Two weeks ago in my 2nd grade practicum I started a unit with my kids on Turtles. Very broad, I know. But, I wanted to really engage the kids and my sister actually has a pet turtle so I decided to bring him in and do a unit on endangered species, sea turtles! (yes, I realize my sister's turtle isn't a sea turtle, but I still thought it was cool!)
After checking out every book I could find on sea turtles at the library I got to work. I have not taken any of my methods courses yet, so I honestly had no idea how to go about a science lesson without a read-a-loud so I started my lesson with two books. First, I began the lesson with the kids on the carpet and announced that I had a BIG surprise for them when we were done with the lesson. Of course that get them all excited and many started making guesses as to what it was! Some thought we were going to the zoo. I wish!
Then we started talking about what animals were endangered and what animals were extinct, defining the difference between the two terms. Then we started talking about sea turtles and turtles in general, trying to stir whatever knowledge they may already have of these reptiles.
Then we got started on the books. It went well, but I definitely started to lose control more than a couple times. I can't ignore a raised hand. I'm going to have to get used to that and try to ignore it, because everyone seems to "have a comment." Seriously, do all kids raise their hands when the teacher asks a question and then when called on goes, "I don't know the answer, but I have a comment" ??
Ugh! It was cute, but it still warrants an ugh!
After our read-a-loud was over we headed back to our seats and I reminded them that I have their surprise! The kids asked again if we were going to the zoo so I said, no, the zoo came here! All together they were like, what?!
I brought out my sister's turtle, Oso (which is bear in Spanish) and the kids all gasped! It was so cute. I reminded them they had to stay in their seats and quiet, otherwise Oso wouldn't do his "tricks" (put his head out!). The room was so quiet, I swear the kids were holding their breath!
I walked Oso around and let the kids "pet" his shell. Some declined, but most were so excited to touch the turtle! Oso did so great, and although I am sure he was terrified, he put his head and legs out of his shell quite a bit.
Here's Oso swimming happily in his tank! He probably freaks every time he sees me coming, in fear of me taking him on another "field trip"!
After that the first day of the lesson ended and I told the kids next week we are going to "help" the sea turtles by writing a letter to lawmakers in Florida. I didn't elaborate very much because I didn't think they would remember very much a week later.
I was wrong!
They remembered - well, a few remembered - and they were excited to write their letters! So, on the second day we did a review of the dangers to sea turtles, what we can do to help and had a little think-pair-share time discussion. Then, I read them my letter, left it on the Elmo and let them write their own. Everyone did SO good! Only one student sat there really confused and just couldn't synthesize the information enough to write a letter and only one student copied my letter word for word. Everyone else was very engaged and had their own unique opinions on why we should advocate for sea turtle rights! ;)
Here are a few of the letters that the students wrote... I hope you can read them!
That last little girl wrote THREE pages! She came up to me and goes, "Miss. XXXX, can I have more paper? I just have SO MUCH TO SAY!" Hahahaha! Love it!
I have written several lesson plans but this is the first lesson that I wrote and actually executed! I think it went very well, and I'm extremely pleased! This upcoming Monday is my last day in that room and I think I'm going to make cookies and decorate them like turtles! Hopefully I find time to do this on Sunday, and hopefully they turn out because I have zero experience decorating cookies.... How hard can it be?! ;)
If you had to choose an endangered species to teach 2nd graders about what would you choose?