Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Describe a dead zone in an ocean and the conditions needed to form a dead zone.
- Describe how microorganisms and temperature affect the amount of oxygen in the water.
- Explain the ecological requirements for diatoms.
- Connect climate change to the formation of dead zones.
- 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.
- Identify important scientific issues in the text that the authors leave unresolved.
- Construct a written response 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 diatoms and algae and their role in an ocean ecosystem would be beneficial to students.
- Basic knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of water including how temperature affects the solubility of gases in water
- General knowledge of global warming and its effects on the world's oceans would also benefit the reader.
- A basic understanding of the long term effects hypoxia has on aquatic ecosystems
- A basic understanding of the carbon/oxygen cycle in relationship to a marine ecosystem
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text, skills that include use of context clues and determining word meaning through use of a dictionary.
- Students should have an awareness that authors can organize or structure a text in many different ways. In longer or more complex nonfiction pieces authors sometimes use several types of structures in one text. In "Low-Oxygen 'Dead Zones' in North Pacific Linked to Past Ocean Warming," some of the text structures include cause/effect and description.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in the article for this lesson include: title, subtitle, headings, a photograph, and one caption.
- Based on the writing prompt and writing rubric used with this lesson, 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).
- Based on the writing rubric used with this lesson, 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. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. The site "" has a list of transitions that teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. What are the large-scale implications of climate change on ecosystems?
As more and more research is being published and accepted by scientists on climate change, there is a recognition that entire ecosystems are being affected. There is physical evidence such as an increase in Earth's temperature, rising sea levels, and loss of global sea ice. As a result, the biological portions of ecosystems are also being affected. There is a concern over loss of habitat of organisms, change in the natural range of organisms, and a change in reproductive behavior and hibernation patterns. It is important that these issues are addressed to support policy on climate change.
2. What impact will an oxygen "dead zone" have on the ecology of the ocean in that region?
A "dead zone" means there is little to no oxygen in the water for that region. Without oxygen, the majority of life could not exist as oxygen is a necessity for most of Earth's life forms. Without an oxygen supply, a variety of organisms could die off and the entire ecosystem could collapse.
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 is the difference between abiotic and biotic factors in a marine ecosystem?"
- Students should be able to answer that abiotic refers to the nonliving portions of an ecosystem such as temperature, salinity, pH of water, etc. Biotic factors refer to the living organisms in the ecosystem.
2. Next ask the students, "What effects does an increase in temperature have on water?"
- Students are likely to suggest increased particle motion, evaporation of water, boiling of water, decreased solubility, phase change, and/or density change.
3. Next ask the class the question, "What types of microorganisms can be found in marine ecosystems?"
- At least some students in the class should be able to list phytoplankton, algae or diatoms. If these answers are not provided, background into simple aquatic microorganisms including diatoms may be a quick talking point.
4. Next, ask students, "What do microorganisms require from the water?"
- Students should be able to describe conditions allowing the microorganisms to maintain homeostasis or a stable internal environment. They should list requirements such as nutrients, oxygen, sunlight and a food source.
5. Finally ask students to think about the question, "How are abiotic and biotic factors dependent on each other?" Tell the students to think about this question while they are reading the assigned article.
6. End the discussion by informing students about the location of the North Pacific and that they will be reading an article that addresses oxygen levels in the ocean based on microorganisms and temperature.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "Low-Oxygen 'Dead Zones' in North Pacific Linked to Past Ocean Warming."
2. Have students use text coding to help them identify or take notice of the following as they read the article for the first time.
- Consider using the following text coding:
- D = diatoms
- O2 = oxygen
- DZ = dead zone
- C = climate change
- OW = ocean warming (or just warming)
- Explain to students that whenever they come across information about diatoms, they can write a D in the margin of the text. When the article references oxygen, they can write an O2 in the margin of the text. They will do this for each of the items listed (teachers can add more items or remove certain items to meet the needs of their students.)
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: "Low-Oxygen 'Dead Zones' in North Pacific Linked to Past Ocean Warming"
- Subtitle: Large-scale warming events 10,000-plus years ago triggered loss of oxygen
- Headings: Clear Connection: Past Ocean Warming, and Dead Zone and Ocean Response Times a Concern
- Captions: Located under each photograph
4. Have students read and mark the text (have the text-coding items displayed for students). The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
5. Students should also work to discern the meaning of selected vocabulary from the text during their initial reading of the text, or if it is easier for students, after their first reading of the text. For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words (for example: use of context clues, word parts, or a dictionary). 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.
- Students could use online or print dictionaries to define the following domain-specific words (teachers can add more if they wish): hypoxic, diatom, and flux.
- Hypoxic/Hypoxemia: Inadequate oxygen in the blood.
- Diatom: Unicellular but can form colonies, marine or freshwater algae, having cell walls containing silica. Most diatoms can perform photosynthesis. They make up a large portion of the marine plankton and are an important food source for many aquatic animals.
- Flux: rate of flow of fluids, particles, or energy across a given surface area
- Students could use word parts, context clues, and/or dictionaries to define the following academic vocabulary words: triggered, anomalous, sparse, amplify, reminiscent.
- Triggered: to initiate a chain of events or a scientific reaction; to give rise or set off
- Anomalous: abnormal; deviating from the normal
- Sparse: meager or deficient in quantity
- Amplify: to make larger or greater; to increase in size, extent or effect; enlarge or expand
- Reminiscent: awakening memories of something similar
6. Discuss as a class: "How are abiotic and biotic factors dependent on each other?" Have students use evidence from the article to support their response.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by having students share out what they text-coded in the article and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion. Students can also share out their determined meanings of the vocabulary words and receive feedback to help them correct their work.
2. 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. How do pockets of water differ from each other in the middle of the ocean?
- It would be helpful to remind students to think in terms of specific locations and remind them that not all water is the same. As density, temperature, and other properties of water change, the water itself will change. There is so much water, these conditions cannot quickly affect all of the water at once. This leads to pockets of water that differ from the surrounding water. Ultimately the outer edges of this different water will interact and spread or contract, but this can take a very long time depending on the size and effect of water difference.
2. The particle motion of water as it undergoes a temperature increase
- While detailed knowledge of the properties of water isn’t essential to understanding the text, it would likely help students visualize what they are reading. It may be beneficial to discuss as water heats up, the particles move faster. As the particles move faster, there is greater space between the particles and the density slightly decreases. Because of the particle motion and the added space between them, solutes, such as dissolved oxygen, become harder to hold on to and evaporate out of the ocean.
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?):
- 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.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key included with the text-dependent questions to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the answer key with the text-dependent questions and writing prompt, it addresses common errors/misconceptions with several of those items.
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.
2. After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample responses with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response.
The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with an LCD projector and discuss some of the following:
- Point out the structure of the introduction, the use of some specifics, and where the writer makes the main point clear. Connect the main point back to the writing prompt to help students see how this writer's response is answering what was asked of them.
- Have students identify use of specific evidence from the text, particularly in paragraph two and three, that the writer uses to support the main point.
- Have students identify correct use of science vocabulary from the text within the written response. For example, paragraph one uses "ecosystem." Paragraph two uses "dead zones" and "geologic record." Paragraph three uses "algal blooms."
- Help students identify different uses of transition words or phrases in each of the three paragraphs to help their writing flow more effectively.
- Point out to students how the writer brings the response to a close in the last few sentences of paragraph three.
3. At the very end of the lesson, teachers might wish to provide the two guiding questions for this lesson to students and have them respond in writing as part of an exit ticket. Students can use evidence from the article to support their response.
- What are the large-scale implications of climate change on ecosystems?
- What impact will an oxygen "dead zone" have on the ecology of the ocean in that region?
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 a conclusion or concluding statement. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the writing prompt 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.
- The prompt: Why do you think it is so important for scientists to be able to gather evidence from the past to research the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems? Use information from the text to support your answer.
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."