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Friday, December 12, 2014

Animal Research

We are now at the end of our class-fav animal research unit!

We spent the first 2 weeks learning about the human body {read about that HERE.}

Then we spent the next 3 weeks researching groups of animals.  We read about, researched, charted and compared 2 groups of animals each week.  We focused on finding two types of facts: Focus facts, or facts that answer specific questions... We charted these on our Promethean board with the anchor chart that's included in my animals unit.  These specific facts cover our science state standards so that's why we chose these as our focus facts.

We also listened for "frilly facts" as we read our non-fiction texts.  Frilly facts were defined in our classroom as other interesting facts that are not our focus facts.  However, we did separate out some facts on our frilly facts charts that were pretty important to that group of animals....like fins and gills for Fish.

...And each of our table groups were renamed for an animal group during this unit!

We used this Scholastic set of books as our main texts.  We also used these close reading passages {read how that works in our first grade room HERE} from my animals unit.

Each week, students wrote an informational piece about each animal and then wrote an opinion piece each week on their favorite animal group from that week.

Last week, we started researching our animals.  They worked in groups of 2-3 and used our iPads to read a PebbleGo article on their chosen animal.  I also printed out other text for them to read as well!

They recorded their research on webs from the unit.

Then, they wrote an informational piece on their own about their group's animal.  {We wrote individually because this doubled as their end of quarter writing assessment...I have also had them write in groups in the past!}

This week, we were ready to prepare for presentations.  We practiced for our presentations {practiced introducing themselves, telling the audience their animals and reading what they wrote about their animals...}


We also took a day to make animal headbands for those kiddos who would need help with props.  These headbands turned out soooo cute!  Sometimes--actually a LOT of times--I'm shocked at the creativity of kiddos and how well their work can turn out if they are engaged with a purpose!  These headbands were just presh!
I should add the disclaimer that not all of these animals are from my classroom....my sweet teammates were so kind in letting me use some pics of their animal headbands too!

They were totally into this.  One kiddo in my rattlesnakes group made a 3 foot tail for his snake.  When I asked about it, he insisted he had to have it that long so he could tuck it into his shirt and the rattle would hang out under his shirt! :)

Another gal, asked me to staple her killer whale's tail fin so it would move up and down since, "that's how they really swim anyways!"

This year, we decided to have our kids dress up as their animal!  We sent notes home with the parents, stressing that no major costume was needed...they could simply help their child dress in the color of their animal!

Most of the kids came in their animal's color(s).  And several kids brought some sort of costume or props!  Even just wearing the animal color turned out so cute for presentations!

This little zebra went all out for her costume...black boa tail and all!
 Precious little tiger shark!!

This one is a little blurry, but it was the best shot I could get of these sweeties before they took their costumes off!  Love the poster board fins!  I've got such creative families this year!

And our little rattlesnake friend I pictured earlier....
...brought a baby rattle as a prop!  And another sweetie in this group had a jingle bell she brought to rattle!  The hilarious part is that they shook that rattle and jingled that bell during the entire presentation as background noise!  I mean... you just never know what these kids are going to think of next!!

The presentations turned out well, but we could definitely have used more practice using our LOUD presenter voices!!  Guess we are going to have to find more ways to present in groups this year.  For whatever reason, they seem to present much louder and clearer on their own during our routine math and writing share times!

And with our animal unit behind us, our classroom will be turning into Santa's workshop next week...with my little "elves" building gifts for parents and other fun Christmas activities!