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We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.
The structure of an organism is related to its function and the role it plays in its environment. Many structural differences can be found within a species. These structural differences are often adaptations that allow organisms to better survive in their particular environment. These evolutionary adaptations develop through the process of natural selection.
This lesson explores different adaptations and variations in birds, using the Nature episode “Extraordinary Birds.” It focuses on bird beaks, migratory patterns, and birds’ ability to co-exist with humans. Students will define key concepts from the lesson, discuss and explore different adaptations of birds, and analyze relationships between the concepts learned. This lesson can be taught independently, or it can be used as a precursor to the New York State Core Curriculum “Beaks of Finches” lab. Students must have a basic knowledge of evolution and natural selection in order to successfully complete this lesson.
Students will be able to:
Two to three 45-minute class periods
For each student:
For each pair or group of students:
For the class:
An interactive Web site featuring the beaks of nine different species of birds, with descriptions of their characteristics and what they are best adapted for. It also includes a similar page for adaptations of birds’ feet, and worksheets to assess student comprehension.
Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:
Preview all of the video segments and Web sites used in the lesson.
Download the video segments used in the lesson to your classroom computer, or prepare to watch them using your classroom's Internet connection.
Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as del.icio.usor diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.
Prepare all classroom materials. Print out and make copies of the student organizers and answer keys. Prepare for the Gallery Walk activity by writing the following vocabulary terms at the top of flip chart pages or large pieces of paper (one term per page): Variation, Natural Selection, Adaptation, Competition, and Environment. Post the flip chart pages around the room. If you are not familiar with conducting a “Gallery Walk” in your classroom, review the procedure at the “How to Use Gallery Walk?” Web page.
For the Culminating Activity: Print two copies of the Vocabulary Terms Scenario Chart. Keep one sheet for teacher reference, and cut up the other sheet so that each scenario is on a separate slip of paper. Do not include the right-hand column (Vocab Key Code) on the cut-up slips. Put all the slips of paper into a hat or bag and mix well.
1. Ask your students to look around the room at the posted vocabulary terms. They should already be familiar with most or all of the terms. Ask students for brief working definitions of each term. As they develop the definitions, write them on the flip chart pages. (Approximate definitions: Variation - differences between individuals; Natural Selection - differential survival and reproduction of organisms; Adaptation - a structure or behavior that helps an organism survive and reproduce in its environment; Competition - process by which organisms contend for limited resources; Environment -external conditions affecting the life and survival of an organism.)
2. Give a Vocabulary Organizer to each student. Tell students they will now be watching a video segment about hummingbirds, which contains examples of these terms. Provide students with a focus for media interaction by asking them to write down any examples they see of the concepts presented in the vocabulary terms on the Vocabulary organizer. Play segment 1, “A Variety of Hummingbirds.” When the segment is finished, give students a few minutes to finish writing their responses on the organizer. If students are having a difficult time finding the examples, play the segment again.
3. Divide the class into groups for the Gallery Walk activity (about 4 students to a group, more if the class is larger). Assign one group to each of the five vocabulary words. Give the class 3-4 minutes to work in their groups, and discuss the examples they have found for their word. One member of each group should write one or two of the examples on their flip chart page. When the time is up, rotate the groups so that each group is now standing in front of a different word, and repeat the process. Rotate groups every 3-4 minutes until each group has had a chance to discuss and write examples for each vocabulary word. The activity should take approximately 20-25 minutes.
4. When the class has completed the activity, review the definitions and examples for each term with the whole class. Post all of the flip chart pages in one area of the classroom for students to reference throughout the lesson.
1. When the class has completed the activity, review the definitions and examples for each term with the whole class. Post all of the flip chart pages in one area of the classroom for students to reference throughout the lesson.
2. Explain that migration is another survival technique used by birds and other organisms. Ask students for some reasons why birds might migrate. (Possible responses: they are looking for warmer weather; searching for mates or resources; their environment has been altered or destroyed.)
3. Tell your students that they are going to see a video segment about the migration habits of one specific bird, the Rufous Hummingbird. Give each student the Rufous Hummingbird Organizer, and briefly review the questions it asks. Provide students with a focus for media interaction by asking them to find the information on the organizer as they watch the video segment. Play segment 2, “Little Brains, Big Journey.” Give the students a few minutes to record their findings on the student organizers, and replay the segment if needed to help students determine information they may have missed.
4. Ask students to share their answers with the class. Revisit the original question “Why do birds usually migrate?” and see if students have any additional or different answers. (Answers may include: To find new or different food sources; unknown genetic reasons. Answers can also be found on the Teacher Answer Key.)
1. Tell students that they will now be exploring birds’ adaptations in greater detail. Review the concept of adaptation with students. Ask the class why adaptation might be necessary and to name some factors to which organisms might need to adapt. (Answers may include a change in weather or seasons, a change in the environment, the introduction of new species, a need for food or new food sources.)
2. Show the Bird Adaptations - Beaks interactive on a projection screen for the whole class to view. Distribute the Beak Characteristics Organizer to each student. Provide a focus for media interaction by asking students to look at the pictures on the Web site, and to write in the first column of the organizer their first thoughts or guesses as to what each kind of beak is used for. If they have any questions about the beaks, they should write them in the second column.
