Natural Selection in the Wild - Follow up

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Students will be able to analyze the adaptations necessary for organisms' survival.

Big Idea

How do organisms survive in the deep ocean? Students study an extreme environment and analyze successful adaptations.

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Purpose of Lesson:

The purpose of this lesson is to learn about the adaptations of organisms trying to survive in the deep ocean.  


Major Strategies to Watch for:

1) Structured Reading- Students use annotating and clarifying strategies to learn about deep sea organisms.

2) Thinking map- Students use a thinking map to process information from the reading and make connections to the concept of adaptation.

3) Writing to Think- Students use a writing to think time to summarize their learning and develop new ideas and connections.


3 minutes

Learning Goal: Discover natural selection at work in the deep ocean environment.

Opening Question:  Name an adaptation that you learned about yesterday, and tell how it helped an animal to survive a specific change in the environment.

Today I have students Think-Pair-Share using our discussion strategies.

Then we share out to the whole class. I am mostly interested in making sure that students are connecting the natural selection process we studied in the simulations from the Discovery and Prior Knowledge days of the unit with the adaptations that real organisms exhibit. I want to make sure that students are understanding that these traits form over generations from selective pressure.  

Students record their opening question on their learning goal sheet and are ready to start class 3 min after the bell has rung. I reward students who get started early with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets


5 minutes

The purpose of this Deep Sea Creatures video is to let students see some of the amazing adaptations of deep sea animals. I ask the students to watch for special adaptations and to be prepared to tell why they think the deep sea is considered an extreme environment.  

After the film, students share with their partner the special adaptations they noticed in the film.

Focus and Independent Work

15 minutes

Students will be using the same strategies from yesterday's class, annotation and clarification to read an article about deep sea organisms.   

I do a brief focus lesson to show students how to annotate and write on the text. Today I concentrate on the work that I saw yesterday in class and give students suggestions on how to improve. I made sure to look over the annotations and clarifying work and saw that students were not writing in their questions.  Today I made sure to stress that students should write their questions on the text to make it easier to come back to the text later.

In my class we have a set annotation method that I use for all readings. I got this idea from the book Close Reading by Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey. I find that it gives the students the right amount of structure and flexibility to be successful.

Clarifying simply means that the students are writing the BIG IDEA next to the paragraphs. I saw in the work yesterday that students were not clarifying EVERY paragraph.  I put an example of good work on the document camera and showed students that I expect them to write a clarification for EACH paragraph.  This type of quick feedback is a great way to build positive accountability in classrooms.   I've attached an example of student work to this section. 

I give the students 10 min to read independently and annotate and clarify.  


10 minutes

Now the students are ready to process the information that they read, by producing a thinking map.  Today we are making a bubble map.  The students would write Deep Sea ADAPTATIONS in the circle in the middle.  Then students should make several other connecting circles connected to the center.  Together as a class we choose an adaptation from the text to put on the thinking map.  Once I am certain that students understand the purpose of the map and how to get information from the text and put int on the map.  I've attached an example of student work to this section. 


10 minutes

This is the culminating moment of the last four days. I want the students to connect the simulation and bird beak lab to the desert and deep sea readings. I tell the students that I am going to tell them a "story" about how the Jack Rabbit evolved. I make sure to tell that that I don't KNOW that this happened, but that this is a way to tell the story using natural selection. What is most important to me is that students can follow the process of natural selection with an adaptation from real life. When I'm done with the story, I ask them to think back to the story of How the Elephant Got it's trunk from a previous lesson. We make connections to how this story is similar and different from that one and discuss as a class which is MOST likely and why.

Below is a video that shows how I might go through the story making some of the important connections.

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2 minutes

Closing Statement: Today and yesterday we studied adaptations of animals that live in extreme environments.

Closing Question:  Tell a story to your neighbor about an adaptation and how it made an animal successful. Remember to explain what changed in the environment that made this adaptation important for survival.

This closure is a Think-Pair-Share. It is not meant as formative assessment but merely as a chance for students to summarize their learning of the past four days.

Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening.  You can find more information about how I manage closure here.