Since I was having a hard time finding ways for K-2 students to use technology other than playing games that helped them learn specific content such as how to read and how to spell I decided to find a simulation that could stimulate interest in learning. This unit would be on making a butterfly garden at their home. To do this I would divide the class into groups making sure the K’s were teamed with a 1st and/or 2nd graders.
First we would learn about the lifecycle of butterflies. To introduce this we would watch time-lapses of butterflies from egg to adult. There are two good videos on youtube. One is about a Monarch Butterfly at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AUeM8MbaIk and another one shows a Painted Lady Butterfly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63B1lnqPa8k. These would be used to introduce the unit. These videos would be shown on my smartboard. Each is approximately 5 minutes long. The videos would be followed with questions such as the following: What are butterflies? What are butterfly “babies?” How do they form? How many stages do they go through to become an adult butterfly? Where do they go through these stages? What can keep them from growing up? What can help them grow up? Depending on the answers to the questions follow-up work in the form of worksheets can be assigned. When students understand the concept they can go to http://sheppardsoftware.com/scienceforkids/life_cycle/butterfly_lifecycle.htm where they can put the lifecycle in the proper order to finish the activity. I would have this bookmarked on their computers and show them how to find it on the smartboard. This would be a formative, online assessment. If they get it wrong the program does not allow them to finish until they pick the proper one. There is no way for the teacher to know how long it took them to finish correctly unless they watch each student.
Groups will search out answers for the questions not answered in the videos like what can help butterflies grow and what can keep them from growing up. These answers in the form of pictures or text would be put into a word document.
Groups would search for plants where butterflies lay their eggs. They would answer these questions. Would these plants grow in Colorado? Where can I buy seeds or are these plants available in a nursery? How do I care for these plants? They would add these answers to their document.
We would then plant seeds in our schoolroom for students to take home after the seeds sprout to add to a garden at home or their windowsill.
A rubric for their word document would be as follows:
Find one picture of a butterfly plant if only K’s and 1st graders are in your group and two butterfly plants with a picture of each if 2nd graders are in your group.
Answer one of the following questions for 1st graders in your group and two of the questions if 2nd graders are in your group:
What can keep baby butterflies (caterpillars) from becoming butterflies?
What can help caterpillars grow up to be butterflies?
What kind of butterfly plants grow in Colorado?
What kinds of butterflies are native to Colorado?
Both 1st and 2nd grade groups would answer this question:
What kind of butterfly plant did you choose and how do you take care of it?
This would be the summative assessment of the project.
I chose an inquiry -based activity because students in the K-2 classroom are learning the basics, the foundation for all learning to come. They need lots of structure and guidance in their learning at this point. In this lesson plan the teacher asks the questions to stimulate the student’s thinking processes. The simulations on youtube showed the students what happens as a butterfly goes through its lifecycle without having to wait weeks to see it happen. This focuses kids on the “how” it happens instead of “when” it will happen. That way we can move on to the plants we need and the planting growing process. Otherwise, there would be a lot of waiting involved. This way, it is just waiting for the seed to sprout.
The formative assessment was chosen to help the students cement the lifecycle in their mind without any pressure of a grade attached. It was in a game like format with some animation to make it fun for the students. The negative to that is that I don’t have immediate feedback as I would in a live student-response activity or written word. In this case I believe I can tell from the answers to the questions and the looks on their faces if they are understanding. I have a small classroom.
The rubric was chosen to be appropriate for the age of each group. Since we don’t have a handheld device for each child and their reading is limited I did not choose to use a Quiz, live student-response activity, form, survey, or interactive assessment. I can read through the rubric with them and remind them easily how many pictures they need and the question to be answered.
Dirkson, D.J. (2011, July). Hitting the Reset Button. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(7), 26-31. EBSCO Host.