3. Take a few minutes to review what the students wrote in Column 1. If there were any questions in Column 2, have students read them aloud as you write the questions on the board or a piece of flip chart paper. Encourage students to consider these questions as the class moves on to the next part of the activity.
4. Use the mouse to roll over each individual pictures on the page. As you review the details of each bird’s beak, ask students to compare the birds’ adaptive traits and uses for their beaks to the guesses that they wrote on their organizers, and to try to find the answers to any questions they might have asked. Students should write their revised answers or any new information learned in the third column of the organizer. Review the revised answers as a class and address any remaining questions.
1. Explain to students that as humans and birds have grown to co-exist in the same environments, they have adapted to each other. Ask students to think of ways that humans “use” birds, and how the natural adaptations of birds may assist people. Call on students to share answers with the class. (Possible responses: food, using feathers for different purposes, as pets, catching pests and insects.)
2. Tell students they will be watching two video segments of different types of bird/human interactions. Provide them with a focus for media interaction by asking the following questions (these can be written on the board or a flip chart page at the front of the class):
3. Play segment 3, “The Pigeon Express.” Give students a few minutes to finish writing their answers, and ask a few students to share their answers with the class. (1. Humans have trained pigeons to learn specific routes, and have bred pigeons especially for homing. 2. Some humans have become specialists in breeding, keeping, and training homing pigeons. Scientists believe that homing pigeons possess a “solar compass” as well as geomagnetic sensors. They also rely heavily on scent. This enables them to deliver packages quickly and effectively.)
4. Play segment 4, “Birds of Kundha Kulam.” Give students a few minutes to finish writing their answers, and ask a few students to share their answers with the class. (1. None noted. 2. The birds’ migratory patterns have adjusted to correspond to the seasonal rainfall patterns. People in the community perceive that the birds are responsible for bringing the rain, and they schedule their farming and harvesting around the birds’ arrival.)
5. Engage class in a compare/contrast discussion of the interactions in the two segments. Ask students if they can think of any natural adaptations or human interferences that might help or hinder these interactions in the future. (Possible answers: change in climate may affect birds’ migration in Kundha Kulam; pigeons could be selectively bred to be better at homing.)
1. Tell students that they will now be creating a Concept Map to represent what they have observed and to draw connections between birds’ beaks and other adaptive qualities. If your students have not created concept maps before, review the process with them prior to starting the activity. Instructions for creating a Concept Map can be found here. Divide the class into pairs or groups of 3-4. Distribute a pad of sticky notes and a marker to each group.
2. Ask the pairs or groups to brainstorm all of the different concepts and terms introduced in the lesson: beak adaptations, beak types, vocabulary terms, adaptive traits, environmental factors, etc. Each one of these words, phrases, or concepts will go on a sticky note. Students may also draw pictures to represent concepts.
3. Students should begin organizing their concepts on a flip chart page or other large sheet of paper. The sticky notes will allow them to move and rearrange as desired. Students should use a pencil to draw connecting lines between each sticky note. Encourage students to discuss their answers and decisions, and to make as many connections as they can.
4. When students have arranged all of their sticky notes and connecting lines to their satisfaction, they should take a marker and permanently write down the terms and their linear connections on the flip chart page.
5. Each group should share their map with the class. Point out some of the differences and similarities between the maps (see Sample Concept Map as an example).
1. Make sure the six flip chart pages with the vocabulary terms and definitions are still posted in the room. If necessary, spread them out so that each page is posted in a different area of the room. Studentsshould be comfortable with the concepts represented by the vocabulary terms by this point. Tell the students that just as the characteristics of birds are affected by these factors, so are the characteristics of most, if not all, living things.
2. Group the students into pairs or small groups. Take out the bag or hat containing all of the Vocabulary Terms Scenario Chart - 2 copies of each. Have each student group draw one scenario. Tell the students to look at the scenarios they drew, and to decide to which vocabulary term it best applies.
3. Once the students have decided to which vocabulary terms their scenarios best apply, they should arrange themselves near the appropriate flip chart page. Give students two or three minutes to arrange themselves by a vocabulary term that applies to their scenario. Some of the scenarios are intentionally ambiguous, with more than one possible answer.
4. Ask the students to read their scenarios and to discuss their reasoning for choosing the vocabulary term they did. Ask students who were undecided why they were having difficulty with their scenario, and how it could apply to more than one of the vocabulary terms. Encourage students to debate and discuss how different concepts could apply to different scenarios. Repeat steps 2-4 until all the scenario slips have been chosen and discussed.
5. For a homework assignment, ask students to research the phenomenon represented in one of the scenarios, and to write a one-page paper explaining how or why it occurs.
Ask students to write a short story or a poem in the voice of a resident of Kundha Kulam. They should express their views or feelings about the yearly appearance of the birds. Why does it happen? How can the birds “bring rain”?
Ask students to research the history of homing pigeons in the military.
Ask students to create drawings of different bird beaks that might suit particular environments around the world.
Ask an avian specialist to come in and speak to the class about bird adaptations and bird/human interactions.
Students can research local organizations committed to the protection and preservation of birds, and volunteer in their initiatives.
Visit a local park or zoo and observe birds. Note features that are particularly helpful to the birds in their particular environments.