The second lesson in my unit consisted of reading Common Ground: The Earth, Water and Air We Shareby Molly Bang, and a dramatic reading of The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry. After leading this lesson with my students, I realized that the mechanics of my lesson were not conducive to a lesson in which all of my students could succeed in meeting my objectives.
I've made adaptations to this lesson to support classroom management, student understanding, and varied instructional strategies. I broke the lesson into two, forty-minute sections, and added a group activity to help solidify the themes of Bang's Common Ground. I also noted that The Great Kapok Tree, prior to the dramatic re-telling, should be read during morning read aloud, to assist with students' comprehension of the drama.
The resulting lesson is a more comprehensive look at the human toll on the environment, in terms of resources as well as animal life. Students, in this set of activities, have a more active role in their learning, and are given more diverse opportunities to demonstrate their learned knowledge.
Time Needed: Two, 40 minute periods
- What are each of the three R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), and what do they look like in practice?
- Why is it important to reduce, reuse, and recycle? How do these actions impact our environment, wildlife, and well being?
- How can we adjust our habits to help the Earth?
·SWBAT comfortably participate throughout the entirety of the lesson.
·SWBAT work cooperatively to complete the activity in small groups.
·SWBAT recite the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
·SWBAT demonstrate an understanding of at least one, if not more, of the three R's.
·SWBAT analyze an environmental problem and offer solutions.
·SWBAT recognize the importance of the three R's in relation to the Earth.
I'll begin the lesson with a review of the three R's using the whiteboard. I'll ask the students to help me fill in each of the three R's, and to give me one or more examples of each. During this time, I'll remind students to think of the activity from last week, in addition to the texts we've read as a class (Here Comes the Recycling Truck!, Love Your World).
1)Following the introductory assessment, I'll read Molly Bang's book, Common Ground, working to explain vocabulary throughout. Afterwards, I'll ask students to help brainstorm the problems that were talked about in the book: fishermen who are catching as many fish as possible, lumber companies who are cutting down trees, the use of oil and gas to heat our homes and buildings, using water for farming, drinking cooking, etc.
2)I'll use colored Unifix cubes, which are color coordinated with classroom tables, to separate students into groups of three. These cubes have been pre-selected and are used regularly in the classroom for this purpose. I'll call upon students one by one, and allow them to draw one cube from the container.
3)Once in these groups, I'll assign each table (4) to one of the four problems discussed in Bang's book.
4)During this social studies block, three resource teachers are available to assist me with activities. One teacher will work with each of the four groups during this time.Each teacher will have a photocopy of the pages in Common Ground for the corresponding problem.
5)Students, with prompting from the teacher, will discuss the problem and possible solutions in relation to the Three R's.
6)Next, students will use the larger white paper, scrap paper, markers, scissors, and glue sticks to create a visual representation of the given problem and a solution (or set of solutions). Students should also have one sentence describing each of the two pictures.
Once groups have finished their posters, we will return to the carpet to share the problems, and our Three R's solutions. We'll discuss these solutions, and brainstorm any other classroom ideas for addressing these issues.
Assessment for the first portion of the lesson will consist of informal observations of the students while they work cooperatively in groups. I'll informally note what each student is attending to: organization of group thought, drawing, writing, or communication of ideas to the whole group. I'll communicate with each of the resource teachers, post-lesson, about the discussions they had with their group of students.
I am interested in students' conversations and cooperative work. I will also assess each group's poster and its connection to the problems outlined in Common Ground:
- Students work cooperatively in a group together. Low Moderate High
- Students' poster demonstrates understanding of problem. Low Moderate High
- Students' poster suggests a solution. Low Moderate High
- Students' poster reflects Three R's. Low Moderate High
- Students' poster displays teamwork. Low Moderate High
During the majority of the time I am in the classroom, students are placed in like-ability groups for the purposes of writing and reading workshops. In this lesson, I'd like to mix up these placements and allow students to work in varied-ability groups. By doing so, I hope to scatter the students who are demonstrating a stronger understanding of the three R's to help scaffold those who are still developing the concept.
·SWBAT comfortably participate throughout the entirety of the lesson. ·SWBAT work cooperatively to complete the activity.
·SWBAT use their bodies to physically represent animals that are connected to the great kapok tree. ·SWBAT respect the bodies of their peers throughout the activity.
·SWBAT recite the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. ·SWBAT demonstrate an understanding of at least one, if not more, of the three R's. ·SWBAT analyze how the three R's impact the rainforest and the animals that reside in its environment. ·SWBAT recognize the importance of the three R's in relation to the Earth.
During morning meeting, or during the afternoon read aloud, I will read The Great Kapok Tree to students. I'll inform them that we'll be re-telling this story later in the day, and that I'll need their great memory skills to help in our class dramatization.
I'll review the situations Molly Bang outlined in her book, and the solutions we've developed the day before. I'll focus our lens for today's activities on lumber companies that are cutting down forests to make paper products (things like paper napkins and cups, toilet paper, newspaper, copy paper, etc.)
1)Next, I'll connect Common Ground to Lynne Cherry's The Great Kapok Tree, which features a single tree and the animals it houses. The animals call to a sleeping man who'd come to the three with an ax, they beg him not to cut down the tree that is his home. If possible, I'll pull down the classroom map to locate where the book takes place – in the Amazon Rainforest.
2)I'll ask students to help re-tell The Great Kapok Tree, in five parts: Men enter the forest, man falls asleep, animals whisper to the man, man awakes, man leaves the forest.
3)Before our re-telling, I'll give each student a role: the tree, a boa constrictor, a bee, a troupe of monkeys (2 students), a few tropical birds (2 students), a tree frog, a jaguar, a pair of porcupines (2 students), a three-toed sloth, and a child. Each student will have a picture of their animal printed on a piece of cardstock, hole punched with a long piece of yarn.
4)As I re-read the story, each of the students will "connect" their string to the central tree, as a physical representation of their dependence on the tree. The student who is the tree will stand in the center, holding onto all of the strings – like a web. With students' attention spans in mind, this reading of the story will be brief compared to the reading earlier in the day.
5)After the story has finished, I'll ask students to think about all of the animals that depended on the great kapok tree. Can we count how many? Next, using a pair of scissors, I'll act as the man with the ax – if he were to cut down the tree – and cut each of the strings that run between the tree and each animal. Students will sit down in their assigned carpet spot once their string has been cut.
6)After all students have been seated, I'll ask them to Pair & Share the following questions: What do you think would happen to the animals if the tree were cut down? What would the animals do next? How might they feel? Where might the animals go?
7)Once students have shared with a partner, each student will share an answer their partner mentioned during the Pair & Share period. As these insights are shared, I'll use chart paper and markers to log our ideas.
My assessment for this lesson will also be informal, occurring during our debriefing of the dramatization. I'll be listening to each pair while they share, as well as during our group share. Specifically, I'll be checking for understanding that the animals rely upon the tree for food, habitat, and other needs.
Some of the vocabulary in both of the books I'm reading may need some clarification for all students. I've decided to make the reading of The Great Kapok Tree more interactive and movement based for students, in an effort to make the lesson more engaging, and memorable. Allowing the students to get up and move a bit will aid with management, as many of them are restless at the end of the day.