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TeachNet Disseminator Grant      << Back to all Grant Winners

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Life Cycles Webquest: Animal Engineers at Work

Subject: Science and Literacy

Grade Level: 4th

Materials: Laptops with Internet capability, LCD projector, pdfs of guidebook, lifecycle template, adult animal template, assessment, rubric for project, lined paper, pencils, chart paper, markers

About: Students use the Internet to learn about different animal life cycles and apply their knowledge to create their own species. Since biology can be overwhelming, this project is a good segue into this complex science. Students use prior knowledge about animals and their environment to foster learning about how they are born, live, and die. In this integrated unit of study, students explore differences and similarities in the life cycles of six different animals and then apply that knowledge to engineering of their own animal. First, students use the Internet to explore the various life cycles and collect data in a guidebook that details each of the phases in written and visual form. The book becomes a reference guide for all future work that they will do on their project. Using the information they have gathered, students then create their own unique animal with its own life cycle. Their creation must include descriptions and drawings of each phase of the life cycle as well as a drawing of the adult creature with elements of the creature's environment. Students then use their persuasive and informative writing skills to create a well-organized press release providing detailed information about their new creature.

The final project for the webquest is a culmination of several tasks. Each student uses the guidebook to keep track of the life cycles they are learning about. The project is a combination of literacy and science. Students create a picture of the adult animal in the environment in which it lives, and then create a life cycle and label each stage. Lastly, they announce their new species through a press release.

The project enables students to learn about different life cycles while using critical thinking skills to compare differences and similarities. The students take their new-found knowledge and apply it to a project where they think creatively. Many projects allow students to copy the different phases and explain them. This project asks the students to synthesize the material and apply it to something they created. The webquest provides links to multiple sites for each life cycle. The students are able to compare the differences in the sites and determine which information is important to include in their reference book. They are also able to immediately begin to see the similarities and difference various life cycles. This project moves beyond the textbook and into the real world because it requires students to think outside the box. Since each student is given the opportunity to create a new species, they own their work. They want to be able to explain and draw how the animal is born and where it lives. They are able to take their knowledge of life cycles and apply it to their own creation. Since they have a deeper sense of ownership in the project, they are able to articulate the life cycle process with a much deeper level of understanding. Lastly, since the entire project is supported by a website, exemplary student work is published on the web for other students to use as a reference. The students want to see their work on the Internet as a guide and a reference for other students. Being published is a great way for students to feel that their work is important. This webquest provides this sense of accomplishment.

If each student has access to the Internet, it makes it easier to work. However, students who are able to work in pairs of mixed ability can help each other. Pairing a technically proficient student with one who may have difficulty allows them to meet in the middle and gain the most out of the webquest. If computer access is limited, it is possible to complete the webquest without it. Make copies of the different life cycles for the students to use in groups. Review with the task, process, and assessment and allow them to work through the webquest using hard copies of the websites and the teacher-generated pintables available in pdf form.

http://freewebs.com/lifecycleswebquest/

 Objectives
Students will analyze six pre-selected life cycles to compares the similarities and differences.
Students will be able to apply and combine their knowledge of persuasive and informative writing in order to convince and inform their readers.
Students will use the Internet to gather information.
Students will be able to express their ideas in written, visual, and oral form.
Students will be able to work collaboratively to obtain information and share ideas.
Students will be able to express their ideas in written, visual, and oral form, and draw conclusions, synthesize the information, and apply it to their own creation.
Students will be able to organize their work in a logical and sequential manner.
Students will be able to explain the life cycle of at least two different animals besides their own.
Students will be able to integrate art in order to enhance their written work.
Students will be able to correctly label their work in order to covey information.

Websites
This link provides access to Life Cycles Webquest: Animal Engineers at Work. It is the backbone of the entire project and provides links to the pages necessary for completion as well as supporting documents and printable materials.
http://freewebs.com/lifecycleswebquest/

