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RAFTing with Raptors: Connecting Science with Common Core ELA Standards. Bridget Coleman – [email protected] Deborah McMurtrie – [email protected] Gary Senn – [email protected] http://rpsec.usca.edu/Presentations/AMLE2013/. Programs for Teachers Programs for Pre-service Teachers

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Rafting with raptors connecting science with common core ela standards
RAFTing with Raptors:Connecting Science with Common Core ELA Standards

Bridget Coleman – [email protected]

Deborah McMurtrie – [email protected]

Gary Senn – [email protected]


Writing standards for literacy in history science and technical subjects
Writing Standards for Literacy in History, Science and Technical Subjects

Text Types and Purposes

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.1 Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

    1b. Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.

Reading standards for literacy in science
Reading Standards for Literacy in Science

Key Ideas and Details

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

    Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).

Reading standards for informational text
Reading Standards for Informational Text

Key Ideas and Details

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Informational text
Informational Text

  • Purpose: Factual not fictional

  • Examples:

    • National Audubon Society (1998). First field guide: Birds. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

    • Informational Text Handout: Resident Raptors

Explicit vs inference
Explicit vs. Inference

Explicit (ikˈsplisit/)

Stated clearly and in detail; leaving nothing implied

Inference (ˈinf(ə)rəns/)

A logical conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements

Rafting with raptors session
RAFTing with Raptors Session

  • What is a raptor?

  • Hands-on talons activity

  • Field guide research

  • Handout: Compare and contrast the Barred Owl and the Red-Tailed Hawk

  • In small groups, write RAFTs

What is a raptor
What is a Raptor?

A raptor is a bird.

A raptor is a carnivore.

A raptor seizes its prey with its talons.

Raptors are also called



Cooper’s Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

Peregrine Falcon

Great Grey Owl


Talon activity

  • Compare Talons 1, 2, and 3. How are they alike? How are they different?

  • Rub your finger along each “palm.”

  • Which talon belonged to an osprey?

  • Which talon would be best adapted to catch and hold fish?

Field guide
Field Guide

  • Purpose

  • Use of index and graphic features

  • Activity: Bald Eagle

Field guide research
Field Guide Research

  • Brown Pelican

  • Sanderling

  • American Kestrel

  • Mourning Dove

  • Black-Capped Chickadee

  • Great Horned Owl

  • American Crow

  • American Robin

  • Great Blue Heron

Is your bird a raptor? How do you know?

Field guide research1
Field Guide Research

Explicit Text

  • What does this bird eat?

  • Where does this bird live?

  • What does this bird look like?

  • Interesting fact about this bird:

Field guide research2
Field Guide Research


  • Is this bird a carnivore? How do you know?

  • Is this bird a predator? How do you know?

  • Does this bird migrate?  How do you know?

  • Is your bird a raptor? How do you know?

Cite your evidence!

Two resident raptors
Two Resident Raptors


the Barred Owl


the Red-Tailed Hawk




Compare & ContrastRead the text, and take notes using the categories below. Then, highlight the characteristics that the two birds have in common. Draw and fill in a Venn diagram.

Red Tailed Hawk




Compare these raptors
Compare These Raptors

Barred Owl

Red Tailed Hawk

Fast flight


Supraorbital ridges

Sleek, aerodynamic shape

Keeps eyes focused in the wind

Binocular vision

Lives in open fields, groves, plains

Silent flight


Large eyes

Fluffy body and flat face

Can rotate head 270 degrees

Asymmetrical ears

Lives in woodlands, swamps

Raft strategy
RAFT Strategy

Role (Who you are as the writer)




Strong Verb

Raptors raft example 1
Raptors RAFT Example 1

COME PREY by Tina Newton and Shira Stark (AMLE 2012)

Oh mouse, Oh vole, Oh chirping frog

The wind is out as is the fog

I've been looking for you all night long

Please come out and sing your song

My love for you is a famished need

For upon your body I must feed

Dear Varmint... we were meant for each other

By the way, I just coughed up your brother!

Raptors raft example 21
Raptors RAFT Example 2

I, O. Possum, being of flattened body and rotting mind, do hereby bequeath my secrets to a beautifully balanced life to my good friend, the Hiker: O, Hiker, I will always be grateful for your gifts of discarded fish scales and guts which nourished me throughout the nights of my life.  A tip to make your life become more balanced:  Why not try some berries or nuts?  You know, Nature's other bounty.  This would help those herbivore cousins of mine. Now, I leave you, dear Hiker, with one request:  Before I become too decomposed for the trip, move me to a more open area so I may continue our tradition of inspired balance by nourishing those birds who prefer the relaxed banquet offered by carrion or dead stuff, such as I find myself today. P.S. This is not a joke.  I am not playing possum.  Stop poking me with that stick!

Raptors raft example 31
Raptors RAFT Example 3


  • Poets praise me.

  • Scouts study me.

  • Little children love to climb me.

  • I can no longer provide shade for picnic goers and hikers on sweltering days if you remove me.

  • You break us, burn us, and grind us into objects merely for human consumption.

  • You’re forcing us from our home, where we have lived for millennia, leaving a silent trail of tears.

  • Animals that are forced to seek food and shelter farther away, in the limbs of my brothers and sisters, collide with human populations.

  • You are reducing the food supply for wild animals.

  • You are depleting the habitats of endangered birds and other species.

  • You are harming the ozone—and all living things on our planet.

Raptors raft example 41
Raptors RAFT Example 4

Dear Mousekin, Kindred Spirit,

PLEASE don’t go out at night. Don’t end up like me: victim to a silent, nocturnal predator. You might think you’re safe, but at any time you could be caught in the clutches of a Great Horned Owl, an Eastern Screech Owl, or even a Barred Owl.

You think you’re hiding, but your enemy can turn his head 270 degrees and find you. At dusk you may hear the hoot or trill of an owl: Think of it as a warning to stay inside; it’s time for bed.

If you get caught in the trance of the silvery moon, you’ll almost certainly end up like me: caught in sharp talons, swallowed whole, and regurgitated 21 hours later. All that will be left are your desiccated bones. That’s no way to live a life!

Let s try it draft a raft
Let’s Try It! DRAFT a RAFT

  • In small groups, choose a ROLE, an AUDIENCE, a FORMAT, a TOPIC, and a STRONG VERB.

  • Brainstorm, then draft a RAFT to share with the whole group.

Unpack the lesson why
Unpack the Lesson: Why?

Engages the Learner

  • Process information

  • Make connections

  • Interact with text

  • Demonstrate understanding

  • Use higher order thinking (Bloom’s Taxonomy)

  • Produce something

  • Accessible

  • Interdisciplinary

Unpack the lesson why1
Unpack the Lesson: Why?

  • Common Core Shifts

    • 55% Informational Text by Grade 8

    • More writing to inform, explain, argue with evidence

    • Literacy skills are embedded in content areas

    • We will have to collaborate (teaming!)