Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
Students will be able to:
- Understand how diseases can spread from animals to humans.
- Understand how humans impact their environment, especially the living organisms within the environment.
- 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.
- Determine the central ideas of the text.
- Examine the text to identify important issues or questions that the author leaves unresolved or unanswered.
- Construct a written argument that clearly establishes the main point(s), 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?
In regards to science:
Students need to have a basic understanding of diseases (how they are spread and some vocabulary related to diseases, such as pathogen, bacteria, strains, transmitted).
- This illustrates how one infected person can easily infect a whole room. Students may not realize that one infected organism can easily infect everyone.
- This same concept can be demonstrated by using the following CPALMS activity on Infectious Diseases and the Immune System.
- This funny video demonstrates how some pathogens are easily spread while others are not. Teachers might use this to reinforce the notion that diseases can be transferred in different ways.
- One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of infectious disease is proper handwashing. This video provides statistics on numbers of bacteria found on different items and demonstrates proper handwashing technique.
It will also be helpful for students to have an understanding of the general parts, both living and nonliving, of ecosystems.
- Ecosystems consist of both abiotic (nonliving) and biotic (living) factors. This tutorial gives a summary of what an ecosystem is and how its parts work together to recycle all types of matter.
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 understand the term "central idea" and be able to distinguish central ideas from key details. "Central idea" means the same thing as "main idea." The central idea is the author's main point about the topic or topics in a text. The central ideas are the dominant, most important, or chief ideas that emerge from all the ideas presented in a text. Students should be aware that the author can have several main points he or she wants to make about the topic or topics in a piece of writing, and as a result, there can be multiple central ideas in a text, especially in longer more complex pieces.
- Key, or in other words, important, details in a text help an author support and develop his or her central ideas.
- Students should have an awareness that authors can organize or structure a text in many different ways. In longer, more complex non-fiction pieces, authors sometimes use several types of structures in one text. In "Feeding birds in your local park?" some of the text structures include cause/effect, problem/solution, and sequence.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in this article include: title, subtitle, headings, photographs, and captions.
- 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. Often students will remember to use transitions at the start of the body paragraphs or conclusion paragraph, but will forget to use them in the midst of paragraphs to connect ideas or to make the content within each paragraph flow. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. This site has a list of transitions that teachers might provide for support.
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.
Before reading the text, the teacher can ask the following to assess student understanding:
1. Describe how diseases can spread from one organism to another.
Most students should be able to recognize that diseases can spread from one person to another through the direct transfer of bacteria, germs or viruses. Students may reference ways to prevent the spread of diseases (washing your hands, wearing a mask/gloves, etc.) The teacher should make sure the students understand that diseases can spread between ALL organisms, not just between people (ex: discuss Lyme disease)
2. Do animals have any positive impacts on people?
Students can discuss the use of animals on farms to provide services or to produce food for people. Students can also discuss the wonder that is inspired by seeing animals at the zoo or in the wild. They can mention service animals and the invaluable assistance they provide.
3. Do animals have any negative impacts on people?
Students can discuss the spread of diseases between animals, and between people and animals. They can also discuss the issue of allergies and how animals may affect people. Students may also describe how some animals are dangerous and should not be approached.
During the reading, the teacher can ask the following to assess student understanding:
4. Using evidence from the article, explain how humans and white ibises interact.
The article discusses how people have been feeding the white ibises which has caused the white ibises to change their nomadic lifestyles. Students can discuss how this has led to a spread of diseases between the birds, and may result in an increase in these diseases in people. Students may also mention how the ibises help people connect to nature and allow them to realize the importance of wildlife.
5. How does this article connect to our school/community/state? What problems have we had due to humans interacting with animals?
This will vary depending on the location. In Florida, students will have a strong connection to this article because the experiment was conducted in their home state. For states that are seeing a rise in Lyme disease, the teacher can connect the white ibises to the ticks that carry Lyme disease. The teacher can also connect this idea to dogs or other animals having and transmitting rabies.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by having students create a K-W-L chart titled "Diseases: What are they and how are they spread?" Direct students to complete the K section of the chart with a partner. (Note: If you have not used K-W-L charts with your students, be sure to explain how K-W-L charts are used, why they are used, and the correct procedure in using K-W-L charts. offers more information on using K-W-L charts.)
2. Have students share information from the K section with the class. The teacher can create a Class K-W-L chart for struggling readers/writers as a model of the process. While filling out the chart, the teacher should probe student understanding with the following questions:
- What are some types of diseases?
Students' answers will vary. Flu, cold, West Nile, MRSA, Zika, chicken pox, and malaria are some examples.
- How can humans become infected with different diseases?
Student answers will vary. Saliva, coughing, kissing, touching infected areas, blood or body fluid contact, sexually transmitted, or by needles.
- What are some diseases that have impacted humans?
Student answers will vary. Black Death, AIDS, malaria, Ebola, flu, food poisoning and yellow fever.
- Are other living things impacted by diseases? List some organisms that can get diseases.
Yes, all living things are impacted by disease. Bats, dogs and wolves can get rabies. Many types of mammals can get viruses that cause flu like symptoms. Pets can be impacted by many types of parasites, like heartworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and ticks. These can compromise their health and make them more prone to other infections or even cause death.
