Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Outline the steps undertaken by USAID and the Panthera Foundation in implementing the jaguar corridor conservation program.
- Identify both the successes and any potential drawbacks of the completed program.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Determine the central ideas of the text.
- Examine the text to identify important issues or questions that the author leaves unresolved or unanswered.
- Construct a written argument that clearly establishes the main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science:
- General familiarity with jaguars or large carnivores would be beneficial to students. This site offers a brief and simple overview of some basic jaguar facts:
- Basic knowledge of species interactions and predator-prey dynamics, as well as how these interactions can be shaped by ecological factors such as habitat loss and fragmentation, would be helpful. At the least, students should understand that the population of a prey animal can affect the population of its predator and that animal populations are influenced by a variety of abiotic and biotic factors including adequate habitat availability. For instance, students should understand that deer populations will decrease if usable habitat and food sources for the animals decrease and that a decrease in the deer population may eventually affect the population of the animal's predators, such as the jaguar.
- General knowledge of farming practices such as grazing cattle and the purpose of increasing pasture productivity and high quality food for livestock animals would be of benefit to students reading the article. Students do not need to understand a lot of detail here, but should know that cattle require pastureland for food and that ranchers may clear forested areas in order to create additional pastureland. Also, students should know that feeding livestock a higher quality food can help the animal produce more milk or better meat, grow faster, and/or ultimately be more profitable to the farmer or rancher.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial. In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
- Students should understand the term "central idea" and be able to distinguish central ideas from key details.
- "Central idea" means the same thing as "main idea." The central idea is the author's main point about the topic or topics in a text. The central ideas are the dominant, most important, or chief ideas that emerge from all the ideas presented in a text. Students should be aware that the author can have several main points he or she wants to make about the topic or topics in a piece of writing, and as a result, there can be multiple central ideas in a text, especially in longer more complex pieces.
- Key, or in other words, important, details in a text help an author support and develop his or her central ideas.
- Students should have an awareness that authors can organize or structure a text in many different ways. In longer, more complex nonfiction pieces authors sometimes use several types of structures in one text. In "Jaguar Corridor Lights Up Eastern Colombia," some of the text structures include cause/effect, problem/solution, and sequence.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in USAID's jaguar article include: title, subtitle, headings, photographs, and captions.
- Students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
- Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next. Often students will remember to use transitions at the start of the body paragraphs or conclusion paragraph, but will forget to use them in the midst of paragraphs to connect ideas or to make the content within each paragraph flow. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. This site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
Main investigation questions: While students are reading and answering questions about the article, please use the questions below to help guide students' thinking:
1. Why was there a need for a jaguar conservation program in eastern Colombia?
Jaguars were experiencing population decline in the area and were clashing with ranchers, resulting in a lot of frustration. Jaguars were killing large numbers of cattle in the area, threatening the ranchers' livelihoods, and in turn the ranchers were killing jaguars. The article also mentions a practical reason for protecting jaguars: they may prey upon and control animal populations that could threaten human health. Additionally, there is a simple ethical argument for conserving and protecting wilderness and wild animals.
2. How did the program achieve the goal of separating jaguars from cattle?
The first step was stabling cattle while the jaguar corridor was being created. Once the corridor was identified and established, cattle were moved away from the corridor and electric fences were raised to prevent jaguars from entering farms.
3. How did ranchers benefit from the program?
In additional to learning about land management practices, which could increase the sustainability and profitability of their farms, ranchers received a surprise benefit from the program: they realized they could generate enough electricity to power their homes from the solar electric fences used to keep jaguars off their land!
4. Is this an effective conservation program? Why or why not?
The program was very successful in the area according to the article. It was a win/win for jaguars and ranchers. But the larger jaguar corridor, current status of the program, and potential challenges moving forward are not addressed.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by posing a general question to the class: "What types of animals do you think need the most space (other than humans of course!)?"
- Students are likely to suggest large animals or animals that are commonly known to have long migrations, such as some species of birds, sea animals, and ungulates. List the animals students suggest on a whiteboard or projector for the class to see. Students are also likely to suggest large cats or other carnivores at some point, and the teacher should steer the discussion to focus in on the habitat requirements of these types of animals.
