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Shepardson DEP

Page history last edited by Shaun Cornwall 10 years, 5 months ago






Title of Unit:   Ecosystem Sleuths


Grade Level   4th


Subject Area (s)  Science


Time Frame  Soon!


Teachers  Durkin, Ziegler, Cornwall


Desired Results (Stage 1)

Essential Content (Subject Area) Standards


National Education Technology Standards (Choose 2-3 to focus on)

     Creativity and Innovation          Communication and Collaboration            Research and Information Fluency


       Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making         Digital Citizenship         Tech Operations and Concepts


Essential Questions

(connected to overarching and supporting understandings)

Overarching Understanding (“Big Idea”)


Humans are a part of and affect the ecosystem (which includes both living and non-living components)

How do nonliving components of an ecosystem influence living components?

How can humans use their knowledge of ecosystems to address environmental concerns?

What causes habitats to become endangered?

How do organisms adapt to their environment?


Supporting Understandings


Humans can have positive and negative impacts on an ecosystem

Nonliving components should be protected and conserved

Nonliving components are cycled and recycled through ecosystems



Students will know…


Students will be able to…


characteristics and examples of ecosystems

differences/similarities between ecosystems and habitats

key terms: climate, adaptation, habitat, survival, ecosystem, interaction, carbon footprint, organism, camoflauge, migration, etc. 

basic methods of animal adaptation

components that make a habitat type unique


create a model of the flow of non-living components or resources through an ecosystem

make a plan to positively impact a local ecosystem

examine, evaluate, question, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media to investigate endangered habitats.

compare and contrast different habitat types





Assessment Evidence (Stage 2)


Assessment of Overarching Understanding/Big Idea


Assessment Criteria (students will be able to… student application of Six Facets of Understanding)


Assessment Tool (describe type of assessment tool to be used here - post completed tool with unit)


Assessment Strategy (performance task description)


  Your group's goal is to  identify an evironmental area of concern, research the issue, propose a solution, and execute the plan.


  Students are researchers, analyzers, and problem solvers


  peers, teachers, community members, local government officials


  Students will identify a problem/concern within that ecosystem and propase/execute a plan to take action and make a difference in our world.


  • ·        Students will examine local ecosystems
  • ·        Students will identify a problem/concern within that ecosystem
  • ·        Students will research solution options
  • ·        Students will write a formal proposal to address the problem and solicit support from community members
  • ·        Once approved, students will execute the plan
  • ·         


  rubric?  method for grading?

Evidence of development of supporting understandings, knowledge and skills

(identify assessment criteria, strategies and tools for each)

Humans can have positive and negative impacts on an ecosystem


Strategy: Students will read novels (There’s an Owl in the Shower, Hoot, City of Ember) that demonstrate impacts humans have on ecosystems. Work on improving outdoor classroom.


Tool: Students will participate in class discussions and can reflect on both sides of a conflict found in the novels read. Socratic seminar using Enviornmental comic.


Nonliving components should be protected and conserved

Strategy: Guest Speakers (CO Division of Wildlife/Forestry)

Tool: Using Pixie2 create a brochure persuading people to protect...


Nonliving components are cycled and recycled through ecosystems

Strategy: Composting Unit, Local Ecosystem scav. hunt, Waste Management/Recycle

Tool: Build a compositing bin


Evidence of student application of selected National Educational Technology Standards during the course of the unit? (Note: assessment of the NETS standards should be integrated with assessment of unit understandings, knowledge and skills and embedded within unit learning activities)





Learning Experiences (Stage 3)

Consider the questions in the boxes below as you design learning experiences that support student achievement of desired results.


Service Learning Project with ELC (Environmental Learning Center) – Including a Service Field Trip – Document trip with digital cameras and interview experts with audio recorder.


Schools focus will be on green house school garden.  4th Grade will focus on the compost aspect of the school.


Problem based learning activities:

Incorporating Amphibian Malformations Into Inquiry Based Learning

A Cooperative Classroom (Penguin)


Public Service Announcements using Flip video.


Tech for Learning.com (habitat activity – different habitats)


SPORE video game to use and explain limited resources and predator-prey interactions.



















Use “Where To…” as a tool to assess the quality and scope of unit learning experiences.

How will you cause students to reflect and rethink?  How will you guide them in rehearsing, revising, and refining their work?



Where are your students headed?  Where have they been?  How will you make sure the students know where they are going?


How will you help students to exhibit and self-evaluate their growing skills, knowledge, and understanding throughout the unit?



How will you hook students at the beginning of the unit?

How will you tailor and otherwise personalize the learning plan to optimize the engagement and effectiveness of ALL students, without compromising the goals of the unit?



What events will help students experience and explore the big idea and questions in the unit?  How will you equip them with needed skills and knowledge?

How will you organize and sequence the learning activities to optimize the engagement and achievement of ALL students?





From:  Wiggins, Grant and J. Mc Tighe. (1998). Understanding by Design, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

   ISBN # 0-87120-313-8 (ppk)

Comments (5)

jdurkin@... said

at 3:39 pm on Jan 29, 2010

This is swell, dontcha think?

joyd@... said

at 4:01 pm on Feb 4, 2010

Yes, we do! Actually, we are having difficulty seeing the entire document...the right hand side of page is cut off. Our document looks the same on our Linton site, and we can't figure out how to fix that.
Kay, Laura, and I all love the fact that your rubric will be teacher AND student-created.

jdurkin@... said

at 4:47 pm on Feb 4, 2010

you should click on the arrow at the top to look at the entire document. Toodle Pip!

sschoole@psdschools.org said

at 4:28 pm on Feb 6, 2010

Let me know when you're doing the lessons. I'd like to be a student participating. It sounds like a wide topic, encompassing authentic research, scientific application and critical thinking. Is Environmental comic some formal process, or do you mean comics with environmental themes, so kids can use inference? I was able to see the whole document...I think....just had to scroll to the side a bit.

Jill Brennan said

at 10:45 am on Feb 20, 2010

STARS = YES, big idea is conceptual (rather than thematic) in nature, universal in application, broad and timeless.
Compost Bin is REAL LIFE application – I suppose if it works you have your assessment.
The big idea merits an in-depth exploration by students and leads them to be able to demonstrate an understanding of it.

WE LOVE the Pixie2 brochure – Love the integration of literature – GREAT use of the different levels of understanding + authenticity of relationship to real life!

What is Environmental Comic?
What is the assessment tool?
What will plan execution look like?

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