Lesson: Categorizing the levels of an ecosystem

David Kujawski Bird Middle East Walpole, MA
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Lesson Objective

By analyzing pictures and making observations, YWBAT: Identify and explain the categories that ecologists use to organize ecosystems.

Lesson Plan

DO NOW: Explain how you would take a pile of clothes on the the floor and organize them in a closet.  How would you categorize them?  Explain your thought process. (5 minutes, includes checking HW)

Introduce lesson: Today we will be looking at how ecologists (people who study ecology) organize the various levels of an ecosystem.  Categorizing things is a common practice in our lives.  Maybe some of you categorize your music or baseball card collections...review do now.  (5 minutes)

Ask: Why do people categorize different things?
Possible answers:  categorizing makes it easier to find certain things and it could make using information easier, if you can break it down into more simplified parts.  Example: if you want to find khaki pants and a blue shirt, it may be easier if your closet is organized by color and article of clothing.

Today we are going to look at how ecologists breakdown the various levels of an ecosystem.  This will make studying a certain aspect of an ecosystem easier. 

You will be given a packet with various pictures inside it.  I want you and your partner to observe the pictures (using 5 senses to gather information) and record them in the box below each picture.  Do not write in the the area that says 'definition'; we will write in that box in the second part of the activity.  You have 5 mintutes to record observations for each of the 4 pictures.  If you finish sooner than 5 minutes, please read your SSR book.  Take questions.  (5 minutes for explaining, 5 minutes for activity: 10 minutes)

Review observations by students. (3 minutes)

State:  There are 4 different categories of an ecosystem.  They are: organism, population, community and ecosystem.
I would like you and your partner to try to determine which picture represents each category.  You have 2 minute to discuss. (2 minutes)

Review: Ask students to volunteer their answers.  Ask why they thought that.  This will lead to the development of definitions before looking them up in the book.  (4 minutes)

State: Open your books to page 9 in their textbook (Pearson Envi Sci) New edition.  Read the defintion and description of each category and match it to the pictures in your handout.  Write the correct definition in the area provided. (11 minute)

Review: Picture one is an organism, 2 is a population, 3 is a community and 4 is an ecosystem. (3 minutes)

Wrap-up: Have a pictures of various organisms, populations, communities and ecosystems.  Have students volunteer what they think the correct category is and review definitions as you go.  If they get it wrong, ask guiding questions like: Is there 2 or more organisms in this picture?  Do you see biotic and abiotic?  Etc. (7 minutes)

Exit ticket: Give the students pictures of different categories and have them identify what category it is.  Collect to get formative data to assess their learning and help you develop a tutoring schedule for the week.

Reflection: This is a great lesson for introducing vocab in a more engaging way.  The images help students remember. 

Lesson Resources

Categorizing an ecosystem activity lesson   Activity
CHECKING FOR UNDERSTANDING categories of an ecosystem  


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