ALEX Lesson Plan

Lesson 2- If We Ran the Zoo: How Do Animals Impact Our Environment? Research/Zoo Book

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Jamie Haynes
System: Hartselle City
School: Hartselle City Board Of Education
Author:Jeana Penrod
System: Hartselle City
School: Hartselle City Board Of Education
Author:Christina Shannon
System: Hartselle City
School: Hartselle City Board Of Education
Author:Emily Stipe
System: Hartselle City
School: Hartselle City Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35429


Lesson 2- If We Ran the Zoo: How Do Animals Impact Our Environment?

Research/Zoo Book


The lesson will begin by reviewing the groups and animals assigned to each group. Students will begin working in their Zoo Booklets by discussing vocabulary that is associated with their animal. Students will use various types of text and other resources to find the information needed to learn more about their animal. Students will work cooperatively in groups to complete their animal research and complete their final project. 

This lesson was created as part of the ALEX Interdisciplinary Resource Development Summit.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
14 ) Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently. [RI.2.5]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
17 ) Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text. [RI.2.8]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.2.17- Identify multiple reasons an author gives to support a key point in an informational text.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
18 ) Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic. [RI.2.9]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
27 ) Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations). [W.2.7]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.2.27- Participate in research projects.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
29 ) Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about Grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups. [SL.2.1]

a. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion). [SL.2.1a]

b. Build on others' talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others. [SL.2.1b]

c. Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion. [SL.2.1c]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
30 ) Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media. [SL.2.2]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.2.30- Ask and answer questions about a text read aloud or information presented orally through other media.

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
7 ) Obtain information from literature and other media to illustrate that there are many different kinds of living things and that they exist in different places on land and in water (e.g., woodland, tundra, desert, rainforest, ocean, river).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.2.7- Participate in activities that show many different living things in different environments.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will participate in collaborative groups to compare background knowledge about a given topic.
  • Students will identify the main idea and supportive details from digital media.
  • Students will determine the similarities and differences of the information presented in digital media.
  • Students will conduct research on their animal by using a variety of texts.
  • Students will create and use a Table of Contents.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

  • I can write a list of any pieces of information that I can remember from class discussions and digital media.

  • I can work cooperatively in groups to conduct research and produce a completed project.
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Student Materials

  • Post-it notes
  • pencils
  • notebook paper
  • zoo booklet- This booklet consists of a zoo picture for the students to color as the cover, and 10 lined pages for the students to add their information.
  • animal research pages (one example of this resource can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers: "Animal Wax Museum Project" by Tracy Tegeler)                              

Student Materials (per group)

  • Group List
  • chart paper
  • markers
  • Books- the teacher should check out books from the library on amphibians, mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds to have for students to use during research.


Technology Resources Needed:

  • Internet capable technology devices (iPads, Chromebooks, computers)- Students will use a device to assist in their research, and the teacher will use a device to show the videos at the beginning of the lesson.
  • LCD projector- this will assist the teacher in showing the videos to the entire class.
  • E-Mail- students will be able to email their group members and/or the teacher for support.


Student Background Information:  Prior to teaching this lesson, students need an understanding of the classification of animals. The teacher will divide students into 4 groups: Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, and Fish/Amphibians. Students will need to complete the Google Form that corresponds that with their group. The teacher can send this form to students through Google Classroom. Once divided into the groups, students will work on their Google Form and label their choices of animals by ranking them from 1-4 in order of their favorite to least favorite. Once students have completed their Google Form, the teacher will select a leader of the group, and students may begin their research. During the lesson, students will be required to navigate to a website using a technological device. Students will also be required to work in collaborative groups of 4-5 students. They will need to be familiar with the jigsaw strategy of breaking away from their group to create new groups for sharing information. 

Teacher Background Preparation: The teacher should randomly divide the students into the four animal groups (mammals, amphibians/fish, birds, reptiles). These groups can be arranged at the teacher's discretion. The teacher should review the Google Form and use the responses from the students to arrange students in cooperative groups. The teacher will view the responses and arrange the students into animal groups by looking at their choices. The teacher will try to give each student their top choice if at all possible. The teacher will also make sure to have enough resources for the students to use to collect their research. The teacher should be familiar with the jigsaw strategy of grouping students, and should also have the class divided into groups of 4-5 students for the lesson. 

Below are the 4 classifications of animals that can be used for this project.  A copy of this Google Form can be made to use in your classroom. This Google Form will allow the teacher to put the students in groups according to the animal that they wanted to research. When the teacher opens the link, he or she will need to make a copy in order to transfer ownership and then edit to his or her specific needs.









Before Strategy/Engage: 20 minutes

1.  Students will move into their animal research groups of 4-5 students and begin discussing the role that each student will take within the group. The group leader will help facilitate as the rest of the group members decide who will take on the other available roles. Once all the members have an assigned role, the group will inform the teacher of each member's role. The following roles will be assigned:

Leader (already assigned by teacher)- Makes sure everyone is working hard, getting along in the group, and following classroom and project rules.