3. After filling out the K section of the chart, have the students watch this video titled, "Disease: Crash Course World History 203" as a class. This video will be used to help students generate questions for the W section of the chart. Before playing the video, instruct students to record any questions that come to mind while watching video in the W section of their charts.
4. Close this portion of the lesson by telling the students that they will be reading an article about a recent study regarding new information related to diseases and how they spread.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "Feeding birds at your local park? If they're white ibises in Florida, think twice." For class discussions that will follow, it will be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section.
2. Provide each student with a text coding guide.
3. Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: "Feeding birds at your local park? If they're white ibises in Florida, think twice"
- Subtitle: White ibises may transmit diseases like salmonellosis
- Headings: Shift in ibis behavior; White ibis infectious disease ecology; Global urbanization: the risks it carries; Easier in a park; Urban vs. natural area
- Captions: Located under each photograph
4. Have students use the text coding guide to help label and categorize information as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. 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 text coding 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.
5. If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
- Ecology: the study of organisms and their physical surroundings.
- Wetland habitats: an area that must be soaked or filled with water at least part of the year. Wetlands provide a habitat for a diverse group of living organisms.
- Aquatic: having to do with water.
- Pathogens: a biological agent that causes disease or illness in its host.
- Feces: the solid waste product of the digestive system.
- Salmonella: a gram-negative bacteria that causes food poisoning.
- Bacteria: a living unicellular microorganism. Bacteria are usually helpful or neutral, but they can cause deadly diseases that can be transmitted by direct contact, food, water, or air.
- Strains: a natural or cultured variety of microorganism with distinct characteristics. For example, shape, biochemistry, or virulence.
- Nomadic: meaning to move around often.
- Urbanization: a shift from a rural area to more urban or city-like.
- Scientific model: a testable idea that explains something that happens in the natural world.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed text coding sheets, 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 this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
3. For discussion on students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
1. Diseases can only be transferred between people; people cannot get diseases from animals.
There are animals that are capable of transmitting disease to humans. Some common examples are ticks, fleas, rats, and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes, the most common example, transfer diseases through their saliva when they are withdrawing blood from their hosts. Mosquitoes can transfer malaria, West Nile virus, Zika and yellow fever.
2. People can only get diseases from animals if they are bitten by the animals.
Although diseases are easily spread through biting, as this allows the blood of the host to mix with the saliva of the biting animal, diseases may also be spread through contact with feces. Microorganisms located in the feces, or even on the outer surface, of the animal can spread diseases between humans and animals.
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 this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers. This key also addresses common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond.
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. Going over how the response is structured, pointing out ways to open and close the piece, showing use of effective transitions, and pointing out places to incorporate the natural use of vocabulary can really help students grow in their own writing skills for future writing tasks. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with an LCD projector and discuss some of the following:
- Have students examine how the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph. Students often struggle with ideas in how to start a written response, and they often want to repeat the prompt back in the first sentence because they are not sure what other options they have. Go over how this writer opened his or her piece of writing. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
- Point out the use of some textual specifics in the introduction that quickly illustrate a few major points from the article.
- Point out the last sentence of the introduction and how the writer made the main point clear. Direct the students back to the prompt and remind them the main part of the prompt asked them to take a position on whether or not they believed the birds should remain in the park.
- Emphasize how the author uses paragraph 2 to describe the positive impacts that ibises have on the community while paragraph 3 is used to discuss the negative impacts.
- Note the writer's use of transitions. Also, point out the use of textual evidence throughout the paragraphs.
- Emphasize how the concluding paragraph connects to the main point. Brainstorm with students additional ideas about how to wrap up the piece.
- Throughout the sample response, have students identify the effective use of domain-specific vocabulary, such as urban, ecosystem, health, and disease.
- 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. At the end of class, have students complete a quick formative to assess their understanding of the content. Direct the students to revisit their K-W-L charts while you project questions on the board. Students will record their answers in the L column of the chart and then submit to the teacher. Note: The teacher can tell students to write the questions in the W part of the chart if they have not yet mastered the question. Give students the following questions:
- Give two examples of animals that can transmit diseases to humans.
Ticks, fleas, white ibises, dogs, etc.
- How have humans impacted animals in their ecosystems?
Students can have many answers for this, especially if they draw on their background knowledge. From the article, students can say that we have decreased the mobility of white ibises and as a result increased the spread of disease between white ibises and other animals. Students could also discuss the positive impacts that humans have had on endangered species.
- Recalling evidence from the article, how are white ibises significant to public health in Florida?
As white ibises have begun to conjugate in public urban parks, they are tightly packed and placed in close proximity to other animals and people. This leads to an increase is the spread of diseases from white ibises to humans because there is a great increase in the contact between humans and ibises.
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 should refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric 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 so they will remember to address all the required parts.
The prompt: Imagine that you are the manager of a local park in Palm Beach, Florida. A community member has begun complaining about the number of birds at the park. Write a multi-paragraph response to the community member that either supports the protection of or removal of wild birds in the park. Be sure to include both positive and negative consequences of having the birds at the park in your response.
4. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting the Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson.
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."