In this lesson plan, students will analyze an informational text intended to support reading in the content area. The National Science Foundation article discusses research on the effects of the Sea Star Associated Densovirus, a virus devastating sea star populations. The article further explains the implication of the virus for the tidal ecosystems of the Pacific West Coast. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.
Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 9, 10
Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: virus, keystone species, ecosystem, sea star, starfish, text complexity, lesson plan
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Describe the effect the Sea Star Associated Densovirus has on sea stars.
- Explain how the virus could affect the biodiversity of marine ecosystems found on the Pacific West Coast.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Determine the meaning of academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes a 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?
- Students need to be familiar with a parvovirus because Sea Star Associated Densovirus is found in that family of viruses.
- This link leads to a tutorial on viruses by the Khan Academy and is extremely thorough. The information is divided into sections, so teachers can use the information based on student needs.
- Students require knowledge on the basic characteristics of sea stars and their role in ecosystems. This site, Sea Stars of the Pacific Northwest, includes information about sea stars in general, including all the ones listed in the article.
- This Khan Academy lesson "Ecosystems and Ecological Networks" will provide basic information on ecosystems and the importance of stability in ecosystems as well as information about the importance of keystone species within an ecosystem. The heading "Community Structure" provides the information on keystone species.
- Students should have a general understanding of the purpose of DNA sequencing and some of the processes involved. These McGraw Hill animations provide background for students.
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text including use of context clues and dictionary skills.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in the NSF article used in this lesson include the title, subtitle, picture, 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. This site provides transition words and sentence samples that teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- What effect does the Sea StarAssociatedDensovirus have on sea stars?
The virus causes lesions on sea stars and eventually causes a breakdown of the entire body, with loss of limbs and organs along the way. Sea stars soon die after this has occurred. The virus affects a wide range of sea star species, so there has been a huge impact on the sea stars found on the Pacific West Coast.
- Why might the loss of sea stars be devastating to the ecosystem?
Sea stars are keystone species in the ecosystems they are found in. They help stabilize the ecosystem and maintain biodiversity. Specifically, sea stars are predators, so their decreasing numbers will cause changes in other populations of organisms. The loss of sea stars to the virus is an event that could cause a major ecological upheaval in the tidal and subtidal zones they are found in.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Begin by asking students what they know about sea stars. (Explain to students they might be used to calling them "starfish," but scientists are trying to move away from that name because sea stars have no taxonomic relationship to fish.)
- Have students get into groups and brainstorm for approximately 5-10 minutes. Have the groups share some of their responses.
- Students may mention that sea stars are invertebrates; they are able to regenerate; they are carnivores. The teacher may choose to discus sea stars in more detail depending on the approach to the lesson. There is useful information in the Prior Knowledge section that can be used.
- Inform students that sea stars are a vital component to an ecosystem because they are considered keystone species. Have students watch this short video describing keystone species and their importance, titled "Keystone Species and Their Role in Ecosystems" (3:59, uploaded by YouTube user swcamarketing).
- Next show the following image of a sea star with Sea Star Associated Densovirus (SSaDV). Explain to students a virus has been infecting and killing thousands of sea stars along the Pacific West Coast.
- Show this National Geographic video in which one of the authors of the article, Ben Miner, discusses the disease and the research pertaining to it.
- Finally let students know they will be reading an article by the National Science Foundation that discusses the information discussed in the video they just watched.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a copy of the article "Virus Fingered as Top Suspect in West Coast Sea Star Wasting Disease," or make it available to students electronically.
- For discussion purposes, the teacher may want to have students number each paragraph of 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).
- 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. Students can work individually, in pairs, or in small groups.
- 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 (e.g., context clues, word parts, dictionary skills). 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.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guides, checking their work, providing written feedback, and possibly grading their work. Or, teachers can have students share their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key provided at the end of the note-taking guide to help them assess students' answers.
- 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 give alternative suggestions as to how that students could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word:
- Succumbed (Paragraph 1): died from the effect of a disease or injury. Students may not be familiar with the term, and there are no context clues to determine meaning. They should use a dictionary to define the word and replace the definition within the sentence to see what fits best.
- Culprit (Paragraph 5): the cause of a problem. Students should use context clues to determine the meaning of the word by focusing on the phrase "scientists have identified."
- Mortality (Paragraph 12): the number of deaths in a given time or place. Students may be able to determine the meaning of the word based on the root word mortal and from previous information in the text about the virus causing the death of sea stars.
- Upheaval (Paragraphs 4 and 22): a violent or sudden change or disruption to something. There are context clues that might be helpful in determining the meaning of the word. The text references it to something we have never seen before, as well as referring to it as "unprecedented."
