The Why Behind Teaching This
Unit 5 covers standards relating to Earth's Systems. It covers Standard 5-ESS2-1: Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact. Students will be learning the difference between each of the systems, and ways that each of the systems interact to help make Earth what it is today. The other standard covered is Standard 5-ESS2-2: Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
Modeling will be an important component of this unit. Students will be modeling layers of Earth, the water cycle, land forms, and more. The unit begins with an overview of all the systems, then each system is taught in isolation. As each new system is covered, how it depends on or interacts with the previous systems will be addressed. In addition to the end of unit assessment, there will also be a culminating activity where groups build a model to demonstrate how 2 of the systems interact. Connections to several previously covered standards will also be made throughout this unit.
This specific lesson covers standard 5-ESS2-1 by providing the foundation for students to make the connection between the biosphere, life on Earth, and the other systems on Earth. Students are learning about plant and animal adaptations which have developed to help them survive in their environment which may be dry or wet, hot or cold, green or white, etc.
The goal of this lesson is for students to be able to differentiate between physical and behavioral adaptations in plants and animals, and to determine how the adaptation helps the animals survive in their environment.
Students will demonstrate success on this lesson goal by completing the station rotation sheet accurately and being able to contribute to the class discussion that follows.
Preparing For The Lesson:
- Station 1 - copies of the camouflage animal pictures should be hung up on a wall in your room.
- Station 2 - three thermometers, a bowl of ice water, 2 Ziplock bags, a stick of Crisco.
- Station 3 - a pair of forceps, pliers, small net, and dropper available for the beaks and a small cup of yellow water with a paper flower on it, a bowl of bird seed, a bowl of water with aluminum or paper fish floating in it, and a bowl of soil with fake bugs buried in it for food sources. A copy of the Bird Beak Pictures will also need to be hanging up in this station.
-Station 4 - four different plants or parts of plants. I used a large leaf, a plant with waxy leaves, a plant with thorns, and a plant with needles instead of leaves.
- Stations 5 - computers available
-Stations 6 - A copy of the Behavioral Adaptations Versus Physical Adaptations PowerPoint slides printed out.
Show Introduction Video
I begin today's lesson by playing a music video for the students. I chose this video because it has a catchy song that plays while introducing adaptations. Both physical and behavioral adaptations are addressed in the video, but not much information is given about them. I wanted to find a video that would introduce the concept in a fun way, but still left examples of adaptations open for student discovery throughout the lesson. This video fit the bill perfectly. Before playing the video, I tell students I want them to listen to the video and try to identify what and adaptation is, and what the two types of adaptations are.
After the video plays, I ask students if they can tell me what adaptations are based on the information from the video. They tell me that adaptations are changes in animals to help them survive. I then ask if they can tell me the two types of adaptations. The first student gives me an example of one, webbed feet. I tell them that I want to know the two categories. I play the video again and ask them to watch for the two categories. As the video is playing, they point out physical and behavioral.
Setting the Stage for Success
I provide each student with a copy of the Adaptation Station Sheet to follow along while I go through each station. I rotate around the room to each station so that I can demonstrate with materials as I review the activities.
Why Review Stations
By going through the stations rotation sheet and expectations for each station, I am setting my students up for success. I want to make sure that they understand what they should be doing at each station and point out anything I see that may be an issue, such as touching the plant with thorns and getting on websites other than the one assigned at computers. By identifying these ahead of time, and making it clear to students that they should not be doing these things, they are aware that I will be watching for this. By going over the station sheet as a whole group, it also allows for me to answer questions for each station and for all students to hear the response to the question.
Students are already in groups of three in my class, except for the back row which is a row of 8. I divide the back row into two groups of four. I assign each group to one of the stations and they begin completing the task. I circulate to listen to conversations, check for understanding, and to answer questions. I also ask questions to ensure that groups are making connections between the adaptations and their environment as well as guiding them to see how Earth's other systems are influencing the adaptations. We discuss this more at the end and I want to guide them to start thinking about this to help out discussion at the end. As I rotate I keep a close eye on station 4 at all times so that I can make sure no one is playing around with the plant with thorns. I want to be sure all students are safe.
Station 1 has the camouflage animal pictures hanging up on the white board. Students must identify the animal that is camouflaged. I chose a variety of animals from various environments such as desert, freshwater, and arctic. This helps students see differences in the way they camouflage with various surroundings. Some animals are easy to identify while others are more difficult. You can see in the video of group trying to determine camouflaged animals that students point out the animals when they see them and discuss what they think the animal is. As I am listening to conversations I ask students which animal in the pictures is impacted by the hydrosphere. The students point out one of the fish and say it is camouflaged to hide in the sand at the bottom of the ocean to sneak up on fish swimming by. Another group said the arctic hare is white to blend in with the snow which is also impacted by the hydrosphere because the water that evaporates then snows. I ask which other system is coming into play here and they tell me the atmosphere.
Station 2 has a large bowl of ice water set up. There are three thermometers, one is sitting on the desk, one is in a plastic Zipock bag by itself, and the other is in a stick of Crisco in a Ziplock bag. The two in Ziplock bags were placed down into the ice water when I went through the stations with the whole class. As I approach groups in this station I am focusing their attention on how much the temperature has changed on the thermometer not stuck in Crisco (blubber) as opposed to the one that is stuck in the Crisco. There is a 6 - 10 degrees difference within just a few minutes.
Station 3 has tools in it to represent beaks for the students to use with bird seed, bugs in soil, and liquid in flowers. You can see in the video of students testing different bird beak models that the students have a good idea of which beak should be used for each item. As I see the students pick the correct beaks for each item I ask them what led them to choose those beaks. They name characteristics about them such as the length, the shape, etc. I point out that one beak is better to use when interacting with the geosphere. Students tell me the long skinny one is best for getting bugs out of the soil. In this station there is also a copy of the Bird Beak Pictures taped to the table in this station. Students compare their findings from using the tools, to the beak pictures to see which bird would be an example of that type of beak. This allows them to compare the models to real birds.
Station 4 has parts from four different plants. I am using one that has large leaves, one with a waxy coating on the leaves, one with thorns, and one with needles instead of leaves. You can use any plants that have different characteristics. While observing groups in this station, I focus on which plant is best adapted to survive where the hydrosphere is minimal. Students identify the cactus leaf which has a thick waxy coating. Some students know that this wax helps hold in water, but not all do know this so this is something I am spending some time discussing with them.
Station 5 is on the computer. I have 3 student computers in my room so when groups are here they are looking information up independently. You can see in the video of a student at the adaptation computer station, that as each student reads information, they answer the questions on their stations rotation sheet. Students can ask their group members for help and share information whenever they choose to as well.
For station 6, I printed the pages of the Behavioral Adaptations Versus Physical Adaptations PowerPoint and hung them up for students to use instead of using the computer. I included a physical and behavioral adaption for both plants and animals in the PowerPoint so that students can see that both organisms can have both type of adaptation. Students write on a whiteboard which they believe it to be and then they all check the answer at the same time.
When each group has completed all six stations, they return to their seats. We go through the information each group recorded on their station sheets for each station. We begin with station 1, and I show them the camouflage animal pictures - answers so they can see how many they got correct. All groups missed at least one, most missed several. This allowed for some great conversation on how camouflaging helps animals survive. 69
We continue with all other stations. We discuss any differences and focus on how the adaptations help the organisms survive in their environment. As we are discussing we also point out the impact that other systems have on the need for these adaptations. Some of the discussion lead to these points: