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PBI Curriculum Topic Study Topic: Interdependence - Limiting Factors affecting a Population Shellora Lewin

Part 1: Section I: Identify Adult Content Knowledge 1) What big ideas and major concepts to make up this topic? The big idea for this concept is interdependence and consists of the way organisms affect each other as well as how they interact with the environment. 2) What new content did you learn or improve your understanding of? The content that had the biggest impact on my understanding of interdependence was how even small changes can have a major effect on an ecosystem, completely revamping the equilibrium and sometimes causing the environment to become inhabitable for organisms that have existed there. 3) What other new insights about the topic did you gain from this reading? I did not gain any other new insights from these readings. 1A: Science For all Americans, p. 65 1) What enduring understandings should all adults, including teachers, know about this topic? Adults should understand that in an ecosystem all species are connected. They should recognize the different type of relationships that organisms can have such as predator/prey, parasitism, and mutualism. They should also recognize that nonliving environment shape the ecosystem and organisms compete for resources such as food, space, light, heat, water, air, and shelter. Though ecosystems cycle through phases it maintains equilibrium unless a climate change occurs or a new species migrates, evolves, or is introduced by humans. 2) What rich interconnections within the topic emerge from the reading? This topic is mainly about interconnections, the connection of organisms to one other and to their environment. 3) How does the reading help you see what a K-12 education is aiming toward? K-12 Education is aimed at helping students recognize that all organisms play a role in an ecosystem as well as rely on other organisms for life. It also wants students to

understand that factors can affect the growth of a population and humans can disrupt the equilibrium of an ecosystem by removing or adding organisms. 1B: Science Matters, Ch.16, 260-262 1) How does reading clarify the content of the topic? What additional content knowledge did you gain from this reading? Life requires that organisms interact with the environment surrounding them. Anywhere on Earth where there are minerals, air, water, plants, animals, and microorganisms can be considered an ecosystems. Plants and other photosynthetic life (self-sustaining organisms) make up the base a food chain and energy moves up. Each organism in an ecosystem depends on others and performs necessary roles for them. The place occupied by an organism in an ecosystem is called its ecological niche. All living things live in a region called the biosphere, from a few miles below the surface of Earth to a few miles in the air, which is considered to be the Earths largest ecosystem. Small changes in an ecosystem can have large effects and vice versa. It is not always possible to predict what the consequences of any change will be. 2) How does the reading help you identify the basic ideas underlying the science topic? The basic idea of this topic is that all life is connected. No organism is isolated but impact and is influenced by the surrounding environment. 3) Are there explanations or vivid examples you can use with students to explain concepts in an interesting, comprehensible, way? There were a few examples throughout this section that could be used to explain the concept of interdependence. The first example was of Lake Victoria, Africas largest body of freshwater, where the addition of the Nile perch caused a drastic change in not only the lake but on the surrounding area. Another example was how termites depend on trees and trees depend on termites.

Section II: Consider Instructional Implications 1) What suggestions are provided for effective instruction of the topic?

The readings suggested that the students should be at grade level to fully comprehend the subject in the depth they should be taught. It explained that students K-4 should know the basic relationship between populations and their environment. For example, most K-4 students know that there are living and non-living things yet they do not know the scientific idea behind their reasoning. Everything they have learned has been solely through observation and misconceptions arise this way. The reading had suggestions about what the student should know at the end of their elementary middle and high school years. For eight graders they suggest that they should be able to distinguish limiting factors such as shelter, food, space and other resources that organisms compete for in order to survive. These suggestions provide a backbone for teachers and also goals for students as well. 2) What student learning difficulties, misconceptions, or development considerations are mentioned? Students often have misconceptions about everything they observe because they formulate ideas based on experiences and activities in the world around them. Although these ideas can have the right foundation sometimes misconceptions arise from them as well. Since elementary students have a limited depth of knowledge and mental maturity they might create their own explanations for situations. For instance, younger children associate life with moving objects, while older elementary children might associate it with things a little closer to the correct scientific definitions such as breathing, eating and reproducing. However, these ideas are misconceptions that the students bring into the classroom and the teacher will have to address in order to install in them the true definition of a living organism. 3) Does the reading suggest contexts, phenomena, representations, or everyday experiences that are effective in learning the ideas in the topic? Students learn through experiences and observations around them at an early age. It also states that grades 5-8 should also incorporate mathematical and scientific models to represent information to the students in a way that shows comparison. Teachers should use the students understanding as a basis to develop scientific understanding. The reading it breaks down the amount of knowledge the student should have based on

