Food Chains & Food Webs: Reteach/Extend

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Students will be able to read and interpret food chains, food webs, and food pyramids.

Big Idea

Small changes can mean big problems for ecosystems.

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Purpose of Lesson:  The purpose of this lesson is to offer differentiated opportunities for students to continue their processing of Food chains and food webs.


Major Strategies to Watch for:

1) Rigorous Reading-  Students answer questions that take them back to the text and mark the text to show where they got the answers.


3 minutes

Learning Goal:  Apply learning of energy diagrams to real world situations

Opening Question:  How does one organism impact others in the ecosystem?  Give an example from your food chain or food web.

The students record their answers on their learning goal sheets.  When they are done I ask three students to share their answers with the class and reward them with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets.   


5 minutes

This Bill Nye Food Web video does a great job of showing the interconnections of a food web.  First, we watch the clip.  Then I ask students to discuss how food webs are interconnected and what would happen if part of the food web disappeared. 


10 minutes

The purpose of this section is to get kids set up for success the rest of the class period.  Since kids will be working on different assignments, I like to take a few moments at the beginning to go over our work norms and make sure that everybody knows what is expected of them.  Our most important norm in class is that students focus on learning.  Many of the other norms such as;

-Respect the speaker and

-Raise your hand to share

are simply management techniques designed to push the students to focus on learning.  Sadly, it is not enough to simply put a norm on the board and expect it to work in class!  You also have to install a method of positive accountability.  For this, I like to use my ROCK STAR SCIENCE tickets.  

This is also the point where I put the kids into the groups they will be working in for the class. To make the groups I have collected data from past assignments and determined what the students need most next.  I've included my way of collecting this data.  

In this lesson, there are two groups that are working with interpreting food chains and food webs and then two or three groups working collaboratively to answer questions from the reading. This reading is very difficult so I put students with reading issues in the groups that have more concrete work.  

Group Reteach

30 minutes

This work is designed to take students gradually through the concepts in food chains, food webs, and food pyramids, showing a picture and asking questions of increasing complexity.  I prefer to be sitting with students and working with them to help them over the hard spots and with any misconceptions they have. However, it is self directed enough that students could do it own their own with their group.  

I start by focusing the students on the title "Energy Flow" and remind them that no matter what type of diagram it is, it will be showing the flow of energy.  Then I draw the students' attention to the food chain and point out the animals and the arrows.  I ask the students to work on questions 1-5 on their own.  

This work time allow me to go to a different group and repeat the process.  In this was I can teach 2-3 small groups at one time.

I come back to the students and check their work on questions 1-5.  If they were all successful with no major problems we discuss questions 6 and 7 together.  At that point I am comfortable that the students are ready to work on their own.  If however, the students were NOT successful with questions 1-5, I move them to a different part of the room for move intensive instruction.  Intensive instruction might come from me in the classroom, or in a designed pull out program during our reading time, or at recess.  Another method is to use Special Ed and ELL resource teachers to help explain and differentiate this material in intervention classrooms.  

A screencast below explains this process.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Extension - Group

30 minutes

For those students who are able to navigate the reading independently, this section sets out collaborative or independent reading activity.

The reading technique I use comes from Rigorous Reading by Fisher and Frey.  The students are given questions that require them to reconnect with the Food Chain and Food Web reading.  To further push them to go back to the text to find answers, I have them record the question number in the text where they found the answer.  This forces students to actually read the text for information rather than guessing, or trying to .  

Because I will be working primarily with the groups that need more support, I offer these students the chance to choose whether they will work in partners, in groups, or individually.  The caveat is that if students are not working, the choice will be removed and students will work individually.  

Below is a screencast of how this might be explained to students.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.  


3 minutes

Closing Statement: Today you worked on using readings and diagrams to answer questions about cause and effect in ecosystems.  

Closing Question: How would putting a chemical in the water eventually effect all animals in the food web?  What results could this have for the ecosystem?

Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening.  You can find more information about how I manage closure here