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 biogeochemical cycle of carbon in the coastal ecosystem.
- Discuss how humans can create large-scale impacts from atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by destroying coastal habitats.
- Cite evidence that the ocean has an influence on the carbon biogeochemical cycle.
- Make the connection between carbon sinks, coastal habitats, and climate change.
- Describe some of the large-scale environmental impacts that result from human activity in connection with greenhouse gases.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Determine the central ideas of the text.
- Construct a written 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 relation to science:
- Basic knowledge of the biogeochemical cycle of carbon. Students should understand that carbon can be converted from one form into another. Carbon can be taken in by plants, causing a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, known as a carbon sink. Then carbon can be released into the atmosphere by burning of plants or fossil fuels.
- Basic knowledge of greenhouse gases. Students should understand that carbon is a greenhouse gas that helps keep some of the solar energy trapped in the atmosphere, helping to create a temperature that supports life on earth.
- Basic knowledge of climate change. Students should understand that climate change is a man-made change of the temperature and weather patterns on earth. By humans releasing stored and excess carbon, it causes a changing temperature and weather pattern system on earth. The main cause of this is from the burning of fossil fuels.
- Basic knowledge of coastal ecosystems. Students should understand what constitutes a mangrove forest, salt marsh, and sea grass bed ecosystem. They should know they are found at the coast and should know places in the world where they are located.
In relation to literacy:
- 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 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. To help students with use of transitions, teachers might wish to share with them some of the transitions from this site.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. What is the carbon cycle? The carbon molecule converted from the biological to chemical to geological sources through various methods. Such methods include photosynthesis, respiration, the burning of fossil fuels, and decay.
2. How do the coastal ecosystems aid in the carbon cycle? They remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
3. How are human impacting the coastal ecosystems, and therefore, the carbon cycle as a result? Humans are cutting down coastal habitats, such as mangrove forests and salt marshes for various reasons. This prevents those plants from absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, but also releases any carbon that was already stored in those environments.
4. What is a carbon sink? It is where carbon from the atmosphere is removed and placed into storage, such as trees and decaying organisms.
5. What are examples of coastal blue carbon? Coastal blue carbon is carbon that is stored in ecosystems around the coastline. Examples include carbon stored in mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grasses.
6. Why is coastal blue carbon more valuable than other carbon sinks? The coastal ecosystems can potentially hold ten times more carbon than of forested areas.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by showing the class a picture of the carbon cycle. Ask the class to name the four major places carbon can be found. Students should reply back with the atmosphere, terrestrial biosphere, oceans, and fossil fuels.
- Then ask students what they think the arrows represent. You will want to use a marker or finger to show an arrow going from a tree into the atmosphere and an arrow moving from the atmosphere to the ocean, for example. This will help the students to see there is a movement associated with the arrow. The students should be able to respond that the arrows represent the movement of carbon dioxide from one place to another. Tell students what is interesting is how carbon can move from living to nonliving things. This is known as a biogeochemical cycle.
2. Ask students if they know the name of the process where plants take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Be sure to show students the arrow on the picture that goes from the atmosphere to the vegetation. Students should respond with the answer of photosynthesis.
3. Then point out the soil organic matter in the picture. Explain to students that carbon can become trapped in plants and returned into the soil. The soil will contain the carbon until the plant is cut down or burned, which is why there is an arrow from the organic matter to the atmosphere.
4. Then point out the fossil fuel factory in the picture.
- Ask students why there is an arrow from the factory to the atmosphere. Students should respond that carbon is released when humans burn fossil fuels.
- Ask students if they know the three main examples of fossils fuels. Students should reply with coal, oil, and gas.
- Ask students if they know what happens to the amount of carbon dioxide if humans continuously burn those fossil fuels. They should respond that more carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere. Tell the students that by adding more carbon to the atmosphere, this makes the temperature increase on the planet because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. It helps keep our plant warm. By adding more carbon, the temperature gets warmer, and this is making the climate change on our planet.
5. Next, point out the vegetation in the carbon cycle picture. Tell the class you are going to show examples of several types of coastal plants. Then show the class the picture of the red mangrove tree, salt marsh, and sea grass beds. Ask the class to make a list of three observations about the tree, the salt marsh plants, and sea grass bed. List the observations they make on a whiteboard or projector for the class to see.
