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Ready-Set-Tech: Take a Walk on the Wild Side: A Unit on Ecosystems
Take a Walk on the Wild Side: A Unit on Ecosystems
Exploring a Pond as an Ecosystem | Discovering the Ocean | A Desert Discovery | What Is a Rainforest?

What is a Rainforest?
Rainforests play an important role on Earth by providing many essential elements human beings need to survive. They influence climate by having an effect on the wind, rainfall, humidity, and temperature throughout the world. Within the rainforest, water, oxygen and carbon dioxide are recycled. Almost one fourth of the pharmaceuticals we use come from plants of the tropical rainforests and they support over one half of the plant and animal life on Earth, while covering only 2% of the Earth's surface.

In this lesson, students will learn where the various rainforests of the world are locatecd, what common elements define them, and will create a class book from student research. The lesson will culminate in a class 3D-art project creating a rainforest environment in the classroom and a celebration, at the end of the study that includes foods from the rainforests.

Phillip Seymour
Phillip Seymour is a nationally recognized education trainer and consultant on visual perception and arts/media curriculum integration. He has taught in the New York City public schools and teaches and trains at national universities and educational institutions. Presently, Phillip is an instructor at New York University and the City University of New York.


Subjects:

Science, Language Arts, Geography, Social Studies, Technology, and Constructive Art

Grade Level: 3-6

Time: 6 hours

Materials: 2-3 computers with one LCD projector and Internet connection, writing materials, drawing paper and art materials, books, magazines and other resource materials


Objectives:

 

 

 

 

 

 


Students will:
•  Learn and discover the various common elements that make up a rainforest. (This would include plants, animals, insects, climate and indigenous peoples.)

•  Discover locations of rainforests of the world through map reading

•  Participate in class and group discussions

•  Perform group research, process information, give group presentations, and contribute to a class book about rainforests

•  Learn to research using the Internet

•  Draw the various parts and elements of a rainforest, and then create a rainforest in their classroom

•  Generate and analyze ideas


Web sites:

 

 


Teachers can refresh their knowledge of rainforests by visiting the following resources
:

From the American Museum of Natural History:
1) Good rainforest introduction:
http://amnh.org/exhibitions/hall_tour/index.html
2) Introductory site for students:
http://ology.amnh.org/biodiversity/dzanga_sangha/index.html

Other great web resources:
1) Nice introduction to rainforest animals:
http://proteacher.com/cgi-bin/outsidesite.cgi?external=
http://plainfield.k12.in.us/hschool/
webq/webq3/rain.htm&original=
http://proteacher.com/110058.shtml
&title=Animals%20of%20the%20Rainforest
2) Good resource for books & student resources:
http://proteacher.com/cgi-bin/outsidesite.cgi?external=
http://libsci.sc.edu/miller/Rainfor.htm&original=
http://proteacher.com/110058.shtml&title
=Rain%20Forests%20and%20Planet%20Ecology
3) Nice site about rainforests:
http://ran.org/info_center/about_rainforests.html
4) Interesting rainforest site for teachers, also in Spanish:
http://ran.org/info_center/teacherstudent.html
5) Great virtual tour of a rainforest:
http://pbs.org/journeyintoamazonia
6) Internet resources about rainforests:
http://kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil/pages/listrainforemr3.html
7) A simple explanation of a rainforest:
http://ran.org /kidscorner/rainforests/
fhap/KidsFS_1_Rainforest.pdf



Book and Magazine Resources:



Magazine from the American Museum of Natural History:

1)
http://amnh.org/education/resources/
card_frame.php?rid=1043&rurlid=1008


Book resources:
1) http://expage.com/tropicaltribune books
2) http://proteacher.com/cgi-bin /outsidesite.cgi?ext e rnal=
http://libsci.sc.edu/miller/Rainfor.htm&original=
http://proteacher.com/110058.
shtml&title=Rain%20Forests%2 0 and%20Planet%20Ecology
3)
http://expage.com/tropicaltribuneresources


Opening:


Brainstorm the idea of rainforests with the students and create a KWL chart. Tell them you would like them to think about, and then share information they already know about the rainforest. Also ask them to draw their concept of a rainforest in images. Write down the words and concepts they come up with on the chart. Put the drawings up in a selected area of the classroom.

Then introduce and walk them through a virtual rainforest.Make sure to cover the following components of a rainforest while on the virtual tour: plants, insects, animals, indigenous peoples, vegetation layers, and weather along with other components as they come up.

Choose from a selection of the following web sites:  
•  http://ology.amnh.org/biodiversity/dzanga_sangha/index.html
(Excellent introductory virtual tour from the American Museum of Natural History)
•  http://thinkquest.org/library/site_
sum.html?lib_id=2678&team_id=5393

(Excellent multimedia teacher/student tour into the various elements of the rainforest)
•  http://pbs.org/tal/costa_rica/rainwalk.html
(Great walking tour of the rainforest)
•  http://kidsplanet.org
(Great additional multi-media virtual tour)
•  http://mbgnet.mobot.org/sets/rforest/index.htm
(Interesting site with children leading the tour)
•  http://pbs.org/tal/costa_rica
(Great PBS site walking through the rainforest, visual/ text)
•  http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/
(Site for research and information )
•  http://library.thinkquest.org/4621/IN D EX.HTM?tqskip1=1
(Good introductory site for children)
•  http://junglephotos.com
(Great site for rainforest elements and indigenous peoples)
•  http://ran.org/kids_action/index.html
( Excellent site for students depicting all elements of the rainforest and providing visuals)

Have a world map available for each student and a large class map to identify the various rainforests throughout the world as they are mentioned.
Student maps can be downloaded from:
http://nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/atlas/index.html
?Parent=world&Mode=b&SubMode=

KWL chart. Ask the students if they would still like to know more about rainforests. Record their responses on the chart.

   

Development:


Break the students into groups of four and tell them they will be exploring rainforests in more detail and defining the common elements of rainforests. (If one topic, for example animals, is particularly lengthy, two groups could share this topic.) Explain to the class that they will be creating a class book on the rainforest. Each group's report will be used as a chapter in the book. They are required to include visuals in their chapters to strengthen their findings. The visuals can be either drawn, downloaded from the web, or photo images may be taken from magazines or books. Since the world's rainforests support over half of the plant and animal life in the world, the students will need help in narrowing down their topics for research.

The class can access the following student-friendly Internet sites:•  http://ology.amnh.org/biodiversity/
dzanga_sangha/index.html
(Child guiding students through his rainforest)
•  http://library.thinkquest.org/5393
(Super visual tour of all elements of the rainforest)
•  http://tropical-forests.com
(Great site for students introduction to all elements of the rainforest)
•  http://kidsplanet.org
(Multimedia site on animals of the world)
•  http://ZoomSchool.com/subjects/rainforest
(Super all about rain forests visual site)
•  http://junglephotos.com
(Good visual images including indigenous peoples)
•  http://mbgnet.mobot.org/sets/rforest/index.htm
(Students telling students)
•  http://thinkquest.org/library/
site_sum.html?lib_id=2678&team_id=5393
(Wonderful virtual tour of the rainforest with animals, plants and humans)
•  http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/
(Great all-element site including native peoples)
•  http://thinkquest.org/library/cat
_show.html?cat_id=216&cid=1
(Additional good resource web sites)
•  http://library.thinkquest.org/5343
(Super site by students about the rainforests)
•  http://pbs.org/tal/costa_rica
(Really good walking tour of the rainforest discovering its elements)
•  http://thinkquest.org/library/site_sum.
html?lib_id=4542&team_id=J0112365
(Great site for some of the harder to find creatures as snakes and insects)
•  http://pbs.org/journeyintoamazonia/sacred.html
(Great site introducing the various layers off the rainforest)
•  http://jajhs.kana.k12.wv.us/amazon/plants.htm
(Parts of the Amazon in images and text)
•  http://jajhs.kana.k12.wv.us/amazon/animal.htm
(Great for animals of the Amazon rainforest)
•  http://proteacher.com/cgi-bin/ou t sidesite.cgi?external=
http://plainfield.k12.in.us/hschool/webq/
webq3/rain. h tm&original=
http://proteacher.com/110058.shtml&title
=Animals%20of%20the%20Rainforest

(Good interactive site for animals)
•  http://library.thinkquest.org/4621/INDEX.HTM?tqskip1=1
(Nice introduction to the rainforest and its elements)
•  http://animalsoftherainforest.org
(All about animals of the rainforest )
•  http://ran.org/kids_action/index.html
(Really good site for students introducing all aspects of the rainforest)

Books and magazine resources should also be provided to the students to develop additional skills in for research. Sources are found under the first section of this lesson plan.


Activities:


As the students are being mentored during their research, start gathering the materials to create the class book. Aim for a large book as it is easier to read and demands more attention in the classroom. Begin to gather art materials for the class 3D-art project of creating a rainforest environment.

Look at the following web sites for ideas on a 3D-art montage:
•  http://amnh.org/nationalcenter/
online_field_journal/dr/drft/drftmain.html

•  http://abcteach.com/RainforestFacts/RoomRainForest.htm


Closing:


Class book. The student groups present their final research reports to the class. Pay attention to equal per student participation.

Each group's written/visual report will make up a chapter in the class book. Use large construction paper backed by mat board for the book's pages. Keep the book large and visible. The binder can be created with three or four large rings to hold the pages together. Written entries should be typed. Assign roles in creating the book's cover, table of contents, general assembly, visuals, etc. Labeled images supporting the text should be included in the book, as well as a visual cover.

Rainforest environment. The students can begin creating the 3D classroom environment at any point during their research. The plan for the environment is a complete class endeavor with careful attention being paid regarding the three layers of a rainforest environment and the elements of each layer.

Some ideas on creating the art mural can be found on the following web sites:
•  http://amnh.org/nationalcenter/
online_field_journal/index.html
•  http://abcteach.com/Rainforest
Facts/RoomRainForest.htm

Narrative and literacy engagement. Ask the students to write about the rainforest in a number of different genres: poems, a letter from the rainforest, from the point-of-view of an member of the forest, the journal of an explorer, a reporter's description, etc. Post these writings in an area of the classroom set aside for the rainforest display. This area will also have the labeled map of the world, the finished class book, and any other visual or written work.

Rainforest celebration. When all the projects are finished have a class celebration/party that includes foods coming from the rainforest. Coordinate with parents about contributing foods to bring in to school. Parents, school administrators and other classes should receive an invitation for the celebration.


Assessment:


Each group will present a written and oral report on their rainforest research. Look for evidence of individual contribution to the oral and written reports. The groups and individuals should address questions such as:
•  Why is a rainforest considered an ecosystem? What is your supporting evidence? (Oral, written and visual.)
•  How does your particular study fit into the definition of a rainforest ecosystem?
•  Where else in the world do rainforests exist? What are the names of the rainforests? In what countries are they located?

Student journals have recorded each student's progress throughout the study.

KWL chart. Ask the students what they have learned from their study. Is there still more they would like to know? Record their responses.

Each student's contribution to the classroom 3D art construction and its labeling.

Narrative and literacy contributions regarding the learned rainforest content.

 

 

Other lessons in this ecosystem unit include:
Exploring a Pond as an Ecosystem
Discovering the Ocean
A Desert Discovery

 

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