Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Explain the complex role of phosphorus in marine ecosystems.
- Explain what biogeochemical cycles are (including the phosphorus cycle).
- Explain an author's purpose in providing certain information (regarding the NSF).
- Explain that scientific knowledge can change based upon new evidence or new interpretations of existing evidence.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Trace the text's explanation of a complex process (phosphorus cycle).
- Construct a written response that contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
- General familiarity with marine ecosystems will enable students to more easily comprehend the article.
- about marine habitats and ecosystems is a good review resource for students who do not have strong knowledge of marine science.
- This video is a general review of what an ecosystem is. The video is only about 10 minutes long but discusses all the basics of ecosystems.
- Biogeochemical cycles in nature are central to this article. Knowledge of how these cycles work will be beneficial to readers. This tutorial includes a basic review as well as some animations to help students better visualize the cycles.
- This video provides a review of the water and carbon cycles. While students don't have to understand these cycles specifically for this lesson, they are biogeochemical cycles about which most students have prior knowledge. Once the review these, they will have a scaffolding to built on.
- This video on the phosphorous and nitrogen cycles provides students with a review or an introduction of these two cycles.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial. In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
- Students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
- Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
Main investigation questions: While students are reading and answering questions about the article, please use the questions below to help guide students' thinking.
- What is the National Science Foundation? What is its role in the study described in this text?
- The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering.
- What is an ecosystem?
- The term ecosystem refers to the interactions between living (biotic) things and their environment, including nonliving (abiotic) parts.
- What is marine ecosystem?
- The term "marine" refers to things related to the sea. A marine ecosystem is an ecosystem in the ocean. It includes biotic factors such as fish, plankton, and plants. It also includes abiotic factors such as water, temperature, and currents.
- What is a biogeochemical cycle?
- A biogeochemical cycle is a model that helps track the movement of a substance, such as oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, or phosphorus, through biotic and abiotic portions of the Earth's ecosystems.
- Why is a better understanding of the phosphorous cycle needed?
- Phosphorous is a required nutrient in marine ecosystems. If scientists can fully understand all of its roles, then it will help them also understand the ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide. This would help not only with just the basic understanding of marine ecosystems and their biogeochemical cycle, but also their application to climate change.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Display the picture of the ocean sampling instrument. Have students individually observe the picture and write down 3 observations. Then, have them pair up and try to infer the purpose of this piece of equipment. Some observations they should come up with include:
- It is near the water.
- The railing next to it appears to be movable, meaning that the piece of equipment is most like placed into the water.
- There doesn't appear to be anything added for buoyancy, so it most likely fulfills its purpose underwater.
- There are a number of cylinders, meaning that it may do something several times.
2. Lead a whole-class discussion to go over students' responses. If the details listed above weren't mentioned, point them out. Lead the class in a discussion to try and infer the purpose of the equipment. In the end, explain that this equipment sinks into the water and takes water samples at various depths.
3. As a class, discuss the concept of biogeochemical cycles. Discuss the carbon cycle and the water cycle, as these should be the most familiar to students. Explain that biogeochemical cycles are models that show the flow of substances through biotic and abiotic portions of ecosystems. Show the illustration of the carbon cycle. Have a whole class discussion about biotic and abiotic factors. Have the students identify these in the picture. Some examples:
- Biotic: plants, animals, humans
- Abiotic: water, air, factories, soil, coal/oil
4. Next, have the students look at an image that shows the phosphorus cycle.
- Have students work with partners to analyze the picture. Have them identify the different paths that phosphorus can take.
- After a few minutes, discuss the cycle as a class. Explain to the class that phosphorus is a naturally occurring element that is essential to life. Go over the phosphorus cycle, emphasizing the marine portion.
5. Inform students that they will be reading an article about new discoveries concerning the phosphorus cycle.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with their own copy of the article "Revealing the Ocean's Hidden Fertilizer."
2. Provide each student with a note-taking guide. Help them locate the following information:
- Title: "Revealing the Ocean's Hidden Fertilizer"
- Subtitle: Tiny marine plants play major role in phosphorous cycle
- Headings: May 14, 2015, Hidden role of ocean's microbes, Phosphate mystery, Enter the microbes, Better understanding of phosphorous cycle
3. Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- Note: Based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the note-taking guide.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words.
4. If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
- Ubiquity (Paragraph 3): Encourage students to use context clues. In this case, the clues are contained in paragraph 2 where it states, "…it is in most of the foods we eat."
- Microbes (5): Students will need to examine the word itself and note the prefix, micro-, which means very small. This and the fact that the article is discussing marine food webs should help students infer the meaning.
- Biodiversity (10): Remind students that bio means "life." They should know what diversity means.
- Phytoplankton (12): In the same sentence as the word, it states: "…tiny marine plants called phytoplankton…"
- Phosphonate (13): In the same sentence, it refers to a phosphonate as a "strange form of phosphorus."
- Metabolize (16): The context clue for this term is back in paragraph 5. Paragraph 16 refers to microbes metabolizing phosphonates. Paragraph 5 talks about how scientists are researching how microbes process phosphorus in different forms.
- Ion Chromatography (18): Paragraph 19 states that "The ion chromatograph separates out the different families of molecules."
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guide, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use the sample answer key to help assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use the sample answer key to help them assess students’ answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
1. Before students complete the writing prompt, be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
2. After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher might project the sample response for the class and discuss some of the following:
- Have students examine how the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph.
- Point out how the author responds to the prompt in a sequential manner. Paragraph 2 addresses the portion of the prompt that asks about the old phosphorus cycle model. Paragraph 3 addresses the portion about the study itself. Finally, paragraph 4 addresses the part about the new understanding of the phosphorus cycle.
- Point out how the author uses quotes from the article to provide evidence to back up his explanation.
- In the final paragraph, point out how the concluding sentences summarize the response. Brainstorm with students additional ideas about how to wrap up the piece.
- As one final option, teachers might want students to use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a 4.
3. To review the science content, require students to turn in an "exit ticket" at the end of the assignment listing the following:
- The most interesting fact they learned
- One new term they learned and what it means
- Something they still do not understand or are wondering
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over it with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
3. Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
The prompt: Explain what was known about the marine phosphorus cycle prior to the study, what was discovered during the study, and how scientists’ understanding of the marine phosphorus cycle was different at the conclusion of the study.
4. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students’ written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"