Morgan Mitchell Ecosystem Unit Lesson Plans

Title of Lesson:  Day One of Unit                           Grade Level:  K-12

Subject Area:  Science                                              Timeframe:  7 weeks

Planning for Instruction

Student Learning Goals/Outcomes:

·       Students will be able to identify and describe the different types of ecosystems.

·       Students will be able to identity the biotic and abiotic factors of an ecosystem.

·       Students will illustrate the elements of an ecosystem energy cycle through the creation of a diorama.

·       Students will present their project through an oral presentation or a written work.

·       Students will explore elements of their surrounding community through Alaska specific examples.

·       Students will be able to recognize a variety of ways that they can better the environment.

Standard(s) Addressed:

Chugach

SC 3.7 – Understand the interdependence of plants and animals with their ecosystem 

SC 4.7 – Understand the flow of energy through ecosystems and the responses of populations to the biotic and abiotic factors in their environment.

Along with a variety of reading, writing, and culture standards depending on the students level.

Level 1: (WR 1.1.1) Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory text.

Level 2: (WR 2.2) Writes non-fiction samples (opinion, reports, descriptions) with an introduction, reason to support opinion, and concluding sentence

Level 3 (WR 3.5) Writes non-fiction samples (report, description, observation, opinions) that are on topic with supporting details.

Level 4 (WR 4.5) Writes informational samples that include appropriate information, analysis, reflection research and structure such as how-to, letters, and reports.

Level 5 (WR 5.1) Writes two to three paragraph essays with topic sentences, supporting details and concluding sentences.

Level 6 (WR 6.6) Writes informational samples that include research-based information, analysis of research, and references.

Level 7 (WR 7.6) Writes informational samples that include research-based information, analysis of research, and references using a standard method of documentation (APA or MLA).

Level 8 (WR 8.1) Writes coherent and focused essays with thesis statement, introductory paragraph, supporting details (relevant evidence that supports the main idea), and concluding paragraph.

PE 5.8 Recognizes and explains how individual behaviors/actions impact air, water, and environmental waste.

CC 1.4 Describes how the environment has influenced some elements of cultures in Alaska (i.e., how people use materials found in their environment, such as cedar, walrus hides, ivory, etc. to create traditional artwork and homes).

Alaska State Standards: 

MS-LS2-2. – Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.

MS-LS2-5. – Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services

HS-LS2-6 – Students who demonstrate understanding can: Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.

Technology Inclusion:

Students will need access to a computer as this is an asynchronous course conducted entirely online. The technology that will be utilized, includes, but is not limited to:

·      Computer / Tablet (access to the internet)

·      Google Classroom

·      YouTube

·      Google Docs or Microsoft Word

·      Zoom

Materials/Resources:

We will be using Google Classroom as the medium for this ecology unit. The majority of the information we will be using is coming from websites such as: YouTube, Generation Genius, National Geographic, Scholastic Kids, BrainPOP, and more.

Differentiation Strategies/Individual Modification/Special Arrangements:

As this class is open to an audience of K-12 homeschool students. There are various types of differentiation embedded in the unit. The Google Classroom topics are divided into “Younger” (K-5) and “Older” (6-12) students, which provide different levels of materials that will appeal to that particular age group. Every student is on a different level, and will therefore receive a different rubric according to their current levels in the areas of science, reading, writing, culture & communication, etc.

Situational Factors: 

  • As this is intended for a homeschool audience, students are at different levels and places. This unit is hopefully completed alongside the majority of students at the desired date, but it is recognized that they may be doing this in addition to their traditional curriculum workload. There could also be a learning curve to have this type of unit available to them, as it has never been offered before. With those situational factors in mind, there are no “due dates”. 
  • Once students sign up for the class, then a rubric specific to their levels in science, reading, writing, and culture will be made for the students. Examples of rubrics are attached at the bottom of the lesson plan. 

Assessment of Student Learning:

Each week has an “exit slip” assignment to check on student’s knowledge throughout their time in the unit. There is typically a short quiz and a project due at the end of the week. This short quiz allows a quick look into a student’s understanding of the subject, which will result in me offering help after the quiz is turned in. The projects (depending on how many students sign up) will take longer to grade, but will allow more expression for student’s to showcase their understanding. 

