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4th Grade Life Science Unit: Animals

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Keywords: Life Science, Animals
Subject(s): Life Science
Grade 4
School: Holyoke Elementary School, Holyoke, CO
Planned By: Laura Loutensock
Original Author: Laura Loutensock, Holyoke
Topic: Animal Kingdom Unit

Colorado Standard Life Science Grade level 4: All living things share similar characteristics but they also have differences that can be described and classified.
Colorado’s description of 21st Century Skills: critical thinking and reasoning, information literacy, collaboration, self-direction, and invention.
Higher level thinking skills used: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation
• Students will classify animals in a variety of ways.
• Students will explain the interaction of plants and animals in an ecosystem as a food web
• Students will identify key words to conduct research.
• Students will evaluate websites for quality and accuracy.
• Students will conduct research on an animal and synthesize the information into a multimedia presentation.
• Students will develop global citizenship through sharing information with students in other parts of the world.

1. Using the student response system we will begin the unit with a pre-assessment using high interest questions. This will also serve as an anticipatory set to introduce the material covered in the unit and build interest and enthusiasm for the topic of animals.
2. Following a lesson using direct instruction, students will use the interactive whiteboard to physically classify pictures of animals into the categories of vertebrates and invertebrates, then into the categories of herbivore, carnivore and omnivore and finally to classify the animals into the scientifically defined categories: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species based on the narrowing criteria for each category.
3. Students will learn about animals in other parts of the world as we communicate with our foreign e-pals and compare and contrast the wildlife in our communities. Students will create and illustrate food webs from our local ecosystem and trade them with our foreign educational partners.
4. Using our projector and interactive whiteboard, our class will connect through SKYPE with a specialist from a zoo or natural history museum to learn from an expert about Earth’s diversity of life and the classification of animals.
5. Students will blog about why it is important to preserve and protect Earth’s variety of animal life and evaluate current practices used to protect habitats.
6. Students will participate in an interactive lesson on how to identify key words to complete an internet search about an animal they find interesting. Using teacher modeling on the whiteboard, students will learn strategies to locate quality internet sites with accurate, up to date information.
7. In groups, students will use higher order thinking skills to conduct research about an animal of their choice. The groups will synthesize what they learn about their animal’s habitat, eating habits, and unique traits into a multimedia whiteboard presentation performance assessment that could include components such as a power point, video clips, and questions to be answered by their peers using the student response system. Students will share their reports with their classmates and post them on the class web page to share with others.
8. Throughout the unit, students will answer formative assessment questions using the student response system. Student test scores will increase as they receive immediate feedback and correct errors in their comprehension. Based on data from the formative assessments, we as teachers will know which students we should target with an additional cycle of instruction prior to the summative assessment, and who is ready to extend their understanding with individualized enrichment projects.
9. Students will complete the multiple choice, true/false, and short answer components of the summative assessment using the student response systems and receive immediate feedback about their performance.

Sample extension projects that students could choose to complete:
• Create an imaginary animal with defined traits and explain how you would categorize your new animal.
• Create a nonfiction book or magazine article about an animal.
• Make a game to sort animal pictures by their characteristics.
• Write a research report about an animal.
• Bring an animal to show, and tell about the unique characteristics of that animal.
• Possible research topics: include but are not limited to:
o What kind of life can be found in one square meter of backyard soil?
o How does a bird embryo grow in an egg?
o At what rate do pets drink water?
o How does one change in an ecosystem effect other elements of the system?

Materials: Mobile Labs, Whiteboards, Word Processor