interaction with their surroundings at an earlier grade level. They should be able to collect all their ideas and observations of interdependence of organisms and their environment. 4) What other new insights about the topic did you gain by reading this section? I learned that understanding adaptation can be difficult for grades 5-8 to learn because many students think that adaptation means the individual changes in major ways to environmental changes deliberately. I also learned that ecology consists of the relationships between ecosystems. This reading helped me relate to the middle school class I will be teaching. They will probably feel that ecology is just consists of many different ideas that do not quite relate to each other. Through the reading I am now able to predict what the students might know by now and what they might still be confused about. 7th graders should now have a collection of ideas based on studies and observation of organisms and their environments. The students probably understand that these relationships exist and other pieces of ecology can be added in place now. IIA: Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 116-117 1) How does the general essay help you gain a K-12 big picture view of the topic? The general essay expresses the most important goals for this topic for the grade level I will teach and it serves as a backbone for the teaching. Also it helps me predict what the students have already learned in elementary and the depth of understanding they should have by now of the topic. IIB: National Science Education Standards, p. 155-156, 167-168 1) How do the essays and vignettes illustrate the central role inquiry plays in learning the ideas in the topic? The reading explains that the role of inquiry is highly important for the learning of ideas in our topic of ecology and learning in general. It states that elementary students begin by making observations based on curiosity and start to make patterns about life around them. Although these patterns have no scientific explanation behind them and are purely based on cause and effect, the curiosity of the students allows them to inquire in their classrooms. As their mental maturity expands the level of inquiry does as well. For

ecology a lot of the inquiry is about ecosystems and relationships between different populations. Students should try to analyze these relationships and dependence of organisms on their environments. At the middle school grade levels the students have learned more in their classrooms to have a better foundation of science and ecology to continue to higher learning.

Section III: Identify Concepts and Specific Ideas 1) Which learning goals align well with the topic? The learning goals for this topic are to establish association between organisms and their environment. To install in the student that every organism requires resources to survive and that when some of these resources such as food, shelter, and space become faint the organism has to compete with other in order to survive. Also that adaptation occurs due to this competition where the fitness of an individual dictates its survival. Lastly another goal is to understand how producer, consumers, and decomposers interact with one another. It aligns well with the topic because we are going to deal with interactions of populations and ecosystems as well as limiting factors. 2) What concepts, specific ideas, or skills make up the learning goals in this topic? The skill that makes up this topic is the ability to analyze relationships in the ecosystems. The concept that was most expressed was the limiting factors concept, and a basic idea of ecology built from earlier grade levels made up this topic as well. There is the relationship between organisms. There is the relationship between the environment and the organism. There is a relationship between limiting factors and the environment and organism. They must be able to analyze all these relationships. The ideas of ecology are basic but should not be too broad, for example, the characteristics and changes in populations, the types of resources, the changes in environment, diversity and adaptation, and interdependence of organisms. 3) How do these goals help you determine what you can eliminate or place less emphasis on?

These goals do not help me eliminate anything per say but allow me to add key words that will help the students understand adaptation better. For instance, it is common for students to think that an organism can adapt to the environment quickly when in reality it takes hundreds of years for an organism to begin adapting. So adding emphasis on the time it takes to adapt would be beneficial. Also when talking about the limiting factors, it would be a good idea to include key words such as analyze relationships and allow them to think of all the different relationships that are part of the ideas stated above such as the characteristics and changes in population, and what characteristics can affect the population. 4) How do the ideas in the Benchmarks compare to the ideas in the NSES? The ideas in the benchmarks are fairly simpler in my opinion but still very helpful. The NSES goes into more detail about what each idea should include or mean to the student. For example it states that the students should understand population and ecosystems and then goes on to explain what a population consists of and what an ecosystem consists of. Then, it goes into more depth and explains some of the relationships that the students should be taught, for example, lack of resources and other factors, such as predation and climate, limit the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystem. IIIB: National Science Education Standards, p. 157-158, 168 1) What facts, concepts, principles, or theories are embedded in the standards? The standards have concepts such as the relationship between ecosystems and organisms. The basic ideas are to analyze and be able to realize that populations compete with each other for basic needs such as shelter food and resources that keep them alive. When those sources diminish the population becomes more competitive and the strongest survive leaving back the fittest. Also, that the effect of this affects the entire ecosystem through the direct effect on other populations. It is important to know what the limiting factors are. 2) How do the organizers used in the standards help you think about how to organize ideas in a topic?

