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Ecology: A Look at Communities

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Objectives:

  • The students will learn about animal communities.

  • The students will be able to explain animal communities.

  • The students will be able to give examples of plant-animal relationships, plant-plant relationships, and animal-animal relationships.

  • The students will be able to describe how different plants and animals work together to create a community.

Questions that encompasses the objective:

  • Think about your neighborhood. How many people do you think live in your neighborhood?

  • Are all the people the same?

  • Do they all have the same job?

Prepare the Learner: Activating Prior Knowledge. 

How will students prior knowledge be activated?

Warm up by asking students:

  • What do you know about communities?

  • What do you know about communities of animals in an ecosystem?

Common Core State Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.4

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4

Materials and Free Resources to Download for this Lesson: 

**Students need to have access to information sources. If computers are available for use, allow the students to look up information on the computer. If not, allow the students to use encyclopedias or other books. Prior to the start of the lesson, the teacher could have the students choose an animal. The teacher could then provide information sheets about the student’s chosen animal**

  • Crayons/Markers/Colored Pencils

Input:
What is the most important content in this lesson?
To reach this lesson’s objective, students need to understand:

  • The definition of “community” (in the sense of ecology)

  • How there may be many plants and animals living in one habitat.

  • How plants and animals work together to form a community in an ecosystem.

  • How plants and animals rely on each other for survival.

How will the learning of this content be facilitated?

  • The teacher will begin the class by handing out the worksheet: “Communities”. This worksheet is divided into two columns: “Human Communities” and “Plant and Animal Communities”. In each column, the students will write characteristics of each community. For example, in the “Human Communities” column the students can write “People live in houses that can be in communities”, “Some people work in stores and other people work in offices., etc. Allow the students to work for about 5 to 7 minutes. Review when time is up. The teacher should begin a discussion about the worksheet and the two types of communities. It is important to explain that plants and animals live in communities just like humans do. In a community of people, you have homes, stores, schools, and other buildings. All the people are different—different ethnic backgrounds, different races, different cultures, etc. These people work together to create a community—we have people who are teachers and teach children; we have people who are doctors and treat sick people. Everyone works together and, in a way, everyone relies on each other. Pose this question to the students: If you and your family lived in a town where, suddenly, all the schools closed? What would happen?  The students should respond with statements, including: moving to another town, trying to find a way to open another school. It is important to connect this question to nature—when a community of animals and plants work together, everyone/ everything can survive. If a plant or animal dies off or leaves, the change creates problems for the entire community.

  • After the worksheet and discussion, the teacher should show the video: “Plant and Animal Communities of Wyoming”. (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v6nmMfFOx4) The video is only about two minutes long and discusses the plant and animal communities of the state of Wyoming. This video will provide a visual of plant and animal communities. After the video, the teacher should discuss what the students observed/ the content of the video. The teacher should ask the students what animals they saw in the video.

**If the students are unfamiliar with Wyoming, it is important to provide this brief description: Wyoming is a state located in the Western United States. Wyoming has many plains and mountains (Rocky Mountains are located there)**

  • Next, the teacher will hand out the worksheet “Plant and Animal Communities” If it is possible, project the “Plant and Animal Communities” worksheet onto the board using a projector or put into a PowerPoint document and project. As the teacher explains the worksheet, the students should fill in the blank spaces. From this worksheet, the students will learn about how plants and animals work together to create a community.

**The student worksheet does not contain all this information. Use this as a guide to explain plant and animal communities more in-depth to the students.**

  • In ecology (study of relationships between organisms and their environments) a community refers to a set of organisms living together (coexisting) in each area (i.e., pond, swamp, coral reef, desert). In science, the term “given (each) area” depends upon who is studying the community; you will see a difference in community description. For example, one scientist might just study coral reefs while another scientist might study the entire ocean. 

  • The organisms (plants and animals) rely on each for survival. For example, in the African wild a zebra eats grass and the lion eats the zebra.

  • The term “biodiversity” refers to the different organisms and plants that exist in a community.

  • Communities can be simple or complex—some communities may contain just a few types of organisms (animals and plants), while others contain plants, animals, bacteria, etc.

