Virtual Nature School

Welcome to the Missouri River Bird Observatory’s Virtual Nature School! Our goal is to provide standards- based lessons tied specifically to Missouri ecosystems. These resources are built to be used in both in-person and virtual classroom settings. We hope these materials and resources will assist teachers in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide new ways for students to learn about Missouri’s birds, their habitats, and other Missouri fauna and flora. Enjoy! If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact our Education Coordinator, Paige Witek, at paige.witek@mrbo.org.

Grades 3-5

The project for teachers and students in grade levels 3-5 consists of what we call, “Weekly Webinars”. Each webinar discusses a certain topic related to birds that ties in to the Missouri Learning Standards and uses Missouri- specific examples when appropriate. To get the most out of the Weekly Webinars there are three options:

  1. Watch the webinar recordings posted here with your class and schedule a separate 20 minute Question and Answer (Q&A) session with MRBO Education Coordinator, Paige Witek, via Zoom (or other platform) to answer any questions and to learn more about birds. Instructions for scheduling the Q&A session are below.
  2. Schedule a LIVE virtual presentation and Q&A session with Education Coordinator, Paige Witek, approximately 30 min. in total.
  3. Watch the webinar recording and have discussions with your class on your own. If you choose this option we would love to hear from you about your experience.

Scheduling Virtual Q&A Sessions and LIVE Virtual Presentations

To schedule a Q&A session or a LIVE presentation including a Q&A session, please email Paige Witek, our Education Coordinator, at paige.witek@mrbo.org to set up a time. Available times are Monday – Friday 9 AM – 3 PM. The earlier the session is scheduled, the more time slots will be available. Sessions will take place virtually via Zoom or any other platform that works best for you.

Webinars!

This webinar is the perfect introduction to the diversity of the bird world as a bird’s beak is not only a tool they use for pretty much everything, but is also the first key feature to look for when identifying a species. In the webinar, we cover structural adaptation, generalists vs. specialists, and even a bit of evolution. All examples are birds that live in Missouri as we believe in place-based learning.

Key Terms: Adaptation, Generalist, Specialist, Beak/Bill, Identification

Missouri Learning Standard(s): 3.LS3.C.1 – Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular ecosystem some organisms, based on structural adaptations or behaviors, can survive well, some less well, and some cannot.

4.LS1.A.1 – Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and plant reproduction.

Recording Time: 14 min. 16 sec.

Following bird beaks, this is a great refresher of what adaptation is and how it works. This webinar will also spark your students’ curiosity by covering the biggest, smallest, fastest, and longest-lived birds. This webinar not only covers the record holders, but also introduces amazing adaptations with a clear path to how they help the birds survive. The webinar concludes by defining structural adaptation and by introducing behavioral adaptation.

Key Terms: Structural Adaptation, Behavioral Adaptation, Trait, Biomimicry

Missouri Learning Standard(s): 4.LS1.A.1 – Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and plant reproduction.

Recording Time: 17 min. 9 sec.

Now for behavioral adaptation. This webinar covers what migration is, why birds migrate, the types of migration, migration records and how birds navigate during migration. This webinar also includes eye-catching graphics using citizen science data to show bird distribution throughout the year. You and your students are sure to learn more about the phenomenon of bird migration.

Key Terms: Migration, Behavioral Adaptation, Citizen Science

Missouri Learning Standard(s): 3.LS3.C.1 – Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular ecosystem some organisms, based on structural adaptations or behaviors, can survive well, some less well, and some cannot.

Recording Time: 18 min. 20 sec.

Bird communication, or bird language, is essential for avian survival. In this webinar students will learn about the two main types of bird vocalizations: songs and calls. We cover the difference between the two, their purposes, and how they each help the bird survive. This webinar features recordings of bird songs and calls from Missouri to encourage students to go outside and listen for the birds in their neighborhood. Also during the webinar questions are posed for class discussion and inquiry.

Key Terms: Verbal Communication, Songs, Calls, Behavioral Adaptation, Innate vs Learned

Missouri Learning Standard(s): 3.LS3.B.1 – Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving and finding mates.

3.LS3.C.1 – Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular ecosystem some organisms, based on structural adaptations or behaviors, can survive well, some less well, and some cannot.

4.LS1.D.1 – Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.

Recording Time: 21 min. 18 sec.

This webinar finally gets to what makes a bird, a bird. There is nothing else in the world quite like feathers in their structure and functions. In this webinar we cover the seven broad types of feathers and the function of each to serve as an introduction to feathers. An additional feather knowledge resource is revealed at the end!

Key Terms: Feather, Structure, Function, Adaptation, Flight

Missouri Learning Standard(s): 3.LS3.B.1 – Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving and finding mates.

4.LS1.A.1 – Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and plant reproduction.

Recording Time: 13 min. 17 sec.

A perfect way to sum up the series, this webinar showcases 12 birds that live in Missouri and are somewhat common if you go to the right habitat at the right time of year. These birds may not be the biggest, smallest, or fastest birds, but they have some awesome adaptations that deserve attention. You and your students we be engaged in learning about some truly neat local birds, while covering concepts touched on in previous webinars.

Key Terms: Habitat, Identification, Adaptation, Awesome, Local

Missouri Learning Standard(s): 3.LS3.B.1 – Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages n surviving and finding mates.

4.LS1.A.1 – Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and plant reproduction.

Recording Time: 37 min. 5 sec.

During the pilot run of this webinar series, students became highly interested in the phrase, “Birds are modern-day dinosaurs.” This webinar gives a brief history of evolution and the geology of the earth to help explain that phrase. This webinar does not fit into the flow of the other webinars as nicely, but it is interesting, nonetheless. If your students love dinosaurs and geological history, this bonus webinar is worth checking out. However, we recommend pairing it with other materials and resources. Links below.

Additional Resources:

Key Terms: Evolution, Multi-cellular Organisms, Extinction, Mass Extinction, Dinosaur

Missouri Learning Standard(s): 3.LS3.C.1 – Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular ecosystem some organisms, based on structural adaptations or behaviors, can survive well, some less well, and some cannot.

Recording Time: 21 min. 18 sec.

Grades 6-8

Our middle school resources consist of four units with five lessons each. Each lesson consists of an introductory video, a relevant activity that can be done both in the classroom and individually at home, additional video(s) to expand upon the lesson theme, and assessment materials. Each lesson is built around the Missouri Learning Standards and uses Missouri- specific examples for place-based learning.

Unit 1: Reproduction

This unit will explore the topics of natural selection, bird vocalizations, courtship rituals and mating displays, nesting, and how reproductive success is measured. Students will not only be able to construct explanations and interpret data, but also understand more about the ecology of birds and begin “thinking like a bird” in terms of habitat and resource needs.

Unit 2: Adaptation

This unit will explore both structural and behavioral adaptation by covering the topics of bird feathers, wings, beaks, bird language, and migration.

*Available Soon!

Unit 3: Habitat

This unit is all about what makes a habitat a quality habitat. Topics include habitat requirements, how we can improve habitat, management techniques, invasive species and careers in conservation.

*Available Soon!

Unit 4: Earth’s Systems and Climate

In this unit students will enhance many skills including their ability to analyze graphs and tables and work toward solutions to complex problems.

*Available Soon!