VERTEBRATES

Mini-Unit Goals

In my mini-unit, I will be focusing on warm-blooded vertebrates (birds and mammals).  The goals of my mini-unit are as follows.  The student will be able to:

National Science Education Standards

 Pennsylvania Standards

Content - Vertebrates

Vertebrates, in the simplest definition, are animals with backbones.  A vertebrate animal gets its shape from an endoskeleton, which is a skeleton that is inside its body.  The skeleton of a vertebrate always includes a backbone.  In most cases, the backbone is made of bone.  However, in sea-dwelling vertebrates, such as sharks, their backbone is made of cartilage.  Each vertebrate animal has a different skeletal make-up based on their size and the way they live.  Yet all vertebrates have a skull that contains the brain and sense organs and two pairs of limbs.  Another characteristic of vertebrates is that they have internal organs.  Each organ within a vertebrate has a specific job to do, and when these organs are grouped together, they form a body system (such as the digestive, circulatory, and reproductive system). 

The vertebrates make up about 3% of the animal species, and the vertebrate family includes more than 40,000 species.  These species are divided into five main groups:  fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.  Mammals and birds are warm-blooded, meaning that they generate heat within their body so they can withstand cold conditions.  Fish, reptiles, and amphibians are cold-blooded, meaning that they cannot regulate their body temperature (their body temperatures change with their surroundings).

 Warm-blooded Vertebrates

Birds – Birds live on land, in trees, and on water.  Instead of having front legs, birds have wings and hollow bones, which help them fly.  But some do not fly, such as penguins.  Their bodies are covered with feathers, which help it to fly or to keep warm.  They lay hard-shelled eggs, and the bird sits on them to keep them warm until they hatch.  Then the bird feeds and cares for their young. 

There are 8,500 different kinds of birds.  They differ by their beaks (adapted for a certain type of food) and their legs and feet (to help them perch on branches, wade in water, swim, run, or grab prey).

 Mammals – Some characteristics of mammals include warm-bloodedness, hair or fur, lungs, and four limbs.  Fur or hair is used to keep the animal warm in cold temperatures (if a mammal has no hair, fat is used in the same way).  Mammals give birth to only a few young, and the female nurses the young from her own milk (they all have mammary glands).

There are three main groups of mammals based on how their young develop.  The first group lays their eggs, and there are very few of these mammals (monotremes).  An example would be a duckbilled platypus.  Another group has pouches, and they raise their young in the pouch, which is on the outside of their body (marsupials).  An example would be kangaroos or koalas.  The third group gives birth to fully-developed young.  The young stays inside the female’s body until they are developed.  After the baby is born, the baby nurses on the mother’s milk glands.  Most mammals belong to this group (placentals).  Examples are cats, dogs, and humans.

Mammals are also divided into categories depending on what they eat.  Carnivores are meat eaters with sharp, pointed teeth for cutting and tearing (an example is a tiger).  Herbivores are plant eaters with flat teeth to help them grind up plants (examples are sheep, cows, and rabbits).  Omnivores eat both plants and animals and have pointed and flat teeth to eat both of these things.  (examples are human beings, bears, skunks, and raccoons.)

Sources:

ENGAGE - SCIENCE TALK         

Concept:  The opening lesson to my mini-unit will be my science talk, and therefore, there will be no new concepts being taught.

Rationale:  Doing a science talk before a unit is very important because teachers need to find out what the children already know and want to know in order to complete a successful unit.  By doing this science talk and K.W.L. chart, I will be able to see any student prior knowledge and then use this knowledge to adjust my upcoming lessons (and make them more effective for this particular class).

Objectives:  The students will be able to:

 Materials:

 

Lesson Management:

This lesson should take about 40 minutes, but this depends on the students’ answers on their handouts.  If the students know less than I thought, the lesson might be a little shorter.

For this lesson, the normal classroom rules will apply.  I will remind the students to be respectful of everyone by listening to each other while they are sharing ideas.  Also, I will tell the students that it is extremely important for them to work alone (I want to see their thoughts, not anyone else’s on their paper).

 Beginning the Lesson:                                     Time:  5 minutes

 Body of the Lesson:                                         Time:  30 minutes

End of the Lesson:                                            Time:  5 minutes

Assessment:  There will be no formal assessment for this lesson.  I will be looking at the students’ K.W.L. charts to make sure they were able to give something they knew or wanted to know about warm-blooded vertebrates.  As long as some kind of effort is shown on the handout and in class, I believe that the science talk was successful.

Explore – Birds 

Concepts:  The class of warm-blooded vertebrates that we will be discussing today is birds.  For all the necessary information on this topic, see my unit Instructional Focus and the website reference at the end of this lesson.

Rationale:  This lesson is based on the first group of warm-blooded vertebrates, birds.  From what I have learned about inquiry, letting students discover and hypothesize on their own will help them to learn more about birds.  In this lesson, students will be working in stations to hypothesize about characteristics of birds.  Then at the end of the lesson, we will bring everyone together and discuss their hypotheses, judging if they are correct or not.  This will let students discover things on their own and also have a more structured time to discuss what they found.

 Objectives:  The students will be able to :

Materials:

Teacher:

Students:

 Lesson Management:

This lesson should take about 55 minutes to complete.  The bulk of the lesson will come when the students are working in the stations.  There should be an ample amount of time after that to discuss the students’ finding and hypotheses.

For this lesson, the students will be assigned to groups by myself (I will make up the groups).  While going to each station, the students must keep their voices down and move in an orderly way (without chaos!).  I will remind the students which station they will be moving onto next to avoid any confusion.  Also, I will encourage the students to stay on task because the 10 minutes at each station will go very fast!

