Biodiversity Big Ideas

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SWBAT compare and contrast life in a variety of habitats.

Big Idea

We can connect ideas about biodiversity that we have learned from across the whole unit.

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

To tie-in all of the learning that has occurred during this unit, the students will reflect on important ideas learned in this unit.  They will discuss the BIG ideas with a partner as guided on the power point.  Then they answer the essential questions of the unit and discuss it with their table groups.  Then they will add their answer paper to their science notebooks.

NGSS/Common Core Connections

Since the main goal of this entire unit is for the children to compare the variety of life in different habitats, this activity focuses on those goals.  It helps connect all of the big ideas that things in the natural world have patterns in which they exist.  They will also be analyzing and interpreting data in order to construct explanations.


Connecting the Big Ideas Power Point

Biodiversity Big ideas workpage--1 per student

wooden tokens, or pennies or beans (see note below about a Barrel of Monkeys).

Advanced Preparation-- If you desire to use a strategy that makes everyone accountable when discussing, you might want to make something I call Barrel of Monkeys.  If you click on the previous link, you will see how and why I use this.  There are also directions on how to make them, or use alternative objects such as pennies or beans.


10 minutes

In this unit we have covered so much information that I feel it is necessary to review all that we have done to help the children make connections between all of the ideas as a closure activity.

You have been incredible biologists throughout this unit.  We have learned so much about life in different habitats.  What are the 4 habitats we have studied? (rain forest, desert, coral reef and woodlands)

Open your science notebooks to help you remember everything we have done in this unit. Take a memory walk and tell me what you see.

 Here are the activities we discuss:

  • We learned how scientists classify animals. (click here to see the lesson)
  • We have studied about habitats and found out the names of plants and animals that live in each one by collecting information on graphic organizers. (Click to see lessons on the rain forest, coral reef, desert, and woodlands)
  • Then we used a model called "Gems of Biodiversity" to find out specifically how many of each type of animal classifications are found in each one.  (Click to see lessons on the rain forest gems, coral reef gems, desert gems, and woodlands gems)
  • We even made predictions and backed up our reasoning (see above links).
  • We graphed data that showed the results of our investigations (click here for lesson link).  
  • We went on a Habitat Hunt to collect data (click here for lesson link).
  • Then we planned (see lesson link) and built our own model of a habitat including plants and animals.  We even showed how a plant or animal depended on each other (click here for lesson link).  
  • We all shared our information, just like biologists might do (click here for the lesson link).

Today we are going to work on pulling all of those ideas together.  Think of this like planning a birthday party.  All of the activities that we have done so far are like making the cake, decorating the house, buying and wrapping the presents.  And today we get to open the presents.  Okay, it's not really presents, but we will be unwrapping the BIG ideas from this unit.  We are going to be thinking about and discussing the main ideas of biodiversity. 


25 minutes

Next we view an interactive Connecting the Big Ideas Power Point.  I created this power point with the NGSS Life Science standards in mind.  All of the previous activities we have done in this unit prepare them for this discussion.  I felt like to bring the standard to its full conclusion, the children needed to have these paramount discussions.  It connects the main concepts and has the children discuss the main ideas with a partner.  They reflect on the type of life found in each habitat, discuss what makes this habitat unique and special and how animals survive there.  Then on the last slides there are sentence frames to help them compare and contrast the habitats we have studied.

For this interaction, the children will need to be in partner groups.  We use our My Clock Buddy paper for this.  I have the children get into their 8:00 partners.  The rest of the discussion is guided by the power point.

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15 minutes

As a wrap-up for the big idea discussion, I refer back to the Essential Questions of the unit.

During this unit, we have been discussing a few main questions.  These are really important to help you understand the main ideas of biodiversity and why animals and plants live and survive in different places.  Now it's your turn to show me what you know.  I am going to give you a paper with these questions on it.  You need to reflect on the main ideas from the unit to help you answer them.  

I pass out the Big ideas workpage and the children work to complete it.  After the students have completed it, we share their ideas.  Since I want the children to hear ideas from others, I have them work together with their table groups.  I want each child at the table to contribute to the conversation, so I use a strategy that I call Barrel of Monkeys.  I pass out 2 monkey tokens to each child.  When they share an idea they put one token in the barrel.  They put in the other token when they are commenting on another person's ideas.  They may not talk unless they put in a token.  This ensures that everyone gets a chance to share and no one dominates the conversation.

Click here for a sample of a student who shows good understanding of the concepts taught.