Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Explain how scientific inferences are drawn from scientific observations.
- Explain how new technologies allow for new scientific knowledge.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes a main point, contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
- Students should have a basic understanding of bird migration. See additional resources links for more information.
- Students should know that birds are an integral part of an ecosystem and should understand the role they play.
- Students should know there are biotic and abiotic factors in ecosystems.
- Students should know that science discoveries are made based on empirical evidence.
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial. In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in this article include: title, subtitle, subheading, photograph, and caption.
- Students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
- Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. How did scientists make new discoveries about bird migration habits?
- Scientists used data from new tools like radio transmitters to get information about bird migration patterns.
2. What new information have scientists learned about bird migration habits?
- Scientists have learned that birds conduct a kind of "risk assessment" as to when and where to migrate.
- They also learned that it is important to involve many disciplines in solving these problems, as the factors involved in bird migration include climate, pressures, local ecology, and even the anatomy and physiology of the birds themselves.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Show students the attached PowerPoint containing images of the songbirds.
2. Ask the class: What do you know about these little birds?
3. Ask: What do you think might be extraordinary about these birds?
- Point out that the birds actually can migrate hundreds of miles—even thousands of miles—in one year.
4. Ask: How do you think scientists know where, and how far, the birds actually migrate?
- Some students may already be familiar with tracking devices such as those used for sharks and sea turtles.
- They may not be aware of how small these devices can be.
5. Ask: Why might it be important to science to ask questions about such a little bird?
- Possible answers include:
- We can learn a lot about how organisms interact with each other and how populations in an ecosystem affect and are affected by others.
- We can learn the impacts of weather and abiotic factors on these organisms.
6. End the discussion by informing students that they will be reading an article that addresses these songbirds' migration and how scientists are finding out more about it.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "Risk Assessment, for the Birds." For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph.
2. Provide each student with the note-taking guide.
3. Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Risk Assessment, for the Birds
- Subtitle: Complex factors determine when migrating songbirds make their journeys
- Heading: Research can help protect migrating birds
- Caption: Located under the photograph
4. Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
5. For each category in Part 1, students should briefly write down the "basic information" for each topic (compare this to a central idea if it helps) and then one or "more details" in the other column.
- Note: Based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the reading guide.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words.
6. If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
- Climes (paragraph 1): Looks similar to climate. An area with a specific climate? A type of climate?
- Subset (paragraph 4): As in mathematics. What is a subset? A smaller set within another.
- Emits (paragraph 5): Gives off or makes notice of. Looking in a dictionary you can see more than one meaning. Which one fits here?
- Risk Assessment (paragraph 2): What is a risk? Something that can endanger you. How do you determine a risk? Together these become a risk assessment. For instance: it is storming outside; lightning and thunder. Should I get on my bike and ride home or should I wait a bit until it fades a bit? That's a risk assessment.
- Subcutaneous (paragraph 6): Defined in context. Sub- means below the surface. Epidermis and dermis are the layers of skin. Subcutaneous is below these two layers. In the anatomy of skin, we refer to this as subcutaneous.
- Deciduous (paragraph 12): Do all trees lose their leaves in the winter? These types of trees are called deciduous and an area with many of these types of trees is called a deciduous forest.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guides, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use the sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
3. For discussion of students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
1. Scientists already know what they need to know about animal patterns and behaviors.
- While we already know some about the migrations of birds and insects, having good data to reinforce our understanding is still vitally important. With changes in global climate, animal behavior and migration patterns might also continue to change; or, we can see what factors will negatively impact populations of threatened species.
- There is still a lot we don't know about migration patterns. We really don't know why birds follow these arduous journeys, which is why a study such as this is so important. It can give us clues and insights that we didn't have before. Studying more than one species can also support newly discovered theories.
2. Studies tend to only focus on endangered or unique animals. not everyday species like songbirds.
- The animals we see and take for granted every day are as vital as the animals we only see in the news. Little perching birds have stories to tell, and their impact can be seen in these studies. It is important we treat all living things with respect and understand the impact they can have on our ecosystem. All organisms have a niche or place in the ecosystem. When one is impacted, all others can be also. Birds rely on arachnids and worms, but other larger predators rely on the birds. Every organism has a role in the ecosystem.
- The idea that a small neighborhood bird may travel over 2,000 miles in the year is a pretty amazing discovery and actually not all that uncommon in many of the birds seen in our backyards. It shows that we really don’t know all that much about the world around us!
3. Birds migrate because they always have, not that they need to.
- Birds must migrate for resources. Nesting and food are the main reasons birds migrate. The insects emerge just after spring, and that is where many of the northern bird species appear. Later on in late autumn they continue their migration south as they follow the food.
- Scientists have been studying bird migrations for quite some time and have learned a great deal, but there are still many questions left unanswered.
- Some migrating bird species appear to be descendants of other birds that were found much further south than they are today.
4. Animals just follow instinct and do what their ancestors have done for generations.
- Understanding migration fully is still a goal of scientists. Migration can be triggered by a combination of changes in day length, lower temperatures, changes in food supplies, and even the genetic code.
- The answers to these questions are still being investigated, as scientists are still unclear as to what factors affect the migration of birds.
- Some research indicates that birds learn from other birds. Younger birds will follow older birds and then follow those same patterns in the future.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use the sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the Guided Practice section.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
1. Before students complete the writing prompt, be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
2. After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with an LCD projector and discuss some of the following:
- How the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph. Go over how this writer opened his or her piece of writing. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
- Point out the use of textual specifics throughout.
- Point out how each paragraph ties back to the main point and addresses a different part of the writing prompt.
- Point out the writer's use of transitions throughout.
- Point out how the concluding sentences support the main point. Brainstorm with students additional ideas about how to wrap up the piece.
- Throughout the sample response, have students identify the effective use of domain-specific vocabulary and academic vocabulary they identified earlier in the lesson.
3. As one final option, teachers might want students to use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a 4.
1. Lead a final class discussion about what students have learned. Ask some of the following questions:
- Were you surprised by how much these little birds go through just to survive?
- Do you have any other hypotheses about what might cause these birds to make these long journeys?
- How has science helped answer questions about these birds?
- Do you know of any other birds that you see in your yard that might migrate?
- What types of birds do you notice in your neighborhood?
- What are some ways we could help them on their long journeys?
- How do scientists answer questions about the world around them?
- Students should see the power of science as a way to use data to answer questions. We don't just make guesses, but use evidence and data to formulate understanding. It is a powerful tool and one we should use and expect whenever big decisions are made. In current events there are many instances where science is easily disregarded in favor of politics or the latest fad. We must expect our decision makers to use evidence when formulating conclusions.
2. Show this short video (4:09) from Ted-Ed about bird migrations.
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over it with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
3. Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
- The prompt: Science is all about answering questions, but finding the answers sometimes requires tools we don't have or that we didn’t know we needed. How did new technologies help these scientists to make new discoveries about bird migration patterns and reach a greater understanding of science? Use details and evidence from the text to support your answer.
4. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."