1. Use formative assessment "Where Should I Live?" to assess what students know and what they need to learn.
If students were not successful at explaining which characteristics adapt animals to each environment, use the suggestions in the formative assessment and websites listed under additional resources and materials to review or teach these concepts.
3. Show letter 1 to students. Read it together and discuss.
Ask Readiness Questions Set 1, found in Readiness Questions section below.
4. Engage students by showing them some of the most unusual animals on Earth. Photographs of unusual animals can be found on the following websites. These websites may contain advertisements or other material that is not appropriate for students. It is advisable to print the pictures you want to use of show them on a projector so that only the picture you want to use is visible.
Explain that thought the planet these animals are coming from is similar to Earth, they may have developed some adaptations that are very different from the animals we are familiar with. As students look at some of Earth's most unusual animals have them discuss what type of environment they think the animals would be best adapted to and why.
Ask Readiness Questions Set 2, found in Readiness Questions section below, as you show the photographs to students.
6. Give each group of 3-4 students a copy of Letter 1 Template and a copy of Data Table 1.
Math standard connection: If you are teaching this standard, the math lesson will take about 1 hour. If you are just reviewing it or not teaching the metric conversions part, it will take about 10 minutes. Explain that groups are to decide which characteristics should be used to determine where each type of animal should be housed. Use size (on the data table) as an example. Explain that we are going to measure weight in kilograms and grams.
Use Metric Mass/Weight Information sheet. Have students give examples of objects that weigh about a gram (paperclip, cricket) and about a kilogram (a textbook, a 1 liter bottle of soda). If students need more instruction on estimating or converting metric weight, see the SuperTeachers worksheet and the Class Clips video in the Accommodations section below.
What size should an animal have to be (in kilograms) to be large enough to be put in an outdoor enclosure verses an indoor cage or aquarium?
Have the students in their groups decide on a rule for the size an animal should be (in Kg.) in order to be placed in each of the types of enclosures.
7. Students will develop their procedure/rules for sorting the animals into environments and enclosures. Ask students to think of other characteristics that would influence where the animals should be placed, such as whether or not it can fly, the type of body covering it has, etc. Ask them to use those characteristics to make rules for which animals go into which environments.
Direct students' attention to Data Table 1. Explain that these are the eight animals that are coming to be placed in the Interplanetary Zoo. As a team, they are to decide what type of habitat to place each animal in. They may revise or add to their rules as they make these decisions.
Give each group a copy of the Interplanetary Zoo MEA Rubric. Read through the rubric and explain that this rubric will be used to judge their procedure.
As students are working on where to place the animals, circulate among the groups and use Comprehension/Readiness Questions (found below).
8. Present solutions: Once groups have completed their procedures or "rules" for placing animals in their enclosures using Letter Template 1, have the groups write a letter to Dr. Neila and explain the procedure. Page 2 of the letter template is optional. Use it if your students need additional support to write a letter. Have the groups present their procedures to the whole class. As they do have them discuss it in terms of the rubric and score their procedures.
9. Test the procedure/rules: Give each group a copy of Data Table 2 and Letter Template 2.
Ask students to use their original procedure to sort the animals into environments and enclosures. They should record any changes they make to their procedure on the Changes to Our Rules sheet.
Use comprehension/Readiness Questions (found below) as you circulate and guide your students' learning.
9. Present solutions: Once groups have completed their changes to their procedures or "rules" for placing animals in their enclosures, have the groups write a letter to Dr. Neila and explain the procedure and any changes they made in it. Have the groups present their procedures to the whole class. As they do, have them discuss it in terms of the rubric and score their procedures.