In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text intended to support reading in the content area. The article analyzes the hydrologic cycle and touches on its connection to the carbon cycle. This text describes how our understanding about the water cycle has changed over time, particularly due to information gathered in a recent study. The article gives a good representation of the scientific method and the importance of the water cycle. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
Explain how water moves through the water cycle and recognize the different pathways that are possible.
Describe the importance of the water cycle and its impact on life on Earth.
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.
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 regards to science:
Students need to have an understanding of how water interacts with the ecosystem (how it impacts the biosphere and geosphere).
Students should know about the water cycle and the law of conservation of mass.
Students should have an understanding of the process of photosynthesis.
It will also be helpful for students to have an understanding of different climates (including mountains) and the general properties of those ecosystems.
In regards to literacy skills:
Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meanings 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 aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading 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?
While students are reading and answering questions about the article, please use the questions below to help guide students' thinking:
How does the water cycle impact humans? Give 2 positive and 2 negative effects.
How is this article, about the water cycle, relevant to current real-world issues?
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
Begin the lesson by having students create a K-W-L chart on their own paper titled "The Water Cycle: How Does Water Flow?" 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 and why they are used. For more information on using K-W-L charts, watch the following video titled "The KWL Chart" (2:45, uploaded by YouTube user Literacy4DS).
Have students share information from the "K" section with the class. The teacher can create a class K-W-L chart on the board for struggling readers/writers as a model of the process. While filling out the chart, the teacher should probe students' understanding with the following questions:
"What are some steps in the water cycle?"
"Do plants or animals have any effect on the water cycle?"
"How does the water cycle have a positive impact on humans?"
"How does the water have a negative impact on humans?"
After filling out the "K" section of the chart, have the students watch this video, titled "The Water Cycle" (6:46, uploaded by YouTube user National Science Foundation), as a class. This video will help students generate questions for the "W" section of their charts. Before playing the video, tell students: "As you watch this video, write down any questions that come to mind while watching it."
Next, the teacher will tell the students that they will be reading an article about a recent study regarding new information related to the water cycle.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
Provide each student with a copy of the article "Where Does Water Go When It Doesn't Flow?" For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section.
Provide each student with a note-taking guide. Student should complete the "A" version unless they need extra help, in which case, the "B" version can be substituted at the teacher's discretion.
Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
Title: Where Does Water Go When It Doesn't Flow?
Subtitle: Study shows how much enters air from plants, soil, surface water
Headings: Pathways of Earth's water; Significance: for agriculture, water supplies, climate
Captions: Located under each photograph
Have students use the note-taking guide to help them label and categorize information 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 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.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
Water evaporates and turns into energy. Some students believe that water compounds change into energy when they are heated. The teacher can listen to student conversations and, if this misconception is heard, remind students about the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy. The teacher can use these laws to demonstrate that the water is not changed into energy. Energy is present in the bonds and can be released, but water does not turn into energy.
The water cycle only consists of rain and snow. If students demonstrate this misconception, point out paragraph 7 to the students so they can see the different pathways of the water cycle. Also, show students the attached image: Model of the Water Cycle. This visual will help students identify the different pathways of the water cycle.
Rain falls when clouds evaporate. Address this misconception with students by asking them "What does evaporation mean?" and having students draw a picture of the change. Then ask students, "What does condensation mean?" and have students draw a picture of the change. Then ask the students, "Which one of these processes will result in liquid water?" Then ask the students, "So how does rain fall: through the process of evaporation or condensation?" At this point, students should recognize condensation. If they do not, a small demonstration could be done using a soda can taken out of the refrigerator, or use a clear cup with hot water that is sealed with plastic wrap. Show students that the water appearing on the container is condensation. Ask students to give other examples of condensation (dew in the morning, water on the glass in the bathroom after you take a shower, the water that forms on a glass of ice water, etc...).
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guides, 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.
For discussion of 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.
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?):
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.
After students’ written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response (in the answer key) 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 a projector and discuss some of the following:
How the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
The use of some textual specifics throughout the response.
The writer’s use of transitions both at the start of and within paragraphs.
How the body paragraphs support the main point and tie back to the writing prompt.
How the concluding sentences of the final paragraph support the main point. Brainstorm with students additional ideas about how to wrap up the piece.
3. 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.
