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Theresa King

EDMT 330

Ecosystems Lesson Plan
Lesson overview
Students will investigate in small groups the temperature, precipitation levels, and plant
life of an ecosystem, collate their data and generate a graph, and use that information
to explain the plant life in our school’s ecosystem.
Grade level
4th grade. Could be modified for 5th grade.
1. Students will collect data on temperature, precipitation, and plant life in three
2. Students will input data into a spreadsheet and generate graphs.
3. Students will explain the correlation between the temperature and precipitation and
plant growth in an ecosystem through a written reflection in their Science Journal.
Learning Outcomes
Data entry
Data analysis

MI Science Standard L.OL.04.15
Determine that plants require air, water, light, and a source of energy and
building material for growth and repair.
MI Technology Standard 3-5.RI.2.
Use digital tools to find, organize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate

Prior skills and knowledge (related to lesson content and to experience using technology)
Students need to know how to read a map.
Students need to know how to use an encyclopedia.
Students need to know how graphs work.
Statement of the authentic problem to be solved
Students will identify the factors and conditions which allow for plant growth in our
school’s ecosystem.
A description of the strategy for grouping the students
Students will be in groups of 3, chosen randomly by drawing name sticks from a jar.
Pictures of and/or live samples of various plant life, both local and nonlocal
Map of climate zones in North America/world
World Atlases

(If atlases and climate zone maps are unavailable, perhaps create own map book for
students to use. See attached example.)
Computers with access to Google Drive:
WaKaoEuQ/edit#gid=0 (sample data filled in)
Completed sets of data by the teacher as backup
Data sheets for each student
Computer Instructions for each group
Passage about ecosystems for students to read independently (see 2 attached options)
Equipment to project computer screen to front of room
Opening set activity
Show students several plants: a cactus, a rose, a pine tree, etc. and ask them if all
these plants come from this area. If students answer “yes,” ask them where a person
would find them in the wild. If the students answer “no,” ask them why not. Follow up
their responses with questions about which are not from this area, where you might
find these plants, and why certain plants will only grow in certain places.
1. After the set activity, explain to students the project. Provide an example of an
ecosystem that is not being investigated today and use it to demonstrate the
computer tasks.
2. Place students into groups of 3 by randomly drawing name sticks from a jar.
3. Each group will decide on 3 ecosystems to investigate. They may choose one out of
each of the following sets: desert/tundra, rainforest/plains, and northern
coastal/southern coastal.
4. After choosing their ecosystems, students will use resources in the classroom to
research temperature, precipitation levels, and plant life in each of their three
ecosystems. They will keep track of their findings on their data sheets (attached).
5. Once students have completed the research portion of the project, they will enter
their data into the Google Sheet, “Ecosystems,” online. Each student in the group
with enter data for one category: Average Temperature, Annual Precipitation, and
Predominant Plant Life. Students will have to pay attention to where data needs to
be entered, and they will have to switch between tabs in the spreadsheet.
6. Students will try to generate a graph for their data only on the Temperature and
Precipitation pages and leave a copy of it on the sheet. It is okay if they are not
7. When students are done on the computer, they will read quietly in their seats about
ecosystems (attached).
8. Any of the six ecosystems not researched by students will be filled in by the teacher.
9. Once all the data is entered, the class will discuss the best kind of graph to display
each set of information.
10. By projecting the Google spreadsheet on the board, the teacher will allow the
students to help her/him find the icon for graphs on the toolbar and will generate
appropriate representations together within the spreadsheet.
11. Students will sketch the finished graphs in their Science Journals and write a short
reflection on the relationship between temperature and precipitation, and how that
affects plant life. They will relate their new knowledge to our school’s ecosystem and
what kind of plant life we have.