The organization helps me to sort my ideas by level of difficulties and misconceptions that I might have to correct. For example, some students have difficulty with the concept of adaptation, so it would be important for me to discuss this topic. They also have trouble grasping how long it takes for a population to run out of limited resources so instilling in them that idea that it takes a very long time and it does not occur spontaneously would be something I could include as well.

Section IV: Examine Research on Student Learning 1) What specific misconceptions or alternative ideas might a student have about this topic? One misconception that students have is that there are more herbivores than carnivores because people breed them which is anthropocentric thinking. Another misconception is that the number of producers is large to satisfy the consumers. Also students saw the energy adding up through the ecosystem, with stronger organisms having more energy, which they used to feed on weaker ones. Also few students readily use the concept of interdependency to explain their organization of an ecosystem/ community; they would instead provide description of what they believe to exist. Students also had trouble predicting the effect removing a secondary consumer or the top predator would have on the rest of organisms. Another misconception was that the top predator preyed on all the organisms below on the food chain. In addition, some students believed that an organism population was only affected by changes on species directly related as prey or predator. Finally, students thought that the size of prey population would have no effect on its predator population. 2) Are there suggestions as to what might contribute to students misconceptions or difficulties? One thing that might contribute to misconceptions is that children may only have experience with domesticated animals that are dependent on people to supply them with food and shelter, so they may incorrectly assume that organisms are independent of one another. Students may believe that animals can readily change their food source from the fact that people can eat a variety of foods, so they might not believe food is a scarce

resource. Another reason may be that teachers frequently use food chains as an introduction to food webs instead of using it to explain the interdependency of organisms within ecosystems. 3) Is there an age or grade when students are more likely to learn certain ideas in the topic? The research suggests that in upper elementary students begin to get anthropocentric ideas, but from here their understanding becomes more sophisticated between the ages of 11 and 16. 4) How does the research draw attention to important prerequisites? For the topic of limiting factors it is important that students have a basic understanding of interdependency, with knowledge of food chains and the type of relationships that can exist between organisms and their environment, before they can clearly see how having a limited amount of resources can affect population size and how organisms exist. IVA: Benchmarks for Science Literacy, p. 342 1) How can the research be used to clarify the benchmark ideas? According to the research, elementary students are able to grasp the idea that there are food links between organisms, but can incorrectly assume that they are dependent on people or that food is not a scarce resource because animals can change their food at according to the availability of particular sources. This information helped me see where some misconceptions might arise and what I needed to discuss when I teach. IVB: Making Sense of Secondary Science, p. 62-63 1) Are there examples of questions or tasks that could be used to find out what students know about the topics? One task would be to have students select pictures of organisms to create a balanced community with producer, primary, and secondary consumers to see if they are applying the concept of interdependency. Ask the students to predict the size of each population. 2) Are there suggestions for helping students avoid or overcome misconceptions?

There were no suggestions, besides maybe avoiding introducing and encouraging misconceptions about the topic. 3) Is there a framework or set of rules students use to reason about ideas in the topic? One rule that is necessary for students to understand is that a fraction of energy (about 10%) is transferred to the next trophic level. Also the total numbers of organisms decrease as one ascends the food chain.

Section V: Examine Coherency and Articulation, Atlas of Science Literacy, NA 1) How does a map help you trace a concept or skill from its simple beginning to a culminating, interconnected, sophisticated idea? The map on volume two helps us with tracing a concept or skill back to its beginning by dividing the map into three sections vertically and grade levels horizontally. The three sections of interdependence are interactions among organisms, dynamic nature of ecosystems, and dependence of organisms on their environment. 2) What connections can you identify among concepts or skills in the topics? There connections to a lot of other benchmarks such as genetics and there are connections to other concept maps such as cell functions, flow of energy, natural selection, and many more. There are also some connections to the books we have been provided in class. These connect to a specific section and benchmark number. They are specific and very helpful for further information. 3) What connections can you identify to different content areas within and outside of science? There are connections within science to other topics outside of interdependence such as cell division, flow of energy, and many more. Outside of science there are connections to ethics as well, such as learning the effect of science on society, ethics in research, and incompleteness of scientific answers. 4) What prerequisite ideas can you identify for learning the topic at your grade level?

