When, Where, and How to Watch Fall Migration
Teacher Guide
(Teacher Guide #3 of Fall Monarch Migration: A Guided Tour for Teachers)

As monarchs migrate through your hometown, what might you see? Discover when, where, and how you can observe fall migration. Learn how to report your observations to Journey North and contribute to scientific understanding.

Essential Question:
What does fall monarch migration look like?


Slideshow Overview

Lesson Objectives

After reading When, Where and How to Watch Fall Migration students will:

  • Describe three ways to watch fall monarch migration.
  • List components of a scientifically-valuable report.
  • Submit a practice report.
Pre-Reading: Set the Stage for Learning

Write these focus questions on chart paper:

  • What do monarch butterflies look like when they migrate?
  • Where can we look to see them in the fall?
  • When does the migration to Mexico take place?
  • How do people watch for migration?

Have students make predictions based on prior knowledge and experience.

Reading the Slideshow
As you read the slideshow together, encourage students to take notes or mark up the text-only version--underlining key words and ideas and jotting down their thoughts in the margins.

After Reading: Revisit for Understanding
1. Summarize Main Ideas

Read aloud the pre-reading questions. Call on volunteers to briefly answer each question using facts from the text. Refer to How to Watch Fall Migration to help students summarize main ideas relevent to the essential question:

  • What does fall monarch migration look like?

How to Watch Fall Migration
2. Analyze Observations with a Data Hunt Challenge

Data Hunt Challenge
Introduce the activity: Let's look at some real migration reports submitted to Journey North and see how people can contribute observations in a scientifically-valuable way.

Place students in groups. Distribute the Observation Report Cards. Have students read and explore the reports. Ask questions and introduce the Data Hunt Challenge:

  • What information do observers include in a report?
  • Which words describe monarch behavior?
  • Which reports give where, when, what, and how information—the details that scientists need to track fall migration?

Give each group the Data Hunt Guide Sheet. Like a scavenger hunt, students are challenged to find specific data in the observation reports. Have them make tally marks right on the cards when they find the data in each observer's comments. You may even have them underline the data they find.

  • Which reports will have many tally marks because they are filled with scientifically-helpful data?
  • Which reports do not include essential details?
  • Which cards are examples of "helpful reports" because they describe all the details a scientist would need to track monarch migration?

Feature the helpful reports on a bulletin board so that students can revisit them when they are writing their own observation reports.

Report Cards

Guide Sheet

3. Brainstorm Questions for Details

Have students identify Observation Report Cards that need more details. With a partner, have them brainstorm questions they would ask the observers. Sample questions to get them started:

  • What time was the sighting?
  • How long were you observing the monarchs?
  • Do you watch for monarchs at about the same time each day?
  • What did you notice the monarchs doing?
  • What plants were the monarchs visiting?
  • How long did the cluster of monarchs roost in the tree branches?

After students have a generous list of questions, have them imagine themselves as the observers. What possible responses could be given for each question? Have students transform a "missing information" Observation Report Card into a "helpful report" by adding scientifically-useful details. Have them share the before and after observation reports.

4. Wrap Up: My "Practice Report"

Have students mock-up a well-written "practice report" based on what they have learned. Show them how to report a sighting to Journey North and find it on the live "Practice Report" map.