Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 9, 10
Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: polar bear, ecosystem, tundra, habitat, environment, populations, climate change, global warming, sea ice, Arctic, seals, text complexity, lesson plan
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Explain how loss of Arctic sea ice affects populations of Arctic polar bears.
- Recognize and identify that when one population in an ecosystem is impacted, such as the Arctic polar bear, it can affect the entire ecosystem.
- 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.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes a 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?
- Students should understand abiotic and biotic factors in an environment. As a review, show titled "Biotic and Abiotic Factors" (10:05, uploaded by YouTube user Bozeman Science).
- Students should have some basic background information on polar bears.
- For information on the ecosystem of a polar bear, watch this documentary titled "Arctic Kingdom: Life at the Edge" (53:37, uploaded by YouTube user Superb Documentaries). The film is quite long, so it is recommended to just watch portions of it.
- 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 be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in this article include the title, subtitle, 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. This site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- Why is the loss of sea ice so devastating for polar bears?
- Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt for their prey, mostly seals. Polar bears hunt and feed during the coldest months of the year; during the summers, they are not as successful at feeding and may go many weeks without eating. As summers lengthen and winters shorten, their lives will be threatened.
- How does the impact on polar bear populations affect the rest of the ecosystem?
- Polar bears are considered a "keystone species" in the Arctic. This means they have a major impact on the rest of the ecosystem. When that species is negatively affected, its causes ripples through the rest of the ecosystem.
- What are some examples of climate change that have specific identifiable negative results?
- With rising temperatures, sea ice doesn't have as many days during the year to grow. There are fewer freezing days than in the past, which causes longer summers but shorter winters. If polar bears do most of their feeding during the winter and spring, they have fewer opportunities to feed. The polar bear pups are born in the summer and are ready to feed in the fall, while the mother of the pups hasn't eaten for months; if they don't have a way to catch food, they will go longer and longer without the necessary nutrition.
- What will happen to polar bears if the amount of Arctic sea ice continues to recede?
- Polar bears are going to have to learn to hunt in other ways if the sea ice continues to recede. They will have to adapt or move to colder areas. There may not be as many polar bears left, as the mothers may not able to keep their cubs alive long enough for them to make it to adulthood. There may not be enough polar bear mates to reproduce a next generation.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Open the attached PowerPoint supplied in this lesson and project it on screen for students.
- Go through each slide, asking the following questions at appropriate points:
- What do we know about climate change? (Students may or may not know that climate change is related to our atmosphere containing a much higher than normal amount of carbon dioxide.)
- Does climate change affect all parts of the world the same? Which areas do you think have the greatest impact?
- How does climate change impact humans? How do you think it impacts other organisms? (Students will bring up all sorts of examples they may have learned about: certain reptiles, birds, and maybe even polar bears. Accept all responses.)
- What kind of impact does global warming have on these organisms? (They might talk about the feeding season, breeding, loss of habitat, or the temperature of the incubation of eggs in reptiles.) Correct any misconceptions or just note them for later discussions.
- What about polar bears? How do you think climate change affects polar bears? (Polar bears have adapted to use sea ice to hunt for their main source of food, seals. However, with global climate change, the sea ice has been declining and has affected the ability of polar bears to continue hunting sea lions successfully.)
- Show students this , from Polar Bears International, showing the loss of sea life in the last several years. Pay attention to the white area on the animation: this indicates sea ice.
- Why is there a fluctuation each year? (Seasons)
- What time period did you notice on this graph? (It goes until 2012)
- Do you think conditions have changed since then? (The problem has actually gotten worse)
- Inform students they will be reading an informational text about polar bears and how they and their ecosystem are affected by the loss of sea ice due to climate change.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a copy of the article "Polar Bears Across the Arctic Face Shorter Sea Ice Season."
- For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section.
- Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
- Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Polar Bears Across the Arctic Face Shorter Sea Ice Season
- Captions: located under each photograph
- Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. 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.
- If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
- Extent (as in "sea ice extent"): students can use context clues to determine meaning, but may need to be reminded of other forms of the term such as extension and think about the meaning there. How long does the sea ice last? This is the main point of the article: how sea ice is vital to the health of polar bear populations.
- Quantify: relate this term to "quantity" to help students understand the meaning. We use this term in science often, and they should be able to give examples of how to quantify something. We have been reading about the polar bear's struggles with loss of sea ice but now we can quantify it with this new NASA data.
- Relevant: students might be able to determine meaning in context. The article is about polar bears and the paragraph is related to the loss of sea ice. This helps students relate loss of sea ice to the life of the polar bears. It is relevant, or important, to understanding the impact on polar bears.
