Just in time for back-to-school: New distance learning resources are available on Wide Open School.
Use this to engage kids who love nature: Share the link on your classroom website as an option for students to check out on their own. Build a lesson on bird song using the free slides and the articles and interactives, especially Bird Song Hero. Use the articles, interactives, or videos within lessons on evolution, comparative anatomy, or animal behavior. For example, students can explore the evolution of feathers over time by reading articles on feather anatomy or by doing the All About Feathers interactive. Use the filters in the video library to search for the most relevant clips.Continue reading Show less
All About Bird Biology is a collection of articles, videos, and activities about bird anatomy, behavior, and adaptations from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Resources include interactives, articles, slides, videos, and two brief courses on how to “be a better birder.” The video library is the most extensive portion of the website: Users can browse the video library to find clips like “Real Angry Birds: Sharp-Tailed Grouse Battle” or “How a Parrot Learns Its Name in the Wild.” Users can also filter the more than 90 videos by theme, like Behavior, Conservation, and Evolution.
The three articles and three interactives cover feathers and bird songs in detail, and include a game called Bird Song Hero. The Slides are a free downloadable PowerPoint presentation that offers further detail on bird songs, while the two Courses are only available for a fee.
These videos and articles are jam-packed with detail for nature lovers, and some (like the Natural & Sexual Selection animation) could be helpful in biology or anatomy class. Visuals are clear and concise; however, in an effort to keep videos short, some important concepts get glossed over a little too quickly, and some kids may come away with misconceptions. If you use this resource, unpack the content afterward to ensure that students aren't confused.
Unfortunately, some interactives don't require much interaction; for example, All About Bird Song is simply a series of live video clips with text passages. Other interactives, like Bird Song Hero, are better. In that activity, students listen to songs and select a spectrogram that matches, and they can get immediate feedback on their multiple-choice selections. While Bird Song Hero builds critical-thinking skills, keep in mind that the content is beyond the scope of the Next Generation of Science Standards. Overall, All About Bird Biology is a great resource for nature enthusiasts who want to become better birders, but using these resources in the classroom will require more context and guidance from a teacher.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
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