Using Our Endangered Species to Explore Biodiversity

Lesson Plan

State Standards:

Essential Question:

Lesson Question:


Did you know that there are only 8 different species of bears, but over 2600 different species of snakes?

Or, that there are over 250,000 species of beetles?

Darwin would have been surprised!

All living things (plants, animals, fungi and bacteria) are divided into categories called "species". Scientists continually discover and categorize new species, but every day day many more species on earth go extinct. Having species of many kinds (biodiversity) is one of our Earth's greatest natural resources, but human activity is constantly reducing this variety by altering habitats, hunting, and/or introducing toxins and foreign species into the organism's ecosystem.

So, what does it mean when we say a species is "endangered"? Does it matter when a species goes extinct? What can we do about it?

We will explore these important questions, while learning/acquiring new English vocabulary essential to your understanding of these concepts. This lesson will build over several classes and activities ultimately leading to a final group web 2.0 presentation that will involve research, writing, and creative presentation.


After we explore some basic ecology vocabulary terms and concepts, and learn about components to species adaptations/survival and extinction (lessons 1 and 2), you will work in assigned groups to collaborate and research an endangered animal species of your choice. You will then use your research to design and create an informative and persuasive Glogster poster about your endangered animal, why it should be protected and how we can help.

Lesson Experiences:

Process (include all steps of the lesson procedure):

Day 1-2: "What is a "species"
Elicit: What makes a species a species? Have you ever heard the term "endangered species"? Discuss and share.

Explore: Let's watch this video about Brazil's national symbol, the jaguar, and find out...

Jaguar Species Spotlight

Explain: Building off of this video and our discussion, we'll need to preview some of the science vocabulary necessary for this unit. Let's go through this slide show and discuss each one and take notes.

My own lecture notes plus powerpoint presentation by :
Ecology Vocab with pictures.ppt
1. Vocabulary quiz: Study and quiz yourself on the vocabulary for this unit. Use the flashcards to study with a partner and then take the quiz at the end. How did you do?

Ecology Flashcards


2. Journal Free Write: We've been discussing so many animals and learning the vocabulary to describe them. Try to use some of that vocabulary to respond to the following questions:
Do you have a favorite animal? Why? Is it a herbivore, carnivore or omnivore?
Which animal would you like to learn more about? Why?

Assessments: notebook check, vocabulary quiz and journal completion

Day 3-4: "Exploring Food Webs - what happens when an species is gone?"

6.5:Stage 2 Activity:
Objective: Students will learn the roles and importance of all organisms in a food web, as well as vocabulary necessary to explore this topic.

Task: In this activity, you will learn to distinguish the various roles of each organism (producer, primary consumer, etc.) and how energy is transferred in order to make their own simple food webs to share. Students will explore and be able to explain the importance of all organisms in food web and analyze what happens when a species disappears.

What can happen when one trophic level organism is missing from a food web? Journal write first, then share ideas and discuss. Examples (from this lesson) to think about
What would happen if honey bees disappeared?
What would happen if alga disappeared?

Black Box Investigation
Using the Black Box, explore a small "marine food web", in order to label each as to which role each organism plays in the food web (primary consumer, secondary consumer, etc.). More importantly, investigate what crucial trophic level/organism is missing (algae or phytoplankton: producer)

Activity Cube - words on activity cube: marine food web,sea star clam,krill,whale,"blank"

Explain: Based on discussion, let's look at some brief videos that relate to many of the ideas you came up with in your journal entries, group discussion and small groups:

The Importance of Bees

Discussion questions: What was your reaction to this video? Did you see anything we didn't talk about regarding the importance of bees in ecosystem? Let's look at the importance of a producer now:

The importance of alga

Discussion questions: What was your reaction to this video? What are some important uses of algae you didn't know about? Why is algae so important to the marine foodweb?

Elaborate: Now let's practice making our own food chains and simple webs. Make a simple food web! Group exercise: each group will be given an envelope with organism cards (approximately 7) for an ecosystem. The cards will have both a picture and the name of the organism. You also have several cut out arrows. Using the vocabulary and what you learned today about the importance of all organisms (producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers), work together to construct a small food web at your table. When you are finished and you are sure your web is correct, you can take a digital picture of your work. We will then collaborate as a class to create a teacher guided Glogster poster incorporating your food webs. We will take our time and make sure we all understand how to use this web poster making tool! This will help to ensure that you can do your own poster for the "Endangered Amimal" group project.

Extend/Homework: Practice working with food chains/webs using these great games at home or in the computer lab:


Assessment: Students will be assessed based on their group work and design/presentation of an accurate food web.

Day 4-? : Project "Save your animal!"

Introduction to project:

Watch this powerful slide show/video to see several endangered species including some plants. The names are printed clearly when they show the animal so you can learn the names/the vocab for the ones you don't know in your own language or have never seen.


Groups of 3-4 will be assigned by the teacher.

Select your animal and do some research using these 3 Web Sources that you will site in your Glogster Poster:

1. Choose your endangered animal from the “Especies Factsheet” found at this website:

2. When you click on an animal, it will automatically take you to “Defenders of Wildlife” where they have fact sheets for all the animals. Take your time and look around to decide on your group’s endangered animal. .

Once you do this, begin researching your animal. You can use the fact sheets, but you should also explore the websites for other interesting resources (videos and critter cams) that you could embed or use in you Glogster Poster. You can even listen to many of the animal's sound by clicking on audio.
Try it!
Here's a sample fact sheet for the african elephant:

Using these resources, find the following information and take notes on each subject for your animal:
Name: Common name and scientific: Genus & Species
Physical description
Diet (carnivore? omnivore?)
Climate requirements
Relationship with other species (predator/prey)
Breeding information
3 other interesting facts
WHY is this species is endangered and how many are left? Also, what conservation efforts are underway to protect your animal? What can we do to help?

Once your group has all the information you need, go ahead and create your Glogster Poster. As a group you will need to agree on how you are going to design it. Perhaps you have a catchy slogan to protect your animal? Some good photographs or drawings? Look at these examples to get some ideas or go directly to the website: glogster and look at all kinds of examples to inspire you!


At the end of this lesson and project, you should have learned/acquired the the ecology vocabulary and feel confident using it for your research and poster presentation. You should also be able to answer and express your opinions to our original questions regarding biodiversity: what does it mean when we say a species is "endangered"? Does it matter when a species goes extinct? What can we do about it? .
Your web poster will show your knowledge in these areas, as well as your new skills in using Web 2. Glogster to effectively collaborate in creating a unique and creative presentation.


Assessment Rubric

rubbrics beaulieu


General Technology:
Access to computer lab (at least 12 computers) or lab top cart for approximately one week
Student email accounts and access to Glogster
LC projector and teacher computer
Websites and digital media:

Day 1-3:

Day 4-6
4-5 black boxes using my design - see black box file (right now I can't download it)
food web cards/arrows (my design)
digital camera
SMEE Semporna Marine Ecological Expedition - The importance of algae

NATURE Silence of the Bees - 125k - Cached
**JAGUAR** - **Species Spotlight** - YouTube - 184k - Cached