Habitat Change

Contributor
National Science Teachers Association Joyce Tugel Francis Eberle Page Keeley
Type Category
Assessment Materials
Types
Assessment Item
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This article includes background knowledge and instructional strategies pertaining to the use of the "Habitat Change" probe from the "Uncovering Student Ideas in Science" series.  Students are asked to share their thinking about what will happen to a fictional animal called the "divo" when the climate changes, bringing cold air and snow while killing the divo's food source. Each of the plausible answers align with commonly held misconceptions about adaptation that provide the teacher with information regarding their students' thinking that can help them plan instruction to address their misconceptions.

 

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 3
  • Upper Elementary
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

Performance Expectations

3-LS4-3 Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence could include needs and characteristics of the organisms and habitats involved. The organisms and their habitat make up a system in which the parts depend on each other.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
A fictional animal named a 'divo' lives in a warm tropical environment and eats ants. When the habitat experiences a drastic climate change, students have to use what they know about how animals adapt to a changing environment to decide if the divos will survive the change. The multiple choice answers test for common misconceptions that the divo will intentionally change its physical characteristics or learned behaviors,and that these changes can happen quickly. The students will construct an argument that either the divo will change a behavior and survive, or that the divo will not be able to change its behavior that quickly (the proper answer), and will probably perish. The probe can also be revisited as a summative assessment after students have had the opportunity to develop and refine their scientific ideas by giving students an opportunity to revise their initial answer choices and explanation.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Formative assessment probes may be used at the beginning of a new unit to provide the teacher with preconceived ideas that the students may have about a concept. This knowledge can be used by the teacher to guide their instruction. Because this is a fictional animal, no data is available for the divo to research and use as evidence to support an argument, however students can put together a prediction about what they think is going to happen to the divo and support that claim with information about other animals with which they are familiar, because the concept would be the same with any animal. This activity could be followed with other examples of animals affected by climate change, such as the golden frog or polar bear. Data and models could be used with those animals, which would satisfy all areas of the practice.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
When a habitat experiences a drastic climate change, students have to use what they know about how animals adapt to a changing environment to decide if a fictional animal named a 'divo', who lives in a warm tropical environment and eats ants, will survive the change. The multiple choice answers test for common misconceptions that the divo will intentionally change its physical characteristics or learned behaviors, and that these changes can happen quickly. The students are asked to construct an argument that the divo will change a behavior and survive, or that the divo will not be able to change its behavior that quickly (the proper answer), and will probably not survive.

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The recommended answer to this assessment probe is that the divos died out, which helps to support the core idea of extinction. The teacher notes state that, "most of the divos probably died because the physical structures, physiology, and behaviors they were born with no longer fit the changed environment. Populations can adapt over time, but individuals do not change during their lifetime." The teacher could also bring in examples of animals that no longer exist on earth (such as the dodo bird, dinosaurs, or the Tasmanian tiger) and what environmental change may have caused their extinction. The resource also encourages the teacher to closely listen to how the students use the term "adapt". The term is widely used in a non-scientific way to mean that someone has purposefully changed their behavior. If the student uses the word "adapt" to imply an intentionality on the part of the organism, then the misconception needs to be addressed. The authors also advise the teacher that the "early misuse of the word adapt and its lack of conceptual meaning in science follows elementary students into middle school and high school, where some students will still cling to the notion of intentionality when presented with the concept of natural selection," so it is important to correct the misunderstanding at an early age.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Because the divo is a fictional animal, the cause and effect of the environmental factors cannot be tested, but the scenario does offer a rich opportunity for classroom discussion about identifying underlying causes. Cause and effect relationships of other animals (such as global warming and the habitats of polar bears) would enrich this discussion.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Students are given a scenario and asked to evaluate the evidence and make a prediction about the survival of the divos. The formative assessment probe makes the students think about what they know and believe about adaptation. This probe is not meant to be a stand-alone lesson, but provides a strong introduction to adaptation and natural selection. The formative assessment addressed the disciplinary core idea, but does not provide any hands-on, real life experience for the student.

  • Instructional Supports: Students need to have a grade-level reading and writing ability, and a working background knowledge of ecosystems to complete this activity. There is no differentiation for ESL students, struggling readers, or gifted students, no connection to the student's home, and no grading supports since this is a formative assessment and should not be assigned a grade. For struggling readers, the teacher could consider using a formative assessment technique to differentiate the lesson. The probe could be read orally and the students could put a sticky note above the option that they think is correct, which forms a sticky note bar graph, followed by a class discussion of the results. This removes the need for the student to read or write, but still provides the needed information to the teacher to plan the rest of his or her instruction.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: 'Habitat Change' provides the teacher with both written and oral insight into student preconceptions and misconceptions about adaptation and natural selection. This knowledge would allow the teacher to better plan their instruction for the unit.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technology involved with this activity.