Teaching About Bats in a Combo Class

Hey friends! This year I am teaching a first and second grade combination class. This is my first time teaching anything but second grade so it’s definitely a learning year for me. I have a 10/12 split with the 12 being second graders. So, I am teaching most of my second grade curriculum. Now, obviously first graders need first grade instruction, so, I am doing a lot if differentiating to make sure that my firsties are learning and supported in my classroom. I wanted to give you a peek on how I am doing this with bats.

We started off our whole bats unit by turning our pod into a cave. Well…as much of a cave as we could. We wanted to hook the kiddos in and get them excited about bats!

The first thing that we did was to talk about our bats knowledge. I like to find out the kiddos misconceptions of bats. Mainly, that they are scary and suck your blood. Last year, I wrote what the kiddos said on post-its to save time. This year I wanted more engagement, so I had students write what they know on a post-it themselves. For the firsties, they could use pictures and/or words. For second graders, they needed to use a sentence, but could add pictures if they wanted to. Then, we added them to our KWL bat. This is a picture of last years KWL…I forgot to take one this year:(

(This KWL idea came from Jodi Southard’s October Passages Set).
We then moved on to our input lesson. I like to use a pictorial like this…

I have the bat pre-drawn and then I add the words with the students. (This is a GLAD strategy and this fabulous poster idea came from a wonderful GLAD instructor that worked at our school). This can be a long process. Depending on your kiddos, you may want to split this poster over two days. My kiddos are pretty good listeners, so we made it through in one day. As I am adding words to the poster, I have my students take “notes.” I tell them they are going to be like high schoolers and take notes and boy, do they get excited about that! I usually have a couple kiddos talk about how their older brother and sister take notes…buy in! Both first and second graders completed a can, have, are page as their notes. The first graders had empty boxes with can, have and are at the top. They had to draw and label information, because labeling is what I am working on with them right now. The second graders had the same paper but theirs had lines. We do lots of turn and talking and sharing our learning to keep them engaged.

Next, we moved onto my favorite way to differentiate, that’s with leveled quick reads and passages.

The students worked together to read these quick reads and write facts about bats. I have a good mix of first and second graders. I have some second graders reading at a first grade level and some first graders reading at a second grade level. This works out perfectly for mixing together to make a cohesive classroom. When we do things such as these quick reads, there can be a nice mix of partners.

(If you are interested in learning more about quick reads, click HERE to watch a short informational video. To check them out in our shop, click HERE).

Next, we took our facts and added them to bats we were going to use to decorate out bat cave. This idea came from Digital: Divide & Conquer. We are working on writing complete sentences. Both first and second graders need some help with this! We took one fact that we found from our quick reads and added them to the back of our bat. We checked to make sure they were COMPLETE sentences. Then we colored them and hung them up in our bat cave:)

Our main goal this week has been retelling a story. So we had to add some fiction into our reading block. Of course, I turned to Stellaluna. I love Stellaluna for multiple reasons. It’s great to retell, great to compare bats to birds and great for finding a message. I used it for introductory for all three of those this week.

Again, first graders and second graders have different expectations. Though I have found that my first graders want to do what the second graders do, I don’t require them to write out as much as the second graders. Firsties are working on drawing and labeling. With this retell, I also had them write one sentence for each section. However, many were able to write more than that.

Along with Stellaluna, I also used Bat’s Big Game to compare and contrast bats and birds. It’s fiction, so we were able to practice retelling it, but it also helped us to decide how bats and birds are different.

I like to use a t-chart to introduce compare and contrast because it’s easier for the kiddos to understand. This t-chart was created using two different resources. The first one was Bat’s Big Game. The second was our Bats Leveled Passages.

 These passages are leveled A-I, the same as our quick reads. They allow for students to work on the same content, at their independent level. Students worked together to highlight information about birds. We then added that information to the t-chart. Students also created a t-chart of their own in their reading notebooks. Another reason I love the t-chart is that they can easily draw it on their own and it saves some copies.

Students then worked to answer the questions that go along with each passage. Yet another skill I was able to add this week:)

Once we had a good handle on what makes a bat, a bat. We were ready to learn about different types of bats. This is another GLAD strategy put together by one of our fabulous GLAD instructors. This is called a narrative. On the back of each picture is a story about that particular type of bat. It’s full of facts and great for students. They love learning about the different types. On this poster, there are six different types of bats.

This narrative took two days. We went through the whole thing on day one. Then on day two, the students added word cards to the different types of bats as a reinforcement.

We wrapped up the week with a writing assessment. The topic was “If I were a bat, I would…” I was looking for complete sentences but it also gave me a good look at what the students could pull from the week, such as types of bats and what they do. I was surprised at how much information both the first and second graders were able to pull! I am excited for writing this year!

(I wish I knew where this prompt came from. If it’s you or you know who it is, please let me know so I can tag them!!)

We were able to do ALL of this in one week. It may seem like a lot, it was, but the engagement was so high that the kiddos were soaking it all up!!

I am learning to change the expectations from first to second, but I have noticed that the first graders are working really hard to meet the expectations I set for the second graders. I am really excited to see how this year goes because these kiddos are really motivated to work hard and set examples. So far, I’m loving it!

I hope that you all have a wonderful, batty week!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *