By: Patricia A. Warren and Janet R. Galle
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Exploring Ecology: 49 Ready-to-Use Activities for Grades 4-8
|Type of Product:||NSTA Press Book (also see downloadable PDF version of this book)
|Grade Level:||Elementary School, Middle School
|Read Inside:||Read a sample chapter: Management, Mechanics, and Miscellany
Our reviewers—top-flight teachers and other outstanding science educators—have determined that this resource is among the best available supplements for science teaching.
[Read the full review]
Get out of the classroom and into the field, where students can get up close and personal with the environment. Exploring Ecology gets you ready and then tells you what to do when you get there. It’s a collection of hands-on, inquiry-based activities developed and written by two teachers who test-drove them with their own students. The book can be used for an eight-week unit on ecology or for shorter, one- or two-week units. Designed specifically for easy use, Exploring Ecology combines content with activities, all in one place, and organized into four clear sections.
After starting with Management, Mechanics, and Miscellany, which includes guidance on safety, preparation, materials, and discipline, the authors get to the activities:
• The Basic Introduction to Ecology covers basic ecological concepts, including populations, communities, food webs, and energy flow with 35 in-class and outside activities that prepare students for their trip.
• The Field Trip: Applying Ecology Concepts offers practical suggestions on site selection and organizing the students and their materials, plus four before- and after-the-trip activities. • Integration and Extension provides 10 more activities to integrate other disciplines—language arts, social studies, and art—and extend the students’ understanding of Earth as an ecosystem.
Although the book is targeted to teachers of science in grades 4–8, many activities have been adapted for students ranging from first grade to high school. The material is also suitable for nature centers and summer camps.
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Scientific habits of mind
Human population growth
|Intended User Role:||Elementary-Level Educator, Middle-Level Educator, New Teacher, Teacher
|Educational Issues:||Assessment of students, Classroom management, Curriculum, Educational research, Informal education, Inquiry learning, Instructional materials, Interdisciplinary, Professional development, Science safety, Teacher content knowledge, Teacher preparation, Teaching strategies
Section I: Management, Mechanics, and Miscellany
Section II: A Basic Introduction to Ecology
• Part 1: Ecology
• Part 2: Populations
• Part 3: Communities
• Part 4: Food Web and Energy Flow
Section III: The Field Trip: Applying Ecology Concepts
Section IV: Integration and Extension
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National Standards Correlation
This resource has 68 correlations with the National Standards.
- Life Science
- Regulation and behavior
- All organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce, and maintain stable internal conditions while living in a constantly changing external environment. (5-8)
- An organism's behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment. (5-8)
- How a species moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger are based in the species' evolutionary history (5-8)
- Populations and ecosystems
- A population consists of all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time. (5-8)
- All populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem. (5-8)
- Populations of organisms can be categorized by the function they serve in an ecosystem. (5-8)
- Plants and some micro-organisms are producers--they make their own food. (5-8)
- All animals, including humans, are consumers, which obtain food by eating other organisms. (5-8)
- Decomposers, primarily bacteria and fungi, are consumers that use waste materials and dead organisms for food. (5-8)
- Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem. (5-8)
- For ecosystems, the major source of energy is sunlight. (5-8)
- Energy entering ecosystems as sunlight is transferred by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis. (5-8)
- Energy passes from organism to organism in food webs (5-8)
- Biotic parts of an ecosystem include animals, plants, and microorganisms. (5-8)
- The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition.
- Given adequate biotic and abiotic resources and no disease or predators, populations (including humans) increase at rapid rates. (5-8)
- Lack of resources and other factors, such as predation and climate, limit the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystem. (5-8)
- Earth Science
- Properties of earth materials
- Earth materials are solid rocks and soils, water, and the gases of the atmosphere.
- Soils have properties of color and texture, capacity to retain water, and ability to support the growth of many kinds of plants, including those in our food supply.
- Structure of the earth system
- Soil consists of weathered rocks and decomposed organic material from dead plants, animals, and bacteria. (5-8)
- Soils are often found in layers, with each having a different chemical composition and texture. (5-8)
- Water, which covers the majority of the earth's surface, circulates through the crust, oceans, and atmosphere in what is known as the "water cycle." (5-8)
- Water evaporates from the earth's surface, rises and cools as it moves to higher elevations, condenses as rain or snow, and falls to the surface where it collects in lakes, oceans, soil, and in rocks underground. (5-8)
- Geochemical cycles
- The earth is a system containing essentially a fixed amount of each stable chemical atom or element. Each element can exist in several different chemical reservoirs. (9-12)
- Each element on earth moves among reservoirs in the solid earth, oceans, atmosphere, and organisms as part of geochemical cycles. (9-12)
- Movement of matter between reservoirs is driven by the earth's internal and external sources of energy. (9-12)
- The movement of matter is often accompanied by a change in the physical and chemical properties of the matter. (9-12)
- Carbon occurs in carbonate rocks such as limestone, in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide gas, in water as dissolved carbon dioxide. (9-12)
- Carbon occurs in all organisms as complex molecules that control the chemistry of life. (9-12)
- Science as Inquiry
- Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
- Ask a question about objects, organisms, and events in the environment. (K-4)
- Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses. (K-4)
- Use data to construct a reasonable explanation.
- Communicate investigations and explanations.
- Identify questions that can be answered through scientific investigations.
- Design and conduct a scientific investigation.
- Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
- Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.
- Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
- Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions.
- Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
- Understandings about scientific inquiry
- Types of investigations include describing objects, events, and organisms; classifying them; and doing a fair test (experimenting).
- Scientists develop explanations using observations (evidence) and what they already know about the world (scientific knowledge). Good explanations are based on evidence from investigations. (K-4)
- Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
- Characteristics and changes in populations
- Human populations include groups of individuals living in a particular location.
- One important characteristic of a human population is the population density--the number of individuals of a particular population that lives in a given amount of space.
- Types of resources
- The supply of many resources is limited.
- If used, resources can be extended through recycling and decreased use.
- Changes in environments
- Pollution is a change in the environment that can influence the health, survival, or activities of organisms, including humans.
- Populations, resources, and environments
- When an area becomes overpopulated, the environment will become degraded due to the increased use of resources. (5-8)
- Natural hazards
- Internal and external processes of the earth system cause natural hazards (disasters), events that change or destroy human and wildlife habitats, damage property, and harm or kill humans. (5-8)
- Human activities can induce hazards through resource acquisition. Such activities accelerate many natural changes. (5-8)
- Human activities also can induce hazards through urban growth. Such activities accelerate many natural changes. (5-8)
- Human activities also can induce hazards through land-use decisions. Such activities accelerate many natural changes. (5-8)
- Risks and benefits
- Important personal and social decisions are made based on perceptions of benefits and risks. (5-8)
- Process Standards for Professional Development
- Uses learning strategies appropriate to the intended goal. (NSDC)
- Build on the teacher's current science understanding, ability, and attitudes. (NSES)
- Content Standards
- Quality Teaching
- Deepens educators’ content knowledge, provides them with research-based instructional strategies to assist students in meeting rigorous academic standards, and prepares them to use various types of classroom assessments appropriately. (NSDC)
- Teaching Standards
- Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students.
- Select science content and adapt and design curricula to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students.
- Select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners.
- Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers
- Orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas.
- Teachers of science engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning.
- Analyze assessment data to guide teaching.
- Use student data, observations of teaching, and interactions with colleagues to report student achievement and opportunities to learn to students, teachers, parents, policy makers, and the general public.
- Teachers provide students with the time, space, and resources needed to learn science.
- Structure the time available so that students are able to engage in extended investigations.
- Create a setting for student work that is flexible and supportive of science inquiry.
- Identify and use resources outside
- Teachers of science actively participate in the ongoing planning and development of the school science program.
- Plan and develop the school science program.
- Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry.
- Structure and facilitate ongoing formal and informal discussion based on a shared understanding of rules of scientific discourse.
- Model and emphasize the skills, attitudes, and values of scientific inquiry.
- Nurture collaboration among students.
“Inquiry-based ecology lessons designed to get students outdoors are presented in a friendly format…. Teachers in grades 4–8, and even higher, will find this book to be a useful addition to their bookshelves.”
Curriculum Connections, School Library Journal, Spring 2006
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