I post the I can statement on the board for students to read. It says, "I can identify all of the forms of life in a small area of Nature's Classroom." Nature's Classroom is a wooded area behind the school building. You can pick a wild area outside of your building to conduct the research in.
I say to students, "Have you ever heard of a BioBlitz?" I let students tell what they think it is. I explain that the term bio - means biology or growing or living thing. The term blitz means an all over look.
"Today we are going to conduct a mini bioblitz in Nature's Classroom. You will work with a buddy wheel buddy to study a small area(3 feet by 3 feet square) and to record all that you see there. Each group will have a yardstick because a yardstick has how many feet?" (3) "Right. You will lay out your yardstick on the ground like this (demonstrate forming a square) and mark off a line on all 4 sides of the square. Next you will look carefully inside the square you have made and record by drawing or writing, every insect, bug, or plant you see. If you see more than 1 of something you want to use tally marks to show how many there were. If there are too many to count (such as blades of grass) you can just write grass but if there are 3 of one kind of plant you want to mark all 3. Does anyone have any questions or comments about what we will be doing outside?"
I take questions or comments and then partner students up and have them gather their clipboard, paper and a yardstick to take outside.
I begin outside by demonstrating how to mark off the area they will study. I choose an area, put down my yardstick and create my square. I use sticks to mark my edges. Next I sit down on the edge of my square and begin to list what I see. I say, "I see grass in 3 clumps so I am going to write grass and put a 3. I see one bush. I don't know what kind it is so I am going to write bush and then draw a picture of the leaves. I am going to write that my bush has no flowers, it has about (and I count) 12 branches and lots of green leaves. I see an ant crawling on the ground so I write ant. Oh look, there is another ant so I put a tally mark next to the word ant." I continue on in this manner for several minutes so students see what is expected of them.
"Ok, now I will assign each of you to an area. Laying Out A Three Foot Square I want you to record all that you see that is living in your square. Don't forget to draw pictures and or write notes to remind yourself all about what you are seeing."
I help students get settled and lay out their areas. I circulate around to observe how the groups are doing recording what they are seeing. Looking Closely, Engaged in the BioBlitzI provide help by reminding them of my examples, making sure they are recording what they are seeing and by asking questions about things they may not have noticed.
After about 15 minutes I call students together to return to the classroom.
When students are back inside and sitting with their partners I say, "we want to figure out how many different life forms we found in one habitat. How might we do that?" I take student suggestions that we might count them, tally them, write them all down, etc. I hope that one student might suggest a graph, but if no one does, I will ask how when we count or tally them, we might share that information with others. I lead students to creating a graph. Ways to Share the Data
"We are going to create a graph as you suggested. I am going to give you small pieces of paper. I would like you to write and draw each thing you found on one of the squares. If you saw ants you would draw an ant on the card and you can put a number next to it if you saw more than 1. I will give you 10 minutes to quickly draw and label each thing you found on a different card. These drawings should just be sketches so you can do them quickly."
After all of the drawings are made I hang up a large sheet of paper. It has a line across the bottom and one up the side to form a graph. I ask the first group to come and glue their pictures just above the line. After the first group is done, I say, "Now as you come up, you will need to look at what other groups have done. If you have something the same as them, you will need to put your picture right above theirs, but if yours is different, you will need to put it on the bottom, next to theirs." I let the next group add their pictures. I point out how they put some above and some next to the first group. I say, "as the other groups are adding their pictures, you may be reading quietly at your desk." I let each group add their pictures to the graph.
When all the groups have added to the graph I ring the bell and ask students to put away their books and to look at the graph we have made. I ask, "What do you notice about how many different forms of life are in our woodland habitat?" I let students comment on the many different kinds of animals and plants, that we saw many of the same things in different parts of the outdoor classroom, that we saw more plants than animals, etc. I ask, "do you think any of the things you saw need any other thing? Can you explain how one of the living things on our graph might have needed another?" Students notice that the bees were pollinating the flowers, that the squirrels needed the acorns, etc.
I want students to end this lesson by reinforcing their understanding that there is a great diversity of plant and animal life, even in a small area and that those life forms depend on one another for survival.