- The teacher may want to consider using the example of a large carnivore that lives relatively close to students, to help them better conceptualize the habitat and space requirements for a large animal living alongside humans. The Florida panther would be a great example to use here. Ask students questions to help them focus on large cat ecology and assess background knowledge, such as "Why do you think many large cats need a lot of space?" or "What might happen if only a small amount of space was available to a large cat?"
- Students are likely to know that many species of large cats are solitary or live in small groups. Thus, they might answer that cats require a lot of space because they don't share territory with many members of their own species. They might also speculate that cats need a wide range in order to hunt their natural prey, often wide ranging ungulates. Students might guess that a large cat would become depressed if not enough space was available to it, that the animal might fight with other individuals within its species, or that it simply might not be able to find enough food to survive.
2. Next, ask the class the question: "What is habitat fragmentation?"
- At least some students in the class should be able to define this term (the division of a large area of habitat into isolated smaller patches of habitat, likely resulting from anthropogenic impacts). Even if students are not familiar with the term in an ecological context, they should be able to guess at the meaning simply by defining the words.
3. Next, ask students: "Of the animals we listed earlier requiring large amounts of space, which do you think are most impacted by habitat fragmentation?"
- Students might speculate as to which animals are more impacted than others, but the central point to arrive at is that all animals requiring a large amount of space can be severely impacted by habitat fragmentation. However, land animals with no ability to move successfully between isolated patches of habitat may be particularly at risk.
4. End the discussion by informing students that the jaguar is one such animal and that we will be reading an article that addresses one of the consequences of habitat loss faced by jaguars and a conservation program intended to address it.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "Jaguar Corridor Lights Up Eastern Colombia." For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section. They can also number the sections. (Section 1 follows the subtitle, section 2- "Avoiding Invasion," section 3- "The Electric Moment," section 4- "Practical Reasons.")
2. Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
3. Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Jaguar Corridor Lights Up Eastern Colombia
- Subtitle: A USAID-funded buffer zone keeps the highly capable predator away from ranchers, while imparting sustainable cattle practices along the frontier.
- Headings: Avoiding Invasion, The Electric Moment, Practical Reasons
- Captions: Located under each photograph
4. Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- Note: Based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the note-taking guide.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words.
5. If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
- Capable (Section 1, paragraph 2): having power or ability; skillful. Encourage students to use context clues. Remind them that context clues can sometimes come after a word is used. In this case, in the next paragraph the author provides an example of one rancher who lost 22 cattle in two years. This number illustrates how skillful a predator a jaguar is.
- Sustainable (Used in numerous places in the text, including the subtitle and paragraphs 1, 5, 6 in section 2): Encourage students to use a dictionary. Dictionary.com lists 5 different meanings of this word. Have students "plug" these meanings back into a few places in the text where the word is used in order to determine which meaning is the correct one. Students should select meaning three: able to be maintained or kept going, as an action or a process.
- Conservation (Used in numerous places, including section 1, paragraph 6; section 2, paragraphs 4 and 6; section 3, paragraph 5): preservation and protection. Encourage students to use context clues. One of the best context clues comes in section 1, paragraph 6. It stresses the pathway is used to protect jaguars crossing through the Andes Mountains. Also in section 2, paragraph 4 students can deduce that the jaguar corridor keeps the cattle and jaguar separate and if they remain separated, the jaguar will not eat the cattle and thus the ranchers should not have a reason to shoot and kill the jaguar. Therefore, the project was able to promote the preservation of the jaguar.
- Corridor (Used in numerous places, including the title; section 2, paragraphs 1 and 2): a narrow tract of land forming a passageway. Teachers might point out to students that in section 1, paragraph 6, the author describes an 11-mile natural pathway to protect jaguars crossing through the Andes Mountains. Then in the next sentence, the author states, "The first step was to identify the safest corridor area and define buffer zone boundaries." In the next paragraph it describes moving farms out of the corridor areas. Students could use the combination of these clues to infer that "corridor" means a pathway that jaguars will use to cross safely past and around the cattle ranches. The jaguar and cattle will be kept separated through the use of electric fences along the corridor.