Closure for science:
At the end of the lesson, the teacher can project a blank model of the water cycle and hand out blank water cycle images to the students. The teacher can use a Think-Pair-Share to assess students' understanding of the water cycle and clear up any remaining misconceptions the students have. This can be used as an informal assessment at the end of the lesson.
Have students turn in an "exit ticket" at the end of the lesson, identifying something new they learned and something that they still do not understand.
Students will individually respond to the writing prompt at the end of the text-dependent questions. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response containing a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. They must refer back to the text as they construct their response.
Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written responses will be assessed.
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: In a multi-paragraph response, explain the importance of understanding the pathways water takes through the hydrologic cycle. How can this information be used productively? Use evidence from the text in your answer.
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?"
Accommodations & Recommendations
For struggling readers:
The teacher may provide students with additional background information on the water cycle. There are a few resources and tasks that will make this text more manageable. Below are two examples that can be completed by the whole class, in small groups, or by individual students, depending on the level of need.
This video, titled "Water Cycle Rap" (2:55, uploaded by YouTube user tfashady410), is a catchy rap song about the water cycle. It also connects to the energy cycle. If the teacher supplies students with a transcript of the lyrics, students may be willing to rap along with the video, which will aid in their comprehension.
This interactive takes students through the water cycle. As students complete the interactive, have students record each location along the water cycle, and an interesting fact (or two) about each location.
To assist struggling readers with the note-taking guide, substitute note-taking guide "B" for version "A." B is slightly easier and has more clues and items filled in.
To assist with comprehension of the text:
It might benefit students to chunk the text. Have students independently read section one, then have several strong readers read section one aloud.
Then, have students highlight the selected vocabulary for section one of the article. Work with students to model ways to define a few of the academic vocabulary words to get them started. The teacher can think aloud as he or she decides which vocabulary strategy or strategies to use to define a word, and think aloud while deciding which meaning from a dictionary entry with multiple meanings would be the best fit for how the word is used in the context of the article.
Then, have students complete the note-taking guide for the rest of section one. When students are ready, have them share out their answers and provide corrective verbal feedback as needed, allowing students to make corrections to their work. Then repeat this process for the other sections of the text if needed.
For struggling writers:
It might help to provide students with an outline to help them structure their written responses. The outline might include places for them to record:
Ideas on how to introduce the topic
A few specifics and quotes from the text they might want to use to support or explain the topic
A place to write down their main point(s)
Topic sentences (the first sentence of each body paragraph that will reveal the point of the paragraph and will connect to the paper’s overall main point)
Ideas for transition words
Ideas for use of selected vocabulary
Ideas on how to wrap up their piece and connect back to the main point(s)
Students can watch the video titled "The Hydrologic and Carbon Cycles: Always Recycle! - Crash Course Ecology #8," to enhance their understanding of the water cycle and connect the water, carbon, and energy cycles. The teacher can create a worksheet to go along with the video, or ask students to take notes as they follow along.
Students who are interested in global warming can check out this site from NOAA containing information connecting the water cycle to global warming. It contains government data regarding global warming along with questions (and answers) that correspond to the data. The teacher can have the students read and analyze the data, then answer the 8 questions on the webpage. Once they have finished, they can compare their answers to the answers given on the webpage.
Students can create a poster or 3-D model of the water cycle. If they have already discussed the carbon cycle and/or the energy cycle, they can combine those cycles into the project to create a more comprehensive model.
Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Overhead Projector, Speakers/Headphones
For teachers who would like more support in understanding and implementing Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects into their science curriculum, please see the teacher tutorials featured in the section of this lesson's CPALMS resource page labeled "Attached Resources."
Teachers might find the attached PowerPoint images helpful when implementing this lesson.
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Melissa Stanke
District/Organization of Contributor(s): St. Johns
Click "View Site" to open a full-screen version. This tutorial is designed to help secondary science teachers learn how to integrate literacy skills within their science curriculum. This tutorial focuses on using specific textual evidence to support students' responses as they analyze science texts. The focus on literacy across content areas is designed to help students independently build knowledge in different disciplines through reading and writing.
Click "View Site" to open a full-screen version. This tutorial is designed to help secondary science teachers learn how to integrate literacy skills into their science curriculum. This tutorial will demonstrate a number of strategies teachers can impart to students to help them use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words within science texts. It will also help them teach students how to select the appropriate definition from reference materials. The focus on literacy across content areas is intended to help foster students' reading, writing, and thinking skills in multiple disciplines.
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