Work Sample Lesson 5: Penguin Adaptations

Context: This is the fifth lesson in the unit on penguins. In previous lessons, students will have discussed penguin habitat, needs, behaviors and uniqueness. This lesson is designed to teach students the concept of physical adaptations and how penguins have adapted to live in different environments. It meets benchmarks in reading and science.

Time: 40-45 minutes

Materials: 30 word sort worksheets, The World of Penguins By Oxford Scientific Films, classroom chart paper, 25 penguin crossword puzzles, additional penguin books.

1.    Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the concept of adaptations by participating in a class discussion and correctly identifying some ways that penguins are specialized to live in their environments.
2.    Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the adaptations penguins have made to survive in different environments by listening to the story and contributing to a class brainstorm of different penguin adaptations.
3.    Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the different adaptations of warm weather penguins and cold weather penguins by correctly sorting key adaptation words and phrases on their penguin sheets.

1.    Review Basic Needs of Living Things (1-2 minutes)
a.    Ask students:
i.    What do animals need in order to survive?
ii.    How do penguins eat, sleep, drink, etc.?
2.    Review Penguin Environments and Behavior (2 minutes)
a.    Ask students:
i.    Where do penguins live?
ii.    What is Antarctica like? Is it a nice place to live? Do lots of animals live there?
iii.    Do penguins fly? What do they do?
iv.    Can all birds swim?
3.    Discuss What Enables Penguins Live and Behave That Way (2 minutes)
a.    Ask students:
i.    Why do you think penguins can live in such a cold place?
ii.    Why can they live there and we cannot?
iii.    Is there anything special about their bodies?
iv.    What makes them able to swim when other birds cannot?
b.    Discuss student ideas

Sharing Objectives: (1 minute)
1. Explain to students that today we are going to read a story and talk about why penguins can live and act the way they do. Explain that we will discuss something called adaptations. Adaptations are changes in animals’ bodies that make it possible for them to live certain places. We will read a story about penguins and discuss penguin adaptations. Tell students that as I read, their job is to listen for ways that penguin bodies are special and help them live in their environments.

 Learning Activities:
1.    Read selections from A World of Penguins (7-9 minutes)
a.    Throughout the story, point out and explain important adaptations and vocabulary words.
b.    Ask comprehension questions about important points.
2.    Brainstorm adaptations (5-7 minutes)
a.    Ask students to raise their hands and share one important penguin adaptation that they remember from the story.
b.    Write student responses on the chart.
c.    Prompt and ask questions if students leave out any important adaptations.
d.    Make sure the following adaptations are charted and discussed: wings as paddles, layer of fat called blubber, 2 layers of feathers (down and sleek feathers) that keep them warm and dry, black and white camoflauge, huddle in groups to keep warm, warm weather penguins have bare patches of skin, lose some of their feathers in the summer and spread their wings and pant to keep cool.
e.    Add details to the adaptations that were not mentioned in the book. 
f.    Ask students:
i.    Do penguins that live in the cold weather have the same adaptations as the penguins that live in the warm weather?
ii.    Are some of the adaptations the same?
iii.    How might some be different?
3.    Word Sort: Cold and Warm Weather Penguins  (15 minutes)
a.    Give students a worksheet with 3 columns and key adaptations. One column is for warm weather adaptations, one is for cold weather adaptations and one is for both.
b.    Students must cut out each adaptation and glue it in the correct column.  

1.    Review The Key Word Adaptation (1 minute)
a.    Ask students:
i.    What is an adaptation?
b.    Discuss
2.    Review and Sort Penguin Adaptations (5 minutes)
a.    Move the original adaptation chart next to the chart paper. Create a new chart categorizing which adaptations are cold weather, warm weather or both.
b.    Move through 1 adaptation at a time, asking students to raise their hands and share whether it is cold weather, warm weather or both.

Student Evaluation: Throughout this lesson, I will evaluate students informally. As I read the story, I will ask basic questions about the adaptations to check for comprehension. I will also note whether students contribute correct adaptations from the story to the brainstorm and discussion following. If students contribute many adaptations and answer comprehension questions correctly, I will know that students understand the concept of penguin adaptations. As students work on their word sorts, I will move around the room and check for student progress and understanding. If the majority of students correctly sort the adaptations into the categories, I will know that students understand the concept of cold weather and warm weather adaptations. I will further check for this understanding during the closure when we sort the adaptations together as a group. Again, if students state correctly which adaptations go in which category, I will know that students have met the goals of this lesson.

Differentiation and Accommodation: Because of the diversity in the classroom, I must make accommodations for various groups of students. The accommodations are as follows:
    --For students who fall above grade level: I will provide additional books about penguins for students to read if they finish early. I will also provide penguin crossword puzzles.
    --For E.S.L students who have difficulties with new vocabulary: When we discuss adaptations, I will make sure that I use lots of pictures. As I read the story, I will stop and explain new vocabulary words and relate them to more common words to increase comprehension. When students work on their word sorts, I will make sure that there are peers around them who can help them read new words. . I will also make sure to move around the room so I can provide help with difficult words as well.
--For Title I students who have difficulty reading: When students work on their word sorts, I will make sure that there are peers around them who can help them read new words. I will also make sure to move around the room so I can provide help with difficult words as well.
--For students in Special Education: I will make sure the full time aid understands the assignment and has access to it ahead of time so that she can help these students to the best of her ability. I will also make sure to move around the room so I can provide help with difficult words or concepts.

Teacher Self-Reflection:

I think that this is one of the simpler lessons in this unit and do not anticipate that I will have too many difficulties teaching it. I think that some students may have a hard time grasping what an adaptation is, but I built in lots of examples and repetition into the lesson that I think will make it clearer. I will read the class a story that discusses penguin adaptations, the class will brainstorm adaptations they heard, individual students will do a word sort and then we will sort the adaptations as a group. I think that this repetition will clear up much of the abstractness of the concept.

    Despite what I had anticipated, this lesson turned out to be one of the more difficult lessons for students. Many had a hard time understanding what an adaptation is, and they did not comprehend as much of the text as I anticipated. The cut and paste activity was a struggle as well. There was a lot of reading involved and so I spent a lot of time reading the strips to students. The students who read above grade level thrived with this activity. It was challenging for them, but they were the students who completed it successfully. Many of the struggling readers did not complete the activity. Also, the majority of the class did not classify the adaptations correctly.
    As I reflected on this lesson, I was able to think of a handful of things I could change to help the students be more successful and make this lesson more developmentally appropriate. First, to help students stay engaged with the text, I would give them a listening task, such as to listen for one adaptation of cold weather penguins. This would increase comprehension and keep students engaged as I read the text. There are several things that I would change about the cut and paste activity. First, I would make columns on one 11x17 piece of paper instead of on 3 pieces of regular paper. Students had a difficult time flipping between pages. Second, I would make it a whole group guided activity. Some students were successful independently, but the majority of the class had difficulty. By doing it all together, more students at all levels would be successful classifying the adaptations. The struggling readers and ESL students would be able to follow along, while the more advanced readers would still be successful.
    When I checked for comprehension the next day, students remembered quite a few adaptations. I think that students understood the basic idea of the lesson and a few adaptations, but with a few changes to the activity, comprehension would have been higher.