Communities & Ecosystems (Day# 4 of 4)

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Students will understand the structure of ecosystems and how their members interact in complex ways in order to survive.

Big Idea

All living organisms and the environment are interconnected.

Learner Goals

Note: I recommend that you first check out this resource in order to get the most out of this lesson!

In high school I took several drafting classes and, for a while, I had hoped to become an architect. With respect to planning instruction and teaching, I feel that I can still live out the detailed approach to building something intricate and complex even though the product is a lesson rather than a certain "built environment".

The lesson-planning document that I uploaded to this section is a comprehensive overview of how I approach lesson planning. This template includes the "Big Three" aspects of the NGSS standards: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science Practices. Of course, there are many other worthy learning goals, skills, instructional strategies, and assessments that can be integrated into a class session. I don't feel compelled to check every box but, rather, use it as a guide to consider various options and tailor the lesson in light of these.

With regard to this particular lesson...

I hope you get some value from my work! Please find the more intricate details of this lesson plan there.

Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resistance/Food chains & food webs (HS-LS2-2 & HS-LS2-6)

Social Interactions and Group Behavior/Group behavior and increased chances of survival (HS-LS2-8)

Adaptation/Relationship between human use of natural resources and impacts on biodiversity (HS-LS4-6)

Organization for Matter and Energy/ Flow of energy in Organisms, cell respiration, photosynthesis, and metabolism (HS-LS1-5-7)

Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text (CCSS-ELA RST.9-10.2)

In sum, I want my students to understand the structure of ecosystems and how their members interact in complex ways in order to survive. Furthermore, students will see multiple ways in which humans are affected by their environment and how, reciprocally, humans impact the environment. Knowing this, they can begin to consider wise ways to steward the amazing resources we have at our fingertips!

Anticipatory Set ("Hook")

25 minutes

Please click here to return to the previous lesson in the series.

Teaching Challenge: How can I develop my students' ability to apply unifying ideas to make connections across science content?

Teaching Challenge: How do I help my students identify conclusions in scientific reading?

KWL: Prompt#3- Exploring a curious experiment in alternative processing of human waste. Students will complete the K, W, and, L portions of the handout. We will read the article together as a class (for pacing and modeling the reading process). Once completed, I query several students to summarize the main idea. Based on their answers I might affirm the response or pull in other students to expand, correct, or clarify their understanding to arrive at the gist of the article.

The topic is "Waste & Treatment Process".

Students will complete the W column and then read this article titled Is "Peecycling" the Next Wave in Sustainable Living? and complete the L column*.

Of course, the connection here is to the local, regional, national, and even global distribution of key nutrients like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and water. This also links back to the initial KWL prompt (hog farms, manure, and eutrophication) but brings it a bit closer home.

It is a fact that agricultural fertilizers account for huge costs incurred by farmers. According to website, the September 2014 cost of fertilzer was $687 per ton. In other terms, this equates to $150 per acre of corn. What if there is already a supply of inexpensive fertilizer under our noses (pun intended)?

Well, this is the thrust of the Peecycling initiative. To be sure, humans have a monumental "ick" factor paradigm to overcome if this proves to be sustainable on a wide scale. But either way it does make one think!

Just to prove that this phenomenon isn't just a podunk, one-off stunt, researchers at the University of Michigan are giving it the good ole college try!

Instructional Input/Student Activities

20 minutes

1. Lecture Main Idea #4-Chemical Cycling

With this lecture series, I want to use a variety of case studies as discussion points with my students. Yes, they do take notes but I am wary to have my voice be the lone one in class. By using discussion, I can draw out some great comments and questions. And let's face it, we remember stories very vividly!

-Points of Emphasis:

-Water cycle (slides 56-58): Here I point out the incredibly large volume of water translocated by evaporation and precipitation at the ocean's surface.

-Carbon cycle (slides 59-60): Main factors include cellular respiration, photosynthesis, fossil fuels, and carbon released by decomposition.

-Nitrogen cycle (slide 61): The role that both bacteria and fungi play cannot be overstated!

-Phosphorous cycle (slide 62): The action of erosion releases huge amounts of inorganic phosphate into the water supply which is critical in buildling molecules like ATP and nucleic acids!

-Recap of all main ideas (slide 63)


*As a side note, whenever I lecture in class, there is a specific format for students to follow; that is Cornell Notes. Please link to this lesson for a more thorough explanation of my expectations.

Closure: What did we learn? Where do we go from here?

10 minutes

Teaching Challenge: How do I support my student's to compose, communicate, and evaluate a clearly stated, evidence-based, compelling argument?

Elsewhere I describe how I use the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) model as a scaffold for my students to grow in the skill of argumentation. In this instance, I want to gauge my students understanding of the utility and feasibility of pee-cycling.


Quick Write Prompt:

Claim: "Peecycling is a sustainable and natural way to meet the needs of farmers."

Counter-claim: "Peecycling is most certainly not a sustainable and natural way to meet the needs of farmers."

"Prepare an argument for either the claim or counterclaim. Cite at least two separate evidences that support this claim or counterclaim (based on the article read at the top of the class session). Be sure to explain the reasoning underlying your thinking."

Click here for a student sample of CER assignment.

Lesson Extension & Follow-Up Activities

To underscore the importance of academic vocabulary, I create and regularly use the resource in my classroom. Tonight's homework is to self-study terms #21-33 for this unit's vocabulary list.