Standards
ELA Standard 1: Students read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding, and compare and contrast information on one topic from two different sources.
Fourth
Literacy (Reading)
ELA Standard 1: Students read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding, and use graphic organizers to record significant details from informational texts.
Fourth
Literacy (Reading)
ELA Standard 1: Students read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding, and use text features such as captions, charts, tables, graphs, maps, notes, and other visuals to understand and interpret informational texts.
Fourth
Literacy (Reading)
ELA Standard 1: Students read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding, and write labels and captions for graphics to convey information, with assistance.
Fourth
Literacy (Writing)
ELA Standard 1: Students read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding, and support interpretations and explanations with evidence from text.
Fourth
Literacy (Writing)
Standard 3: Students read, write, listen, and speak for critical analysis and evaluation, and use details from stories or informational texts to predict, explain, or show relationships between information and events.
Fourth
Literacy (Writing)
Science Standard 4: Students understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment, recognize the historical development of ideas in science, and describe the major stages in the life cycles of selected plants and animals.
Four - Five
Science (Living Enviroment)
Science Standard 4: Students understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment, recognize the historical development of ideas in science, and describe how plants and animals, including humans, depend upon each other and the nonliving environment.
Four - Five
Science (Living Enviroment)
Technology Standard 2 Analysis, Inquiry and Design: Students use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design to pose questions, seek answers and develop solutions, and access needed information from media, electronic databases, and community resources.
Four
Technology
Technology Standard 2 Analysis, Inquiry and Design: Students use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions. Students use familiar communication systems to satisfy personal needs.
Four
Technology
Standard 1: Students actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts and participate in various roles in the arts. They explore different kinds of subject matter, topics, themes, and metaphors; understand and use sensory elements, organizational principles, and expressive images; use a variety of materials, processes, mediums, and techniques; and use appropriate technologies for creating and exhibiting visual art works.
Four
Art

Day 1: You are the scientist - Lifecycles Webquest: Animal Engineers at Work
Objectives
Students understand the purpose of the Internet as a resource to gather information.
Students recognize how the project rubric is a tool to help them guide them through the unit.
Students activate prior knowledge in order to discuss enviroment and lifecycles of animals.
Students share ideas and thoughts with the class.
Materials
LCD Projector with Internet access
Computers with Internet capability
Chart paper, makers, lined paper, and pencils
Rubric for the Life Cycles Webquest
Procedures
Make sure students have had lessons about different types of environments and habitats. This will be helpful when they create an environment for their new creature.
Using the LCD projector, display Lifecycles Webquest: Animal Engineers at work.
Go over each element with the students, helping them understand the task, process, and resources.
Make sure each student knows how to access a link and go back to the page on which they started (back button).
Give each student a copy of the Life Cycles Webquest.
Review each component of the rubric, ensuring students are aware of how much each element is worth and how they can gain and lose points on their final project.
Engage questions and answers about the webquest. Make sure all questions about the process of a webquest and how to use computers and the Internet are addressed.
After the students demonstrate a level of understanding, review some of the elements of science that are involved in the webquest.
Generate a chart with the students with a list of the questions they have about life cycles.
Generate a second chart with the students. Allow them to share what they know about a life cycle.
Homework
Encourage students to think about what they want their new species to look like. For homework, the students should generate a first-draft drawing or description of their new species.
Assessment
Address individual concerns students have regarding the Internet and adjust lesson depending on understanding of the life cycle, computer usage, and enviroment/habitat. Assessment should come from class discussions and indvidual student sharing.

Day 2: Field Work Begins: Reseaching Lifecycles
Objectives
Students will use the Internet as a resource to gather information.
Students will be able to express their ideas in written, visual, and oral form.
Students will be able to draw conclusions from information gathered, synthesize the information, and apply it to their own life cycle creation.
Materials
Guidebook for each student
Pencil, makers, crayons
Chart paper
Computers with Internet access
Procedures
Review with the students the charts they created yesterday.
Ask the students to predict what they think they will find when they explore the different life cycles on the Internet.
After the students share their ideas, give each student a guidebook and allow them to look through the books.
Explain that the guidebooks will become the reference guide for their final project.
Allow the students to use computers either alone or in pairs. Make sure they have accessed the webpage http://freewebs.com/lifecycleswebquest/ Review how to use the back button on the web browser.
Monitor the students as they work. Ask them to demonstrate how to use the back button.
Ask questions of the students to make sure they understand the life cycles they are learning about.
Review how to use the back button and how to move between two different sites.
Homework
Encourage the students to bring their guidebooks home to finsih their drawings or complete their findings. Remind them that the guidebook is an important reference and they should make sure it is as complete as possible.
Assessment
Keep track of the students' ability to use the computer. Meet with students who are demonstrating difficulty.

