NTEP II Fermilab LInC Online

Lewis and Clark in Washington
Shrub Steppe Habitat

Teaching Example


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Students begin this study in the fall or spring. The study could include both fall and spring observations to compare differences in the development of the plants. The unit is approximately 3-4 weeks in length. The students have about one hour, four days a week for this study.

The district's curriculum in science and social studies lends itself to the topics of study; plants and the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the Northwestern United States. This project is a way of emphasizing engaged learning with the Internet. The teachers have planned this project so the three classes can interact with each other. This provides opportunities for the students to direct each others learning and supplies a real audience for their work.

Students are challenged to gather information about the shrub steppe habitat close to Southgate Elementary to help the Franklin County Historical Society gather data for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. The teacher reads the Franklin County Historical Society's letter, and a general discussion begins. Everyone in the class participates. Students ask questions; the teacher charts the information and helps facilitate the discussion. The teacher guides students in making K/W/L charts.

The students decide how to plan the gathering of plant and animal samples from the canyon. A student asks, "How do we get plant and animal data from our area?" Another student responds, "Remember in first grade, we walked to the canyon by our school? Could we observe plants and animals in the canyon?" Teacher responds, "These are great ideas. How would we gather our plant and animal data so we can share it with other students at Amistad and Canyon View?" Students brainstorm ideas. A student suggests making a T chart of plants and animals we see in the canyon. "How will we know what animal or plant we have seen?" We will need to know the names of plants and animals that we have seen. A student suggests using books from the library. Another student says her mom has a field guide that tells types of birds. Someone else suggests using the computer to find information about our plants."Can we use the Internet to find information?" asks another student.

The students at Southgate and Canyon View visit their respective canyon sites to observe the vegetation, sketch plants and animal tracks, take samples of plants, and make an herbarium. The second graders at Southgate are divided into heterogeneous research groups with parent helpers and the teacher leading students out to areas of the canyon that lend themselves to a mix of native and non-native plant life. Students identify the tasks that help them best draw conclusions about their study site. Studentskeep science journals. Students learn some data collecting techniques to help them organize information. Students take pictures of the plant specimens using the digital camera and share information with the students at Amistad and Canyon View.

Once the data is collected, students identify their animal, bird and plant specimens working in partner pairs. (Possible resources include animal, bird and plant books, herbarium collection, pictures from the PALS fact cards and/or PALS Website, and one of the PNNL scientists.) If the students wish to gather more information about other plants and animals found in our shrub steppe habitat, they will be partnered to share reading abilities as they use the Internet. The students compare their observations with the notes taken on the Lewis and Clark Expedition by asking the Amistad students.


Author: Vicki Mitchell, Southgate Elementary School, Kennewick, WA
Created for the NTEP II Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.
Web Maintainer: ed-webmaster@fnal.gov

Created: November 19, 1998 - Updated: October 14,1999
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/ntep/f98/projects/pnnl/vsscenario.shtml