Encouraging Students to be Scientists and Wonder about the Natural World.
I am in the midst of an author/illustrator study of Steve Jenkins with my first graders.
I love this author study. I always begin it the same way, I pass out the books and have the students do about 10 minutes of inquiry -- I tell them that they are researchers (They are coming fresh off their Animal Adaptations Research Unit). I ask them the explore the books -- conduct a picture walk, look at the illustrations, read a few pages, etc.
Here they are during this phase:
After the ten minutes, the students think-pair-share what they have observed and then we share as a whole group.
For this part of the unit, I use the Steve Jenkins' books that focus on animals, which is the majority of the books.
I won't go into great detail, but we end up where the students talk about his books being about animals and ask them what they think he liked to do when he was a young boy and they always come to the place where a students says, "He liked to watch animals and nature." I then ask, "What is the name for someone who observes nature?" and they always answer, "A scientist!"
Embedded in this lesson is a spine label/call number/Dewey Decimal Classification realization -- after having the students locate the spine label sticker and looking at the number, I call on a few students to share their call number. The students quickly see the pattern and we go from the 500s and natural Sciences into the 590s and animals. Fun stuff!
The author study goes on to explore this idea as well as explore his collage illustrations, which the students describe as "textured" or "realistic" along with other adjectives.
During this part of the lesson we watch video clips on TeachingBooks or visit Steve Jenkins' Website to view the video clips. The video of him making the illustration for Move! is wonderful. I play it twice and stop it as often as needed to allow for student questions and clarification.
I then pull out Move! and we explore the illustration in the movie along with a few others.
This eventually brings us to Steve Jenkins' wish (and I am paraphrasing here), he wants all children to be scientists and observe nature and ask those important questions, such as "Why do butterflies wings have cool patterns?" or "Why do some birds have long beaks while others have short ones?"
Steve Jenkins' books become a GREAT model for this discussion. I gather the titles that pose a question and we talk about how research starts with a question. I then have students make up questions for the other books. I can't tell you how much fun this unit is!
After this part of the unit, I show Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest and Biggest, Strongest, Fastest. We have a discussion about scale and perspective and spend a raucous time looking at some of these very interesting and engaging places on the Earth and at some incredibly cool animals.
Yup. Next to Leo Lionni, whom I begin the year with, and Brian Lies, whom is next, and Cynthia Rylant, whom I introduce mid-year, and Denise Fleming and ....okay, you get the picture...but Steve Jenkins is one of the most fun authors to study in first grade!