Beginning the Lesson:                                     Time:  5 minutes

Body of the Lesson:                                         Time:  35 minutes

  1. Feathers – Students look at two types of feathers with a magnifying glass.  They will hypothesize why each feather is different.

    Ø    Contour feathers cover the body of the bird and have a strong, hollow shaft for flying.

    Ø    Down feathers are small and lie under the contour feathers.  These insulate the bird from the cold and protect it from sunburn.

  2. Bones – Students discover that birds have hollow bones by looking at chicken bones and then hypothesize why their bones are like this (helps them fly).

  3. Beaks – Students will look at several bird beaks and hypothesize why they look a certain way.  Then after hypothesizing, they will look at real pictures of birds and figure out what kind of food they eat.

End of the Lesson:                                            Time:  15 minutes

Assessment:  There will be no formal assessment for this lesson.  However, as the groups work in the stations, I will observe and listen to the students to gage their understanding of birds.  Also, the K.W.L. chart will be a more formal form of assessment, but this will not be addressed until the Explain portion of my unit (Lesson #4).  Today, the students will just be adding to their “L” section by writing in some information that they learned during the lesson.

Reference:  http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/chf/pub/virtualbird/teacher/lesp11.html

Explore – Mammals  

Concept:  The class of warm-blooded vertebrate that we will be discussing today is mammals.  To see all the necessary information for this topic, see my unit Instructional Focus.

 Rationale:  This lesson is based on the second group of warm-blooded vertebrates, mammals.  From what I have learned about inquiry, by letting the students discover and hypothesize on their own, they will learn more about mammals.  Also, by letting the students look at pictures of mammals and pick out characteristics, they will work harder than if I told them the characteristics straight out. 

Objectives:  The students will be able to:

Materials:

Teacher

Students

Lesson Management:

This lesson should take about 50 minutes to accomplish.  Because the students will be discovering the characteristics in groups, it will take a little longer.  Also, I will encourage the students to discuss their findings and this will take up time.

For this lesson, the normal classroom rules will apply.  For the group work, each student will be placed in a group according to where they are seated in the classroom.  I will remind the students that they must keep their voices down while they are working in groups. 

Beginning the Lesson:                                     Time:  5-7 minutes

Body of the Lesson:                                         Time:  40 minutes

End of the Lesson:                                            Time:  10 minutes

Assessment:  There will be no formal assessment for this lesson.  While the students are working in groups, I will listen to their conversations to make sure they are on task and to see what they are discovering.  Also, the K.W.L. chart will be a form of assessment once this mini-unit is completed.  Each student will reflect on what they learned that particular day, and I will use this to see their understanding.

 References:  http://www.discoveryschool.com  (science lesson plans)

EXPLAIN

 Concepts:  There will be no new concepts taught in this lesson because this is the explain part of my mini-unit.  Students will be looking back on what they learned and then putting it all together in their K.W.L. charts.

Rationale:  This lesson is my “explain” section of my mini-unit.  This part is very important because we are going to bring all the ideas and information the students learned over the past few days and tie it together.  The students are going to use their K.W.L. charts to show what they learned about birds and mammals and then explain why this information is important to them and why it should be to the rest of the class as well.  By using this explain section, the students will not be left with any questions they might have after the two explore days. 

Objectives:  The students will be able to:

Materials:

Teacher:

Students:

 Lesson Management:

Altogether this lesson should take about 25 minutes to complete.  The only reason why it would take longer is if the students have more questions about birds and mammals than I had anticipated.

The normal classroom rules will apply during this lesson.  However, the students will be working in the same group they have been all week, and I will remind them to keep their voices down and stay on task while they are working.  Hopefully by the third day of being in these groups, the students will be more accustomed to the procedures.  Also, if I have time to start explaining the vertebrate resumes during this class period, I will start telling the class about the project (because any extra time would be extremely helpful).

Beginning the Lesson:                                     Time:  5 minutes

Body of the Lesson:                                         Time:  15 minutes

 End of the Lesson:                                            Time:  5 minutes

Assessment:  There will be no formal assessment for this lesson.  However, I will assess the students’ understanding of my mini-unit by looking at all the information that the students share and write in the “L” section of their K.W.L. charts.  This lesson will also lead into my formal assessment of the mini-unit: vertebrate resumes.

ELABORATE / EVALUATE

Concept:  Since this is the elaborative/evaluative section of my unit, there will be no new concepts being taught.  The students will be using the concepts that they have learned throughout the unit to complete this assignment.

 Rationale:  This activity is a good ending to a unit on warm-blooded vertebrates because it not only brings together some information from the unit, but it also gives the students a different way of showing what they learned (other than a test).  The resume will be dependent on the information that they learned, and it will require them to work on their research skills to find additional information.  The project will also require them to use their writing skills.  Altogether, it will be an effective (and fun) way to end the mini-unit.

Objectives:  The students will be able to:

Materials:

Teacher:

Students:

Lesson Management:

This lesson will take place over two days in the classroom.  One day will be dedicated to working on the resume, and the other will be for finishing up the resumes and doing the “hiring” process.  If more time is needed, I could possibly tally the scores by myself and present them to the students another day.

For this lesson, I will remind the students that even though they can talk while working on this project, they must keep their voices down and stay on task.  If there are too many problems, they will need to work on their resumes without talking at all.

Beginning the Lesson:                                     Time:  2-3 minutes

Body of the Lesson:                                         Time:  40 minutes

End of the Lesson:                                            Time:  30 minutes

Assessment:  The resumes will act as a formal assessment for my mini-unit on warm-blooded vertebrates.  The resumes will be judged as follows:

 References:  “Taking a look at Vertebrates”  The Mailbox (Intermediate)  Dec./Jan. 2001-02