Sunday, November 8, 2015

Jurassic Park Sources of Information


I recently collaborated with my second grade teachers on a dino-mite lesson to teach sources of information! We were inspired by Hope and Wade King, who used Jurassic Park as the setting of an integrated lesson they taught their sixth graders.  Our main goal was to teach students about different sources of information they will be using in research projects this year.  However, we also learned reading, deductive reasoning, and group work skills!

A few days before the lesson, I sent each class an invitation to the grand opening of Jurassic Park.  the invitation stated the date and time each class was to report.  Along with the invitation were tickets for each student.

When students arrived, they found the lights in the media center out and a table with hairnets (cheap shower caps) and headlamps (Wal-Mart tap lights with elastic under the battery cover).  I told students that I was so excited for them to be one of the first classes to see Jurassic Park because our paleontologists had been working around the clock to identify the four new dinosaur fossils they were about to see.  Before we entered the park, though, students had to put on a hairnet to protect our priceless fossils and a headlamp to see.

Then I scanned their tickets and they entered the park.  They were greeted inside the media center with a bus (chairs arranged in rows), a picture of the Jurassic Park gate on the Promethean board, and the sounds of dinosaurs roaring.

As we loaded the bus, I received a phone call from our head paleontologist (the collaborating teacher called my phone without the kids noticing).  I told him that I was about to take a group of second graders on the tour but was shocked to find out that his team had lost all of their research and we couldn't take our tour because he didn't know the names of the dinosaur fossils we were about to see.  I told the students that our only option was to do the research for the scientists so that we could see the fossils and save the park.  The kids cheered and were excited to get started.

We divided the kids into four groups and sent them to different stations with a card to write the names of the dinosaurs on as they were uncovered.  The stations were set up in advance.  Each station contained a dinosaur fossil in a pan, partially covered with dirt.  There was also a triboard that had the number of the station, five clues about the dinosaur, and five possible choices.  We told the students that our scientists had narrowed it down to those five dinosaurs because they were indigenous to the area in which our fossils was found.  There was a different source of information at each station that students used to locate information about each of these five dinosaurs so that they could match up the clues and determine which dinosaur fossil was in the pan.  Our sources of information included Pebble Go, Encyclopedia Britannica, media center books, and the PBS Kids Dinosaur Train website.

Students were given ten minutes at each station.  There was a parent or teacher at each station to help guide students toward the information if needed.  As students completed the last station, we gathered back on the bus.  I told students that I had received another call from our head paleontologist, and that he had good news and bad news.  The good news was that the research had been found!  We would be able to compare our answers with his.  The bad news was that a stegosaurus had eaten the research.  Fortunately, the scientists had saved the dinosaur dung  for us!  The collaborating teacher dramatically put on a yellow rubber glove and reached into a bucket of dung (flour, chocolate syrup, and dirt) and pulled out a laminated card with the answers.  The teacher called out the dinosaur names and the kids cheered as they learned they had completed the research correctly.

What a fun lesson!  The teachers and parents enjoyed it as much as the kids.  And our students will never forget what they learned because they were immersed in Jurassic Park as the setting of the lesson.


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