  • In a habitat, there are three different relationships/ interactions that scientists look at: animal-plant relationships, animal-animal relationships, and plant-plant relationships.

  • Animal-Plant: a zebra relies on grass as a source of food; birds build nests in trees.

  • Animal-Animal: competition between squirrels for acorns; a hawk relies on a rabbit as a source of food

  • Plant-Plant: smaller plants may be deprived sunlight depending on their location (blocked by tall trees)

**At this point, the teacher should show the students the pictures of the food chain and the food web. The teacher should provide just an overview of the food chain/ food web. Use the pictures as a visual to explain how one organism relies on another. A more in-depth look at the food chain/ food web will be provided in the lesson “A Place to Call Home: A Look at Habitats”**

Instruct the students to complete the activity at the bottom of the page. Give the students about 3 minutes to complete. Review when the students are finished.

Information Sources:

  • After the worksheet is completed, the students will participate in an activity called “Animal Community”. Each student will get an “Animal Community” worksheet. The students will research an animal. The student must find this information: habitat (where the animal lives), what type of home it has (nest, cave, etc.), type of animal (mammal, reptile, etc.), interactions- what the animal relies on for food (plants, animals, or both). (Refer to the materials section on how students will obtain the research material).  In the blank space on the worksheet, the students will draw a picture  of their animal. Allow the students to work for about 10-15 minutes. Reconvene and discuss when the students are finished.

  • The final assessment will be for the students to answer the question:

Think about what you learned in class today. What is ecology? What is a community (ecology definition)? What does the word “coexisting” mean? Do animals rely on each other for survival? How many different relationships/ interactions are there in a community? What are they? Name an example of one of the relationships/ interactions.

Time/Application
3-5 minutes
Guided Introduction

Review the class/ agenda with the students:

10 minutes

Introductory Activity: “Communities” Worksheet

  • Hand out the “Communities” worksheet.

  • Allow the students 5-7 minutes to write down characteristics of human and animal communities.

  • Review when time is up.

15 Minutes

Discussion | Video | “Plant & Animal Communities” Worksheet

  • Begin a discussion about communities—how plants and animals live in the same habitat and rely on each other.

  • Show the students the video: “Plant & Animal Communities of Wyoming” by Exploring the Nature of Wyoming | UWyo Extension. Discuss the content after the video is over.

  • Hand out the “Plant & Animal Communities” worksheet.

  • Project the worksheet onto the board either through a projector or PowerPoint presentation.

  • Students will fill in the blank spaces on their worksheet while the teacher presents.

15 Minutes

Activity: “Animal Community”

  • Give each student an “Animal Community” worksheet.

  • The students will research an animal. The student must find this information: habitat (where the animal lives), what type of home it has (nest, cave, etc.), type of animal (mammal, reptile, etc.), what the animal relies on for food (plants, animals, or both). (Refer to the materials section on how students will obtain the research material).  

  • Allow the students to work for about 10-15 minutes. Reconvene and discuss when the students are finished.

Closure/Assessment
15 minutes

Independent Assessment:

  • As an independent assessment, the students will answer the question:  

Think about what you learned in class today. What is ecology? What is a community (ecology definition)? What does the word “coexisting” mean? Do animals rely on each other for survival?How many different relationships/ interactions are there in a community? What are they? Name an example of one of the relationships/ interactions.

  • Appropriate answers should include (but will vary):

Ecology is the study of relationships between organisms and their environments.  A community, defined for ecology, is a set of organisms living together (coexisting) in each area (i.e., pond, swamp, coral reef, desert). The word “coexisting” means, “living together”. In the wild, animals rely on each other for survival. In a community, there are three types of relationships/ interactions: animal-animal; animal-plant; plant-plant. An example of animal-animal is a bear eating a rabbit; an example of animal-plant is a rabbit eating grass; an example of plant-plant would be a tall tree blocking sunlight from a shrub.

  • If there is additional time, discuss questions from the classifying objects activity.


Individualized Instruction/Scaffolding

English Language Learners will be supported in this lesson through data-based heterogeneous grouping, verbal and written repetition of new vocabulary words, and multiple representation of vocabulary words through printed images and video.

Classifying Animals PowerPoint & Activities
Ecosystems, Biomes, and Habitats PowerPoint and Activities