- Bound (as in "bound the period"): students might be able to determine the meaning in context if they look back at the meaning of the paragraph, which is basically highlighting the time frame when the sea ice is strongest.
- Linear: ask students to reread the paragraph before this one to help them determine the meaning. It is based on the relationship between the ice and the health of the polar bears. It is a direct relationship and one which, if you graphed it, would be directly proportional.
- Charged: ask students to try to glean the meaning in context, as in "information to those charged with managing polar bear populations globally." If we removed the word charged, what word or words could we put in its place to keep the meaning? Students should be able to come up with something similar to "responsible for."
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guides, 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.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key provided at the end of the note-taking guide to help them assess students' answers.
- For discussion of 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.
- Students often think that the impacts of climate change only come from warmer weather. It isn't that polar bears die from the heat, but rather their lack of hunting practices that would work while swimming in the waters or finding food on land. Polar bears have evolved to hunt from ice to sneak up on sea lions, but without the ice, they aren't able to effectively catch their prey and may die out.
- Climate change has different effects on ecosystems around the world, but sometimes the effects aren't noticeable, as they may cause one small ripple that can affect organisms all around the ecosystem in different ways. Scientists don't always know what the impacts are and how to prevent them.
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 provided at the end of the text-dependent questions 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?
- 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 provided at the end of the text-dependent questions.
- 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. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with an LCD projector and discuss some of the following:
- How the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph; have students identify the main point of the piece. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
- Have students examine each of the body paragraphs and explain how each supports the main point of the piece.
- Have students identify where the writer effectively uses textual evidence from the article for support of his or her points.
- Have students identify the use of transition words or phrases that make the ideas flow.
- Ask students to identify where domain-specific vocabulary is used accurately and effectively.
- Have students read the final paragraph to see how the writer wrapped up the piece and connected back to the main point established in the introduction.
- 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.
- Have students write and submit an "exit ticket" on which they list the following:
- The most interesting new fact I learned
- A new term I learned (and what it means)
- Something I still don't understand
- Use students' responses as the basis for a follow-up discussion.
- 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.
- Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over it with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
- 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.
- Your local newspaper has asked you to write an article explaining how climate change affects polar bears. Use evidence from the text and data to connect climate change with the loss of habitat for the Arctic polar bear.
- Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Accommodations & Recommendations
For students struggling with science content:
- Students may need extra support in understanding the many complicated portions of the issue. Refer to the following video "" (7:32, uploaded by YouTube user Khan Academy).
For struggling readers:
- It might benefit students to break the text into sections. Have students independently read one section, and then have several strong readers read that section aloud.
- Then the teacher can model how to use text coding in section one.
- Students can then independently read section two, and strong readers can read the section aloud afterward. Next, have students text code this section for themselves and then share out their text coding and receive feedback on their work. This process can be repeated for the remaining sections of the text.
For struggling writers:
- Explore the effects of loss of sea ice on the Arctic ecosystems.
- Have students read from PBS Nature, titled "The Melting Arctic's Impact on Its Ecosystem," and then research other organisms that live in the Arctic.
- Students can create short presentations to highlight the role of these organisms in the ecosystem and how the loss of sea ice would impact them.
- Introduce students to the Tundra Connectionswebcasts from Polar Bears International.
- These programs "conduct live educational broadcasts with polar bear experts, scientists, and educators to thousands of teachers, students, zoo professionals, and the public throughout the year."
- Play for students and have discussions afterwards.
- Access NASA: Climate Change for the latest scientific information on climate change. Assign student groups to one topic that provides evidence of climate change. Students should research and then present one topic to the class:
- Sea Level Rise
- Global Temperature Rise
- Warming Oceans
- Shrinking Ice Sheets
- Declining Arctic Sea Ice
- Glacial Retreat
- Extreme Events
- Ocean Acidification
- Decreased Snow Cover
- Form teams and develop a plan to enter Project Polar Bear. Students will develop a project in their local community to combat climate change. The competition is held in the fall of each year.
- Track polar bears with the WWF's polar bear tracker.
- Creative writing assignments:
- Have students write persuasive essays from the perspective of a polar bear.
- Create a story board in comic strip format to cover the events in a polar bear's life.
- Write a children's story using storytelling apps on electronic devices to tell the story of the polar bear and the negative effects of the loss of its habitat. Share with students at your local elementary school.
Suggested Technology: Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office
For teachers who would like more support in understanding and implementing Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects into their science curriculum, please see the teacher tutorials featured in the section of this lesson's CPALMS resource page labeled "Attached Resources."
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Maggie Molledo
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Brevard
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.