Overall, the assessment of the entire unit will be through their diorama and presentation of knowledge, which could be delivered through a speech or a detailed description through a research paper.

Instructional Sequence Week One:

Opening Activity:

·      Every week will start off with a discussion question. Students will answer to the best of their ability. Week One’s discussion question is “What is an ecosystem?” Due to the audience being a wide range of students in different levels / grades – the responses will be at a variety of different levels.

·      After the discussion question, students will watch a short introductory video on the topic of the week.

Learning Activity: 

Students will discuss their prior knowledge in the opening activity discussion question. If students do not have prior knowledge or experience with ecosystems, prior knowledge will also be built through students watching a video (Scholastic for younger students, Great Pacficia media for older students). Through these videos, students will learn the basics about ecosystems that will help them throughout the unit. 

Students will apply this newfound knowledge through a fun game on PBS Kids called Feed the Dingo. In this game students add plants, bugs, animals, etc. over a series of days in their desert ecosystems and tries to keep their ecosystem flourishing for twelve days. 

After having watched a video, read some material, and played the ecosystem game, students will write a summary of what they have learned through this week’s activities. 

Closure / Assessment:  

The assessment for Week One is a  Google Quiz that corresponds with the videos and readings they watched. There are a total of six questions, some of the questions include: 

What is a producer’s job in an ecosystem?

Why are animals important to an ecosystem?

Which of the following are biotic factors in an ecosystem?

After these activities and assessments, students will be prepared to dive deeper into the details of ecosystems. 

Instructional Sequence Week Two:

Opening Activity:

·      Every week will start off with a discussion question. Students will answer to the best of their ability. Week Two’s discussion question is “What is a biome?”

·      After the discussion question, students will watch a short introductory video on the topic of the week.

Learning Activity:

Students will read through the material presented in the Google Classroom and watch the corresponding videos (National Geographic, Scholastic, Great Pacifica Media, etc.) to help build their knowledge on the subject or for a refresher. They will apply what they have learned in an activity called Build a Biome. In this activity, students will choose a biome to build. They will pick the biome’s corresponding foliage, animals, precipitation, and seasons through an interactive website. This activity touches on the important points of a biome such as weather patterns, seasons, location on the planet, animals, etc. 

Students will be asked to choose a biome and build it in a similar fashion. They can showcase their knowledge through a short explanation and digital or traditional art. Students will be expected to include plants, animals, and surroundings in their art. The explanation should include details such as weather and location on the planet. The activity will help give students the experience, skills, and knowledge of biomes when it comes time to build their own ecosystem. 

Closure / Assessment: 

The assessment will be a short Google Quiz containing seven questions. Questions include: 

How many biomes are there?

Which is the largest biome?

What are the three major biomes found in the United States?

The questions are from the materials that are provided in the topic. Along with this assessment, the building a biome project will also be used to assess the knowledge from this week’s lesson. These assessments are a quick check in to see if students understand the basics of biomes, and to work one on one with them if they struggle since Biomes are key to the final project. 

Instructional Sequence Week Three:

Opening Activity:

·      Every week will start off with a discussion question. Students will answer to the best of their ability. Week Three’s question is “What is a food chain?”

·      After the discussion question, students will watch a short introductory video on the topic of the week.

Learning Activity:

Students will watch the videos and read the materials assigned in the Google Classroom to build prior knowledge or as a refresher (materials are from Crash Course, Scholastic, School Odyssey, National Geographic and more). Students in the younger group will choose from a series of animals that are presented to represent their food chain through a craft project. There is a series of examples that are posted in the classroom that students can choose to mimic for their specific chosen animal. 

The older students will dive further and learn about food webs. There will be separate readings nad videos included in the materials section. For their activity, students will use a mind mapping website to create a food web of an animal of their choice from a list provided in the Google Classroom. 

Students will need to know more about food chains and webs as they prepare for their final project. This will help build the practice for when they include biotic factors in their ecosystem. 

Closure / Assessment: 

The assessment for this week is to showcase the work you’ve done with the food chain / food web and post on padlet. This platform allows students to view other student’s work so that they may ask questions or make comments, so that they can learn from their peers who may have completed a chain / web for a different animal.

