic Zoo (http://netvet.wustl.edu/pix.htm )
The Electronic Zoo. Contains information on pictures (and even some sounds) of animals. Can be useful if students are doing Internet research on a particular species of animal.
Animal Information Database (http://www.seaworld.org/infobook.html )
Provides a database of information on animals.
Choosing Animals for the Classroom (http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/ mcvittiej/resources/livingthings/ animals.htm)
This website helps teachers decide which animals are best suited for their classrooms.
Characteristics of Animals Webquest (http://www.geocities.com/mrsevon/ webquest.html )
An animal webquest. This has groups of students working in teams to research different groups of animals on the computer. Based on this research, each group creates a pet shop. Not recommended for grades K and 1.
Animal Habitat Webquest (http://www.allabery.com/courses/ webquest/lane/ )
This website has a webquest on animal habitats. Webquests allow students to work in teams to research information in order to answer a question.
Animal Habitats (http://schools.lwsd.org/Mead/Staff/ Library/animal.hab.htm)
This website presents information on the habitats of a wide variety of animals.
Discover Life (http://www.discoverlife.org/)
Discover Life helps you to identify plants and animals, share ways to teach and study nature's wonders, and contribute to and learn from the Web's growing encyclopedia of life.
BioKids Critter Catalog (http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/ )
This site contains information about many common animals that live in southeast Michigan as well as other animals from around the world.