Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
The readiness questions can be used as formative assessment. Readiness questions will indicate whether the students understand the problem and the problem context. The readiness questions are asked of students after they read the first client letter (see Reading Passage 1). The teacher can ask the class to respond to these questions and ensure understanding before students begin working with the data.
Feedback to Students
Teachers should use the guiding/reflective questions as a tool for student feedback. These questions may be used as an additional assessment, or they may just be provided to each group as a guide. As the students work, the teacher should be moving throughout the classroom speaking with each group, using these questions to probe the students to develop a high quality ranking system. If a good deal of the class seems to be stuck on any of these questions or topics, the teacher may address the issue to the class as a whole.
The Science, ELA, and MEA process can be assessed using the attached rubric. The Math standard can be assessed using the data set answer keys.
- Integrate and Evaluate content about the financial and ecological impacts of a national park presented in quantitative and qualitative formats.
- Develop and calculate multi-step ratio and percent problems as they relate to the economics and ecology of Yellowstone National Park.
- Identify the impact humans have had on the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park through urbanization, deforestation, hunting, farming, and various other alterations of the local ecosystems.
- Investigate limiting factors such as food, breeding grounds, and soil quality, and describe their affects on the native populations of the Yellowstone ecosystem.
- Compare and contrast the competitive and predatory relationships between the wolves, deer, bears, fish, plants, and other organisms of Yellowstone National Park.
- Determine the number of wolves the National Park Service should reintroduce into the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem in order to best safeguard the preservation of the park itself and the animals living within.
- A basic understanding of relationships in ecosystems, specifically the predator-prey relationship, is required. Students should be aware of the concept of limiting factors and their ability to affect populations in an ecosystem.
- Students should be able to complete basic mathematical operations (addition, multiplication) using decimals and percentages. An understanding of supply and demand and basic financial terminology is helpful.
- A very brief introduction to the concepts of taxes, finances, and the tourism industry could be used to assist students. Students should be briefed on the large-scale monetary values used by national organizations (such as annual income in the $300-400 millions) so they are able to rationally compare incomes that they may otherwise think of as unrealistically high.
- This project is well suited to being completed as an assessment after a lesson on limiting factors and the different types of relationships found in ecosystems.
Part 1 (Day 1 - Block)
- Review the topic of predator-prey relationships and food webs. Conduct a brief class discussion addressing the possible consequences of introducing or removing a predator from an ecosystem.
- Introduce the generic MEA lesson concept and explain that students have been selected to help the National Park Service with an issue at Yellowstone National Park. Arrange students in groups of 3-4 to prepare for the project (it may be helpful to have predetermined groups ready).
- Give each group of students client letter 1, data set 1 calculate, and any additional materials as you see fit. Note that in order to properly cover the math standard, you must use the data set 1 calculate chart. If you wish to speed up your lesson or otherwise remove the mathematics standard from the lesson, you may use the completed data set 1 answer key and data set 2 answer key charts.
- The teacher can ask the readiness questions (see Readiness questions) to the class or have students complete them individually on paper. After students understand the task, they can begin to work in teams of approximately 3-4.
- In teams, students work on the problem and respond to the client with the requested deliverables.
- Students work together to properly calculate and fill out the missing monetary information in the Data Chart. This information will be used to respond to the Guiding Questions. If your class requires assistance, take about 10-15 minutes to review percent calculations using the income information to do an example together.
- As students are working, the teacher circulates to each team to ask the first set of Guiding/Reflective Questions and address any issues that may arise.
- Teachers can provide guidance using the reflective questions to help students determine the important factors and start thinking about how they can present their solution.
Part 2 (Day 2 - Block)
- Do a refresher lesson on limiting factors in an ecosystem. This could take anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes depending on students' familiarity.
- Pass out and go over the client letter 2 and data set 2 calculate as a class. It is strongly suggested that students review the Yellowstone Mission Statement from the previous letter before moving forward.
- As a class, discuss what changes have occurred and what needs to be done so that all students are prepared to proceed (if you have advanced students, you may wish to allow them the opportunity to proceed on their own.
- Address any other major concerns held by a large portion of the class. (Address unique concerns individually while other groups are working) If students are still having trouble with the percent increase, another brief example could be done at this point.
- Back in their groups, teams test, evaluate, and revise their first procedure as necessary using the new information and provide the requested deliverables as specified in the second letter.
- Students must once again work together to properly calculate and fill out the updated missing monetary information in data set 2 calculate.
- If teams finish early, they can begin preparing their presentations.
- After all of the teams have completed their second letters to the client, the teams will present their results to the rest of the class. Peer critique and classroom discussion follow.