The students at my grade level should know that organisms interact with each other in many ways not just to provide food. For instance, there are diseases. Also that some depend on other organisms to carry out functions such as flowers depending on bees to carry pollen. They should also know that microorganisms exist and that most are beneficial. Furthermore, the students should understand the survival of the fittest rule, and that some changes in the environment are beneficial while some are not. The more basic knowledge should be that living things require water, food, shelter, and air to live. 5) How do the storylines or conceptual strands in a map help you think about the way to coherently organize the concepts and skills in a topic? Well it helps me see the grade levels clearly and organize them into ideas that are just in their scope of mental maturity so that they are not overwhelmed with what I think they should be able to understand. It also provides a backbone for the ideas I will be teaching and what I can refer to as prior knowledge. 6) How do the map and its narrative section improve your overall understanding of the topic? The narrative helps me see pass the scientific information into what is behind it, such as the ethics part. It helps me also to realize that most of the information builds of each idea and that certain characteristics are directly linked to the topic. Some of these characteristics are interdependence of parts, stability, and change. 7) How do the skill benchmarks relate to the knowledge benchmarks? The skill benchmarks are linked directly to the knowledge benchmarks and they build off of each other. The knowledge benchmarks require the skills benchmark and I feel as though the skill benchmarks are an essential part of the knowledge benchmarks.

Section VI: Clarify State Standards and District Curriculum 1) Which suggestions from Section II-V align well with your state or district standards or framework? Where do you see gaps that need to be addressed?

I felt that the state and district standards aligned almost perfectly with the suggestions from the precious sections and that there were not any gaps, however it is up to the teachers to make sure these learning goals are met. 2) How does the addition of cognitive performance verbs affect the learning of the ideas in the topic? Are the verbs in your state or district standards appropriate for the nature of the content and research-identified difficulty of the ideas in the topic? I believe that the verbs used are appropriate for what students are expected to accomplish in this topic. It explicitly states that students should investigate this topic and teachers should make sure they get this opportunity when they teach it. 3) How can the research findings inform the placement of your state or district standards? Are they appropriately placed, or are there some that may need to be reconsidered? I feel that the topic is appropriately placed after the transfer of matter and energy. It will help students to make connections to how the laws of energy and matter can be seen in an ecosystem. 4) How do the readings improve your interpretations and understanding of the concepts and skills associated with the topic in your standards, curriculum guide, or materials? It helped me to see the whole picture of ecosystem and the interdependence of organisms. I knew of most of the concepts beforehand, but I had not made all the connections that were shown to me through the reading. VIA: State Standards or Framework: SC.7.L.17.3 1) Which learning goals in your state standards are integral to learning the ideas in the topic? For this topic the goal is to be able to describe and investigate the different types of limiting factors in an ecosystem and their impact on the populations. 2) How did reading sections I-V help you better understand the meaning and intent of your standards or frameworks?

The information provided through the readings allowed for not only a better understanding of the topic but helped me to see how important limiting factors are when discussing interdependence of plants and animals in an ecosystem. Through the research it shows that students do not immediately connect these two topics, but they are both important when discussing ecology, often forgetting that there are limiting resources that affect all populations in an ecosystem. This has made obvious the intent of the Florida Sunshine Standards for placing them both under the same big idea. 3) How did your results help make a bridge between a broad content standard and a learning goal? As I stated before, the learning goals directly correlate to the big idea and what students are expected to learn. It broad idea is that all animals and plants are connected within an ecosystem, but the benchmark beings in the concept of limited resources. It allows students to expand on what they already know about the interactions between organisms, and gives the teacher an opportunity to implement scaffolding so students can the concept can make have a greater impact on their understanding of interdependence. 4) How can the study results help improve k-12 articulation of your standards? I felt that the state standards of this topic were spot on, however when this topic of interdependence is taught limiting factors should not be left out or just briefly touched. Students should be given an opportunity to think about their effect on the ecosystem. 5) How do the end points in the 9-12 section of your standards related to the topic compare with the adult literacy ideas in Section I? The learning goals of for high school were similar to the adult literacy ideas, however they added more specific details such as the distribution of organism is determined by interactions between the environment, and human activity and natural events can have a profound effect on populations, biodiversity and the ecosystem. It also discussed some of the ways nutrients and energy move via physical, chemical and biological processes. 6) How do the results of Sections I-V improve your understanding of students opportunity to learn and demonstrate your state standards?