- Restoration (Section 2, paragraph 5): the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment. Encourage students to use a dictionary and examine the different meanings for the word used as a noun. Have students "plug" the various meanings into the word as it is used in the text to determine the best meaning.
- Coexist (Section 3, paragraph 1): exist together at the same time or in the same place. Encourage students to use context clues and also the pre-fix "co," which in this case means "together, jointly, or mutually." Have students think about what the word "exist" means: to live or continue to be. Putting these together, students might determine the word means to continue to live or be together, with neither species eliminating the other (jaguars not preying on the cattle). In the same sentence where “coexist” is used, the author follows with the phrase "ensure their survival." This can be a context clue that both cattle and jaguars have been able to continue to survive living near one another but separated through use of the corridor.
- Delineate (Section 3, paragraph 2): to sketch or trace in outline. Encourage students to use both context clues and a dictionary. Dictionary.com provides two meanings of the word. Students can narrow it to the first definition by paying attention to the details provided in the paragraph where the word is used in the text. The fence building and tree planting is tracing or outlining the corridor, the corridor that separates the pathway from the farms.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guide, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
3. For discussion on students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
1. Conservation programs only concern/benefit the animal of focus.
It would be helpful to remind students to think in broader terms about the benefits of the jaguar corridor program. While the focus is on jaguar conservation and finding a sustainable way for cattle and jaguars to coexist, ecosystem dynamics are always complex webs of many relationships between species. Conservation of an apex predator and its associated habitat is certain to affect many other species as well.
2. Jaguars are the same as leopards, panthers, or other large cats.
While detailed knowledge of the traits and characteristics of jaguars as compared to other large cats isn't essential to understanding the text, it would likely help students to be able to visualize the cat. It may be beneficial to show students some pictures of jaguars, in addition to the picture included with the article. Remind students that jaguars are typically spotted like leopards and that black cats are not actually panthers but are jaguars of a specific color morph. Roughly 6 percent of jaguars are black. Jaguars are also very large (rather than smaller like bobcats) and solitary (as opposed to cats that live in groups such as lions).
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
1. Before students complete the writing prompt:
- Be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
2. After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. Going over how the response is structured, pointing out ways to open and close the piece, showing use of effective transitions, and pointing out places to incorporate the natural use of vocabulary can really help students grow in their own writing skills for future writing tasks. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with an LCD projector and discuss some of the following:
- Have students examine how the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph. (Students often struggle with ideas in how to start a written response, and they often want to repeat the prompt back in the first sentence because they are not sure what other options they have. Go over how this writer opened his or her piece of writing. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.)
- Point out the use of some textual specifics in the introduction that quickly illustrate a few of the successes of this program.
- Point out the last sentence of the introduction and how the writer made the main point clear. Direct the students back to the prompt and remind them the main part of the prompt asked them to take a position on whether or not they believed the program was a success.
- Point out the start of paragraph two, how it ties back to the main point, how it addresses part of the writing prompt, and how the rest of this paragraph should be about the benefits of the program.
- Point out the writer's use of transitions in paragraph two. Also, point out the use of textual evidence throughout this paragraph.
- In paragraph three, point out how this paragraph supports the main point and ties back to the writing prompt.
- In the final paragraph, point out how the concluding sentences support the main point. Brainstorm with students additional ideas about how to wrap up the piece. (For example, the introduction began with a reference to the cattle ranchers living in the dark. How might the conclusion include a reference to the light that this conservation program gave? This would allow the conclusion to connect back nicely to the introduction.)
- Throughout the sample response, have students identify the effective use of domain-specific vocabulary, including predation, habitat, prey, predators. Have them identify the use of academic vocabulary such as sustainable and corridor.
- As one final option, teachers might want students to use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a 4.
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
3. Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
The prompt: Analyze the effectiveness of USAID and the Panthera Foundation's jaguar corridor program in eastern Columbia. Using evidence from the text to argue whether or not you believe the program is a success and why, outline both the benefits and potential drawbacks of the program and identify any questions about the program that remain unanswered.
4. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting the Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson.
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."