Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Room 14 || Study on Mammals and Camouflage

We recently wrapped up our integrated study on mammals, camouflage, and map-making (geography) in room 14. From day one of this unit the students have shown genuine enthusiasm and interest in learning about their favorite mammals and discovering new mammals from all over the world. 

Our unit began with the reading of Mammals by Adele Richardson. From the read-alouds we learned what makes a mammal a mammal (as opposed to reptiles, amphibians, etc.) and mapped out our acquired information with a bubble map. I also took this opportunity to introduce features of non-fiction texts. Throughout the rest of the week we continued to participate in shared readings that introduced new vocabulary words, which we illustrated on post-it notes as we were reading.

The historical figure that was integrated into the unit was Jane Goodall. We had two read-alouds that the students had to narrate back at the end of their reading on her life working with the chimps: Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell and The Watcher by Jeanette Winter.

The students were really excited when at the end of the week they were partnered off and given a big zip-lock bag of plastics animals, which they then had to sort out the mammals from the rest of the differing creatures found within our huge animal kingdom. They then had the choice to play some of the various mammal and camouflage file folder games I had on hand, or they could participate in a challenge sort: sorting their group of mammals into groups of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.

Students were then divided into small groups to collaborate in designing and building a 3-D zoo with exhibits for four mammals of their choosing. The groups had to then look at all the materials provided to them (which consisted mostly of construction paper, markers, and various types of blocks that were pulled from our classroom tinker station), their mammals, and then consider what their exhibits would have to have in order to reflect the mammals given habitats. As the children were building, I interviewed each group--asking them questions to explain and support their decisions.  

Once their zoo's were completed, they then each had to draw a birds-eye view map (with a map key) of their zoo to support and integrate previous map-making skills they had learned in our geography unit.

The final component of our unit integrated information writing. Each student picked a mammal of their choice to research and write on. During this latter half of the unit, students learned that researchers read informational texts to gain knowledge on their topic, the difference between writing information and narratives, and the structure of paragraph writing. Student's were given a plan to help support them in their writing.

After the students had written on their mammal, they then edited, and published a final paragraph as a zoo plaque (with accompanying picture they drew) onto our whole class zoo map.

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