Woodland Gems of Biodiversity

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The SWBAT construct a reason to back up data of why there are more birds than any other species in the woodlands.

Big Idea

Back it up? You bet! In this lesson your students will use a model to explore the animals in the woodlands. Then they will make predictions and back up their reasoning.

Teacher Notes

Teacher Note:

Are you ready to take your children's understanding of biodiversity to the next level?  You can do just that with an activity called "Gems of Biodiversity."  This activity will be done at the end of each of the individual habitats studied--rain forest, desert, coral reef and woodlands.  After the children have gathered information about each habitat, the class will make comparisons about the animal life found there using a visual model.  This repeating activity is called "Gems of Biodiversity."  It unifies the concepts taught plus it creates a common ground for comparison among the habitats.  Please make sure to check it out since it is well worth the effort and can be used year after year.  Sound interesting?  Check out the teacher notes for information on how to set it up.  Life at the next level is pretty sweet!

Activity Description:

The children will compare and contrast the biodiversity of life in the woodlands (see above note) using a visual model.  The model will be a jar filled with colored gems.  The jar will represent a animal species in the woodlands. It will be filled with colored gems denoting 5 animal groups (amphibians, birds, mammal, reptiles and fish) according to the amount of animal species in the rain forest.  Each gem will represent 100 different species of animals. So if there is 1,000 types of amphibians in the wodlands, 10 yellow gems would be put into the jar. As a class, we will fill the woodland habitat jar with the appropriate amount of gems.  After the woodland habitat is studied, the class will count the gems denoting the number of animals species living there.   We discuss the results and fill in a sentence frame to explain why there is the largest number of bird species that live there.  Then the essential questions for the unit will be discussed.


NGSS/Common Core Connections:

 The students will be making observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life within the woodlands.  They will be exploring all different kinds of living things--both plants and animals.  The children will also be practicing the concept of using a model to depict five classifications of animals.  In addition, the children will be counting by 100's when they count the number of species of a given habitat.  They will be constructing possible explanations of why some so many plants and animals live in the woodlands.



see note and link above

Woodland Let's Back It Up! -- 1 per student

Biodiversity Habitat Essential Questions--pulled up on Smartboard or made into posters


5 minutes

First we are going to discuss the animals and plants that live in the woodlands or forest.  For this, I have the children pull out their chart from a previous lesson (Biodiversity of the Forest).

Woodlands are to interesting to learn about, since we have woodlands right out our back door!  How many have you have ever been to Glacial Park or Chain-O-Lakes Park?  Both of those parks have lots of trees that form a woodland habitat.   Take out your notes from yesterday so we can look at your information that you have gathered.  We are going to be looking at the animals that you chose to write down and compare them with a partner.  So we are going to be working with our Clock Buddy partners today.   We will be working with our 6:00 partner.  I would like you to share some of your favorite findings about the animals and the plants that you noted.  Compare your notes to your partner.  Do you have different plants and animals written down?  

I give them about 5 minutes to turn and talk to their partner.  Having them discuss their ideas first with  partner helps get the ideas out, which will greatly helps the children who don't typically like to share their ideas since they have "practiced" it with a friendly partner first.  It also helps bring the topic of discussion to the forefront of their mind.


20 minutes

First we start off by reviewing the information that the children gathered from their partner research yesterday (see lesson link).

Let's start with birds of the woodlands.  What are some of the birds that are found there?

I write their responses on the Smart Board in our large class chart.  The children did a great job coming up with lots of birds like owls, pheasant, quail, hawks and chickadees. We repeat this process with the mammals, amphibians and reptiles. We skip the fish since they are not included in our data.

Then I take out the jar that I have labeled Woodlands.  I have the gems ready (see SET UP) in labeled bags for each of the animal groups.  I

We are going to create a jar in the same way that  we did when we studied the rain forest.  In it will be gems that be a model the variety of life found in the woodlands.  By now you should remember which colored gems stand for which animal classifications.  What color are the amphibians? (yellow) Birds? (red) Reptiles? (green)  Mammals? (black) Fish? (blue) 

Each gem represents how many different types, or species,  of animals? (100)  So if 1 gem is put in the jar, it means that there are 100 different types of that animal in the habitat.

Knowing what you know about the woodlands,  predict the TOTAL number of gems that you think would go in our rain forest habitat jar.  Remember  that each of the gems stands for, or models, 100 different species.   

Their answers are within a parameter that is reasonable since they have learned from our past experiences in creating biodiversity jars. 

 What species do you predict we will have the most gems for--mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles or fish?  Why do you think that way?

Many children chose birds, since out of the 3 habitats studied, birds were the most common in two of them.

Then I ask a volunteer to help put the gems in for the birds, since many of them were curious how many bird species that are present in the woodlands.  We count out 23 gems, which stands for 2,300 bird species (see counting by 100s video clip).

For the amphibian group, we need to put in 6 yellow gems.  Let's count and figure out how many species of amphibians are in the woodlands.  Make sure to hold up the gem and then we know to say the number out loud.  The class recites 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600.    

We continue doing this for the other classifications of animals.  We use 10 for the mammals, 8 for the reptiles and 0 for the fish.  This is great practice for the math standard of counting by 100's, especially since it repeats over and over for each of the animal groups.  The kids have fun counting and don't even realize that this is part of the math standard.  Since we have already done this for three different units of study, they are getting quite good at counting by 100s.  I don't even have to say a single number.

Explanation/ Construct Possible Reasons

20 minutes

Throughout this unit of biodiversity, we have been practicing constructing reasons to back up a hypothesis. So for the next activity, the children will be constructing possible reasons why they think a particular classification of animals or a particular species was the most prevalent and why.  This will help them begin to form arguments based on information that they have gathered.  

 I give a recording sheet to each student even though they are working with a partner.  I still want them both to get the experience of going through the process of filling it out and thinking of how to form a possible argument to back up their thinking.

What classification of animal did we find out that there are the most of in the woodlands?  If you don't remember, look at the gems in our jar.  What color do you see the most of?  What does that color represent?  

They answer that the woodlands has the most bird species.  We are very interested why bird species are found the most in the desert, rain forest, and now the woodlands.  Even though birds are little, they don't get the recognition they deserve for being tough and adaptable to be to survive in various locations, climates and habitats.

I want you to practice forming possible explanations to back up information that we have gathered--that there are more species of bird than any other species. You will be working with a partner to try to think of a possible reason why this is true. This is called backing up your results.

The recording sheet, "Let's Back It Up!" contains sentence frames.  Sentence frames help the children to describe and clarify what they are thinking.  They help give children a bit of structure needed to accomplish a writing task.  The idea of backing up data by using arguments is a complex task, so sentence frames help the children form their ideas within parameters.  Another reason I have found this useful is that it makes it easier for students to compare their ideas and thoughts when we discuss it later. It also keeps the students' thinking on the right track. See my reflection for example and my thoughts on their work.


5 minutes

I want children to share their Let's Back It Up! papers, but with someone other than their original partners.  So I simply tell them to return to their seats with their papers.  Then I tell them we are going to be working with our 12:00 partners.  They reconvene and share their ideas.

Then I have the children return to their seats.  They glue their Let's Back It Up! papers into the science notebook in the woodland section on the right side (see student sample page).

Then will end the lesson by looking at our Habitat Essential Questions that we have been reviewing frequently for this entire unit.  I am so proud of their improved thoughts and ideas to the answers of these important questions.