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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: Amazing Alaskan Animals
Amazing Alaskan Animals

HOW IT WORKS
In this program, children are immersed in a study of Alaska that focuses on animals and their adaptation to the environment. They learn note-taking skills while listening to nonfiction books about Alaska. A shared reading of realistic fiction about sled dogs (Silver by Gloria Whelan) motivates them to view the Iditarod.com website and follow the mushers through the Iditarod Race in March. Meanwhile, pairs of children choose an Alaskan animal to learn more about, with the focus on how these animals adapt to their unusual environment. Children use the computers and search engines like Yahooligans! to gather information about their animal and are taught, in a series of mini-lessons, how to write a simple research report. They are introduced to the following categories for which they need to find information: diet (what the animal eats and what eats it), life cycle, and adaptation (how it looks and special features). Using a T chart, children are taught to list their facts and then list a thought related to each fact. This helps them with their reading skills by making them think deeply about what they are writing. In additional mini-lessons, children are taught to categorize and bullet their notes, write a first draft, and eventually conclude with a final draft. The children work in pairs to gather and share information but final drafts are individually written. Each student also draws a large picture of his/her animal, which, along with the research information, is part of a class “big book” that is the culmination of their work.  

THE STUDENTS
Amazing Alaskan Animals was introduced to a third-grade class consisting of 21 heterogeneously grouped children who are average to low average in ability and academic achievement. They work on this project approximately three times a week for about eight weeks. This program is highly adaptable to other ages and achievement levels and can be used with smaller or larger groups. Children work at their own levels and feel successful in the process.

THE STAFF
Ada Marcus has been a NYC teacher for 19 years and has presented this project, in various forms, for at least five years. She has received two Adaptor Grants, two Newsday Futurecorps Grants, a NYFA Music Grant, and a Teacher’s Consortium Grant. She has also written curriculum and presented at an Administrator’s Workshop for the Applied Learning Guide for New York City. She worked with an art teacher on this program, but depending on individual expertise, the program can be done without assistance.

WHAT YOU NEED
To successfully complete this program, you will need some basic art supplies (butcher paper, oak tag, tempera paints, Craypas, scissors, and glue). In addition, you need access to computers and the Internet. Grolier’s software is helpful but not essential. You will need fiction and nonfiction library books about Alaska. Lesson plans, mini-lessons, and book lists are available.

OVERALL VALUE
This is an interdisciplinary program that involves many skills--reading, writing, listening, speaking, group work and cooperation, research, and using technology. The culminating “big book” is presented to the school library and gives the children a sense of pride and accomplishment. Children are learning and immersed in the environment, and they are eager to learn more. 

 

View the Curriculum Unit/Dissemination Packet

CURRICULUM AREAS
Science
Language Arts
Technology

GRADES
Grade
2-6

MORE INFORMATION

Ada Marcus
The Alley Pond School-
P.S. 46
64-25 218 Street
Bayside, NY 11364
Phone: (718) 423-8395
Fax: (718) 423-8472
oodlesr@aol.com
Principal
Marsha E. Goldberg

IMPACT II 
Catalog 2002-2003

 

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