- Students will hopefully make an observation about the shape of the roots on the mangrove tree. Tell the students these roots are known as prop roots. Other observations may include that the tree has leaves, red roots, and the roots are curved. The students will make observations about the green plants in the marsh and the sea grass bed is green leaves in the water.
6. Next, ask the class the question, "Can you tell which type of environment all three of these plants are growing in?" Students should make the observation that all the plants are growing in or around water. Tell the students that the tree is known as a red mangrove tree and it grows in coastal areas in warm tropical areas. In the United States, there is a mangrove forest habitat in south Florida.
7. End the discussion by asking students if they can predict the important uses of mangrove forests. List the important uses on a whiteboard or projector for the class to see. Answers will vary but should include that the plants photosynthesize sunlight into food, the leaves and roots provide food for other organisms, the forest creates a habitat for organisms to live in, and plants help stabilize the environment and prevent the erosion of soil.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "Coastal Blue Carbon."
2. Provide each student with guided practice student handout. This handout has two sections. The first provides a set of questions that students can respond to as they read the text for the first time, or after they have completed the first reading of the text. The second section asks students to work with a number of the scientific terms from the text, apply their understanding of these terms, and use the terms to help them create several sentences that state the central ideas of the text.
- If students need a refresher on the term "central idea" please see the prior knowledge section above.
3. It is encouraged for students to complete section one of the handout and receive feedback from the teacher before they proceed to section two.
4. Depending on the needs and skills of the students, teachers might want to have students work in pairs or small groups to define the terms in the second section of the handout by using the article "Coastal Blue Carbon," as well print or online dictionaries, and the glossary in their science textbook. Students can share out their definitions, receive feedback to add to or correct their definitions, and then they can write out their central idea statements using the terms.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by having them share out their answers to the questions in the first section of the handout and sharing out their central idea statements in the second section of the handout. The teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Sample answers for both sections of the handout are provided in this document. Teachers can use it to assess students' work and provide feedback.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: These are provided with several of the sample answers on the student handout. Please see the attached handout.
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.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and a grade. 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.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: These are provided with several of the sample answers to the text-dependent questions as well as for the sample answer to the writing prompt. Please see the attached handout.
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.
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 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. Point out the last two sentences of the intro paragraph that reveal the main point or argument for the piece. Make connections for the students to help them see how the main point connects back to what was asked of them in the writing prompt.
- In the second paragraph (the first body paragraph), point out the use of some textual specifics that quickly illustrate the importance of coastal ecosystems. Stress how this ties back to what was asked in the writing prompt.
- In paragraph three (the second body paragraph), point out how this paragraph also ties back to the main point and how it addresses the negative consequences of more carbon in the atmosphere. Have students identify textual specifics from the article that are used to support this point. Stress how this ties back to what was asked in the writing prompt (long term consequences of removing the mangrove habitat).
- In paragraph four (the third body paragraph), point out how this paragraph ties back to the main point and how it focuses on ways in which conserving the mangrove forest would also provide economic benefits. Make connections for the students to help them see how this ties back to the writing prompt (provide an alternative way to make the habitat a sustainable economic area).
- Have students identify transition words or phrases throughout the written response that help make the paragraphs and content within the paragraphs flow more smoothly.
- Have students identify where science terms are used effectively and accurately. For example: conservation, habitat, coastal ecosystem, coastal blue carbon, forested ecosystem, greenhouse gas, climate change, etc.
At the very end of the lesson, give students an exit slip asking the following questions:
1. What role does the coastal ecosystem play in the carbon cycle? Coastal ecosystems absorb and store more carbon dioxide than other habitats, thus creating an important carbon sink.
2. According to the article, how have humans impacted the carbon cycle negatively? Humans are destroying these habitats, and therefore, releasing carbon that was once stored in these plants. It also prevents those plants from absorbing future carbon.
3. What are the long term consequences to our planet as a result? As a result, the added carbon to the atmosphere makes the planet warmer and is causing the climate to 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 or concluding statement. 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.
A hotel developer wants to build a new hotel in your local community, and the proposal involves building the hotel where a large mangrove habitat currently resides. City managers are holding a town hall meeting so that local citizens can express their thoughts about this proposal. Your friends want you to go to this meeting to discuss opposing this idea.
Using evidence from the article, outline the potential drawbacks of this proposal. Include in your argument the importance of coastal blue carbon ecosystems and the long term consequences of the construction of this hotel and removal of this mangrove habitat. In your argument, provide an alternative way to make the habitat a sustainable economic area.
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 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."