Problem Solver- Helps solve problems that the group may encounter. This person will be the liaison between the group and the teacher.

Time Keeper- Reminds the group of how much time is left to complete the project and keeps other group members on task.

Voice Controller- Keeps the group voice level to a whisper and encourages other group members to work quietly. When the group members get excited, this person will remind them to keep a low voice level.

Materials Manager- Gathers all materials. This is the only person allowed to leave the groups work area to get materials, return extra materials, or throw away trash.

2.  Each student will be given their zoo booklet/journal and will label their animal on the front cover. Students will add their job and a description of their job into the inside cover of their zoo booklet/journal. 

During Strategy/ Explore & Explain: 90 (3- 30 minutes class periods)

1. Students will begin a Table of Contents into their Zoo Booklet. The following list provides an example of the pages needed for the Table of Contents:

  • Vocabulary
  • KWL
  • Habitat
  • Diet
  • Parenting Style
  • Predator and/or Prey
  • Adaptation
  • Animal Diagram
  • Presentation Notes

2.  Students will use books from the library, research from the internet, and other resources to find out as much information they can about their animal. Once the group has started collecting information, they will add their information into their Zoo Booklet. Each child will be responsible for keeping up with all the information their group finds. Students will research information about the habitat, diet, parenting style, predator or prey, of their assigned animal, as well as any other information that might be beneficial for their research. Students may add additional entries to their Table of Contents if there is a subject that they feel is beneficial to their project.

3.  The teacher should walk around the room as a facilitator to be sure that all students are actively participating in the group. The teacher will also make sure everyone is adding information into their Zoo Booklet.  If students are not actively participating, they will fall behind and will not be prepared when the time comes to present their presentation (Zoo Night with Parents- Lesson 3).

After Strategy/Explain & Elaborate: 30 minutes

1.  Students will meet one last time as a group and review their notes. As students review their research and project, they will prepare to give their presentation using the research collected on the Animal Research Pages. Groups will be responsible for coming up with their own presentation style. Examples of possible presentation formats include: 

  • Movie: Students will use iMovie to present their information to the class. They can use pictures and/or video themselves talking for the movie.
  • Game: Students will design a game board that presents their animal information.
  • 3-D printed animal or clay/playdough replica of their animal with examples
  • Slideshow (PowerPoint, Google Slides, etc.)

2.  Students will create a presentation to present to their class and their parents. The teacher will distribute the different pages that go along with the research.  The following pages can be purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers or made by the individual teacher to display the student's research. 

  • KWL
  • Habitat
  • Diet
  • Parenting Style
  • Predator and/or Prey
  • Adaptation
  • Animal Diagram

3.  Once the students have acquired all their information, they will decide on the way they want to present their animal.  In addition, a parent night could be planned so that students can showcase their animal research to their family. Each group will present their animal research to the parents.  The products will be displayed around the school for the rest of the grade levels to view when traveling in the hallways.  

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Assessment Strategies

Informal Assessments

  • Encourage students to assess and evaluate their work continually. 

  • At the end of each day, encourage students to reflect on what they learned and discuss their thoughts with their group.

  • The teacher will use mini-conferences while moving around the room to make sure groups are actively working and focusing on their end result.

  • As students complete their projects, they will reflect on the following:

    • the process they went through: 

      • asking questions 
      • participating in research 
      • documenting and recording information
      • sharing their findings

    • the products they produced: 
      • zoo booklet
      • the writing in their booklet
      • drawings
      • presentation

Formal Assessment

The teacher will formally assess students during the group presentation and demonstration (Groups will be responsible for creating their own presentation formation. A few examples are: movie, video game, 3-D printed animal with examples, or slide show). The presentation will be graded on each member's participation in the presentation, how well the group members worked together, creativity, organization, and if all parts of the project are completed. A link to a grading rubric is provided in the attachments. 


Students will use the information they acquired from research and expand their project by presenting additional information about their selected animal. Groups requiring acceleration may choose one of the following presentations:

  • 3-D Printer: Schools that have access to a 3-D printer can print a model of their animal. Students can then present the information from their research to the parents on Zoo Night (Lesson 3).  If a school does not have access to a 3-D printer, students can use clay or playdough to sculpt their animal for display.
  • ChatterPix: Students will draw a picture of their animals and use the ChatterPix app to describe their animal and research the group compiled.
  • Pod Cast: Students will talk about their animal and share the podcast with the teacher to listen to during parent/Zoo night.
  • Movie: Students will use iMovie to make a movie about their animal. They will video their group talking about their animal.
  • Google Slideshow
  • Game: Students will make a game board that will display different facts about their animal.  An example of a game would be Chutes and Ladders.  


Students that require additional assistance, will be given help in looking up information on their animal. They will also be able to print off their information and glue it into their zoo booklets instead of having to write it down.  

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.