Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Great Wolconakog and other super animals: CCSS meets NGSS (part1)

My first post this summer (yay!)!
 The end of the year is always so crazy, and I've been meaning to post about some of the things I've done this school year. Better late then ever, huh?
This post will cover my Animal Thematic Unit(part 1) which ended with a Super Animal Battle (part 2)!


As the school years come to a close, it becomes quite difficult keeping our students engaged -forget engaged - having them enjoy being inside working while the sunshine and birds are just calling us to go play. I think 3rd grade at Hiawatha School discovered the secret to that: Super Animals.

We use the Lucy Calkins curriculum, and this year, she presented us with brand new units. I actually love them. They are so much clearer and mapped out for third grade than the last units were. However, new reading units mean new thematic units. And this year, we embarked on a new journey with Lucy's Unit 3 - Research Clubs: Elephants, Penguins, and Frogs, Oh My! 

Because of this animal theme, with the help of my literacy coach, Leah O'Donnel, and one of our districts iCoaches, Jenny Lehotsky, we merged our NGSS standards with our CCSS standards.
We combined CCSS:
RI.3.2 Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea
RI3.9 Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic
NGSS: Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

Students research an animals physical traits. They then created a nonfiction expert book highlighting 3-5 of the animals most important physical traits. These traits needed to be so essential, that without them, the animal would not be able to survive in its habitat.

For the sake of variety, I separated the class into 4 groups: mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds. Within these groups, the students researched their animal, compared traits with other animals in its classification, and brainstormed with their group - a research club.

Here is an example of one of the students' expert books.

Once their animal books were complete, I mixed the groups up to allow for an animal of each classification to be represented in every group. The groups' first task was to highlight their animals' most essential physical trait, and explain it to their group. They then had to come up the traits they wanted to include in order to "build" their super animal.

Mrs. Lehotsky came in at this point and had the students make a Google Doc in order to keep their information organized. As students began to draw their animal, we met and conferred with teams in order to ensure that students using content vocabulary, and reasoning from their research as to why they were choosing those traits.

Columns: Physical Traits, Animal, Reasoning

Students took complete control of their animals creative design. They delegated responsibilities between themselves, and truly took pride in their work. Here are their designs.



Showlbearanha Mander
We uploaded these to and students were able to write their reasoning from the Google Doc in the physical trait. Visit out Super Animal Channel here! 

So now we have 4 Super Animals, all with amazing physical traits to allow it to survive in its habitat... now what can we do with them? Make them battle in search for the ultimate 3rd grade Super Animal!

More about the Super Animal Battle will be coming up soon. Stay tuned for part 2!

1 comment:

  1. I'm gong to showcase this great unit at an NGSS PD next week! It was impressive to see the student work collaboratively and the outcome was amazing!