ALEX Lesson Plan

     

Can an Animal's Traits be Influenced by the Environment?

You may save this lesson plan to your hard drive as an html file by selecting "File", then "Save As" from your browser's pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.

  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Hannah Bradley
System: Dothan City
School: Carver Magnet School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35576

Title:

Can an Animal's Traits be Influenced by the Environment?

Overview/Annotation:

The lesson will begin with the teacher leading a discussion related to animal traits and the environment using a T-chart graphic organizer. The students will have the opportunity to discuss their ideas with a partner, and then the teacher will introduce the essential question of the lesson: “Can an animal's traits be influenced by the environment?” Next, the teacher will show students a video clip and nonfiction text related to the arctic fox, which is an animal that experiences a seasonal change in its fur color, and record information about the fox’s traits and habitat on a T-chart graphic organizer. Then, students will research a different animal to determine how its traits can be influenced by its environment using digital or print sources and take brief notes. Lastly, students will develop an explanatory text in a claim-evidence-reasoning format that includes an illustration to help convey their scientific ideas clearly.

This lesson results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
23 ) Write informative or explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. [W.3.2]

a. Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension. [W.3.2a]

b. Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details. [W.3.2b]

c. Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information. [W.3.2c]

d. Provide a concluding statement or section. [W.3.2d]


Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.3.23- Compose informative or explanatory texts by stating a topic, providing facts or details, and providing an appropriate conclusion related to the topic.


English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
25 ) With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 22-24 above.) [W.3.4]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
29 ) Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories. [W.3.8]


Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.3.29- Distinguish whether information (text, illustrated, and/or digital) is related to a given topic.


Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
8 ) Engage in argument from evidence to justify that traits can be influenced by the environment (e.g., stunted growth in normally tall plants due to insufficient water, change in an arctic fox's fur color due to light and/or temperature, stunted growth of a normally large animal due to malnourishment).

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Evaluate the given evidence to determine its relevance, and use it to justify the claim that traits can be influenced by the environment.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Engage
  • Argument
  • Evidence
  • Justify
  • Traits
  • Influenced
  • Environment
  • Cause
  • Effect
  • Claim
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Characteristics result from individuals' interactions with the environment, which can range from diet to learning. Many characteristics involve both inheritance and environment.
  • The environment also affects the traits that an organism develops.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Support explanations about environmental influences on inherited traits in organisms.
  • Use evidence to support an explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified and used to explain change such as the possibility that environmental factors may influence an organism's traits.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Heredity and Diversity

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



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.3.8- Recognize that living things have specific needs (water, light, temperature, food, shelter) to live and grow in an environment.


Local/National Standards:

 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will engage in argument from evidence to justify that animal traits can be influenced by the animal's environment.
  • Students will gather information from print and digital sources by taking brief notes.
  • Students will write an explanatory text that states a claim, provides evidence, and describes scientific reasoning to clearly convey the idea that animal traits can be influenced by the environment.
  • With guidance from the teacher, students will produce an organized writing piece utilizing scientific evidence and reasoning.
  • Students will create an illustration to aid in comprehension of their explanatory text.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Student Materials

Teacher Materials

Technology Resources Needed:

Teacher Technology Resources

  • Teacher computer with internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard or projector with ability to project sound

Student Technology Resources

  • Internet capable device for research, if available

Background/Preparation:

Student Background Information: Students will need to be familiar with the terms trait and environment and how these terms relate to living things.

Students will need to have background knowledge regarding the different habitats of living things, which is related to the Second Grade Alabama Course of Study Standard 7:

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).

This lesson will require students to conduct research using print or digital sources and take brief notes. This lesson will also require students to develop an explanatory writing piece in a claim-evidence-reasoning format. If students do not have experience with these two skills, the teacher may wish to provide more scaffolding and support during the after strategy of this lesson.

Teacher Background Information: There are many arctic animals that experience a seasonal change in fur color, such as the arctic hare and the arctic fox. Scientists are not completely sure why this change happens for some animals but does not happen for others, such as polar bears, although they have hypothesized that the animals’ seasonal change in fur color does provide some evolutionary advantages. First, the animals that experience a seasonal change in fur color are able to camouflage themselves during the snowy seasons and also during the summer, when the snow melts. Also, scientists believe that white fur, which lacks melanin, leaves air spaces in the animal's hair shaft which provides an extra layer of insulation. The beginning portion of this lesson will focus on the arctic fox, but students will have the opportunity to conduct research on other animals that experience a seasonal change in fur color.

Please see these two websites for additional information about these animals: Arctic Fox article from National Geographic and 7 Animals That Turn White in Winter article from Britannica.

This lesson will conclude with a writing project that will follow the claim-evidence-reasoning format. If the teacher is unfamiliar with this method of scientific writing, he or she can visit “Claims and Evidence” from Ambitious Science Teaching to learn more about this strategy.

If the students will not have access to internet capable devices for research during the lesson, the teacher should locate non-fiction texts related to some of the animals described in the 7 Animals That Turn White in Winter article from Britannica.