Instructional Sequence Week Four:

Opening Activity:

·      Every week will start off with a discussion question. Students will answer to the best of their ability. Week Four’s question is “What does symbiosis mean? What does interdependence mean?”

·      After the discussion question, students will watch a short introductory video on the topic of the week.

Learning Activity:

Students will read and watch videos provided in the materials sections. Materials are from Scholastic, National Geographic, and more. These materials talk about what interdependence and symbiosis mean, alongside detailing the different types of relationships within an ecosystem such as: commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism. 

For our learning activity, students will attend the second of three zoom sessions through the unit. In this zoom session we will conduct an activity that will assess their newfound knowledge. I will lead the class in a discussion using examples and we will play a game to determine whether the proposed scenario is commensalism, mutualism, or parasitism. Questions in the activity will include: 

  • Mosquitos eat human blood for nutrition to lay eggs (parasitism) 
  • The bison stirs up insects in the grass, which the cowbird eats (commensalisms)
  • The cleaner fish feeds on parasites in the shark’s mouth and gills (mutualism)

This is important for a student’s final ecology project as they have to depict relationships such as mutualism for it to be a well-rounded and complete ecosystem. 

Closure / Assessment: 

For this week’s assessment, there is a Google Quiz that has questions similar to the zoom activity along with short answer and true or false responses in regards to definitions and examples. 

This is a quick way to assess a student’s understanding before moving on to the next week’s topic. 

Instructional Sequence Week Five:

Opening Activity:

·      Every week will start off with a discussion question. Students will answer to the best of their ability. Week Five’s question is “How would you describe Alaska’s ecosystem?” Not only will this question yield different results due to the varied grade levels, but also given the different locations that students live in across the state.

·      After the discussion question, students will watch a short introductory video on the topic of the week.

Learning Activity:

Students will watch videos and read about Alaska’s ecosystem which is considered the Tundra ecosystem. There is an extra video that talks about effects of climate change on Alaska’s ecosystem.  The activity this week is for students to make 3-5 journal entries about variables they observe in their Alaskan community. These variables must be related to the prior lessons. Examples: animals, foliage, weather, etc. 

Closure / Assessment: 

Their journal entry is the week’s assessment. This will be the students first time putting into application the previous lessons into one project. The goal of this assessment will be to put together the understanding of the student’s surrounding ecosystem and the biotic and abiotic factors around them. This also gives time for feedback before the final project, so that students can see what factors they are missing from this project so they can redo and include in their final project. 

Instructional Sequence Week Six:

Opening Activity:

·      Every week will start off with a discussion question. Students will answer to the best of their ability. Week Six’s question is “What is your favorite animal?” Similar to last week’s question, results will be varied due to level and preference. This question is their starting point to research for their diorama.

·      After the discussion question, students will watch a short introductory video on the topic of the week. This introductory video will be different as it will not cover a particular topic, but will give an overview of the upcoming project.

Learning Activity:

Students research the animal of their choice. Research should include ecosystem, biome, food chains / webs, relationships with plants and animals. Students will prepare their diorama using various materials to depict what they have learned about this particular animal and the surrounding ecosystem. Google Classroom will have various websites and videos that can help lead students in the right direction during research. 

Closure / Assessment: 

Students will provide a quick exit slip that discusses the animal they’ve chosen and where they are at in their project during the week. This allows time to offer help / suggestions to students who need more direction, but it is not an overwhelming additional assignment that takes away from the final project. 

Instructional Sequence Week Seven:

Opening Activity:

·      Every week will start off with a discussion question. Students will answer to the best of their ability. Week Seven’s question is “What are you most excited to show for your project?”

Learning Activity:

Our activity for the week is our final zoom session where students present their dioramas for the class to see and learn from their project. Students become the teachers when relaying the research they’ve found and displayed in their diorama. It is encouraged for students to present, but students can also film a video and narrate their project or turn in a written research paper detailing their dioramas. 

Closure / Assessment: 

Students will be assessed on their diorama and presentation (whichever means they choose to present) as their final grade. This project is a culmination of the previous weeks’ lessons wrapped up into a project where students can express their creativity and what they have learned. 

Attached is the rubric: 

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