Author: Kristine Russell
Organization: Texas A&M University
Grade Level: 7th Grade
Time Frame: 2-3 days
Overview: This activity is intended to help students in understanding habitat, the different producers and consumers within a habitat, and how different organisms interact.
Purpose: The student will become familiar with concepts of: autotroph, heterotroph, producer, consumer, herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore.
The student will be able to explain what a trophic level is and how different organisms fit into different trophic levels. The student will observe different insect habitats and find reasons for why some habitats may be better suited for insects, than other habitats.
- Construction paper, glue, markers, poster board, and other various art supplies, enough for the class
- Class computer, equipped with Netscape or a similar Internet search engine, where students can investigate insects and their habitats.
- Travel guides.
- Library time/Insect reference material
- Chalk and chalk board
Getting Ready: The instructor should have an understanding for the concepts listed in the purpose of the activity. The instructor should also be ready to ask higher order questions concerning the material and objectives to be learned. This lesson plan assumes that the students have been given an introduction to trophic levels and food webs.
Motivate (Engage): Class will begin by asking students to think about their favorite vacation. Where did the students go? Why did they like this vacation best? Was their vacation near or far from home? What did the students find on vacation that was similar to their home? The teacher will write the locations of many of the places that the students name on the chalkboards. How did students learn about these vacation spots? The teacher will then hold up various travel guides, to show how different places advertise for people to come and visit.
Activity (Explore): Students will then be asked to create a travel brochure/ad campaign that will try to entice a particular insect to come for a visit. The student is to select any insect they choose, and in selecting a particular insect, identify where it fits into the trophic level. The students will need to utilize library as well as Internet resources in order to learn as much as they can about their particular insect. Students must then think of creating their own imaginary land that would be best suited to the insect. Are the students looking to please a herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore? What places should there be for the insect to dine? What types of housing arrangements (sheltered areas) are available to the insect? How will this insects basic need of food, water, shelter, and air be met? All of these questions should be fully answered in the students' travel brochure or poster ad campaign for the imaginary land. The brochure or poster campaign should include a picture of the insect, as well as drawings of the locale. Students can be as creative as they like, as they try to share what they know about the particular organisms needs.
Safety Tips: Other than scissors safety, the only precaution teachers should be alerted to, are the sites students are looking at on the web. Teachers should be alert to any sites that are not appropriate for the students to be looking at.
Concept Discovery: At this point in the lesson, students should have completed their travel brochure/poster ad and will now form groups of 4-6 students, where students will take turns sharing their brochures with others in the group. Students will be free to provide constructive criticism, while asking questions of their peers. Once the groups have shared with one another, the groups will then disperse and the entire class will become involved in the class discussion. The teacher will record how many students had primary consumers, secondary consumers, etc., on the chalkboard. Students will need to be able to justify why they thought their insect belonged on a particular trophic level. Is it possible for an insect to fit into more than one area of the trophic level? How is this possible? Through this activity the students have found out for themselves, the meaning of such words as herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore, as well as learning to assess what different organisms might need to survive in a particular habitat. In studying different insects and sharing their information with one another, the students were able to become experts on one insect, and then teach their fellow students.
Going Further: This activity can be extended by having students look at different habitats within the school landscape. Students can base a study on trophic levels and habitats relating to the organisms they see within the area of the school property. The students can then create a concept map, showing how different insects and plants are connected within the landscape through food webs.
Closure: Through creating a travel brochure/poster ad campaign for an insect, the students now have a better understanding of how insects play a role in the environment. Students have also been able to discover for themselves what elements are necessary for a healthy habitat and what needs different organisms have.
Assessment: Students will be assessed through observation and performance assessment. Students will be observed and questioned as they investigate their particular insects. The teacher will look for on task behavior and look for not only learning of pure science concepts, but also that the student is able to use research skills and knowledge in order to collect information. The students will be assessed through performance assessment as the teacher grades their written product of a travel brochure/poster advertisement. The brochures/posters will be graded according to criteria outlined in the grading rubric.
Connections: This activity can be related to various different content areas. Through social studies, students can look at insects from around the world and create a brochure for insects in a foreign country as they learn about the landscape and features of a different country. In language arts students can expand on this by writing a creative story about how their particular land that is advertised in their brochure/poster was first discovered, or students may decide to write a narrative of the insect and its reflection on visiting the particular land.
This activity can be tied into mathematics, if the class makes graphs of the number of herbivores, omnivores, and carnivore insects that have been selected. Students can find the mean, median, and mode for the different types of insects selected in each of the different science class periods. Students can then make comparisons for the types of insects collected between the different periods and identify any similarities/differences between different classes choices.
Insect Travel Brochure/Ad Campaign Grading Rubric
Students grades will be based on a 30-point format
Points will be awarded based on the following:
15 Points Research Knowledge
2 Points on task behavior when researching information
10 Points for Information Gathered
In order to award a full ten points, students should include accurate and in depth information within their travel brochure/poster to demonstrate their knowledge about the particular organism.
8 Points will be awarded if students include a great deal of information, but lack the depth as presented in papers awarded ten points.
6 Points will be awarded to students who include a few facts about their insect.
4 Points will be awarded to papers including one or fewer facts about their insect.
3 Points for citing where the students found their information
10 Points Product Information
2 points will be awarded for including each of the following for a total of 10 points
Name has been given to the student's land.
The student has identified the insect through picture and name, who their brochure advertisement poster is aimed at.
The student identifies which trophic level they are aiming to support, and what type of consumers is being catered to.
Pictures and descriptions are provided for the habitat that the insect will be living in.
Justification for specific elements in the habitat is explained.
5 Points Creativity
5 Points will be awarded to all students who can show through their final product that they have put time, thought, and effort into their product.