Before beginning this lesson I ask each student to go home and talk to their parents about the kinds of plants and animals found in local woodland areas in our town. This homework will be the beginning of our work in identifying the diversity found in a woodland area.
If you are in an area that does not have woods, you may want to have students research a habitat familiar to them in the same way.
I begin each lesson with an I Can statement. I want students to be familiar with what they will be doing. It helps to frame their thinking.
I invite students to read the I Can statement with me. We read, "I can identify different plants and animals that are found in forests near my home."
The purpose of this lesson is for students to become more aware of the diversity of life in the forest habitat. I want them to look at the list of animals and plants that they have seen in local forests and to notice how many different species we as a class have seen.
I ask students to take out their homework pages Completed Homework and place them on their desks. I know that there will be a few children who do not have the homework and so I will ask them to look on with the person next to them.
I say, "I want each table to make a list of plants and animals that we have seen in the woods of our town. Each of you can read your list and you will make a chart. If more than one person mentions the same plant or animal, just put a tally mark next to the name of the plant or animal. When you are done your table should have a list of all the plants and animals seen by your table and a number of how many times it was seen." I give each table a large piece of construction paper to write their list upon. I give tables about 10 minutes to compile their lists. Comparing Our Lists
When all of the lists are complete, I ask students to come to the rug with their lists and to sit with their table groups.
I say, "we have 4 lists and now we are going to put the lists together. I am going to take one table's list and then ask the other tables if they have seen any of the plants or animals on this list. You will come up and add the tally marks to the things you saw. If you have additional plants or animals, you will write their names at the bottom of the paper."
I call up 1 person from each of the remaining tables to write the tally marks. As I ask the others from the table if they have this particular plant or animal, they give a number and the tally person records the appropriate number of tally marks.
When all the tally marks are added, I ask for additional animals and plants to add to the list. I check with the remaining 3 tables to see if they also recorded this plant or animal.
I end today by saying, "do you notice all the different plants and animals that we see in the woods in this town. Did you think there would be so many different types of plants or animals? Give me a thumbs up if there are more here than you expected? Are there people who expected there to be more? Again, give me a thumbs up. Tomorrow we will revisit these lists, and try to graph our findings. Are there any final thoughts about what we see in our lists today?"
I end today's session here so I can transfer the tally sheet to small paper so that every child can have their own copy to use when graphing.
This part of the lesson can be done on a different day or during a math lesson. I bring out the chart that the students generated from their homework. It has a list of plants and animals that are found in local forests and how many times they were identified. I give each student a piece of graph paper where I have listed the names of the plants and animals across the bottom, and numbers on the side. I ask students to look at the tally sheet from yesterday and say, "you all have a piece of graph paper in front of you. Up here we have the tally sheet from yesterday. I would like to you create a graph of the things we found and see which are the most common, as well as showing how many different forms of life are found in our local forest. Can someone tell me what you might do to complete the graph?" (These students have made graphs in the past so I want to see if they can give me the directions for completing a graph, rather than me telling them.) I let several students share their ideas and then I paraphrase their ideas to come up with one set of directions that encompasses that students should count the number of tally marks for each type of wildlife and then color in the appropriate number of squares to show how often it was identified.
Once students are comfortable with creating the graph, I let them get started. I circulate around the room to help students who may be struggling.
I end this lesson by asking students to count how many different types of things we found in our local forests. I then ask them which things were most common, least common, etc. and I encourage them to think about why this might be.
I point to the I Can Statement and ask 1 student to read it for us. He/she reads, "I can identify different plants and animals that are found in forests near my home." I ask students to put a smiley face on the top of their graph if they think that they identified at least a couple of things living in the forest near their home. I ask, "would you say that there are many things or only a few living in the forests of our town?" (Many) "How do you know?" I hope students will talk about how the graph shows the great diversity of life in our local forest. If not I will continue to ask probing questions such as what did our graph show? Did we all find just the same things? Why or why not. etc.
I close by putting the word diversity on the board. I ask students to copy the word into their science journal. I say, "we have shown diversity of life in the forest by our graph. Can you write what you think the word diversity means?
I collect the journals to help me assess student understanding of the concept that there is a great deal of diversity in the forest habitat.