ALEX Lesson Plan


Lesson 1 If We Ran the Zoo: How Do Animals Impact Our Environment?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Jeana Penrod
System: Hartselle City
School: Hartselle City Board Of Education
Author:Jamie Haynes
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: 35427


Lesson 1 If We Ran the Zoo: How Do Animals Impact Our Environment?


A brainstorming activity and class discussion will begin the lesson and provide the background knowledge students have regarding zoos and how the animals in zoos impact our environment. Students will select an animal for further research using an online survey created by the teacher to determine their research group. Afterward, students will view an informational video pertaining to the origin and purpose of zoos, and complete an exit slip stating new learning that has been added to their background knowledge.

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
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).

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
L4.1: Organisms need food, water, and air; a way to dispose of waste; and an environment in which they can live.*

NAEP Statement::
L4.2: Organisms have basic needs. Animals require air, water, and a source of energy and building material for growth and repair. Plants also require light.

NAEP Statement::
L4.3: Organisms interact and are interdependent in various ways, including providing food and shelter to one another. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs are met. Some interactions are beneficial; others are detrimental to the organism and other organisms.

NAEP Statement::
L4.4: When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce; others die or move to new locations.

NAEP Statement::
L4.7: Different kinds of organisms have characteristics that enable them to survive in different environments. Individuals of the same kind differ in their characteristics, and sometimes the differences give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Illustrate the diversity of living things in different habitats, including both land and water.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Literature
  • Media
  • Diversity
  • Habitats
  • Woodland
  • Tundra
  • Desert
  • Rainforest
  • Ocean
  • River
Students know:
  • Plants and animals are diverse within different habitats.
Students are able to:
  • Obtain information from literature and other media.
  • Illustrate the different kinds of living things and the different habitats in which they can be found.
Students understand that:
  • There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water.
AMSTI Resources:
Be sure students are aware of credible media resources when obtaining information.
AMSTI Module:
Plants and Bugs
Plant Growth and Development, STC
The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, EiE

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 a collaborative group 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.

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 design a questionnaire to gather information about zoo animals.
  • I can identify and explain common text features in a nonfiction selection.
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Teacher Materials

Zoos by Gail Gibbons or The View at the Zoo by Kathleen Bostrom

Class attention grabber (something the teacher routinely uses to get the attention of the class such as holding up their hand, using a clapping rhythm that students repeat, or a teacher statement/student response. For example- Teacher says "Class, class", and students respond "Yes, yes!")

Small colored sticker dots or colored markers


Chart paper

Animals survey created in Google Forms (link is attached)





 "Why Do We Need the Modern Zoo?" YouTube Video (4minutes 10 seconds)

"What is the Role of the Modern Zoo?" (4 minutes 47 seconds)

"The Benefit of Zoos" (4 minutes 31 seconds)

A variety of books about animals

Student Materials

Post-it notes


Notebook paper

Zoo booklet or folder (printed cover sheet or plain cover sheet for students to decorate and 10 pieces of notebook paper stapled together) 

Student Materials (per group)

Chart paper


Technology Resources Needed:

Internet capable technology devices for teacher and students (iPads, Chromebooks, computers)


Google classroom and Gmail accounts (if using Google Forms for the online survey)


Student Background Information:  Prior to teaching this lesson, students need an understanding of the classification of animals and the organization of zoos. If students do not possess this background knowledge, the teacher can provide access to the following video: "Animal Classification" YouTube video (1 minute 43 seconds)

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:  

Prior to beginning the lesson, the teacher should put a colored dot sticker (or use markers to create a colored dot) on the corner of notebook paper, being sure to create enough papers for each student in the class. This strategy will allow students to break into partner groups at the beginning of the lesson.

The teacher needs to select 4-5 animals for students to research. The teacher should find photos of the animals to show to students and to use in creating an online survey for students to prioritize their choices. The survey should allow students to rank their preference of animals and give reasons for their choices. Google Forms and Survey Monkey are two resources that can be used to create an online survey. If a zoo field trip will be connected to this particular unit, the teacher should select animals that can be viewed at the zoo location chosen for the field trip.

The teacher should preview the YouTube videos to determine the two best videos to show students. A concept web chart or a chart list should be created for students to share their background knowledge regarding zoos and animal classification. One of the literature books should be located and previewed. 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.

Teacher Background Information:  The first zoo is credited to Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt in 3500 B.C. The exotic animals she collected included hippos, elephants, baboons, and wildcats. The animals were gathered for personal amusement, intimidation of enemies, or to provide hunting opportunities in a closed setting. In 1907 a zoo in Germany was the first to use open enclosures surrounded by moats, rather than barred cages, to better replicate animals' natural environments. The Central Park Zoo opened in New York in 1860 as the first public zoo in the United States.  

The function of zoos started as a means to demonstrate royal power. The purpose shifted from entertainment of the imperial family to scientific research and education, as well as public entertainment. Zoos began to consider conservation as their central purpose in the 1970s. To show their dedication to this issue many zoos stopped having animals perform tricks for visitors. Because of the mass destruction of wildlife habitats, many species of animals are endangered. Zoos hope to stop or slow the decline of these species by breeding animals in captivity and reintroducing them into the wild. They also aim to teach visitors the importance of animal conservation letting visitors witness the animals firsthand.


