Education Opinion

Lesson plans for the classroom

By Barbara Purn — July 24, 2006 2 min read

Since my primary goal of this trip was to find opportunities to bring my experiences back into my 2nd grade classroom, I have found two activities that I plan to use. Both of them are tasks that I did in the research of the monkeys, and I feel will both work in my classroom.

The first revolves around my primary task: careful and accurate observation of the movements of the monkeys. First we found a monkey (not always an easy task and involved some heavy duty tracking and binocular work!). Then we identified which one it was. Then, with a partner we began to write in code what the monkey was doing every minute until we lost the monkey. Sometimes that was 15 minutes, other times it was 2 1/2 hours. One of us held the clock and announced when it beeped. The other kept sight on the monkey and said what the monkey was doing, precisely on the beep. It was recorded on a sheet, with the monkey’s name on top, date and time at start of ‘follow’ and our names as observers.

My plan, after showing my PowerPoint slide show of my trip, is to explain to my students how important accurate observation is in the scientific process. I’ll go over the steps in the process in a way my second graders can understand: hypothesis (or guess as to what you think will happen), procedure, materials needed, observation, recording, and conclusions.

We will then try to duplicate my experience with an animal much easier to do in the classroom--crickets! I have them anyway as food for my leopard gecko. One could also use large birds such as crows if you wanted to do it outside. Children will pair up, choose a cricket to follow, and then record behavior on the minute for about 10 minutes. We would probably have codes such as: MO for moving, RE for resting, CL for climbing, FO for foraging for food, DR for drinking, etc. We can compare results, graph them and use them in a variety of ways after collecting the data.

The next lesson I plan to do was an activity I did just one day--vegetation plotting. Again we were paired up but this time a botinist was also with us. We were shown a randomly selected 10x10 meter plot of the forest. Our task was to find all trees with a diameter larger than 5 centimeters, label them, and record their name. The purpose was to find what kind of food was available to the monkeys in different parts of the forest.

The way I would bring this into my classroom, would be to have my students plot the vegetation in a 10x10 meter plot of school property. We have 5 acres and some of it is quite wild. I would stake out the area ahead of time and then ask the students to record by drawing on paper, all the trees, plants and grasses they see. We will try to give them names. Again, accuracy in recording what is seen will be the goal.

I hope you can use some of these ideas!

The opinions expressed in My Summer in Kenya are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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