Comparing Animals of the Aphotic and Intertidal Zone

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SWBAT identify similarities and differences for aphotic and intertidal zone animals based on observations from previous lessons.

Big Idea

Students make conclusions about the similarities of life in different habitats and their unique approaches to stayin' alive.

NGSS Connections and Class Preparation

30 minutes

NGSS Standards

2-LS4-1  Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats

Students develop a comparison chart to summarize how animals and in the aphotic zone and intertidal zone are alike and different.

Science Practices

- Analyzing and Interpreting Data (SP 4)

Students use previous observations to describe how aquatic life in two very different zones are similar and different. See 'Rocky Shore Habitat and the Animals That Live There' and 'Deep Ocean Conditions and Animal Adaptations'.

- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (SP 6)

Students base their aphotic and intertidal comparisons on evidence from their research and observations from previous lessons.

Lesson Preparation

Have students' Aphotic Zone Observations and Rocky Shore Flip books ready to return to students.

Make a class comparison chart.

Decide if students will work with table partner, make random groups with smartnotebook, or teacher generated groups; 2-3 / group.

Make a 'cheat sheet' for the comparison chart, to help scaffold students who say they cannot think of anything.


Copy ocean habitat comparison chart (12 copies)


Question for the Day

10 minutes

I start science time with a question, usually written on the board.  This allows students to time to consider today's topic before the lesson has officially begun. 

Students know that when they return from lunch, we meet on the rug to read our 'science question for the day'. I have established this routine with the kiddos to keep transition time short and effective and redirect student's attention back to content while allowing time for focused peer interaction.

Question for the Day: What is the difference between living and non-living.

I chose to start with this question, to guide students to think about how the animals in two extremely different habitats could have similarities, the definition of living, the unity of life. Later in the lesson students  consider how animals in 2 different habitats express the diversity for survival.

Students take out their white boards and write their ideas on their board and then meet me on the rug.

As soon as everyone is on the rug, I ask students to share their ideas with a classmate that they have not shared with today.

I want my kids to expand their comfort zone and feel confident about sharing their ideas with everyone.

I listen to conversations, paying attention to possible misconceptions that I will need to address.

I ask for volunteers to share their ideas and write these on the class comparison chart asking students if the qualities they share are the same for animals living in both habitats.  

After students share, I bridge the 'question for the day' with today's lesson, "Over the last couple of weeks you have made observations about animals that live in deep ocean and researched animals that live on the rocky shore. The animals in both habitats do these things, because they are alive." I point to the list the students generated. "They both have adapted to survive to live in their habitat."

"You have made some outstanding observations of the animals that live in the deep ocean and learned a lot about the animals that live in the rocky shore when you did your research.This knowledge that you have acquired will help you make some scientific comparisons, claims, that are based on your observations and research about these animals in two very different habitats. Making a class comparison chart is a way for us to summarize all that you have learned about some of the animals that live in different ocean habitats."

I mention the student's previous learning, to encourage them to tap this prior learning for today's activity. Just in case students do not recall their learning, I am passing back their aphotic zone observations and rocky shore flip book to use as a reference when working on their comparison chart.

Partner Work on a Comparison Chart

10 minutes

Before the class creates a comparison chart for the rocky shore and deep ocean animals, I provide an opportunity for students to collaborate with one another to encourage their participation when we create the class chart.

I show students the class chart we will make together and explain that they will work with a partner to make a 'mini-chart' to help them organize their ideas. I point to the ideas that the students have already shared and emphasize that they are to write only new observations.

"If you or your partner do not have any other observations for how the animals are alike, that is o.k. You can write observations for how the animals are different. To help you with your observations, I will pass out the observations you made when we looked at the deep sea and rocky shore animals."

I pass out the deep sea animal chart students made from a previous lesson and rocky shore flip book, as a reference while students work on their comparison chart.

"You have learned so much about the rocky shore and deep ocean animals. The comparison chart will give you a chance to show off all your learning!"

I noticed that some groups were reluctant to write a description, because one partner could cite an exception to the attribute. So I suggested that students use the clarify phrase, 'most animals'.

Class Comparison Chart

30 minutes

While students work on their comparison charts, I check in with groups to see if they are referencing their deep sea and rocky shore information. I encourage my students to write at least 4 comparisons for each habitat's animals.

When I see that most students cannot think of anything else to add to their comparison chart, I signal students to bring their chart and reference material and meet me on the rug.

I stand beside the group comparison chart and ask, "Did anybody think of anything else we could add to show how the animals that live in the aphotic zone and the rocky shore are the same?" 

The information you see in red on the class chart is new information that the students shared. 

I write student ideas on the chart.

Students wanted to add the word flexible to the same side. When I asked how the rocky shore animals were flexible, they mentioned the strong foot for the shell animals, or the body inside the mussel. 

"Let's share what you wrote for how the animals in these 2 habitats are the different."

"If the observations you wrote were shared by the groups that came before you, I will give you a couple of minutes to look through your reference material to see if there is something else you could contribute."

There are 12 groups, I feel confident that the class will be able to come up with at least 4 attributes for each habitat's animals. I am prepared with a 'comparison cheat sheet'  in case a group does get stuck. I will read an attribute and ask the group to tell me where to place the attribute on the comparison chart. 

Unit Wrap Up

5 minutes

"Wow! Look at all the knowledge you have about 2 ocean habitats! This is remarkable! I am so proud of all that you have learned."

I want my students to take a moment and consider all that they have learned in this unit, making the comparison chart helps them to summarize their learning and own it.

"You all deserve a HUGE round of applause!"