Common errors or misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- The article mentions brittle stars and sea urchins as animals that also harbor the virus. Remind students that all of these organisms are members of the Phylum Echinodermata.
- Many animals can get parvo virus, but each has their own strain, and it is not known to be spread from animals to humans.
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 can come in the form of the following:
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work using the answer key provided at the end of the text-dependent questions, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment.
- Or, teachers can have students share their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
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?
- Before students complete the writing assignment for the summative assessment, review the responses to the other text-dependent questions. Make sure that misconceptions are corrected and that key points (as found in the sample answer key) are discussed.
- After students' written responses for the summative assessment 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 detailed written response. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or withanLCD projector and discuss some of the following:
- How the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph; have students identify the main point of the piece. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
- Have students examine each of the body paragraphs and explain how each supports the main point of the piece.
- Have students identify where the writer effectively uses textual evidence from the article for support of his or her points.
- Have students identify the use of transition words or phrases that make the ideas flow.
- Ask students to identify effective and accurate use of domain-specific vocabulary and academic vocabulary.
- Have students read the final paragraph to see how the writer wrapped up the piece and connected back to the main point established in the introduction.
- The NSF article students read was published in 2014 and mainly concerned the discovery of the virus and its immediate effects. At the time, much was unknown about how the virus would affect sea star populations in the future and the communities they lived in. Have students read this article from Oregon State University, which follows up on the current state of the virus and sea star populations.
- After reading the article, have students respond to the following question: What new information (as of May 2016) has been discovered in the last several years regarding sea stars and the wasting disease caused by Sea Star Associated Densovirus (SSaDV)?
Although the threat of SSaDV is far from over, scientists have discovered that the juvenile population of sea stars along the Oregon Coast is unprecedented in number and over 300 times the normal amount seen. They determined there was not an increase in sea stars being born; instead, the sea stars had a high survival rate into the juvenile stage. Whether or not these sea stars can withstand the virus and reach adulthood to repopulate the communities they live in is a question that remains unanswered. Scientists believe the juveniles have open access to food because they are not competing against adult sea stars, which is allowing them to thrive.
Scientists still are not sure what triggered the outbreak. It was thought warmer water might have been the cause, but the researchers at Oregon State University found no direct association between warmer temperatures and higher rates of the virus.
Other findings indicated that sea stars that remained in the water the majority of the time had higher rates of the virus than those in tidal pools, which were often out of the water. Adult sea stars were much more likely to be infected with the virus than juveniles, which might be explained by the length of exposure to the virus in adults. Changes in the ecosystems are being observed as well; gooseneck barnacles have increased in number--most likely because they are not being fed upon by adult sea stars.
- Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. If using the attached rubric to assess students' work, 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.
- 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.
- Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address:
- Using evidence, explain why the loss of sea stars would be devastating to the biodiversity of the marine ecosystems on the West Coast.
- 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 students struggling with the science content:
- Showing a map of the areas mentioned in the article would be helpful for students to emphasize the size of the area being affected by SSaDV.
- It might benefit students to show them the pictures from the online version of the NSF article to provide context.
- Provide access to the National Geographic article "Starfish are Still Dying, but Here's Reason for Hope." There are different hyperlinks in the article which can provide help for students struggling with the content.
For struggling readers:
- It might benefit students to break the text into sections (each heading can be the start of a new section). Have students independently read section one, and then have several strong readers read section one aloud.
- Then, have students highlight (on their copy of the text) the vocabulary from the note-taking guide that appears in section one. Work with students to model ways to define a few of the 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 students can work independently to define the meanings of the remaining words for that section. Students can report out their meanings and receive feedback from the teacher.
- Students can then work with a partner or small group to complete the rest of the note-taking guide for section one, share out their responses, and receive feedback from the teacher.
- This process can be repeated if needed for the remaining sections of the text.
For struggling writers:
It might help struggling writers to provide them with an outline to help them structure their written response for the summative assessment. The outline might include places for them to record:
- Ideas on how to introduce 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)
- Specific evidence from the text for support in each body paragraph
- 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)
- Have students research the latest findings and updates on the disease and report back to class. There are many different sites that have been monitoring the disease, so this information should not be hard to find. This site from Oregon State University can help students begin their research.
- Have students research other keystone species and why they are so important to the environments in which they are found. Have students work in groups and then have a class discussion on the information they discovered.
- Have students explore the parvovirus in general. The family of viruses affect a wide variety of animals, including dogs and humans. Have students compare and contrast information on how the virus affects different species.
Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office
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."
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: Ellen Muse
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Brevard
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.