Day 3: Continued Research: The process for new life
Objectives
Students will be able to work collaboratively to obtain information and share ideas.
Students will be able to organize their work in a logical and sequential manner.
Students will be able to explain the life cycle of at least two different animals besides their own.
Students will be able to integrate art in order to enhance their written work.
Materials
Computers with Internet access
Pencisl, markers, crayons
Adult animal template
Chart paper and charts previously generated by students
Procedures
Ask students to share what they have learned so far. Record their answers on chart paper.
Ask students questions about different life cycles. Questions should include some of the following: "How are the butterfly and ladybug life cycles similiar?"; "How is the salamander life cycle different from the frog?"; "Why do you think they are different when the adult animals live on both land and water?" "How do all of the life cycles that you are researching begin?" "How do all of the life cycles that you are researching end?"
Once the students have generated ideas from the questions, ask them about their own creatures and what their adult stage is going to look like.
Tell the students that they are going to take their homework from lesson one and use it to create their adult animal.
Review the importance of enviroment and habitat to a creature and ask students to think about the types of enviroments that their animal is going to live in.
In pairs, allow the students to share their ideas for their adult animals and their habitats.
Encourgage students to make suggestions to help each other better their adult animal and habitat. Then allow them to begin drawing. Remind students that drawings should be as detailed as possible and include as much information about habitat as possible.
If time permits, allow students to continue to work on their guidebooks.
Students who are finished should be encouraged to make sure their information and drawings are as accurate as possible.
Homework
Ask students to write down details about their adult animal's habitat: what the animal eats, where it lives, and what other living and non-living things are in its enviroment.
Assessment

Day 4: Developing a new species: Animal Engineering
Objectives
Students will be able to correctly label their work in order to convey information.
Students will be able to express their ideas in written, visual, and oral form. Students will be able to draw conclusions from information that is gathered, synthesize the information, and apply it to their own creation.
Materials
Guidebooks for each student
Life cycle template (four- or six-stage life cycle)
Pencils, crayons, and markers
Computers with Internet access
Procedures
Review what a life cycle is. Make sure there is an understanding that the process is different in every animal, but that every cycle begins with an animal being created and ends with an animal dying.
Encourage the students to look through their guidebooks to come up with ideas for the life cycle of their own animal.
Ask the students to share some ideas they have come up with for their own life cycles.
Allow students who have not completed their guidebooks to continue to work on the computer.
Students who have finished should begin work on their life cycles for their new animal. These should incorporate some of the stages they have learned about from other animals.
Monitor student work and progress.
Homework
Have the students finish their life cycles at home. Make sure they complete either the four- or six-stage cycle. It is important that the students label each phase. Ask the students to describe each phase and the amount of time it takes to move from one phase to the next.
Assessment
Quiz: See either the webquest site or the pdf link listed on this site. The quiz assesses understanding of the life cycle process, how well students have accurately obtained information, and how well they are able to use the computer.

Day 5: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New Species Created
Objectives
Students will be able to express their ideas in written, visual, and oral form. Students will be able to draw conclusions from information that is gathered, synthesize the information, and apply it to their own life cycle creation.
Students will be able to apply and combine their knowledge of persuasive and informative writing in order to convince and inform their readers.
Students will be able to express their ideas in written, visual, and oral form.
Students will be able to organize their work in a logical and sequential manner.
Materials
Paper and pencils
Guidebooks, life cycles, and adult drawings, rubric for the webquest, example of a press release
All previously generated charts
Computers with Internet access (optional)
Procedures
Ask students to take out their completed material. Remind them that they should also review their rubric to make sure they are still on-task with the project.
Tell the students that they are going to write a press release to inform the world about the animal they have created.
Ask the students why people write press releases (to inform and persude people about something new). Show an example of a press release on the webquest site. Ask what information is provided in the press release.
Inform the students that the following information needs to be included in their press release: Name of species, habitat, stages, and time for each part of the life cycle, what the animal eats, when and where the animal is going to be on display, and contact information to address questions that people might have about the species.
Monitor the students as they write to make sure they include all information.
For students that have not completed their research, give them the opportunity to use the computer to do so.
Homework
Have students edit and revise their first drafts of their press release.
Assessment
Once a student has written the final copy of the release, collect the guidebook, rubric, adult animal drawing, life cycle flow chart, and press release. Using the rubric, assess the student's overall project and provide each student with a grade.

Kristin Crowley

Thea101@aol.com

P.S. 126
175 West 166th Street
Bronx, NY 10452

Kristin has just finished her third year at the Dr. Marjorie H. Dunbar Elementary School, P.S. 126X in the Bronx. She is looking forward to her new position as a lead teacher at the Bronx Green Middle School 326X, where she will be teaching literacy to 7th graders. She works hard to integrate technology into the everyday curriculum, and her favorite activity is a high-tech treasure hunt called geocaching. Outside of teaching, she loves to spend time with her daughter and husband.


Important documents for this lesson plan.

Guidebook for the webquest.pdf
Adult Animal Template.pdf
Rubric for Life Cycles Webquest.pdf
Life Cycles flow chart.pdf
Webquest assessment.pdf

 

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