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ELA G4:M2B

Animal Defense Mechanisms

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.

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In this eight-week module, students explore animal defense mechanisms. They build proficiency in writing an informative piece, examining the defense mechanisms of one specific animal about which they build expertise. Students also build proficiency in writing a narrative piece about this animal. In Unit 1, students build background knowledge on general animal defenses through close readings of several informational texts. Students will read closely to practice drawing inferences as they begin their research and use a science journal to make observations and synthesize information. Students will continue to use the science journal, using the millipede as a whole class model. They begin to research an expert animal in preparation to write about this animal in Units 2 and 3, again using the science journal.

In Unit 2, students will continue to build expertise about their animal and its defense mechanisms, writing the first part of the final performance task—an informative piece describing their animal, the threats to its survival, and how it is equipped to deal with them. With their new knowledge about animal defenses from Unit 1, students will read informational texts closely, using the same science journal to synthesize information about their animal. Unit 3 allows students to apply their research from Units 1 and 2 to write a narrative piece about their animal that incorporates their research. This narrative will take the format of a choose-your-own-adventure. For their performance task, students will plan, draft, and revise the introduction and one choice ending of the narrative with the support of both peer and teacher feedback. The second choice ending will be planned, written, and revised on-demand for the end of unit assessment. This performance task centers on ELA CCLS RI.4.9, W.4.2, W.4.3, W.4.7, W.4.8, and W.4.9b.

Week-at-a-Glance

Each module is approximately 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.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How do animals’ bodies and behaviors help them survive?
  • How can a writer use scientific knowledge to inform and entertain?
  • To protect themselves from predators, animals use different defense mechanisms.
  • Writers use scientific knowledge and research to inform and entertain.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English language arts standards as students read informational texts about animal defense mechanisms. However, the module intentionally incorporates science practices and themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content. These intentional connections are described below.

 

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K–8 Science Framework:

  • Next-Generation Science Standards 4L-S1-1
  • From Molecules to Organisms: Structure and Processes

 

NYS Science Standard 4:

 Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science. Key Idea 2: Organisms inherit genetic information in a variety of ways that result in continuity of structure and function between parents and offspring. Key Idea 5: Organisms maintain a dynamic equilibrium that sustains life. Key Idea 6: Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.

Texts

Texts to buy

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

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
Can You Survive in the Wilderness? An Interactive Survival Adventure
by Matt Doeden
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-1429679961, 1429679964
Venom
by Marilyn Singer
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-1581960433, 1581960433
Animal Behavior: Animal Defenses
by Christina Wilsdon
One per student
ISBN: 978-1604130898, 160413089X

Texts included in the module

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
Award-Winning Survival Skills
by Lea Winerman
2002

Outcomes

CCS Standards: Reading—InformationalLong-Term Learning Targets
  • RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • RI.4.2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
  • RI.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
  • RI.4.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
  • RI.4.9 Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • I can explain what a text says using specific details from the text.
  • I can make inferences using specific details from text.
  • I can determine the main idea using specific details from the text.
  • I can summarize informational or persuasive text.
  • I can determine the meaning of academic words or phrases in an informational text.
  • I can determine the meaning of content words or phrases in an informational text.
  • I can interpret information presented through charts, graphs, timelines, or websites.
  • I can explain how visual or graphic information helps me understand the text around it.
  • I can accurately synthesize information from two texts on the same topic.
CCS Standards: WritingLong-Term Learning Targets

W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

a.  Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

b.  Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

c.  Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).

d.  Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

e.  Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.

  • W.4.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

a.  Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.

b.  Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.

c.  Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.

d.  Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.

e.  Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and information clearly.

a.  I can introduce a topic clearly.

a.   I can group supporting facts together about a  topic in an informative/explanatory text

a.  I can use text, formatting, illustrations, and multimedia to support my topic.

b.  I can develop the topic with facts, definitions, details, and quotations.

c.  I can use linking words and phrases to connect ideas within categories of information (e.g., another, for example, also, because).

d.  I can use precise, content-specific language/vocabulary to inform or explain about a topic.

e.  I can construct a concluding statement or section of an informative/explanatory text.

