This lesson is the first of a 2 part lesson. Within this lesson there is a research piece that I do during a reading block. The lesson includes background on the salt marsh/wetland habitat, and a research piece on animals of the marsh. The animal research will be used in the next lesson when students talk about food chains and food webs, as well as the diversity of life in the habitat.
Here are a few resources on marshlands that can be shared with students or used for background information about the marsh habitat and wetlands:
The lesson focuses on the salt marsh, but I will take the time to let students know that a salt marsh is part of a larger group of habitats known as wetlands. You may wish to concentrate more on a different type of wetland, depending on areas that are familiar to your students.
I begin today by asking students to review the I can statement. It reads, "I can learn about many different animals that live in the wetland marsh and how they all help the marsh survive."
I ask students, "do you know what a salt marsh is?" (The marsh habitat is familiar to many of the students because of the area that they live in. For some people, it may be important to have a variety of pictures to help explain what a marsh is. Later in the lesson we will broaden our definition to wetland.)
I let students share their understandings. I record them on an "I think I know" column of a TQL (Think, Question,Learn) chart. The TQL Chart I remind students, "it is ok to tell us what you think you already know. Remember that this is a think I know column. Sometimes we think we know things but later we learn that we were not quite right. We will add what we have learned later on."
Once students have shared their ideas I ask, "are there any questions you are wondering about a salt marsh habitat?" I record these in the Question column.
I tell students, "today I am going to begin by showing you a short video about life in the marsh. I want you to pay special attention to the animals you see as well as the things that are part of the habitat."
I say to students, "Today I am going to show you a video about the salt marsh. It will also talk about other wetland habitats. Has anyone every heard the term wetland?" I see if students have any experience with the term. After the discussion I say to students, "Yes, a wetland is any land that is saturated (filled) with water. The salt marsh near your homes is muddy and wet as many of you noted. That is a wetland. Some of you might have very swampy and wet places near your homes, that would also be a wetland."
I have decided to show a video to help students have a better picture of what a salt marsh is. Ideally it would be better to go on a field trip and experience a salt marsh first hand, but that is not always possible for one reason or another so I have chosen a video that covers 3 types of wetlands. The video addresses the animals and their special surroundings.
I show the video and then ask students to brainstorm all the things they noticed about the three wetland habitats. I say, "at your tables I want you to brainstorm all the things you noticed about the wetland habitats we just saw in the video. Take 5 minutes to write down all of the things you saw. We will share our brainstorms in a few minutes." The reason for the brainstorming is to ask students to be accountable for what they have just watched. I want to make sure that students process what they have watched so they have a base for the next part of the video.
I give students 5 minutes to record their brainstorming.
I invite students to bring their brainstorming pages and to come to the rug. I say, "I am going to let each group share out a few things that they noticed about the wetlands in the videos. Start with 2 things and try to not repeat what another group already said. We will come back to you for other things after each group has shared. (I have 4 groups of students to share out.)
After each group has shared all of their brainstorming ideas I say, "Lets go back and look at our TQL chart of the salt marsh. Are there new things we want to now put on the L side?" I let students offer ideas that they learned in the video. "Are there any other questions you now have about the salt marsh?" We add any questions. "Did we find any answers to our original questions?" We check to see if any of our questions were answered with the video and we record the answers under the questions.
I ask students to return to their seats.
This part of the lesson is done during a reading block. I want students to be able to know something about the animals of the salt marsh and to be able to share what they have learned with each other.
I ask the school library for a set of books on salt marsh habitats and animals. I display the books in the class library. I say to students, "today I want you to research one animal that lives in the salt marsh. I want you to find out what it eats, where it lives in the marsh, who might eat it, and how it moves. You will record your findings on the journal page I give you. Remember that you are becoming an expert on one animal of the marsh and you will share that with others in another lesson."
I give students time to work on their research. I help students who may need support with the reading or writing.
I collect the student's research notes at the end of the lesson to save them for Part II.