|2 to 12
|Several 45 to 60 minute sessions. May extend over several weeks.
Description:In this lesson, students from across North America participate in an Internet activity on butterfly migrations through the Journey North Web site. By collecting, sharing and analyzing data, students will understand connections between natural and man-made phenomena and make comparisons across populations of other migrating animals. The activity promotes collaborative learning and integrates content and skills from several academic areas including science, literacy and math.
Learning Goals:(will vary by grade level)
- Develop and enhance problem solving skills
- Participate in a collaborative learning activity, and communicate via e-mail with others in different geographic areas
- Use the Internet responsibly for exploration
- Refine data collection and processing skills
- Create electronic journals to assess understanding and to share information with other audiences
- Computers with Internet connection (one computer for every 2-3 students)
- Materials suggested by the Journey North Web site for collecting data and documenting activities
- A digital projector connected to a computer to display migration maps (optional)
Preparation:Instructors should determine students' computer and Internet skill levels and select appropriate technology tools. Instructors should also have basic computer skills, including familiarity with the Internet and e-mail.
- Visit the Journey North Web site www.learner.org/jnorth/ to learn about current and future projects. Review the Orientation, This Season's Projects, and Teaching Resources sections.
- Plan activities and prepare project materials recommended in the Journey North Web site. The Web site contains helpful suggestions and ideas appropriate to different student ability levels. For links to selected resources, see the Resources page.
- Reserve technology and obtain other materials that might be needed according to the project guidelines.
What to Do:Engage students with a dynamic introduction to the project topic that solicits their immediate feedback.
- State that each fall, millions of Monarch butterflies fly across North America and head south to a remote location in Mexico. Then ask, "Why do you think they migrate to this part of Mexico?"
- Tell students that the butterflies also return to their original home each spring. Follow that by asking more questions: "Why do they return home each spring? Do you remember seeing these butterflies in your yard during spring or fall? Did you think that they might be just traveling through - on their way to or from Mexico?"
- Elaborate on the topic of migration as appropriate for the age and grade level of your group. The Journey North Web site offers practical suggestions for this discussion.
- Explain how the activity of tracking the butterflies' migration path will be carried out as a collaborative project with other students across North America.
- Tell students that they can e-mail sightings and other data to the larger community of participants and compare experiences with them during the migration.
- Explore maps, photos, and other resources on the Journey North Web site. Depending on the age level of your students, you may choose to include additional research on the Internet to learn more about Monarch butterflies, including the length of their migration routes, their life cycle, their host plants and predators, and how they can be tracked as they migrate across the U.S. to their winter home in Mexico.
- Ask students to compare Monarchs to other insects and migrating wildlife, as well as to other butterflies.
- Have students collect weather data, read postings from other students on the progress of seasonal migrations, and watch for the appearance of Monarch butterflies.
- Read about fields and cities that the butterflies fly over to learn about some environmental conditions that threaten their safety.
- Following the Journey North guidelines and suggestions, have students create electronic journal entries. These will help in assessing student understanding.
- If time allows, have students create a project portfolio to collect, record, and display qualitative and quantitative observations, life cycle studies, weather information, maps, research findings, and more -- all in one folder. At the end of the season, the portfolio showcases all student work. See an example here.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):
- Demonstrated ability to collect, evaluate, and communicate information in a collaborative activity
- Evidence of problem solving
- Discussion and theories about Monarch butterfly migration habits as well as those of other wildlife
Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.
Learn More:Encourage students to make connections with scientists, naturalists, or others in the community who may be involved with similar work, during the course of the lesson. You may facilitate dialogue by inviting an expert to the classroom or arranging a question-and-answer session using e-mail or the Internet.