From the results from section I-V, I have gained a better understanding of how this topic should be taught and what to emphasize for the students. I can see that it will be beneficial to help students form their own connections and conclusions rather than just telling them the how it works or just giving them vocabulary words to memorize. VIB: District Curriculum Guide: Alachua County 7th Grade Life Science Pacing Guide 1) Which concepts or skills, essential to developing a coherent understanding of the topic, are included in your district curriculum guide or curriculum materials? What gaps would you fill, based on your study? The concept of interdependency is essential to understanding of limiting factors and how organisms interact with each other. For the curriculum guide it just looks it aims at helping students to see what factors affect the size of the population, but it is important that students recognize that a change in one level of the food chain can affect al the others. 2) How do the study results help you see why certain lessons in your curriculum program need to be taught and not skipped over? It showed me that more connections can be made when we dont skip over lessons. Students will also have the opportunity to have a greater understanding of the big ideas in the curriculum. 3) How do the results help you identify the appropriate sequence of instructional opportunities in your curriculum? The results clarified the appropriate sequence for this unit where first there is a discussion of the how organisms in an ecosystem are connected and the relationships they share, then the process of energy transfer in a food chain. Next the students would discuss the types of relationships organisms can have and finally be introduced to the concept of limiting factors. 4) How do the results help you recognize that some topics need to be revisited within or at different grade levels with new contexts and increasing sophistication of concepts?

Students understanding of the concepts becomes more sophisticated as children grow and develop, so it will benefit them if their new ideas on the topics are discussed and reinforced or corrected as needed. Also, students wont remember everything they learn about a topic that was taught to them years ago. This also helps me to see the importance of having class discussions at every level, so students can share what they discovered for themself or have learned from previous courses. Each students may have been introduced to the topic in a different way and have their own unique way to express the topic. The class is able to hear and learn from each other with the teacher monitoring so that no misconceptions are perpetuated.

Part 2: The curriculum topic study (CTS) will help me develop my PBI because it has given me a deeper understanding of what the topic of limiting factors consist of, what students ideas on interdependency are, and how I can effectively teach this topic in a seventh grade life science class. It will be important I help students to see that limiting factors are necessary for the sustainment of an ecosystem. The CTS has helped me gain a better understanding of how to approach this lesson and help plan the order of my lessons and how to connect it to earlier benchmarks and concepts so that I can integrate them into my teaching.

The main thing that I have received from completing the CTS is greater knowledge of the topic. The foundation for this big idea is that all species are connected and that all plants and animals in an ecosystem rely on each other to survive and thrive in their environment (AAAS, 1990, p. 65). However, my topic introduces the concept of limited resources, where organisms must compete for resources, which creates limiting factors that affect the growth of the population for organisms and help define the ecosystem. I also learned some new definitions that can help explain the concept such as ecosystem being anywhere on Earth containing minerals, air, plants, animals, and microorganisms. I also learned ecological niche which is the place that is occupied by an organism and finally biosphere which is the region on Earth where all living things are found (Hazen, E, (2009), p. 260-262). Also, that what will happen when a change is made to an ecosystem, whether a limiting factor is increased or decreased, a natural disaster occurs, or a new species is introduced, cannot always be predicted.

Another aspect of my PBI that will be influenced is how I address prior knowledge. Before this, I pretty much had no idea what seventh graders believed about the topic and what

misconceptions they might have. Some of the misconceptions that I may have to address are based on ideas students have formulated based on their experiences in the world and their own explanations for the world around them. For interdependency, some of the most common misconceptions are that people have bred herbivores for food for themselves and domesticated animals so that is why they are more numerous and another one is that the energy is highest in the top predator who are stronger and eat the weaker lower energy organisms. It is important that I stress that the sun is the source of energy in any ecosystem on Earth and that this energy decreases as it is passes from one organism to another (Drivers, et al, 1994, p. 51-52). Some students also have trouble understanding that the removal of an organism from any level of the food chain can affect every organism in the ecosystem. They often believe that animals can readily adapt and change their food source just like human (AAAS, 1994, p. 341). When we have a discussion of how changes in the population of one organism is changed, I should not allow the discussion to end with only the prey and predators of the organism but urged students to think about how vast an effect it may have on the ecosystem, since every animal and plant is connected.

Finally, my study of the CTS has helped me to plan the sequence of my lesson and the connections that I want to make between concepts. It is important that my guiding question for my CTS not only address the issue of limiting factors, but allow students to incorporate all the ideas and concepts involved in interdependency since they rely on each other. Students should be able to understand the type of relationships that exist between organism and that all animals in the ecosystem are connected, so they can adequately investigate the different type of limiting factors in an ecosystem and their impact on the populations. If students can only say for example that the extinction of the top predator will allow its preys population to increase below it to have

an increase, but cannot see how this can have an even greater effect on the ecosystem, their understanding of the topic is not complete or whole.


American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). (1990). Science for all Americans. Oxford University Press.

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). (1994). Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Oxford University Press.

Driver, R., Squires, A., Rushworth, P., and Wood-Robinson, V. (1994). Making Sense of Secondary Science: Research into Childrens Ideas. Routledge.

Hazen, E. M. and Trefil, J. (2009). Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy. Random house Inc.