Teaching Note Taking Skill and Animal Adaptations

I just did one of my favorite lessons with 4th grade students.  I turn one of the students into a frog!  Well, not really.  But I do transform a volunteer with adaptations present on a frog’s body.  I combine this activity with students practicing note taking.

Animal Adaptations -Science Standards.

Using a lesson developed by American Zoos & Aquarium in 2008 for the “Year of the Frog” activities, I put different things on a student, each of which represents a different adaptation.  We talk about frogs having a permeable skin, which is portrayed by my running vest, a mesh with holes in it.  The frog’s external ear drums, the tympanum, are shown by having the student wear ear muffs.  By the end of the lesson the student looks, not quite like a frog, but not the same as when we began!

Student dressed as a frog wearing ear muffs (ears), flippers (webbed feet).

Student transformed into a frog by donning items to represent adaptations.

The 4th grade classes are studying adaptations and how these help the animal to survive in their environment.

Note Taking Skills

I designed a graphic organizer for the students to practice taking notes as the adaptations are added to the volunteer “frog”.  There is a column for the student to list the adaptation (ears, eyes, skin, etc.) and a column for the student to write how this adaptation helps the frog survive.

Large photos of frogs, white board listing the frog's adaptations

I post many large, colorful photos of frogs and use a white board to list each adaptation as I introduce it.

We review what it means to take notes, as opposed to writing complete sentences and how it helps prevent plagiarism.  I cover 10 adaptations, but the students choose which 4 to take notes on.

Listening Skills & Common Core Standards

Having students take notes while listening to someone, helps them to develop a different type of skill.  Most of the time in elementary school, we have them take notes when they are reading text.  This is a skill covered in the Common Core English Language Arts standards:   ELACC4SL2: Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

This activity demonstrates how library media specialists can combine teaching information literacy skills and science standards.  And we had a lot of fun doing it!


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