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ELA G1:M4

Caring for Birds

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In this module, students continue to build on their knowledge of birds from Module 3 as they deepen their literacy skills and build citizenship. Specifically, students explore the module guiding question: “Why should we care about birds?”

In Unit 1, students begin to think about this question by reading a variety of literature with characters who care for birds. These texts include The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc, Pierre the Penguin by Jean Marzollo, and Maggie the One-Eyed Peregrine Falcon by Christie Gove-Berg. Students participate in a close read-aloud, role-play, structured discussions, and response to text through writing as they compare and contrast the characters’ experiences in these stories. Also central to this unit is students’ work with the habits of character of compassion and respect.

In Unit 2, students learn about writing opinions as they investigate a specific bird, Pale Male, who built his nest in the heart of New York City. Students read about people’s differing opinions about this nest and then write their own opinions in response to the evidence they gather. The two texts that anchor students’ learning are City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male by Meghan McCarthy and “What’s Best? The Debate about Pale Male’s Nest” by EL Education. Students extend their learning of habits of character from Unit 1 to include an additional ones—empathy —which is central to respectfully listening to, responding to, and sharing opinions.

In Unit 3, students learn about some of the problems birds face more generally and what humans can do to help them live and grow through the text A Place for Birds by Melissa Stewart. They also learn about the myriad ways birds are helpful to plants, other animals, and people. For the performance task, students create a piece of artwork and writing that serves an authentic need in their school or local community: a Feathered Friends Saver! This performance task includes a high-quality scientific drawing of a local bird that is formatted to attach to a window. When displayed in a window, the portrait helps to prevent birds from flying into the window. Students also individually create a short piece of writing to teach the recipient of the Feathered Friends Saver facts about birds (W.1.2, W.1.5, W.1.6, L.1.1, L.1.1b, L.1.1f, L.1.1g, L.1.2, L.1.2a, L.1.2b, L.1.2c).

Recall that EL Education believes that high-quality work is a reflection and result of the high expectations teachers have for all students. Thus, it is a means to excellence and equity. The performance task for this module allows for students to create high-quality work based on their deep knowledge of birds. Using the literacy skills built throughout the school year, knowledge built in Modules 3–4, and cycles of drafting, critique, and revision, students are able to create a high-quality product that showcases their learning for the year. Unit 3 of this module supports this work for the performance task with both the design of its lessons and the use of optional flex days. Refer to the Performance Task Overview and Unit 3 Overview for additional information. 

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • Why should we care about birds?
  • Sometimes birds get into trouble and need help.
  • Birds impact our lives.
  • Birds help many living things.
  • How do characters in stories help care for birds?
  • There are specific things characters do to help birds live and grow.
  • Why do people have different opinions about birds?
  • People have different reasons for their opinions about birds.
  • Birds affect people in different ways.
  • How can people care for birds so they can live and grow?
  • People can stop doing harmful things that hurt birds.
  • People can take action to prevent birds from being harmed, such as creating Feathered Friends Savers.

The Four T's

  • Topic: Caring for birds
  • Task: Informational writing and scientific drawing
  • Targets (CCSS explicitly taught and assessed): W.1.2, W.1.5, W.1.6, L.1.1, L.1.1b, L.1.1f, L.1.1g, L.1.2, L.1.2a, L.1.2b, L.1.2c
  • Texts: A Place for Birds

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the Integrated Literacy Block of the school day. The module also intentionally incorporates social studies content that many teachers across the nation are expected to address in first grade. These intentional connections are described below. (Based on your state or district context, teachers may also choose to address additional specific social studies or science standards during other parts of the school day.)

C3 Framework for Social Studies:

  • D2.Civ.2.K–2: Explain how all people, not just official leaders, play important roles in a community.
  • D2.Civ.9.K–2: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions while responding attentively to others when addressing ideas and making decisions as a group.
  • D2.Civ.10.K–2: Compare their own point of view with others’ perspectives.

Habits of Character / Social Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education curriculum is a focus on “habits of character” and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this module, students work to become ethical people by treating others well and work to contribute to a better world by taking action to serve their community. Throughout Unit 1, students think about how characters in the stories they read show respect and compassion. They practice acting and reflecting on those same character habits in their interactions with peers. In Unit 2, students practice respectful and empathetic behavior as they engage in kindly listening to and sharing opinions. In Unit 3, students learn about the reasons to care for birds and different ways to help them. They create Feathered Friends Savers to give to local businesses or display in windows in the school to help birds.

Assessment

Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

(Create a free account to access assessments.)

Performance Task

For this final first grade performance task, students create a piece of artwork and writing that serves an authentic need in their school or local community: a Feathered Friends Saver! This two-part task consists of a scientific drawing of a local bird, as well as an informational paragraph about birds. Students create a high-quality, realistic portrait of a local bird that is formatted to attach to a window. When displayed in a window, the portrait helps to prevent birds from flying into the window. Students also individually create a short piece of writing to teach the recipient of the Feathered Friends Saver facts about birds from their Module 3 and Module 4 learning. They choose the information they find most important to share and write about birds using a self-chosen adjective. Students are asked to display the Feathered Friends Savers in the school or deliver them to a local organization. Students use a variety of materials and tools to complete the task, including word processing to type a small portion of their independent writing. This task addresses CCSS ELA W.1.2, W.1.5, W.1.6, L.1.1, L.1.1b, L.1.1f, L.1.1g, L.1.2, L.1.2a, L.1.2b, and L.1.2c.

