Introduce the selection by tapping into students? background experiences. Use the
Clue Collector activity to elicit students? prior knowledge. Reveal the following
clue words and phrases one at a time: warm-blooded, circulation, exercise, food,
heart rate, energy, body temperature, shivering, hypothermia, torpor, and hummingbird.
Ask questions to facilitate students? thinking: What thoughts pop into your
mind when you hear the word ________? Which words are related or connected in some
way? How are food and energy connected? What do you know about circulation? How are
exercise, heart rate, and body temperature related? What is hypothermia? What does
Variation for Clue Collector activity: Place students in small groups.
Give each group a set of the clue words and phrases. Have them write questions and
predictions about the upcoming reading selection. Encourage students to use a dictionary
to look up unfamiliar words. Invite each group to share their work with the class
prior to reading. (Activating Prior Knowledge, Making Predictions, Asking Questions,
Setting a Purpose for Reading)
Read "Hummingbird Metabolism:
Ruby-throated Hungrybirds." Encourage
students to "mark up the text" by circling unfamiliar words,
underlining key words and phrases, and writing notes
in the margins.
Related Reading Selections: These two nonfiction articles provide students with additional
information about hummingbirds and torpor. Hands-on activities are included to help
students develop a concrete understanding of how torpor works.
1. Torpor Students explore temperature
drops using modeling clay, a balance, a thermometer, and a refrigerator.
2. Hummidees, Jaybins, and Ravoons: A
Lesson about Volume, Surface Area, and Body Heat. Students explore
the amount of heat a warm-blooded animal produces in
relation to its body volume by creating "cubic birds."
Give students five minutes to list VIP?s (Very Important Points) without
looking back at the text. Encourage them to use the clue words from the pre-reading
to recall key facts. Invite them to reread the text after
they write and add more facts to their list of VIP?s. (Recalling Main Ideas
and Details, Rereading for Text Details)
Have students revisit the text in small groups to write a group response for the
following questions: (Summarizing Main Ideas and Details)
1. Why does the title of the article refer to ruby-throated hummingbirds as hungrybirds?
Why do hummingbirds need to eat 1-1/2 to 3 times their weight in nectar and insects
2. How would you define metabolism?
3. How do hummingbirds survive in cold temperatures?
4. Why are hummingbird feeders with perches potentially dangerous for hummers?
5. How would you describe a typical day and night in the life of a hummingbird?
Challenge students to incorporate the clue words from the pre-reading activity
in their answers to the questions.
Journaling Questions (Making Inferences and Drawing Conclusions)
1. What are the risks and benefits of torpor for hummingbirds?
2. Why do tiny birds like hummingbirds and chickadees lose body heat so much more
easily than large birds like ravens and loons? Related Link:
Hummidees, Jaybins, and Ravoons: A Lesson about Volume, Surface Area, and Body Heat.
3. What are three ways people can help make their backyards a haven for hummingbirds?
Making Connections: Survival Strategies
1. How does the human body use food? (Making Text-to-Self Connections)
2. How do people cope with cold weather? What strategies do we use to survive in
cold temperatures? (Making Text-to-Self Connections)
3. Research other tiny birds, such as chickadees and swifts, to learn more about
torpor. (Making Text-to-Text Connections)
4. Research other animals to discover other adaptations and survival strategies.
Which species hibernate, migrate, and/or insulate to survive during winter seasons?
(Making Text-to-Text Connections)
Evaluate (Identify Text Structures)
In nonfiction texts authors often introduce readers to new information. How does
an author teach unfamiliar words and concepts to a reader? Examine the reading selection
and other nonfiction articles to identify the following writing strategies:
1. Similes/Metaphors: How does an author use comparisons to connect new concepts
to ideas that are more familiar to readers? (In the reading selection, the author
compares torpor to a sleep-like state. In the related reading selection, Torpor,
the author compares the weight of a hummingbird to coins.)
2. Context Clues: Sometimes an author writes descriptive information before
and/or after introducing a new concept to help readers make inferences that lead
to understanding. The context provides clues that a reader puts together to see the
whole picture, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. (In this article, the sentence
after the word metabolism describes how hummingbirds burn food so fast they often
eat 1-1/2 to 3 times their weight in nectar and insects per day. Readers can
infer that metabolism has to do with the rate at which a body burns food.)
3. Definitions: Authors often specifically define a word introduced in
nonfiction texts. (In the related reading selection titled, Torpor,
the writer included a definition sentence: This temporary drop in body temperature
is called torpor.)
4. Illustrations/Photographs: Authors may include pictures or photographs
to illustrate a new concept for readers.
5. Examples: New words or concepts are often followed by examples to help
readers make connections. (In the reading and related reading selections, the
authors provide hands-on lessons. The activities provide models or examples for the