Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
1. Explain the role phytoplankton have in an Antarctic food web.
2. Explain the relationships between phytoplankton and the different types of bacteria.
3. Explain how new research can change previous ideas or assumptions.
4. Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
5. Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
6. 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?
With regards to science:
- Students should be familiar with the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components found in the Antarctic. This National Geographic video titled "Antarctic Ocean" (3:39) can provide an overview of Antarctic marine ecosystems in general.
- Students should be aware of ecological relationships and should be able to specifically recognize the characteristics of mutualism and competition. The Khan Academy site titled "Ecological Interactions" does an excellent job explaining the different ecological relationships found in ecosystems. It also addresses information and the components of food chains and food webs if students need review.
- Students should be familiar with the process of photosynthesis (see teaching phase).
- Students should understand the definition of a limiting factor (something that can prevent a population from growing).
With regards to literacy:
- 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 be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in the article used in this lesson include: title, subtitle, photograph, and caption.
- Based on the rubric provided 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.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. What role does phytoplankton play in the Antarctic marine ecosystem?
Phytoplankton are single-celled organisms that are the base of food webs in the waters off Antarctica. The phytoplankton produce their own food source through the process of photosynthesis, and from that role as a producer, all other organisms become part of the food chain or food web. Animals such as penguins, seals, and orca whales are all part of that food web.
2. How did this research change long-held assumptions about phytoplankton in the Antarctic?
It was generally thought by scientists that the limiting factors on phytoplankton blooms were the availability of iron and light. However, after this study, scientists realized there were several other factors involved. The phytoplankton needed Vitamin B12 for sustained blooms, and this nutrient was acquired from the interaction with specific bacteria. The interactions between phytoplankton and bacteria demonstrate the importance of the different relationships within this ecosystem.
3. What are the effects of the relationships between phytoplankton and the different bacteria?
The phytoplankton have two very different relationships with the bacteria found in these waters. There is one very specific type of bacteria with which the phytoplankton has a cooperative or mutualistic relationship. The bacteria provides the Vitamin B12 for the phytoplankton, and in return, the phytoplankton provides the bacteria with food and energy. There is a different group of bacteria also dependent on the phytoplankton for food and energy, but this bacteria actually competes against the phytoplankton for B12. All three microorganisms, the two groups of bacteria and the phytoplankton, compete against each other for iron due to its scarcity in the Southern Ocean.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by showing a picture of Antarctica and asking students if they are familiar with the types of organisms found there.
2. Many students will be able to answer seals, whales, or penguins. There might be some confusion between the Arctic and Antarctic. For example, students may say polar bears are found in the Antarctic and make other similar errors. (Teachers should correct the misconceptions, but this is not the focus of the lesson.)
3. Have students form groups and brainstorm to try to build a simple food chain or food web with organisms in this ecosystem. Ask the students to share their results.
4. Focus on the base of the food chain/web and see what students have positioned as the producers (organisms that create their energy from means other than consuming other organisms are almost always at the base or bottom of a food web or food chain). Some students might correctly identify plankton or phytoplankton. Discuss with the class how food webs are dependent on the producers found in the ecosystem.
5. Use this NOAA site titled "What are Phytoplankton?" to provide some more information about phytoplankton in general.
6. Begin a discussion asking about the process in which phytoplankton make their own food. Students should be able to respond that they use photosynthesis to make carbohydrates for energy. Use this CPALMS tutorial titled "Photosynthesis: Capturing the Sun's Energy to Create Sugar" (Resource ID# 109219) to review photosynthesis with your students as needed.
7. Explain to students how phytoplankton not only need sunlight for photosynthesis but also use iron as a resource. Mention that it has been discovered they use Vitamin B12 for growth as well.
8. Finally, tell students they will be reading an article in which scientists discovered new information about phytoplankton found in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. The article discusses several different ecological relationships found between phytoplankton and bacteria that are important in the productivity of this ecosystem.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Pass out to each student a copy of the article or make it available to students electronically.
2. For discussion purposes, the teacher may want to have students number each paragraph in the article. If using an electronic copy of the article, students can use a PDF mark-up tool (several tools are available as free downloads).
3. Provide each student with a note-taking guide. Have students complete this guide during or after their first reading of the article. Make sure to provide print or online dictionaries for students to use for the vocabulary section.
- Based on the needs and skills of the 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, use context clues, and/or use a dictionary to define the words.
4. Students can work individually, in pairs, or in small groups.
- If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
- Frigid: very cold. Encourage students to use context clues. In this case, the clues are contained in paragraph 1 where it states, "…waters of Antarctica…" These clues should help the reader infer the meaning the water is very cold based on the location of Antarctica.
- Orcas: killer whales. There are few context clues for this word, but it is used in a list containing other aquatic mammals. If they are not familiar with the term, have them use a dictionary.
- Underpinning: supporting. There are few context clues for students to use for this term. They should refer to a dictionary and plug in the different definitions and see which one fits the best.
- Micronutrients: nutrients needed in small amounts. There are context clues students can use such as "minor additions." Students can also break the word into parts: micro- meaning small.
- Teeming: present in large quantities. There are few context clues for the student to use for this term. They should refer to a dictionary and plug in the different definitions and see which one fits the best.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guide, 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.
2. Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
3. For discussion on 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.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- Remind students that food chains are different from food webs. Food chains show a series of specific organisms eating or being eaten while transferring energy from one to the other. A food web shows all of the possible feeding relationships in an ecosystem.
- Remind students vitamins help regulate body processes, but the actual use of the vitamin will be organism-specific.
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 student 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 found at the end of the text-dependent questions document to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: please see the answer key for the text-dependent questions.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
1. Before students complete the writing assignment for the summative assessment, review their 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.
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:
- 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.
- How each of the body paragraphs supports the main point of the piece.
- How the writer effectively uses text evidence from the article to support his or her points.
- How the writer uses transition words or phrases to make the ideas flow.
- Where domain-specific vocabulary is used accurately and effectively (e.g., food web, microbial).
- How the writer wrapped up the piece and connected back to the main point established in the introduction.
1. Have students complete the attached closure activity to determine their understanding of the different relationships discussed in this article. They should only need approximately 5-7 minutes to complete it.
2. This activity may be used as an additional summative assessment.
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 it 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:
- Using evidence from the text, explain the importance of the ecological relationships occurring in the Antarctica between microorganisms, and explain why this study has important implications for the entire Antarctic region.
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?"