Recall that EL Education believes that high-quality work is a reflection and result of the high expectations teachers have for all students. Thus, it is a means to excellence and equity. The performance task for this module allows for students to create high-quality work based on their deep knowledge of birds. Using the literacy skills built throughout the school year, knowledge built in Modules 3—4, and cycles of drafting, critique, and revision, students are able to create a high-quality product that showcases their learning for the year. Unit 3 supports this work for the performance task with both the design of its lessons and the use of optional flex days.

In addition to the opportunities for critique, feedback, and revision, students are given an opportunity to present their work to an audience from outside of the classroom. Creating work for an authentic audience motivates students to meet standards and engage in revision. Through the process, they develop perseverance and realize that they can do more than they thought they could.

The purpose of the optional flex days in this unit is to allow for additional time, as needed, to support students with use of technology, drafting of artwork, and student presentations for a high-quality end of year performance task. Refer to the unit-at-a-glance chart in the Module 4 overview for additional information.

Materials

EL Education’s Models of Excellence: Center for High-Quality Student Work is a collection of useful resources, exemplary project work, and compelling writing curated in collaboration with Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. It’s the world’s largest collection of quality student work. Please visit Models of Excellence to get tools, tips, and models of excellent student work that you can use to immediately make your students stronger writers and to inspire and engage them across all subjects.

Refer to each unit overview for a list of any unusual physical materials required (such as puppets or props) for module lessons.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.


Text Quantity ISBNs
Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf
by Olivia Bouler
one per classroom
ISBN: 9781402786655
City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male
by Meghan McCarthy
one per classroom
ISBN: 9781416933595
Maggie the One-Eyed Peregrine Falcon: A True Story of Rescue and Rehabilitation
by Christie Gove-Berg
one per classroom
ISBN: 9781591935162
Pierre the Penguin: A True Story
by Jean Marzollo
one per classroom
ISBN: 9781585364855
The Lion and the Bird
by Marianne Dubuc
one per classroom
ISBN: 9781592701513
Lost and Found
by Oliver Jeffers
one per classroom
ISBN: 9780399245039
A Place for Birds
by Melissa Stewart
one per pair
ISBN: 9781561458400

Module-at-a-Glance

Each module is approximately 6-8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

Labs

Labs are 1 hour of instruction per day. They are designed to promote student proficiency and growth.

There are 5 distinct Labs: Explore, Engineer, Create, Imagine, and Research. Each of the Labs unfolds across an entire module and takes place in four stages: Launch, Practice, Extend, and Choice and Challenge.

During their Lab time, students break up into smaller Lab groups and go to separate workstations (tables or other work spaces around the classroom). This structure creates a small collaborative atmosphere in which students will work throughout their Labs experience. It also supports the management of materials (since each workstation has its own materials). 

Connections to the Labs

Literacy Labs continue to provide students with an engaging, hands-on place to build habits of character, literacy skills, and module-related content understanding. There are four Literacy Labs for the second module: Create, Engineer, Imagine, and Research. The labs are directly connected to the content of the module and should be implemented alongside the module lessons.

Labs for this module focus on having students:

  • Further develop research skills learned in Module 3 as they research local birds in the Research Lab.
  • Design and create collage bird puppets to act out narratives written by students in the Imagine Lab.
  • Problem-solve through engineering challenges to build a bird nest in the Engineer Lab.
  • Reinforce vocabulary and content knowledge through further research and learning about birds.
  • Build social-emotional skills through collaborating with classmates.

Connections to the Reading Foundations Skills Block

The Reading Foundations Skills block is an hour of instruction that teaches students how to crack the alphabetic code. This Block supports reading and writing conventions necessary for student success in the Integrated Reading block, covering all Reading Foundations Standards and the Language Standards associated with spelling. Research and Standards-based instructional practices are designed to support teachers as they teach students how to read, write, and analyze words. Built-in instructional supports and resources provide teacher guidance for differentiation in both the whole and small group settings based on each student’s Phase of Reading and Spelling Development. The Skills Block includes one hour of instruction: 15–20 minutes of whole group and 45 minutes of differentiated small group instruction.

Skills block lessons for this module focus on having students:

  • Read and spell single-syllable words with r-controlled vowels (e.g., “turn”)
  • Read and spell single-syllable words with vowel teams in which the first vowel says its name (e.g., “main” and “lean”)
  • Continue to use vowels to identify syllables and decode known syllable types within two-syllable words
  • Read and spell some two-syllable words
  • Identify alternative spelling patterns for some long vowels (e.g., “igh” for ī)
  • Add suffixes to base words to create new words
  • Begin to work on the components of fluent reading such as “reading with expression and feeling”

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