Assessment plan
Students will be assessed on the three parts of the project. The following rubric will be
Zero to little
All the
Research (as
information for information for information
shown on the
each of the 3
each of the 3
required and
Data Sheets)
parts: temp,
parts or not
plant life
Data Input
Less accurate
Accurate data
data but
and in the
data or placed
placed in
correct cells
in wrong cells
correct cells
No sketches or Graphs
sketched and
graphs and
and zero to
included, but
reflection on
little writing
may be
for the
lacking some
accuracy or
which may be
detail in
about our
inaccurate in
If certain students need more time to complete the project, it can be stretched out
over a couple days.
If certain students struggle to read the maps, group members can talk about the
maps out loud to model their thinking or a classroom assistant can do this.
If certain students lack the physical capacity to enter data, they can tell their group
partners what to input. Their journal entries can be dictated as well.
Planned computer uses
Computer use
Analyze data to
Input data into
draw conclusions
spreadsheet and
generate graphs

New skills
Students have not
generated graphs
before using a

Google Drive

Content analysis for generating graphs
1. Locate group column and appropriate ecosystem row and enter data.
2. Highlight the column with their data from cell 4 through 10.
3. Locate and click on the “Insert Graph” icon on the toolbar.
4. When the Chart Editor pops up, several recommended graph options will be
displayed. Students can choose one of these by selecting it and then clicking
“Insert,” or they can explore other options by selecting More>> .

5. A graph with their data will now be on the page. They can change the name
of their graph by clicking on Chart Title and they can make it smaller and
move it around.
How to teach technical skills
Before beginning rotations, the teacher will explain what students are to do in each
rotation by using an ecosystem not focused on in the project and demonstrating how
to do the research and graphing. When students are in the various rotations, the
teacher will move around the room, offering guidance as needed. When students are
on the computer and making graphs, the teacher will offer guidance as needed to
help them remember. Students will also have directions for the computer as a
Groups 1 & 4 will start with looking at the atlas and maps.
Groups 2 & 5 will start with the encyclopedias.
Group 3 will start with reading the passage on ecosystems.
After 15 minutes:
Groups 1 & 4 will move to the encyclopedias.
Groups 2 & 5 will move to reading the passage on ecosystems.
Group 3 will move to looking at the atlas and maps.
After 15 minutes:
Groups 1 & 4 will move to the computers.
Groups 2 & 5 will move to looking at the atlas and maps.
Group 3 will move to the encyclopedias.
After 15 minutes:
Groups 1 & 4 will move to reading the passage on ecosystems.
Groups 2 & 5 will move to the computers.
Group 3 will move to the computers.
Share the Google Spreadsheet so that students can access it
Pull together data on each of the ecosystems
Ensure that research materials are available in the classroom

Name: _________________________________

Group # ______

Ecosystems Data Sheet
Choose one ecosystem from each set:


Desert or Tundra:



Rainforest or Plains:



Northern coastal or Southern coastal: _________________


For each ecosystem, find a U.S. state or country in that climate zone.
These will help you locate information on certain maps.

Use resources in the classroom to find the high and low temperatures for
your ecosystems.

High temp

Low temp

Average temp

Is it hot, warm, cool,
or cold?

To find the average temperature, you can add the high and low temperatures
and then divide by 2.

Find the annual precipitation for your ecosystems.

Annual precipitation

Is it dry or wet?

Find information on what kind of plant life is in your ecosystem.

Ecosystems Project
Computer Instructions
1. Open the link to the Google spreadsheet, “Ecosystems.”
2. Choose a group member to enter the data for Temperature. Be sure to
enter the data into the correct cells.
3. Now highlight cells 4 – 10 in your group’s column. Try to find the “Insert
Graph” icon in the toolbar. Choose a graph for your data and click
“Insert”. You can rename it for your group.
4. Choose a group member to enter data for Precipitation. It must be a
different member than did Temperature. Enter your data into the
correct cells.
5. Now highlight cells 4 – 10 in your group’s column. Create a graph using
the icon in the toolbar.
6. The last member of the group will enter data for Plant Life. Enter the
data in the correct cells. On the right, think of some descriptive words
about your ecosystems and add them to this section.
7. If you finish before the end of the Rotation, practice making other
types of graphs. Be sure everyone in the group gets a chance to make

Sample Maps


2006 Average Low Temperature

Average High Temperature