  Procedures/Activities: 

Before Strategy/Engage: 20 minutes

  1. The teacher should draw a T-chart on chart paper or the interactive whiteboard. On the left side of the T-chart, the teacher should write “Traits”, and on the right side of the T-chart, the teacher should write “Environment”.
  2. Next, the teacher should write at least three examples of particular traits that help animals survive in their environment. For example, Trait-long fur, Environment-Cold climate. The teacher should then remind students that an animal’s long fur can keep it warm it in a cold climate.
  3. After writing and explaining three examples, the teacher should divide students into partner groups. The teacher should direct the students to think of at least three more traits that help animals survive in a particular environment.
  4. After allowing students time to hold a discussion with their partner, the teacher should regroup the whole class together. The teacher should ask student volunteers from each group to share their ideas and add their information to the class’s T-Chart.
  5. Next, the teacher should introduce the lesson’s essential question: “Can an animal's traits be influenced by the environment?”
  6. The teacher can allow students to share their answers to this question to determine students’ current level of background knowledge on this concept.

During Strategy/Explore & Explain: 20 minutes

  1. The teacher should create a new T-chart on chart paper or the interactive whiteboard. The title of the chart should be “Arctic Fox,” then on the left side of the T-chart, the teacher should write “Traits”, and on the right side of the T-chart, the teacher should write “Environment”.
  2. The teacher should show "Young Fox Hunting in the Snow" from BBC Earth on youtube.com to students. Before playing the video, the teacher should remind students that they should be looking for traits of the arctic fox and how the fox’s traits help it survive in its environment.  For example, after watching the video, the students might say the fox’s thick white fur helps it stay warm in the cold, windy, and snowy environment of the Arctic.
  3. Next, the teacher should show pictures of the arctic fox on this website: Arctic Fox article from National Geographic (scroll to the bottom of page). As students view the pictures, the teacher should ask the students, “How does this arctic fox look different from the one you saw in the video?” Students should note that some of the pictures of the arctic fox show it with brown, gray, or red fur.
  4. Next, the teacher should read (or allow students to read) the article on the website, which describes how the color of the arctic fox’s fur changes depending on the season.

After Strategy/Explain & Elaborate: 60+ minutes

  1. The teacher should introduce the website, 7 Animals That Turn White in Winter article from Britannica and tell students that they will choose one animal from the list (besides the arctic fox) that experiences a seasonal change in fur color to research.
  2. Each student will need to draw a T-chart on a sheet of notebook paper. The students should title the T-chart with their chosen animal from the list, then label the left side of the T-chart “Traits”, and the right side of the T-chart “Environment”
  3. Using either an internet capable device or print sources, the student should research their chosen animal and record information about its traits and environment on their T-chart graphic organizer. The teacher can allow students to conduct research independently, with a partner, or with a small group.
  4. Next, the teacher should tell students they will be creating a writing piece to provide evidence and a scientific explanation to answer the essential question: “Can an animal's traits be influenced by the environment?”
  5. The teacher should give each student a Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Graphic Organizer. Depending on the students’ experience with this format of writing, the teacher may wish to complete this graphic organizer as a whole class or allow students to complete it with a partner.

-In the claim section, the students should write the name of their chosen animal in the blank, then circle can or cannot to complete the claim.

Example: The traits of the arctic hare can be influenced by its environment.

-In the evidence section, the students should write a fact they learned about their animal during their research to prove that their claim is true.

Example: In my research, I found that arctic hares change from a brownish-gray color in the summer to white in the winter.

-In the reasoning section, the students should explain how and why the traits of their chosen animal are influenced by its environment.

Example: The reason for this is because the brownish-gray fur helps the arctic hare camouflage in the summer, but white fur helps it camouflage itself better in the winter.

6. Lastly, the teacher should allow students to re-write their claim, evidence, and reasoning on a new sheet of paper. The teacher may wish to proofread the student’s writing before they create a final draft, or allow students to peer edit each other’s paper for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. After students rewrite their claim, evidence, and reasoning statements, they should add an illustration to their writing that helps to show how their chosen animal’s traits are influenced by its environment. For example, the students could draw the arctic hare with brownish-gray fur in a summer scene, and an arctic hare with white fur in a winter scene.


  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment: The teacher should informally assess students in the before strategy as students share information related to animal traits and their environment. In addition, the teacher should assess students’ current knowledge of the topic of this lesson as students share their initial responses to the essential question. The teacher should informally assess students in the during strategy of the lesson as the class works together to create the T-chart related the arctic hare. The teacher should observe students during the after strategy of this lesson as students research their chosen animal to ensure students are collecting accurate information that will be useful in the writing project. The teacher should review each student’s Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Graphic Organizer to ensure students have followed directions and understand each section of the graphic organizer.

Summative Assessment: To formally assess students, the teacher should review each student’s final draft of the writing piece. The teacher can ensure the student met the objectives of this lesson by assessing student’s writing using the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Checklist.

Acceleration:

To further explore the concepts of this lesson, students requiring acceleration can explore the Peppered Moths-Natural Selection in Black and White Interactive Game. This game will show students a real-world example of how an animal’s traits can be influenced by its environment. In addition, students will explore how an animal’s traits can impact its survival.

Intervention:

The teacher should be sure that students who require intervention strategies are provided with additional help and scaffolding while researching and completing the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Graphic Organizer. In addition, the teacher or a peer may provide additional assistance during the after strategy of the lesson, while students are completing the final draft of their writing piece. Students who struggle with writing may dictate their writing to the teacher or a peer.

 


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.