On February 28th, 2019 I was able to teach Ms. Dougan’s seventh grade class at McDonough Middle School in Hartford, Conneticut. My lesson plan is focused on helping students understand how energy is transferred throughout an ecosystem. In order to execute this plan I focused my lesson on food chains and food webs in marine ecosystems as requested by Ms. Dougan. Prior to my lesson, the students have not learned about food webs so I also needed to adjust my lesson to ensure I cover the basics for understanding how an ecosystem works. The classroom itself is a 7th grade science class, composed of roughly 15 students and is one of the less engaged classes that Ms. Dougan teaches. Luckily, there was a smart monitor available to display presentations and videos with sound to assist in my lesson plan. In addition, there is a daily learning target that students write down and a word wall containing a list of key terms they will be using for the lesson. The learning objectives for my lesson plan are as follows.
Essential Question: How is energy transferred throughout an ecosystem Design Problem: Food chains and food webs in Marine ecosystems. Specific Learning Performance: Students will develop models to show how energy is transferred among living and nonliving things. Students will make connections to show how small changes in one part of a system may cause change in another part of a system in a system of cycling matter. Daily Learning Target: We will understand how energy is transferred between producers, consumers, and decomposers in the marine ecosystem.
At the start of class, as students were walking into the class I was playing whale sounds in the background, I handed each student two flashcards, a Do-It-Now sheet, and explained to them to: write down the name of two animals that live in that ocean on the flashcards, one being a prey and one being a predator, and to write down the Daily Learning Target posted on the wall.
For my introduction with the class I began by asking the students what sounds they believe were playing in the background.
Following the whale sounds I began to a video from flocabulary explaining food web systems which can be seen below in the video. Along with the song I printed out lyrics for the students to follow along, which were obtained from the same site. This video was used as the basis for teaching students how an ecosystem works and how energy transforms between organisms. Key terms that were discussed in the video were highlighted in the lyrics printed out as well as posted on the word wall.
After the video I began my presentation on marine food webs and asked the students to identify whether the species of animals displayed were producers, consumers, and decomposers. After going through each type and explaining the marine food web further, I decided to assess the students understanding by having them build a food web.
At the very start of class I had students write down two animals from the sea that they considered prey and predators. Some students could not come up with some so I had prepared so flashcards of animals that fall in the herbivore, predator, consumer, decomposer, and producer categories. To start this activity I began by asking students to name a producer that they believe they wrote down or would like to write down. If they had an answer, I asked them to tape the animal up on paper to begin building the class food web.
After going through each category, we had produced a food web and I reviewed with the class how the energy flows through this food web. I also included the sun and and humans in this food web to help students understand further how the sun plays a role in this food web and how humans also play a role, along with where they stand in this web. After building the food web I then asked the student to refer back to their Do-It-Now paper and begin creating their own story where they take on the role of one of the organisms in the ocean. In their story they had to use 8 of the 10 terms on the word wall to explain where they fall on the food web, where they get their energy from, and what they might have to watch out for. Following this, I then offered the students an opportunity to taste seaweed. A lot of the students tried it and either loved it or found it disgusting. With this experience I then proposed that the seaweed they just ate went extinct. The students now had to write another story where the seaweed went extinct. The students then had to explain how they are affected by this and what it means for their food web.
To end the class I then wrapped up the lesson by going through review questions on the flocabulary website from earlier. Sadly the video for that part of the class was not filmed. The students then answered questions using the ten terms that we learned that day in regards to the ecosystem. This was another method used in which to asses whether the students understand what was taught that day. Throughout the lesson I tried to use references students might know about in regards to the ocean such as spongebob or finding nemo. I also provided seaweed for the students to try as another form of learning how energy is transferred. This was one method i used in order to provide an equitable lesson.
During the lesson it was difficult at times to gauge whether or not the students were learning or if they were actively choosing to not learn since they did not wish to be there. Besides having this issue with a few students, the students who did actively engage were able to answer questions effortlessly and rapidly. I know that the active students understood how the marine food web works and how energy transfers between organisms thanks to the review questions at the end of class. When asked to match a word to the definition, the students were able to recognize the answer shortly after the definition was portrayed. I knew they understood which term matched the definition because I would ask them questions as to why the other terms did not suit the definition. The students not only understood which term matched which definitions and pictures, but they also understood why the other terms did not. The flocabulary video describing the food web went well since students began bopping to the music and were able to answer questions throughout the class about the food web. When we were piecing together our food web, students were eager to match an animal to the category we were discussing and tape it to the food web. When designing their own story, some students were struggling. One of the reasons for this was because some students did not know how to spell. Another difficulty I had was deciding whether the students were confused on the terms or whether they simply did not want to work on the assignment so they pretended not to know anything. One way in which I plan to work on this in the future is by providing assessment assignments that do not require writing since the students were most deterred from this assignment. Even the students who were least engaged participated in the food web design since it did not require writing. One reason I think students are deterred from writing is because they are not confident in their writing skills.
Video, lyrics, and quiz of food webs: https://www.flocabulary.com/unit/ecosystems/
Whale Sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=savCAd6RyPI