Before Strategy/Engage: 30 minutes

  1. The teacher will introduce the topic of zoos and zoo animals with a read aloud such as Zoos by Gail Gibbons or The View at the Zoo by Elizabeth Bostrom.
  2. The teacher will distribute notebook paper to the class. Each student will receive a piece of paper with a colored dot in the upper right corner of the paper.
  3. The teacher will instruct students to find their partner for a "Think-Pair-Share" activity by finding the classmate with the same colored dot on their notebook paper. When they find their partner they should turn their chairs facing back to back with a writing surface such as a desk or table beside them. Allow approximately 2 minutes for this, then use the class attention grabber to settle the students before giving the next direction.
  4. For the next 10 minutes, students should use a "graffiti" technique of writing all over their notebook paper in all directions and all types of lettering to record any information they already know about zoos and the classification of animals within zoos. The information can be recorded in words, phrases, or sentences. The teacher should emphasize that their information is more important than correct spelling for this activity.
  5. During this independent brainstorming activity, students should be called to an internet capable device to complete the online survey to prioritize the animals available for research.
  6. The teacher will use the class attention grabber once again and instruct partners to turn their chairs around in order to sit knee to knee. They will spend the next 5 minutes sharing their brainstorming with each other and adding new thoughts to their papers.
  7. Using the class attention grabber the teacher will indicate that time is up and the students should gather in their usual class meeting spot such as a special carpet or area of the room. Students should bring their brainstorming paper with them so the teacher can collect one piece of information from each student to record on the class chart for background knowledge about zoos.
  8. Students will place their "graffiti" paper in their zoo booklet or folder.

During Strategy/Explore & Explain: 60 minutes

  1. The teacher will show a minimum of two of the videos listed in the "Teacher Materials" section. The videos explain the origin of zoos and the purpose of today's zoos.
  2. A class discussion of the videos should follow. The teacher should be certain to encourage questions as well as personal connections. In order to maintain attention from all students, review the class signals used for listening. Holding up the pinky and thumb of one hand and moving it back and forth from the student to the speaker indicates "Me too", meaning the student agrees with the speaker or had the same idea. Snapping together (like an alligator mouth) the index and middle fingers with the thumb indicates "No", meaning the student disagrees with the speaker. Tilting the hand side to side indicates "What?", meaning the student doesn't quite understand what the speaker is saying. The universal "Ok" signal means the student is listening to the speaker and can tell what the speaker said.
  3. Students will have time to explore the provided animal books while the teacher reviews the online survey results in order to create groups of 4-5 students who chose the same animal for further research. Students are expected to look at a book independently or with a partner and scan the text features of the book for interesting information. Students may choose to begin reading a book about their animal as well.
  4. The teacher will place students in their research groups. Each group will be given a piece of chart paper titled "How the ____________ impacts our environment". The group will fill in the name of their research animal and each member will write their current thought in response to the question. Each response should have the student's initials and the date recorded beside it

After/Explain, Elaborate Check: 10 minutes  

  1. Students will put away their zoo booklets in a spot designated by the teacher, and then return to their seats.
  2. As a summative assessment, students will complete an exit ticket. The teacher will distribute a piece of notebook paper to each student. Students will set up their paper for a 3-2-1 review of the day's lesson. At the top of their paper, they will have their name and list 3 things they learned from the lesson. Next, they will skip a line and write 2 things they thought were interesting or they would like to learn more about. Finally, they skip a line and write 1 question they still have about the lesson's topics.
  3. Provide 10 minutes for students to complete their exit ticket, and have them submit it to the teacher as their ticket out of the classroom or their ticket out of the activity.


Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment

  • Teacher observations during "Think-Pair-Share" and group exploration of books will assess students' success in group participation and on task expectations.
  •  The brainstorming paper will provide a formative assessment of a student's background knowledge as well as the use of time for a given task.

Summative Assessment

  • An exit ticket will serve as a summative assessment of concepts learned from the lesson.


  • Students may research the pros and cons of zoos. They can present their opinion and reasoning to the class. A class debate could be held between students with opposing viewpoints.  
  • A visual dictionary of key words related to the zoo topic can be created. Terms such as carnivore, omnivore, herbivore, habitat, predator, prey, endangered, adaptation, etc. can be provided by the teacher for inclusion in the dictionary.


  • Students who struggle with writing can share their thoughts orally with a peer, an aide (if available), or the teacher. Drawings can also be used in place of words.
  • Students who are disturbed by typical group noise when an activity promotes talking from many people at once (ex. the "pair" portion of the Think-Pair-Share activity) may wear headphones if appropriate, or move to a quieter area to participate. For example, a student who needs a more quiet environment can go with his or her partner to the nearest classroom (with prior explanation and permission of the teacher in that classroom) or to his/her safe place specified in the IEP.
  • Those who are frequently unable to work cooperatively with others may be given the same activity structured for individual work rather than partner or group work. For example, the student can find examples of the text features on their own in a set of books provided for his/her use only.

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.