In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text intended to support reading in the content area. The article explains how climate change is reducing the amount of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Within this sea ice is found algae that forms the base of Arctic food webs. As the sea ice goes, so does the algae, which in turn could affect the entire Arctic ecosystem. This lesson 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): 6, 7, 8
Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: Arctic, zooplankton, food web, climate change, algae, sea ice, sea-ice algae, ecosystem, global warming, lesson plan, text complexity
FCR-STEMLearn Literacy in STEM 2017
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Explain the importance of algae in an Arctic food web.
- Explain how climate change might impact the Arctic food web.
- 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 multi-paragraph 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 should be familiar with the concept of a food chain or food web.
- Students should understand the difference between producers and consumers.
- The recommended activities above will also address this concept. Teachers can have students complete one or both of the activities to target the concept of food webs and the role of producers and consumers.
- Students should be familiar with the concept of an ecosystem.
- If students need a a review of this concept, teachers can play this three-minute review video and have students take the test afterwards.
- The links to the Studyjams! site require a registration and login. If teachers choose not to use this resource, this Khan Academy resource Intro to Ecosystems also discusses the concepts described above.
- Students should have some understanding about sea-ice algae and its importance in the Arctic ecosystem.
- Students should have a general understanding of zooplankton and what organisms are classified as zooplankton.
- Students should understand scientists use fatty acids as a way to determine predator-prey relationships in a food chain. The concept need only be mentioned as a tool scientists have to examine the different trophic levels in a food web/chain. Teachers can read the following abstract from NCBI if they are unfamiliar with this concept.
- 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 include the title, subtitle, headings, images, and captions.
- Based on the provided writing rubric, 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), body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and include 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 is the cause of the loss of sea-ice algae?
- Climate change is resulting in loss of sea ice across the Arctic. The year 2016 has seen the smallest amount of ice since 2012. One major concern is the loss of the algae that lives in the brine-filled channels in the ice. As the ice disappears, so does a major component of the Arctic food web.
2. What is the importance of the sea ice algae for an Arctic ecosystem?
- If one component of a food chain or food web is disrupted, the other components may also be affected. In the case of the ice algae, it is one species that forms the base of the Arctic food web. Scientists conducted a study that determined a variety of zooplankton species depended on the algae for a majority of their energy source. Scientists still can't predict how the loss of the algae may affect larger species in the food web, but it is believed they will also be affected. Because the loss of algae is affecting organisms at the bottom of the food web, it will most likely affect those higher up.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Begin the lesson by showing this picture and asking the class: "What would happen to the animals in a forest ecosystem if all the trees and plants were removed?" Students should realize that animals that eat the trees, and that plants would not have enough food and may starve, leaving animals that eat them to starve as well. Animals could lose their homes and die or have to move away. Almost all animals in the forest ecosystem would be negatively impacted.
- Next, show students a picture of a marine food web. Ask students what differences they see between a terrestrial food web and an aquatic food web. Possible answers will likely include that there are not any plants or trees. Inform students even though there are not plants and trees, there are still organisms that act as producers and make up the base of the food web.
- Ask if anyone knows the type of organisms that act as producers in a marine food web. Some students may be aware of plant-like plankton or algae as producers in this type of area. Play the video Marine Arctic Ecosystems and have students use information for further discussion.
- Inform students that one effect climate change has on the Arctic is the disappearing sea ice. Explain that one of the producers for the Arctic ecosystem is algae found in the ice. Let students know they will be reading an article by Science News that discusses the impact the loss of sea-ice algae may have on the Arctic ecosystem because of the dependency other organisms have on the algae.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a copy of the article "Algae Embedded in Sea Ice Drive the Arctic Food Web."
- 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.
- Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Algae Embedded in Sea Ice Drive the Arctic Food Web
- Subtitle: Species that live in the open ocean may suffer as sea ice disappears
- Have students fill out the note-taking guide 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.
- 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.
- Context clues for helping students decipher vocabulary terms can be found at the end of the note-taking guide, where a sample answer key is provided.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting their completed note-taking guides, checking their work, providing written feedback, or 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.
- Teachers should 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 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:
- Students may think that if the population in a food web is disturbed, there will be little or no effect on populations that are not directly connected to it. Teachers can address this misconception by playing the four-minute video Food Webs: Crash Course Kids. Ask students to answer the following question as they watch: "What impact would a declining population of spider monkeys have on the forest ecosystem?" Discuss how a change in one population may have a drastic change to other populations.
- Students may think that changes to the non-living parts of an ecosystem will have little or no impact on the populations that make up the ecosystem. Teachers can have students pay attention to the last portion of the video discussed above. Ask students: "What impact does small or temporary environmental changes have on a food web?" Next, ask: "What impact will drastic and long term environmental changes have on a food web?" Make sure students realize an ecosystem is affected by the abiotic (nonliving) factors such as temperature, pH, and precipitation as much as the other living factors.
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.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting their 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.
- Teachers should use the sample answer key provided at the end of 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.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
- Have students fold a piece of paper in half and label one side "Now" and the other side "40 years later." Under the heading "Now," students should describe the state of the ice and organisms that live in the Arctic currently. Under the heading "40 years later," students should make predictions of the conditions in the Arctic and the organisms in the future.
- Share and discuss student answers.
- Before students complete the writing prompt, be sure to review their responses to the other text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
- After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with anLCD projector and discuss:
- 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 where domain-specific vocabulary is used accurately and effectively.
- 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.
- Teachers may have students 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.
- 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 must refer back to both texts 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. 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 article describes climate change as a "big problem for the Arctic ecosystem." Describe the impact that climate change is having on the Arctic as described in the article, and explain the evidence that scientists use to support this claim.
- Teachers will use the rubricto 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:
- The tutorial Antarctic Food Web Challenge offers a great review of food webs and the dependency of each organism within the food web on one another.
- This map of the Arctic Ocean provides students context for the area being discussed in the article.
- This picture shows sea-ice algae, providing context for students reading the article.
For readers struggling with the note-taking guide:
- Teachers might want to fill in some of the "Words that make you go Hmmm..." on the graphic organizer, leaving students to fill in the other definitions and add more that that they specifically might have a problem with.
- In the summary section, teachers might want to provide a few sentence starters to help students.
For readers struggling with 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 selected vocabulary for section one on 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.
- When students are ready, have them share 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. Or, at least have students complete the graphic organizer for the next section and receive feedback on their work before they move on.
For struggling writers:
- It might help struggling writers to provide them with an outline to help them structure their response. The outline might include places for them to record:
- Introduction paragraph
- Ideas on how to introduce the topic
- A few specifics from the text they might want to use to support or explain the topic
- A place to write down their main point(s)
- Body paragraphs
- 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 another organism found in an Arctic food web and find out how climate change has affected that species.
- Have students explore and answer one of the questions they developed in their note-taking guide and report back to the class with their findings.
- Ask students to write an article to be published in a science journal. The article will be published in the year 2057. In the article the author will describe the conditions of the sea-ice and the organisms living in the Arctic, including sea-ice algae. The article should describe the changes that occurred over the previous 40 years.
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: Tracy Colucci
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Broward
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.