  • I can write narrative text about real or imagined experiences or events.

a.  I can establish a situation.

a.  I can introduce the narrator and/or characters of my narrative.

a.  I can organize events in an order that makes sense in my narrative.

a.  I can use dialogue and descriptions to show the actions, thoughts, and feelings of my characters.

b.  I can use transitional words and phrases to show the sequence of events in a narrative text.

c.  I can use sensory details to describe experiences and events precisely.

d.  I can write a conclusion to my narrative.

CCS Standards: WritingLong-Term Learning Targets
  • W.4.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
  • W.4.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
  • W.4.9b Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

b.  Apply grade 4 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text”).

  • I can conduct a research project to become knowledgeable about a topic.
  • I can recall information that is important to a topic.
  • I can document what I learn about a topic by taking notes.
  • I can sort my notes into categories.
  • I can provide a list of sources I used to gather information.
  • I can choose evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research
  • (e.g., “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text”).
CCS Standards: Speaking and ListeningLong-Term Learning Targets
  • SL.4.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

a.  Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

b.  Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.

c.  Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.

d.  Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.4.2 Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • I can effectively engage in discussions with diverse partners about fourth-grade topics and texts.

a.  I can prepare myself to participate in discussions.

a.  I can draw on information to explore ideas in the discussion.

b.  I can follow our class norms when I participate in a conversation.

c.  I can ask questions that are on the topic being discussed.

c.  I can answer questions about the topic being discussed.

c.  I can connect my questions and responses to what others say.

d.  After a discussion, I can explain what I understand about the topic being discussed.

  • I can paraphrase portions of a text that are read aloud to me.
  • I can paraphrase information that is presented in pictures and/or numbers.
CCS Standards: LanguageLong-Term Learning Targets
  • L.4.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

a.  Use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why).

b.  Form and use the progressive (e.g., I was walking; I am walking; I will be walking) verb tenses.

c.  Use modal auxiliaries (e.g., can, may, must) to convey various conditions.

d.  Order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag).

e.  Form and use prepositional phrases.

f.  Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.

g.  Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).

  • L.4.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

a.  Use correct capitalization.

b.  Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text.

c.  Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.

d.  Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.

L.4.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

a.  Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.

b.  Choose punctuation for effect.

c.  Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion).

  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.

a.  I can use relative pronouns (e.g., who, whose, whom, which, that).

a.  I can use relative adverbs (e.g., where, when, why)

b.  I can use progressive verb tenses (e.g., I was walking; I am walking; I will be walking).

c.  I can use ‘can,’ ‘may,’ and ‘must’ correctly.

d.  I can use conventional patterns to order adjectives within sentences (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag).

e.  I can use prepositional phrases.

f.  I can write complete sentences.

f.  I can recognize fragmented and run-on sentences.

g.  I can correctly use homophones (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).

  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.

a.  I can use correct capitalization in my writing.

b.  I can use commas and quotation marks to identify speech and quotations from a text.

c.  I can use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.

d.  I can spell grade-appropriate words correctly.

d.  I can use resources to check and correct my spelling.

  • I can express ideas using carefully chosen words.
  • I can choose punctuation for effect in my writing.
  • I use formal English when appropriate.
CCS Standards: LanguageLong-Term Learning Targets
  • L.4.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

a.  Use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why).

b.  Form and use the progressive (e.g., I was walking; I am walking; I will be walking) verb tenses.

c.  Use modal auxiliaries (e.g., can, may, must) to convey various conditions.

d.  Order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag).

e.  Form and use prepositional phrases.

f.  Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.

g.  Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).

  • L.4.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

a.  Use correct capitalization.

b.  Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text.

c.  Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.

d.  Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.

  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.

a.  I can use relative pronouns (e.g., who, whose, whom, which, that).

a.  I can use relative adverbs (e.g., where, when, why).

b.  I can use progressive verb tenses (e.g., I was walking; I am walking; I will be walking).

c.  I can use ‘can,’ ‘may,’ and ‘must’ correctly.

d.  I can use conventional patterns to order adjectives within sentences (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag).

e.  I can use prepositional phrases.

f.  I can write complete sentences.

f.  I can recognize fragmented and run-on sentences.

g.  I can correctly use homophones (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).

  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.

a.  I can use correct capitalization in my writing.

b.  I can use commas and quotation marks to identify speech and quotations from a text.

c.  I can use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.

d.  I can spell grade-appropriate words correctly.

d.  I can use resources to check and correct my spelling.