Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Differentiate between the atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere.
- Describe the interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Determine the meaning of selected 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 the basic meanings of the prefixes "hydro" and "bio" as used in science.
- Students should have an understanding of an ecosystem; how plants, animals, and nonliving elements interact and impact each other.
- Use this video as a review if necessary:
- Students should have a familiarity of the ecosystems of lakes and how the abiotic and biotic factors contribute to the health of the organisms in the lake. For background information please refer to this website on freshwater lakes and rivers. Note: This resource does not relate health of organisms due to changes in temperature, only that it is a factor on what type of organisms make their home there. After reading the article in the lesson this might be something interesting to point out.
- Students should have some basic understanding of the greenhouse effect. Slide 4 of the attached PowerPoint can be used to illustrate the concept.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies, including using dictionary skills, to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in the warming lakes article include: title, subtitle, headings, one photograph and caption.
- Based on the writing rubric included with this lesson, 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. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. This site provides transitions teachers might provide to students.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
Main investigation questions:
- How can you describe the Earth system's spheres such as the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere?
- How would a change in one sphere affect another?
- What are some ways that a change in the atmosphere could affect the hydrosphere and biosphere?
- How do effects from climate change move through the spheres?
- How are organisms in the biosphere affected by negative changes in the hydrosphere?
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by telling the class that today we will be discussing climate change and how humans are impacting the environment. Tell students that before we can discuss these ideas, we need to have a common language regarding the different spheres of the Earth, as well as a common definition of climate change.
2. Ask students to name Earth's spheres. You can prompt them by giving the first hint, "atmosphere." Students can describe the sphere and then provide the others. To prompt the students, the teacher can provide a short overview by asking students to define the different spheres from images presented. Use the attached PowerPoint (slide 2) to project on a screen to review the definition of Earth's spheres. For students that need a more detailed background in these concepts, the teacher can show the following videos: Earth's Spheres and Part 2. These videos describe the four main spheres of the Earth and provides examples of each sphere. The videos are aimed at much younger students, however, it defines the terms students need to know. While the video is playing, the students should write down a definition or draw a picture of each of Earth's spheres.
3. Next, the teacher will pass out white boards to the class to assess student background knowledge of climate change.
- First, the teacher will ask students to draw an image of one part of the biosphere. Students should draw plants and animals.
- Next, the teacher will ask students to draw one example of an element from the hydrosphere. Students can draw oceans, lakes, rivers or even a drop of water.
- For the third drawing, ask students to draw the atmosphere. Ask them to think about what would be included. Students can draw clouds, winds, and warmth radiating from the sun through the air.
- The teacher should ask students to relate the greenhouse effect in their drawing of the atmosphere. At this point, show the diagram of the greenhouse effect (slide 4 of the PowerPoint). This shows the interaction of the atmosphere on the entire planet. The greenhouse effect is the reason there is life on earth at all. However, too much of a good thing can cause problems and is starting to cause problems on Earth. For more support, visit the U.S. EPA website.
- Then the teacher will ask students to draw a picture or write one or two sentences to describe climate change. This should begin to spark some conversation. Ask students to share some of their drawings and sentences with the rest of the class. Use this discussion to establish a class definition of climate change. One possible definition students might develop for climate change: A change in the world's climate patterns due to excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The teacher should write the class's definition on the board.
- Next, the teacher should ask students to write or draw one way that humans are increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Again, the teacher can ask students to share and discuss some of their examples with the class.
4. Based on students' discussions and level of understanding of climate change, the teacher can show this video if needed before continuing with the lesson to enhance students' understanding of this topic. This is a 4 minute video that describes climate change (what it is and how humans affect it). While students are watching the video, the teacher should prompt students to record information that explains how climate change affects our planet and how humans can work to reduce their impact. Slides 3 and 4 from the attached PowerPoint could also be used to support the concept. Slide 3 shows the average changes in temperature. The darker red/brown areas show warmer than normal changes, while blue shows colder than normal.
5. The teacher will then tell students they will be reading an article that will discuss the impacts of climate change on lake ecosystems, which includes the interactions of the hydrosphere and biosphere from the atmosphere. At this time, the teacher should project the same image of Earth's spheres that was used previously. The teacher should leave this projected during the following discussions to aid the students.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "Lakes around the World Rapidly Warming." 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 note-taking 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: Lakes around the world rapidly warming
- Subtitle: Freshwater ecosystems threatened, including fisheries and water resources
- Headings: Lakes around the world warming faster than oceans or atmosphere; Lake temperature: an ecosystem referee; Largest study of its kind; Warm- and cold- water lakes equally important
- Captions: Located under the opening photograph
4. Using the note-taking guide, have students define the selected domain-specific words before reading the article. Then, during the first reading of the article, students can use the directions in the note-taking guide to text-code the article for four different purposes. After they are done reading, they can use the article to help them answer the three questions at the end of the note-taking guide. Students can complete this work individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by having students share out their responses to the note-taking guide, including the text-coding section, 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 for the note-taking guide to help them assess students' answers, and this sample text-coding key as well (note- the article in this key looks slightly different from the version attached to this lesson, as it includes some additional photographs).
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- In the note-taking guide students may not properly understand an algal bloom. The algae reproduce and spread at a very fast rate and overwhelm the system. They cover the top of the freshwater lake and block out sunlight for other photosynthetic organisms; this causes the bacteria to multiply as they eat the dying organisms. These bacteria then become "oxygen hogs" and deprive the rest of the animals in the lake from oxygen. It is a vicious cycle that can happen when the temperature is warmer or when there is an abundance of nitrogen in the water.
- In the note-taking guide, students may oversimplify climate change as warmer temperatures everywhere on Earth. However, climate change is an overall change but it is seen in weather patterns—such as more rain in some areas, droughts in others, and extreme temperatures (even cold extremes).
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 provided with the text-dependent questions to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key. In addition:
- In question 5 of the text-dependent questions handout, students may often misunderstand the importance of a 1 degree change in temperature as stated in the reading. Remind them to think about it as an average, with some changes being much higher. The change in climates means more extremes but averaging out over the entire planet for the entire year for an overall net gain of about 1 degree. This is a difficult concept for students to understand. A change of a few degrees can be deadly for some organisms, eventually affecting an entire food chain.
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 could show the sample response on an overhead or projector and discuss some of the following:
- Have students examine the opening paragraph to see how the main point of the written response is revealed.
- In paragraphs two and three, ask students to identify textual evidence from the article that is used to support the main point. This textual evidence includes short direct quotes from the article as well as paraphrased information.
- Throughout the sample response, have students identify the effective use of domain-specific vocabulary, including ecosystem, biosphere, organisms, surface water, and freshwater.
3. 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.
4. At the end of the lesson, the teacher will conclude the class with a quick exit slip.
- Draw/diagram a scene on Earth showing the interaction of two or more spheres. Label the important points of each sphere and where the interaction occurs. Explain the interaction(s).
5. The teacher will collect the papers to quickly assess the students' knowledge of the Earth's spheres and the interactions between the spheres.
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response that includes 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.
- The prompt: How is this study of temperature relevant to the biosphere and human life? In a multi-paragraph response, use evidence from the article to support your claim.
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."