HS-LS2-6 Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
Clarification Statement: Examples of changes in ecosystem conditions could include modest biological or physical changes, such as moderate hunting or a seasonal flood; and extreme changes, such as volcanic eruption or sea level rise.
Assessment Boundary: none
This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.
Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The “Curriculum and Instructional Considerations” (p. 97) within the Teacher Notes offer particularly insightful comments about common student misconceptions and how to guide students to deeper understandings and more clear analyses of causality. This lesson asks students whether the saltwater fish population off the coast of Florida is declining and if so, what policies would be most effective in slowing that decline. To help students answer those questions, the lesson provides students with data on the populations of fish off the coast of Florida and with a process for preparing a claim along with evidence and a rationale in support of the claim.
This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn about limiting factors within ecosystems and the complexity of interrelationships within the ocean waters around Florida. Teachers may want to adapt this lesson to other areas that may be of more interest to their students. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA – Office of Science and Technology) provides species information and commercial fisheries statistics for any area you select. States with ocean borders all have their own commercial fishing databases, too. The lesson does not address stable conditions, so teachers may want to ask their students what kinds of conditions would allow marine populations to maintain consistent numbers. Teachers need to be aware of blending the three components of the PE – considering carefully the integration of engaging in argument from evidence, knowledge about interdependence in ecosystems, and an awareness of the causality behind both stability and change. As students construct their arguments, and as they respond to the arguments of their peers, considering each of these components within the context of the others will build understanding. The lesson includes an excellent list of questions for students to help them evaluate their peers’ arguments; these same questions may be used to evaluate their own. The preface, introduction, student assessment samples, and appendix of the full book provide the teacher with background on how to support students in their small group work and facilitate class discussions as they progress through the argumentation cycle.