Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Describe how climate change is affecting Arctic ecosystems.
- Explain how the changing environment in the Arctic is affecting the humans and animals living there.
- Explain how the organisms of the Arctic are adapting to the changes in the environment.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Determine the central ideas of the text.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Make predictions based on evidence in the text.
- Construct a multi-paragraph response 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 should understand the process of natural selection and how it is a mechanism for evolution. provides an overview on natural selection.
- Students should have a basic knowledge of climate change and the factors involved. This link from NOAA along with this list of additional resources provide information on climate change and articles related to the topic.
- Students should have a basic knowledge of the Arctic ecosystem. Students should have a general understanding of the biotic factors which are the living portion of the ecosystem and the abiotic factors which are the nonliving portion of the environment. This link from the National Wildlife Federation provides information about the arctic ecosystem and discusses factors affecting the wildlife including loss of sea ice.
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 nonfiction pieces, authors sometimes use several types of structures in one text. In this article, 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 the article include: title, subtitle, headings, photographs, 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 offers a list of transitions that teachers might provide for support.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. Explain the effects of climate change on the Arctic ecosystem and why it will impact the animals living there.
There are many environmental concerns regarding the Arctic ecosystems, and in this article, the loss of sea ice is primarily addressed. Due to rising temperatures, there has been visible loss of sea ice. Many of the animals living in this area are dependent on the sea ice for their livelihood. Bowhead whales are successful and can navigate through sea ice due to adaptations allowing them to break the ice for breathing holes. Seals use the ice as a resting area as well as using it to make dens for their pups. Polar bears use the ice to roam throughout winter and to hunt seals.
2. Explain how the relationship of the Inuit and the Arctic animals will change due to the changing climate?
The Inuit have lived in the Arctic environment for about 400,000 years. They rely on the animals for food and cultural traditions. With the climate changing, animals that rely on sea ice will with either migrate away and move further north, they may stay and will have to adapt, or go extinct. If the populations move or go extinct, this may hurt the Inuit people especially if they rely on that particular animal for food. These effects might cause their cultural traditions to change because they have such a long relationship with the animals currently living there.
3. What observations have scientists already made about the changing environment impacting the behavior of the animals?
Due to the loss of sea ice, scientists have already observed different behaviors in certain animals. Walruses were observed on land in Northern Alaska for the first time in 2007. There have been instances of polar bears and grizzly bears mating because the polar bears are roaming out of their traditional territory.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by showing the class the of the Arctic Sea Ice Extent. Ask the class to make an observation about the amount of sea ice amount from 2000 (black line) to 2012 (yellow line). Students will say there is less ice formed in 2012 than in the previous years.
2. Ask the class to explain why they think this is occurring. Student answers will vary. They may suggest that the climate is warming on this planet, temperatures have increased globally, etc. Show the class the graph "The Arctic is Warming Faster than the Global Average" located on this link. Explain to the class the graph shows the Arctic is warming faster than any other part of the planet.
3. Next, ask the class to explain why they think the planet is warming. Student answers will vary. Students may suggest human activities, an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the burning of fossil fuels, etc. are to blame. This NOAA resource (particularly the "Human Influence" section) may help guide this discussion.
4. Next, ask the class the question, "How do you think this melting ice will impact the organisms that live and rely on the ice?" Student answers will vary, but will possibly include responses such as, they will have to move, they might die due to changing conditions, or theywill have to adapt.
5. End the discussion by telling students they will be reading an article that discusses how the melting sea ice is impacting the organisms living there, including humans. The article discusses what impact the melting sea ice might have in the future for those who live there.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "Environmental Pressures at the Top of the Earth Produce Evolutionary Impacts," as well as the note-taking guide.
- For discussion purposes, the teacher may want to have students number each paragraph as each paragraph contains questions to answer on the note-taking guide. The note-taking guides can be completed individually, in pairs, or in small groups as students read the article. Students should take notes as they read to complete each section.
- Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the vocabulary of the article to help them learn and locate information. The student answers will vary. The teacher should monitor students as they work, providing support and guidance as needed.
- Note: A sample answer key for the note-taking guide is included for teacher reference.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
1. 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.
Note: The text-dependent questions handout also contains a sample answer key for teacher reference that should not be distributed to students.
- Formative assessment can come in the form of the following:
- 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. Please refer to the sample answer key for 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 the students complete the writing assignment, review the responses to the text-dependent questions completed earlier by the students. Make sure the misconceptions are corrected and the key points (as found in the sample answer key) are discussed. 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 writer’s use of transitions and textual evidence throughout this piece.
- In the final paragraph, point out how the concluding sentences support the main points. 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, including natural selection and ecosystems. Have them identify the use of academic vocabulary such as harsh conditions and documented.
2. 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 on.
Have students answer the following statements on an exit ticket. Review and discuss the results the following day.
1. The science concept I still have questions about is...
2. The biggest impact melting sea ice will have is...
3. Why is it so important we are aware of climate change?
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 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 as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
As the possibility of an ice-free Arctic becomes more and more likely, what are the implications facing the human populations and the animal populations that live in the area? Using information from the text, construct a multi-paragraph response outlining these implications.
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.
• Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson (as well as the note-taking guide and text-dependent questions sample answer keys) where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."