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This was another kind of noisy but very engaging lesson for students. Their thinking was amazing! We talked about how we could use building blocks to create a physical model of what happens when an owl eats a mouse. The group discussion helped the students came up with some really great ideas: using more than one cube to represent the mouse so it could be separate in the stomachs, using different colored cubes to represent the different components of the mouse, building two stomachs for the owl, etc.
Then students collected the Unifix cubes and got to work in groups. The variety of models showed just how much students were owning the process. Several groups even revised their original models as they worked to better show what they understand!
When we last updated our KLEWS chart, students presented two main theories about “What happened to the rest of the mouse?” 1) The rest of the mouse got pooped out; and 2) The rest of the mouse got turned into energy for the owl. With the cubes, every group showed the mouse being eaten and then leaving the owl either as poop or a pellet. I asked students which theory their models support (Theory 1). Then I asked if any students support theory 2. (Several did.) This is what we will explore in the next class: do we have evidence that the digested mouse parts are not just pooped out?
I reminded students that many of our wonderings are about how an owl eats. Then I asked them how we might go about observing, since observing something can be more engaging than just reading about it. We talked about important safety concerns that could come up with some of the suggestions (catch an owl and bring it in) and the time/expense involved in some of the others (go on a field trip to a nature center).
Ultimately, we watched two different videos of an owl eating a mouse. (Though they made me promise that I would try to find an expert that could connect with us in some way.) We also watched one of an owl eating a rabbit and one of an owl eating a grasshopper. After this, students made individual Notice/Wonder charts again. (They are getting good at this!) Then we combined ideas into one class chart.
We started with a Gallery Walk to quickly read through the T-charts that were created as homework. Then we made a class Notice/Wonder chart that combined ideas from student’s individual charts. We noticed that many of the wonderings were about how an owl eats and digests food so studying this will be our next step.
Students wondered exactly what owl pellets are, what they contain, how they are formed, and more. They are definitely intrigued!
I had 6 large pellets available, so students worked in groups of 5 for the dissection. It was a really good size. Students first used toothpicks to split the full pellet into 2-3 smaller parts. Students either worked with a partner or alone to find out what the pellet contained. (Have small cups of water available to soften the packed fur as needed.) A few students chose to observe and not dissect, but everyone was engaged the entire ~20 minutes. I projected an owl pellet bone identification chart on the SmartBoard so students could use it to figure out what they were finding.
For homework, students filled in another Notice/Wonder T-chart in their science notebooks.
This is the first lesson of a 5th grade ecosystems unit. To start, we discussed what “phenonenon” means and gave a few examples. Then we got started setting up our Science Notebooks with two sheets for a table of contents followed by a page for today’s work (Opening Phenomenon).
We watched two videos of owls regurgitating pellets. (FYI: it will be virtually impossible to keep the noise level down!) It was gross yet intriguing. After that, we made Notice/Wonder T-charts in our science notebooks and recorded our thoughts.