- Students should be made aware of the presentation requirement (or lack thereof) at the start of this project. Class presentations can take up a large amount of time. While it is strongly suggested that teams present their information and critique one another, if you are short on time you may skip the presentations. If you remove the presentations, be sure to edit the presentation section out of the rubric. After the presentations, or upon completion without them, a final discussion should occur. The videos about the Yellowstone wolves from both PBS and the National Park Service provide excellent information for a high quality wrap-up.
- The PBS NOVA article titled "" contains an interview with the Wolf Recovery Coordinator from Yellowstone National Park, who is in charge of the actual wolf introduction after which this lesson is based.
- This is the official National Park Service website about the wolf restoration project. It contains many additional resources and links to use as you see fit.
- This is a National Geographic article entitled "Are We Loving Yellowstone to Death?" It describes the vast human impact upon the park's ecosystems and how even the tourist industry that "feeds" the park in our society could be responsible for its demise. This content reaches cross curriculum into social studies, as well as the science topics of human environmental impacts.
- Which of the effects on Yellowstone (as shown in the data table) does your group feel is most important in your ranking system?
We feel that the most important effect for our ranking system is the Annual Tourism Income.
- Why do you feel this effect is more important than the others?
We think that the Annual Tourism Income is the most important effect because if the park doesn’t make enough money, then it will close, and all of the animals inside will be in even more danger. Also, if the park gets even more money, then they can do more research and hopefully get more people to want to save the wildlife.
- Can you properly explain your selection process?
In our selection process, we ranked the 4 effects of wolf introduction from 1-4. 1 is the best, 4 is the worst. We then gave each place a number of points. 1 is 10 points, 2 is 7 points, 3 is 5 points, and 4 is 3 points. We then did the same thing for each of the 4 possible choices in each group. The best choice was rated number 1, and the worst was rated number 4. We then added up the total number of points that each set of wolves got, and the highest score was our selection.
- What number of introduced wolves will provide the highest annual tourism income? What is the total amount of this annual income in US dollars?
Introducing 24 wolves will have the highest annual tourism income. The total value is $408,740,000.
- What number of introduced wolves will provide the lowest annual tourism income? What is the total amount of this annual income in US Dollars?
Introducing 12 wolves will have the lowest annual tourism income. The total value is $393,460,000.
- (Higher Order Thinking Question) What does the addition of wolves do to the fertility and biodiversity of the park? Why does this occur?
The addition of wolves increases the fertility and biodiversity of the park. This happens because the wolves are a keystone species and an apex predator. With so many deer around, they are eating all of the producers in the food web. By adding wolves, we are able to allow more types of producers to grow and become healthy. This increases the fertility of the land, which allows more consumers to survive in the environment. More types of creatures in the environment means more biodiversity.
- (Simplified Question) What happens to the biodiversity in Yellowstone as the wolf population is increased?
As the wolf population increases, the biodiversity also increases.
- (Higher Order Thinking Question) In what sort of businesses do you think most of the people living around Yellowstone National Park are involved that would cause the local citizen approval rating to decrease as the wolf population increases?
We think that most of the people around Yellowstone are probably farmers raising animals like cows and sheep. Since wolves are predators, farmers probably think the wolves are going to eat all of their farm animals. If the wolves eat their cows and horses, the farmers will lose money. Since the farmers think they will lose money, they probably don’t want the wolves in the area.
- (Simplified Question) What happens to the local citizen approval rating as the wolf population increases?
As the wolf population increases, the local citizen approval rating decreases.
Reading Passage 1
Client Letter 1
Attention Ecological Scientists,
The National Park Service (NPS) runs all of the national parks in the United States of America. Our goal is to preserve the wonders of nature for future generations to behold. We have discovered a problem in Yellowstone National Park, and we would like your expert assistance in coming up with a solution. The current ecosystem in Yellowstone is uncharacteristically low on fertility and biodiversity due to the lack of one of its main predators; the wolf.
In the 1800s and 1900s, humans hunted all of the wolves in the area to the brink of extinction. Since then, the whole park has gone awry, with deer populations skyrocketing and our tourism industry slowing. This is where you come in. We need to introduce these keystone animals back into the environment to rebuild the native Yellowstone ecosystem, but we need your help in determining exactly how many wolves we should introduce. You must determine which number of wolves will provide our park, its animals, and the surrounding populace with the greatest benefit.
