Wednesday 31 July 2019

Oral language activity (science based)

Last week we learnt about how animals are classified based on their characteristics. 

We learnt about different kingdoms, and how within a kingdom the organisms are split into different groups. 

We learnt some mnemonics to help us remember the classification system as well. 

We read long texts about each class of the animal kingdom, learnt lots of new words and found out what key characteristics of each class. 

The following day I gave the kids pictures of various animals and asked them to sort the pictures into the classes. 

They sorted themselves into boys and girls (their own idea). The two groups had slight differences in their pictures.

Firstly I got the groups to stand up and go and look (not touch) the other groups pictures. 

They started talking to each other about what differences they could see. Essentially saying how the other group was wrong, but they were using the words and ideas they had learnt. A big discussion was around if turtles are reptiles or amphibians, and where the hippo should go.

Firstly we reestablished the characteristics that define each class.
What make a bird a bird? beak, two legs, lays eggs etc.
What makes a mammal a mammal? skin/fur, warm blooded, has live babies and gives them milk.
What makes a reptile a reptile? cold blooded, lays eggs, etc.

All the ideas/answers for this came from the kids memory - they didn't even need to go and read their books.

Next we talked a lot about where each animal went and why. For example, the snake is a reptile because it has scales, lays eggs etc. The lion is a mammal because it has fur/skin, has live babies and feeds them milk etc. We used the technical words we had learnt from the reading in context, in new sentences and related them back to a concept the kids understand (animals). Talking aloud and discussing why each animal went where was really effective in getting the kids to use their new words and some technical words as well (E.g. mammary glands).

We had to move some of the pictures around into the right places, but the talk was awesome.

I highly recommend this as an oral language activity, as it is very effective in getting kids to review the ideas and vocabulary they had learnt. They are so focused on physically moving around the pictures they don't even realise the rich conversations they are having.

Animal descriptions/language features

After learning about language features, we applied it to our inquiry topic which is about animals and the environment. I gave each student a picture with an animal on it, and they had to write at least 1 language feature or describing word about that animal on the paper. Then after 30 seconds (ish), we rotated the papers. For every student to write on every paper took about 20 minutes. The students were engaged the whole time, as they had something different to think about every 30 seconds, and had an attainable goal of only writing 1 thing about each animal. 

We did get some similes for some of the animals, but I would like to go back and add more onomatopoeia and alliterations which are easy language features to do.

I can see some connections to the habitat information from the day before as well. 

These brainstorms will be used in writing poetry about habitats and animals. 

Language features

Today we did a sorting activity about language features. 
I have observed in the students writing that they don't use language features. I knew many of the year 4's wouldn't know anything about them.

We did a brainstorm - what language features do you know about? Without any help from me, they came up with similies and metaphors. The rest I had to suggest because nobody came up with them. I asked how many people knew what that was and wrote the number beneath the feature. 
Only 4 students knew what a simile was. 
only 5 knew what a metaphor was. 
only 1 knew what a hyperbole was. 
nobody knew what an idiom or personification was.

We talked about what each one was, and I gave an example. 

I handed out the tiny papers that had examples of language features on them.
Students talked to each other and tried to figure out which language feature they had on their piece of paper.

Then we made lists - 

We read through them all and agree/disagreed if each one belonged there. Some had to be moved, and some we agree could belong in more than one category (for example, an idiom is sometimes a hyperbole as well). 

By the end 3/4 of the class could remember what each language feature was. 
We definitely need to review these and apply the knowledge so the kids remember it.

Sorting, brainstorming, collecting

For our inquiry unit, we have been learning about environment/animals/evolution etc. 
This week we introduced habitats. The kids knew the word from different journal articles they had read, and knew it meant 'home'.

When I asked them what kinds of habitats they knew about, they easily came up with some ideas. They didn't know a lot about each one, which animals lived where and why.

I had some printed pictures of different habitats ready and we did a bus stop activity where students moved from paper to paper, with time to write down any ideas they had about each one. 

The things they wrote were describing words (e.g. colours, shapes they could see), animals they thought lived there or anything else they knew about it. 
After they had shared all their ideas, I assigned one habitat per group and they used Google to help them get more specific words to use.

Later in the week we are going to use these brainstorms to create poetry about habitats.
Next week, we are going to make dioramas of a chosen habitat, and again these brainstorms will be used to help the kids make it rich and realistic.