In this lesson, students will analyze an intended to support reading in the content area. The article presents new research that suggests dinosaurs were not able to vocalize or "sing" in a way similar to modern birds. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.
Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 9, 10
Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office, Computer Media Player
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: evolution, syrinx, hyoid, fossil, fossilization, cartilage, bird, dinosaur, lesson plan, text complexity, larynx, Antarctica
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Understand that evolution is based on many facets, specifically the fossil record and comparative anatomy (2 facets of the standard on evolution).
- Explain and identify the importance of collaboration within the science community to share ideas, research, and findings to support the answering of questions.
- 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(s), 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 of how fossils are formed and what they can tell us.
- Students should have a working definition of evolution and some idea of the evidence used to support evolution. You can use the video "What is Evolution?" (8:52, uploaded by YouTube user Stated Clearly) for review.
- 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 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?
- How does the discovery of a syrinx in an ancient bird answer so many questions about the vocalization of other dinosaurs?
- Its discovery led scientists to hypothesize that dinosaurs could not "sing."
- What are some of the challenges in answering questions such as whether dinosaurs made sounds similar to modern birds?
- It is virtually impossible to recover fossilized cartilage.
- How does collaboration in the scientific community help science move forward?
- Scientists needed to work together to produce the results of this and other studies.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Present the lesson alongside the accompanying PowerPoint of images.
- Ask students: "Do you think dinosaurs made noises? What kind of noises do you think they made?" (Students will probably suggest growls and such based on what they have seen in movies or from what animals of similar sizes make) "What evidence are you using to come up with that hypothesis?"
- Follow up: "How do you think scientists would even be able to answer this question?" (Students might say something about fossil finds.) "What do you think they would look for?"
- Explain that scientists actually do want to know these things, but the only way they can hypothesize and make inferences is from looking at current animals and their anatomy to see how they make sounds. If we can find the similar structure in dinosaur fossils, then maybe that would tell us what they may have sounded like.
- In our own throats we have an interesting bone called the hyoid bone. It is the only bone in our body that isn't connected to another bone. What makes this bone so special is that it is linked to our ability to have a complicated sound speech. It actually controls our ability to use our tongue to make so many vocalizations. Even if an intelligent animal such as a chimpanzee might understand, it can't make that many unique sounds as we can because chimps don't have this hyoid bone connected to its tongue in the same way as for humans.
- In dinosaurs, it is a lot more of a challenge to figure out how they vocalized. How would we know? We actually can look at their nearest living relative, the bird, for this. We can see that modern birds have a structure called a syrinx. This structure allows a bird to sing and to vocalize. But what about dinosaurs? Did they have this same structure?
- Tell students they are going to read about a recent study that attempted to answer these questions.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a copy of "Analysis of Fossilized Antarctic's Bird's Voice Box Suggests Dinosaurs Couldn't Sing." For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section.
- Provide each student with a note-taking guide and a vocabulary guide.
- Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Analysis of Fossilized Antarctic's Bird's Voice Box Suggests Dinosaurs Couldn't Sing
- Subtitle: Find may provide insights into development of other anatomical features and evolutionary history of birds
- Caption: Located under the photograph
- 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.
- Note: based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define.
- 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.
5. If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
- Apparent (Paragraph 2): students can relate to the word apparently. Read the context clues in the sentence: "its apparent absence."
- Direct descendant (Paragraph 4): to be descended is to "come down" from something or somebody. You are a direct descendant of your father, your grandparent, or your great grandparent. Use slide 6 of the PowerPoint to show evidence of how birds are direct descendants of the Saurischia branch of dinosaurs.
- Preserved (Paragraph 6): in this sentence preserved means still present in the anatomy of an organism. After all this time, birds still have the syrinx, but non-avian dinosaurs do not. It was not preserved.
- Insight (Paragraph 4): in this sentence, insight refers to giving scientists clues or ideas to help them answer a question.
- Asymmetrical (Paragraph 9): remind students that a- as a prefix means the opposite. Break down the word by starting with symmetry; then add the prefix back in.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- 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 their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key provided at the end of the note-taking guide to help them assess students' answers.
