March 2, 2009
I. Butterfly Life Cycle
II. This unit is intended for first grade students in a suburban, low socio-economic school
district with minimal parental support. The first grade class is an inclusion classroom
consisting of 18 students; five of those are special education students with learning
disabilities. This unit is designed to combine various differentiation strategies to
meet the needs of all learners in this classroom.
III. The purpose of this unit is to integrate science into the language arts curriculum. The
goal for the students is to use non-fiction reading as a way to gain a clear
understanding of the butterfly life cycle. Along with the facts they will learn when
reading; the students will understand how to keep a daily science journal where
they record all observations. The students will use these appropriate reading and
writing strategies as well as their ability to work cooperatively in a group to gain
knowledge on their topic.
The Language Arts Big Ideas are:
- The goal of non-fiction reading is to learn facts from the text, photographs, labels
- Journal writing will be used as a way for students to collect their thoughts while they
discover new facts and make observations during an experiment.
- Working together to share their results during the reading and observations
recorded will play a significant role in their learning.
The Science Big Ideas are:
- Butterfly Life Cycle
- Students will be able to use non-fiction texts and all the features to discover new
- Students will be able to share their recorded facts with their partners to gather
more ideas or questions they might have about the topic.
- Students will be able to understand the butterfly lifecycle and explain the
- Students will be able to describe other animals that have similar life cycles and
- Student will be able to notice the changes the butterfly goes through by
recording them in their daily response journal.
IV. This unit relates directly to our first grade reading, writing and science curriculum. With
this unit, I can improve upon the lifecycle unit I already teach, using a more in depth
look at how to integrate science into language arts.
I will apply many differentiation strategies to make each student feel successful
throughout the unit. The students spend time reading non-fiction texts, so with this
unit I can enhance my science unit of life cycle by integrating it into our reader’s
workshop non-fiction reading. I have leveled non-fiction books my students will be
reading to learn facts about the butterfly lifecycle. By applying the strategy of “just
right” non-fiction reading, each student will be able to learn information at their
own pace, using a method that works for them. This unit offers students a chance to
write and record the new facts they found or observations they made, which ties
into our writer’s workshop curriculum. The students can record their observations in
a variety of ways such as: through drawings, diagrams, phrases or sentences. The
student’s writing will be shared as a way to develop more ideas or discuss questions
they may have proposed. We also visit Magic Wings on a field trip in the spring, so
this integration unit will be a nice lead in for that trip.
According to the Connecticut State Frameworks, “Scientific literacy includes speaking,
listening, presenting, interpreting, reading and writing about science.” My integrated unit
connects to this framework through, Inquiry 1, 5 and 6, which state students will, “Seek
information in books, magazines and pictures. Present information in words and drawings.
Make observations and ask questions about objects, organisms and the environment.”
According to the Connecticut State Framework A15 the expected performance for first grade
is students will, “Describe the changes in organisms, such as frogs and butterflies, as they
V. My first article was a research study done on a first grade class to see if the students
understand what happens during the butterfly and beetle lifecycle. Daniel P.
Shepardson wrote the first article called, “Of Butterflies and Beetles: First Graders’
Ways of Seeing and Talking about Insect Life Cycles.” I plan to integrate a daily
response journal so the students can collect daily data. This was recommended by
Shepardson in his article. I anticipate similar results when I focus most of my unit
around the response journal. As stated in the article, “Children’s understandings
about butterfly and beetle life cycle were made visible in their journal entries, as
well as through the talk that surrounded their journals” (Shepardson 880). I also will
have the students share the observations they recorded in small groups, which will
give them an opportunity to understand their entries in more depth. My hope is that
by integrating this science unit into our language arts curriculum, the students will
develop a clear understanding of the life cycle in order to formulate a discussion
I found my second article to be extremely helpful when thinking about the overall
topic of integrating science into the language arts curriculum. I know this concept is
difficult for most teachers, yet I do feel that in the elementary level it somewhat
easier. The article by Rosemarie Kolstad is entitled, “Better Teaching of Science
through Integration.” In this article Kolstad provides several texts to use when
integrating Science into Language Arts. As recommended by Kolstad, I may add
poetry into my unit. Kolstad quoted Savage when saying, “Poetry provides another
means of using literature to help pupils to develop insights into science”( Kolstad
131). I never thought of this strategy and am eager to see how well it works during
this integrated unit.
VI. Research Articles
Kolstad, R., Briggs, L., (1995). Better teaching of science through integration. Journal
of Instructional Psycholoy, 22, 130-135.
Shepardson, D. (1997). Of Butterflies and Beetles: First Graders’ Ways of Seeing and
Talking about Insect Life Cycles. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34, 873-
Books Used in the Cyberlesson
From Caterpillar to Butterfly- Deborah Heiligman
Where Butterflies Grow- JoAnne Ryder
Monarch Butterfly- Gail Gibbons
Butterfly and Moth- Paul Whalley
Activity Kit Used-
The Butterfly Garden Activity Set