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Grade: all
Subject: other

#1783. Animal Habitats

, level: all
Posted Wed May 31 18:09:06 PDT 2000 by Elizabeth Roche (
Sargent School, Beacon, NY
Materials Required: computer, internet access, library resources
Activity Time: Two week unit
Concepts Taught: Students read and write about animals and their habitats.

Performance Indicators:
The students will read, gather and interpret information from reference materials, audio and media presentations, and electronic sources.
The students will select information appropriate to their animal and habitat and relate those ideas in writing to others.
The students will prewrite, draft, edit, revise and publish a paragraph to clearly present information gathered on their subject.
The students will observe basic writing conventions, such as correct punctuation, spelling, capitalization and sentence structure.
The students will interact will peers to write a description of their habitat.

Learning Standards for Math, Science and Technology

Information Systems
Standard 2 - Students will access, generate, process and transfer information using appropriate technologies. Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and as a tool to enhance learning.

Performance Indicators:
The students in cooperative groups will use a variety of computer hardware and software to enter, process, display, and communicate information about animal habits.
The students will communicate via email with an on line "animal expert", Will Waddel, through Scholastic Network to gather information about their specific animal and its environment.
The students will access needed information from books, electronic databases, and multimedia programs.
The students will create with art materials and/or computer paint programs a reproduction of their animals and habitats.
The students will use paint programs and various art media with confidence.

2. Procedure:

To initiate the learning experience as presented here, the teacher should be familiar with presentation software such as Kid Pix or Power Point. If not see Instructional Modifications for other presentation ideas.

Teacher introduces the discussion of animal habitats using the habitat of the area with a walk, books, posters, live animals if possible, CD-ROM "Wild World of Animal" or other resources that display animals in their habitat with sound and text.

Teacher presents research tools that will be used to learn about the habitats and animals.

Johnson and Johnson's Cooperative Learning Model will be used.

Teacher plans with the children the choice of habitats for each cooperative learning group and choice of animal for each child. Academic and social goals are presented. Roles are agreed upon. A letter to parents may be sent home to inform parents of the project and act as a checklist for students to monitor their progress toward the completion of the experience. (Animal Habitats Dear Students and Parents letter attachment A)

Criteria for project is explained and outlined:

Each student will research and write, edit, revise and present a paragraph about the animal of their choice using a word processor. Included will be such facts as a description of the animal, a description of its habitat, what it eats, its habits, and other interesting facts, e.g. endangered status, migration patterns, hibernation, specialized body parts.

Each student will create an illustration of his or her animal in its habitat. [High tech (multimedia presentation software, paint program, scanned pictures, etc.) or Low Tech media (paper, crayons, markers, pictures, drawings, etc. to be scanned into presentation software)]

Each group will cooperatively write, edit, revise, and present an introductory paragraph about their habitat, including a description. Each group will create a title page of their own choosing.

Each group using KWL chart (blank copy attached) will record what they already know, what they want to know about their habitat and animals to draw on previous knowledge and direct their research.

Each group will formulate a question for Will Waddel, zoologist on line, and submit question via e-mail. Questions are to be "thoughtful" seeking answers requiring higher order thinking. Models are provided by teacher.

Each group is guided through the research tools to gather information, pictures, etc.
"Computer time" is allotted to each group to do research.

Each student and group of students is given the opportunity to research their animal via the computer programs. Having been made familiar with the programs, everyone locates their animal and takes notes (previously taught) on ANIMAL HABITATS OUTLINE.

This outline also serves as a check for student editing for content. When students are finished with the sloppy copy, they are directed to refer to the outline to make sure they have included the necessary information. It is also emphasized that they verify information with more than one reference source.

Each student and group creates a reference list to be handed in with their finished work.

Each student conferences with group to edit and revise the individual and group paragraphs. Teacher has done a review lesson with class. Mini-lessons with groups or individual students done if needed. Each student publishes his work on presentation software, such as Power Point or Kid Pix. Low tech-books or "slideshows" can be made.

Each student records orally his/her paragraph in each presentation.

Each group collaborates, constructs and publishes the introduction.

Each group with the help of the teacher assembles a slide show presentation of the project. Students have typed in their paragraphs from their edited "sloppy copies." Drawn pictures are scanned (teacher instructs and directs the use of the scanner), digital camera used or created within the presentation software. (Not able to complete this in the first use of this experience, student drawn picture used.) Group members pick out colors, fonts, and transitions for presentation. Teacher demonstrates the use of the programs as an introduction to further use by students. Students' participation in this phase is encouraged, but not done independently.

Each group's presentation is presented to class for class revisions focusing on sentence structure, capitalization, spelling, grammar, etc. using the LCD projector. As a class group, the paragraph is again open to editing and revision. Classmates are encouraged to act as "editors" as authors are called upon to defend their knowledge or graciously accept ideas for improvement.

Each group completes their KWL chart and presents their finished projects to the other groups using LCD multimedia projector. Individual slides are printed out and bound as books. Projects are kept in the Science Center on disk and as books for use by their classmates. Predited books or slides can be kept in the Language Center with question card attached to the back. As a center activity, students are asked to find grammar, capitalization, spelling, and punctuation errors. and correct them in their notebooks. Then, they can verify with self-correcting cards.

Teacher monitors student and group work continually, using observation, anecdotal notes and individual and group conferencing.

Students are encouraged to revise spelling, but are introduced to spell check at the final stage of revision.

After presentations, students respond in their own words to questions and comments.
3. Instructional/Environmental Modifications:

Children were in their heterogeneous cooperative learning groups of 4 and 5 with at least 1 proficient reader/writer. Since there were "experienced" students, care was also taken to form groups with 1 child who was familiar with the "paint" component of Kid Pix. This made it easier for the group to work more independently but was not a necessity.

I acquired an additional multimedia computer to the one "in class" computer for the duration of the activity. The ultimate set-up would be a lab or one computer per group.

The cooperative learning model helped students with learning disabilities in reading and writing.

If computers are not available, research can be done traditionally; a low-tech slide show can be done to present the children's work and books made from original written work and pictures.

4. Time required:

Planning: Over the course of one week
Research topic. (Internet, books, etc.)
Provide for extended work time and availability of computer scanner and Internet
Arrange cooperative learning groups.
Review lesson on the use of editing tools for spelling, capitalization, spelling, punctuation and additional information.
additional information.

Implementation: 2 weeks 45-60 minutes a day.
Research, writing and creation of presentation. Implementation will depend heavily on availability of hardware and familiarity with cooperative learning and technology involved.

Formative: Teacher observation and anecdotal notes Teacher feedback on draft copies - Ongoing throughout writing process and activity.
Summative: Completed KWL Chart and Rubric at the conclusion of the activity - 30 to 60 minutes.

5. Resources:

On line resources: Scholastic Network, (necessary to submit questions to Will Waddel, expert zoologist, other available experts can be used), Multimedia Encyclopedia, America On Line, Compton's Electronic Encyclopedia. See Animal Habitats Related Webs Sites.

CD ROM Multimedia Resources: Geo Safari: Animals (Educational Insights), Wild World of Animals (Creative Wonders), Incredible Creature (Curriculum Associates), Encarta Encyclopedia 96 (Microsoft), World Explorer (My First Almanac), Animal Planet (Discovery Channel).

Printed Materials: Various encyclopedias, trade books, magazines from classroom and school libraries. See Some Printed Resources attached.

Hi-Technology and Multimedia Software: Multimedia computer, Kid Pix Studio, Power Point or other presentation software, scanner, printer, and projector.

Art Supplies: drawing paper, ruled paper, crayons, markers.

6. Assessment Plan:

KWL Chart to evaluate students' knowledge.

Teacher observation and anecdotal notes.

Evaluation of student and group paragraphs, drafts, revisions and final draft.

Demonstration of facility with technology.