- 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:
- Students often think of fossils as easy to find, full-bodied skeletons. That is usually not the case. Remind students that most fossils are small parts of bone, imprints, or even indirect fossils such as an evidence of a nest or a footprint or something similar. Identifying fossilized bone and linking it to a species or organism is very challenging.
- Remind students that the challenge of finding a syrinx is huge in that it is a very specific relic but also that it is made of cartilage. Cartilage is not as good as bone in becoming fossilized. Cartilage just doesn't last as long.
- Another important misconception is that scientists solve problems on their own and only in their own individual field. That is absolutely untrue. The findings in this article show the challenges that scientists face. They must collect and examine a variety of data, confer with other scientists that may know a lot more about bird anatomy or can explain how the chemical process involved may cause cartilage to fossilize. They can't solve these problems on their own. Science is a collaborative endeavor. Scientists from many fields (biologists, paleontologists, chemists) must relate what they know to allow for scientists to answer these questions.
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?):
- 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 their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key provided at the end of the text-dependent questions to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
- 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.
- After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. 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. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
- Have students examine each of the body paragraphs to explain how each supports the main point of the piece.
- Have students identify where the writer effectively uses textual evidence from the article for support of his or her points.
- Have students identify the use of transition words or phrases to make the ideas flow.
- Ask students to identify where domain-specific vocabulary is used accurately and effectively.
- Have students read the final paragraph to see how the writer wrapped up the piece and connected back to the main point established in the introduction.
- 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.
- Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response containing a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They should refer back to the text as they construct their response.
- 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.
- 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:
- According to the findings reported in this article, scientists have determined that ancient dinosaurs probably couldn't "sing" like modern birds. Explain the evidence scientists used in order to come to this conclusion.
- 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 conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Accommodations & Recommendations
- For students struggling with the science content:
- Evolution: present this titled "What is the Evidence for Evolution?" (11:21, uploaded by YouTube user Stated Clearly) on the evidence for evolution.
- This video titled "Archaeopteryx - The Jurassic Period" (2:45, uploaded by YouTube user Fiona Passantino) specifically addresses the evolution of birds.
- Fossilization: This interactive website can help students understand how fossils are formed.
- For readers struggling with the note-taking guide:
- Teachers might want to fill in certain answers, leaving students to fill in only the blank spaces in between the provided answers.
- For readers struggling with the text:
- It might benefit students to chunk the text. Have students independently read section one, then have several strong readers read section one aloud.
- Then, have students highlight the selected vocabulary for section one on the article. Work with students to model ways to define a few of the academic vocabulary words to get them started. The teacher can think aloud as he or she decides which vocabulary strategy or strategies to use to define a word, and think aloud while deciding which meaning from a dictionary entry with multiple meanings would be the best fit for how the word is used in the context of the article.
- Then, have students complete the note-taking guide for the rest of section one. When students are ready, have them share out their answers and provide corrective verbal feedback as needed, allowing students to make corrections to their work. Then repeat this process for the other sections of the text if needed. Or, at least have students complete the graphic organizer for the next section and receive feedback on their work before they move on.
- For struggling writers:
- It might help struggling writers to provide them with an outline to help them structure their written response for the summative assessment. The outline might include places for them to record:
- Ideas on how to introduce the topic
- Topic sentences (the first sentence of each body paragraph that will reveal the point of the paragraph and will connect to the paper's overall main point)
- Specific evidence from the text for support in each body paragraph
- Ideas for transition words
- Ideas for use of selected vocabulary
- Ideas on how to wrap up the piece and connect back to the main point(s)
- Assign small groups of students to explore subtopics related to this lesson. Students can present information using information they learn from the following resources:
- For more details about the evolution of birds: have students complete this evolution of birds interactive.
- Refer students to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology: How and Why Birds Sing
Suggested Technology: Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office, Computer Media Player
For teachers who would like more support in understanding and implementing Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects into their science curriculum, please see the teacher tutorials and resources featured in the section of this lesson's CPALMS resource page labeled "Attached Resources."
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Maggie Molledo
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Brevard
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.