Identifying Plant Life

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SWBAT understand the purpose of a field guide and use one to identify plant life.

Big Idea

A field guide is a compact, handy resource that helps you identify plants and animals in the field. It can be a small book or an app on an electronic device.

Bell Ringer - How Do You Use A Field Guide

5 minutes

"How do you use a field guide?

Field guides are important for identifying biotic factors in the field. It's a handy, compact tool for students to take with them when they go to a pond. In the book, there are diagrams and colored illustrations for students to identify plants and animals. Field guides provide specific information about pond life such as information about:

  • observing and collecting
  • food webs
  • plants
  • animals
  • habitats
  • characteristics of water
  • information about ponds & lakes

Before showing the video, I remind students that they used a field guide for their outdoor experience and then show them the field guide that was used.

After viewing the video, I ask students "How do you use a field guide?" Some responses I want include: it's used to identify plants and animals at the pond, it has pictures and diagrams of plants and animals at the pond, it has important facts and information about pond life.

Teacher Tip: I encourage students to download the app LeafSnap onto their device so they can learn to identify plant and animal life from the pond. Using LeafSnap is one tool to get additional information about leaves.

Let's Identify Leaves From The Pond

30 minutes

Students have questions and wonder about the natural world. They are curious.

To help students develop their argument for the essential question "What are the benefits of parks in a community?", I ask them to collect a variety of evidence. At the pond, students collected leaves to understand the biodiversity of the area. Some important vocabulary words students are exposed to while collecting evidence at the pond include: deciduous, coniferous, biodiversity, biotic, and abiotic.

Asking students to identify leaves collected from the pond correlates to SP1 (Science & Engineering Practice) which is Asking Questions. After students collect leaves, they learn how to use a field guide to identify plant life. 

By identifying leaves, students ask questions such as: What type of plant is this? Is this a deciduous or coniferous plant? What area of the country would I find these plants? What does the vein pattern in the leaf tell me? What does the size or shape of the leaf tell me?

First, I asked students to make a rubbing of their leaf on the Worksheet. This process gives students a more visual example of the leaf veins, patterns, shape, and size. Next, I ask students to use the field guide to identify the type of plant. Then, I ask students to write the name of the plant and three other pieces of information about the plant. It's important to clarify and understand the evidence collected.

Now I Know . . .

5 minutes

Now I know. . . .

I use a sentence starter on an Exit Slip as a formative assessment of the lesson. It is a quick way to get information from students about the learning. Formative assessments provide information about the lesson from that day and also guide my instruction for the next lesson. I give students 3 minutes to write their Exit Slip and encourage them to reflect on and write about the target, video, and activity from the lesson.

Sentence starters provide a frame of a complete sentence for students. These are especially helpful for Special Education and ELL students. Sentence starters provide a partial frame for students to begin their sentence and structure for writing.