Have your students participate in the upcoming election using this ballot created by Francie Kugelman, frequent web site contributor….
Download Election Ballot
Tomorrow, members of the Los Angeles teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) will be starting work an hour late to protest proposed state budget cuts to education. With education funding tied largely to property values in California, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. On the table, if not today then in the near future, is the firing of probationary teachers, increases in class sizes, and cuts to teacher salaries.
For elementary teachers participating in the job action and wondering how to explain what they are doing to their students, I recommend the book, Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type in which the cows go on strike to protest poor working conditions from the farmer. I’ve used this as an introduction to Ceser Chavez and Martin Luther King and to explain previous job actions by teachers.
Whether teachers are right or wrong, the lesson for students can be that sometimes it’s important to peacefully stand up for what you believe in.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere teachers who have used blogging as a modern day platform for their Concept/Question Board.
Alice Mercer has now re-imagined the Concept/Question Board using VoiceThread, an online digital storytelling platform. Here, students record their voices asking questions and telling what they know about the coming unit.
See VoiceThread Online Concept/Question Boards:
Having completed the City Wildlife unit for the first time, these are my thoughts on what the unit is about and how I would approach teaching it next time.
Students already know a little bit about animals. They’ve had the animal unit and the camouflage unit prior to coming to third grade. But this is not just an animals unit…The trick here is in categorizing animals as living in the city or not and talking about the unique challenges that city animals face versus animals living elsewhere.
Graphic organizers which categorize animals by habitat would be helpful (perhaps a tree map) and organizers that compare and contrast living in the city or in rural areas (like a Venn Diagram or Double Bubble) would be helpful.
Updated City Wildlife lesson plans.
Also found a good site for bird video watching, Bird Cinema.com
Sandra Bacall, teacher and singer, created this film with her classroom about a song they wrote together for the City Wildlife Unit. At the end of the song, students talk about the songwriting process and compare it to the traditional writing process.
Using music appeals to students’ different learning modalities and increases engagement.
Here’s another idea incorporating charades (for kinesthetic learners), visualizing, and higher level thinking questions.
by Stephanie Penniman
Possible questions to draw from the children or have them consider during the investigation:
â€¢ How do wild animals survive in the city?
â€¢ What do they eat? Who eats them?
â€¢ How do they find shelter or protection?
â€¢ Where do they get water?
â€¢ How do they raise they young?
â€¢ What tracks or evidence do they leave?
â€¢ Where can you find wildlife in the city?
â€¢ Can plants also be wildlife?
â€¢ How do plants, animals, and insects help each other survive?
â€¢ How do changes in the environment affect them?
â€¢ What happens to plant and animal wildlife with the change of seasons?
â€¢ What kind of wildlife can you find in a vacant lot?
â€¢ What are the effects of pollution on these wild animals?
â€¢ How do other environmental changes affect wildlife? What lessons can we learn?
â€¢ How have animals adaptedâ€”even in environments that seem hostile?
â€¢ What responsibility do people have to protect wildlife?
â€¢ Why are some wildlife species considered to be pests and others are not?
â€¢ Why have some wildlife pests survived in the city despite human attempts teradicate them?
In groups, each child takes his turn to pantomime a city-dwelling wild animal.
â€¢ How does it move?
â€¢ What does it do?
â€¢ What does it eat?
Imagine a City Lot
Students close their eyes and imagine that they are in a vacant city lot.
â€¢ â€œLook aroundâ€ the lot.
â€¢ What did you â€œseeâ€ in the lot? (Old tire? Broken bricks?)
â€¢ What wildlife might make a home in or near that object?
â€¢ Why would it make a good home for this particular living thing?
Draw a â€œpoint of viewâ€ from an ant or other living thing in your empty lot.
My favorite one-stop shop for opening this unit is Cornell University’s Urban Bird Studies web site
.Â All resources are free though they request a donation if they send you materials.
This site has films you can watch with your students and asks students to be urban bird watchers in their own community and submit data online about what they find. Imagine how much more meaningful this unit would be if students are actively involved in the scientific community as data collectors on the topic you are studying.
I would inform them of this role as part of the unit opener and ask them to get started by taking careful notes on one of the films from their web site.
Here are some other unit opener ideas for the City Wildlife Unit.