"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, December 12, 2014

Inquiring minds want to know..."Why are the eyes topside?"

So asked an astute first grader.

We are not even into the animal adaptations unit, but given what I have heard this week, these first graders are going to be great researchers.

The students and I spent November exploring Steve Jenkins' books, which aligned with their nonfiction picture book month challenge. During this unit, we learned about our Wonder Wall (or nonfiction neighborhood).

Following this unit, the art teacher and I co-planned a Lois Ehlert lesson. I would book talk books and explore her work as an author and illustrator, while she would use her books and technique as inspiration for a winter birds collage project. I introduced Lois Ehlert's work by picture walking and reading snippets of her books.

The students and I then worked through a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting Steve Jenkins and Lois Ehlert as authors and illustrators. The looked at the style of collage work, the materials used, and the subject matter.

I decided to tie the lesson back to our Wonder Wall unit by pointing out that all books make us stop and think and can inspire wondering questions.

I used this example from Lois Ehlert's book, Lots of Spots.

With just these four lines, the students generated wondering questions such as these:

''Do only the spots change colors?"

"How do they change color?"

"Where is its mouth?"

"In what ways does it look like a pancake?"

"Why are the eyes topside?"

How does the flounder see with its topside eyes?"

"Why to the fins look like fans?"

"How can it swim?"

"Who is it trying to hide from?"

That was week one.

Today when the students came I helped them recall last week's lesson and then reread those four lines.

The students recalled their wondering questions and added a few new ones.

The next part of the lesson was done in part to bring all the first graders up to speed as only two of the classes had used the library databases for the recent research projects. (We'll be diving into a new unit after the December break and I want them all ready.)

I demonstrated finding the databases on my Webpage and then demonstrated how to look for an article and navigate through it.

Sadly, there are no good articles on flounders in either database.

Luckily, I found a very cool video on National Geographic. I just showed the first minute. I reminded the students that they can take in information from multiple sources and to watch the movie and try to answer their wondering questions. I stopped the movie once to ask what migrate meant, and then played it to the same point (just after the flounder eats the shrimp).  **please note: The movie follows the predator/prey food chain, and an eagle comes along and swoops a flounder out of the ocean in the next part of the movie. Since I wanted to focus on answering our questions, I did not show them this part.

The students were able to answer most of their questions from the video footage and use examples from the movie to back up their answers - a valuable lesson about digital literacy and taking in information from multiple sources. #coolbeans.

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