Here are some things your team should know. The NPS has made estimates on the effects of wolf introduction on four major areas relating to the park's mission: Annual Tourism Income, Livestock Loss, Local Citizen Approval Rating, and Land Fertility & Biodiversity. These criteria are all explained in detail in the data table provided. Please feel free to do your own independent research to assist you with your decision. Using this data, we would like you to develop a procedure for ranking the number of introduced wolves according to the ability to help improve our park by providing a healthy and diverse environment for future generations of all of the organisms in our park, including the tourists. Please read our attached mission statement to help guide you towards the best decision.
Please write us back and tell us the order in which you ranked the proposed introduced wolf populations and why. Also, provide us with a clear and detailed procedure for how your team ranked these populations from best to worst. Make sure that your team’s procedure functions systematically so that if we happen to acquire additional data or change our estimates before the introduction of the wolves, your system will be able to work with the updated information.
Thank you for your help!
Gray C. Lupus
Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park – National Park Service: Official Mission Statement:
Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and the majority of the world’s geysers and hot springs. An outstanding mountain wild-land with clean water and air, Yellowstone is home to the grizzly bear, wolf, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk. Centuries-old sites and historic buildings that reflect the unique heritage of America’s first national park are also protected. Yellowstone National Park serves as a model and inspiration for national parks throughout the world. The National Park Service preserves unimpaired these and other natural and cultural resources and values for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.
- What is the problem?
We have to decide how many wolves to introduce back into Yellowstone National Park.
- Who is the client?
Our client is the National Park Service working with Yellowstone National Park.
- What is the client asking your team to do?
Our client wants us to look over information about wolves in Yellowstone and make a rating system to help us decide how many wolves we think are best for the park.
- What things do you need to include in your solution?
We need to include the order that we ranked the wolf populations and why we put them in that order. We also have to include a step-by-step process that explains how we used our ranking system.
- Do you think there is more than one correct answer to what the client is asking? Why or why not?
Yes, I think there is more than one correct answer because some of the choices are better for the animals, and some of the choices are better for the tourists and the park’s business. Not everybody will agree about which of those things is more important.
Data Set 1
Data Set 1 Calculate and Data Set 1 Answer Key
Letter Template 1
Response Letter Template 1
Our team, ____________________________________________, has decided that the best number of wolves to introduce into Yellowstone National Park is ________________________. The second best number of wolves to introduce is _____________, the thirst best number of wolves to introduce is ____________, and the worst number of wolves to introduce is ______________.
We developed the following procedure for ranking each effect of the introduced wolf population:
See Above: Readiness Questions.
Reading Passage 2
Client Letter 2
Attention Ecological Scientists,
The National Park Service (NPS) would like to thank you for your suggestions. We began the process of introducing the wolves back into the park at a rate of 6 wolves per month until we reached your suggested total. So far the deer population is dropping, tourism is increasing, and the wolves are healthy. However, we have noticed a new issue after the introduction of the first 6 wolves: increased competition with grizzly bears.
We assumed the bears omnivorous habits would not conflict with the wolves very much, as the bears often feed on berries and fish, and the wolves generally do not. However, the wolves have discovered that the fish on which the grizzly bears of Yellowstone normally feed are highly nutritious, causing some unforeseen competition for prey. With the added stress of this competition, both sets of animals have now taken to hunting livestock more frequently than we initially thought. Furthermore, the wolves and bears both need ample space to rear their young, but some of the best locations for the wolves to rear new young are already established bear dens. All of this competition could decrease the bear population. Since the bears of Yellowstone are one of the prime tourist attractions, the tourism industry will be adversely affected if this occurs.
We have sent over updated versions of the data charts to reflect this new information. Using this new information, once again determine the most beneficial total number of wolves to introduce back into our Yellowstone ecosystem. Please attempt to use the same rating method that you used previously to come to this new decision, only making changes as you deem necessary. Once you have come to your final decision, please write to us explaining how many wolves you feel should be added in total, along with how you developed the rating system used to reach this decision.
Thank you again for your continued assistance!
Gray C. Lupus
Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park
Data Set 2
Data Set 2 Calculate and Data Set 2 Answer Key
Letter Template 2
Response Letter Template 2
After reviewing your updated data, the ____________________________________________ team has decided that the best total number of wolves to introduce into Yellowstone National Park is ________________________. The second best number of wolves to introduce is _____________, the thirst best number of wolves to introduce is ____________, and the worst number of wolves to introduce is ______________.
We developed the following procedure for ranking each effect of the introduced wolf population:
Additional Instructions or Materials
: National Park Service
Reflection question 2
- How did your ranking change after receiving the second letter?
- Do you really feel that your selection is actually the best selection? If your decision did not have to take into consideration the politics and tourism, would you have made a different decision? Explain your responses.