4 • Lean on Me!

Exploring Organisms and the Environment

Created by:
Dori Ramsdell

Grade Level: 4
Subject Multidisciplinary: Science and Technology

Task Title
Lean on Me! Exploring Organisms and the Environment through the Internet and Microsoft PowerPoint

Task Discipline
Science & Technology

    The overall purpose of this Assured Experience was for students to gain a better understanding of the delicate interaction between organisms and their environments using both the Internet and Microsoft PowerPoint.  This was done through research of different zones of the ocean, and how those varying ecosystems support life in different ways.   


Through teacher-guided discussions and activities and student explorations, students first had the opportunity to research an ocean zone using various internet websites and record their findings.  They then used their research to create a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating their understanding of how the characteristics of a zone support the survival of organisms in different ways. Students distinguished characteristics of organisms in each zone, and how those adaptations allow those animals to survive in their habitat.  Students also explored how changes to the ocean zone they chose can affect survival either positively or negatively. 

The Lesson / Unit

• Lesson objectives
• Students will use internet research to better understand the effects of environment on its inhabitants.
• Students will become familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint as a means by which to organize and communicate ideas effectively.
• Students will work as a team to create a PowerPoint presentation that demonstrates their understanding of the interaction between organisms and an environment.
• Students will work as members of a team and demonstrate their ability to collaboratively collect and organize team information in a final product.

• Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions
    The Essential Questions are derived from the state of
    Connecticut’s Science Content Standards and Grade Level
    Expectations, as well as Ashford School’s science curriculum
• How do temperature, plant life, and other environmental features support the survival of organisms?
• How are animals uniquely adapted to different environments?
• How do changes to an ecosystem (such as global warming) affect an organism’s survival?

• Task description
1. The classroom teacher divided the class into four groups, and assigned each group a zone of the ocean to focus on.  In creating the groups, the classroom teacher considered reading levels of each student and placed students of varying abilities in each group.
2. In preparation for the lesson on PowerPoint, the teacher created a PowerPoint to use as a model to show students.  The classroom teacher also took a digital photograph of each student for use with this lesson.
3. Using a computer with a projection device, the teacher modeled creating a PowerPoint about herself as a way of introducing the software, showing students basic skills needed to create a final product presentation.
4. Students were given a handout that followed the process explained in the whole-class activity. They were allowed two periods to create their “About Me” presentations, uploading a photograph of themselves into their slide.
5. Following these practice lessons to familiarize students with PowerPoint, students were given many science class periods to research, collect information, gather pictures, and collaborate with team members on their ocean zone.
6. When all final presentations were complete, students were given an opportunity to reflect on their own involvement and participation throughout the duration of the project.
7. Each group gave a brief presentation to the class using the PowerPoint they had created.

• Context within which the work was produced
    The teacher divided groups of students in one class into four groups to correlate with the four zones of the ocean, and assigned each group a different zone to focus on for the duration of the experience.  Students used the computer lab or mobile laptop cart while researching their zones and creating their PowerPoint presentations.

• Prior learning required
    This AE was designed to be a late spring endeavor that builds on students’ knowledge of food chains and webs, and adds elements of research, group collaboration, and computer presentation to enhance understanding of concepts.  Students participating in this activity had the following prior learning:
• Understanding of vocabulary such as food chain, food web, ecosystem, organism, consumer, producer, decomposer, and nutrients.
• Introduction to the ocean as an ecosystem, and its four zones.
• Knowledge of how to access the Internet from school computers.
• Ability to open an application and save a file to the network.
• How to copy and paste graphics from various locations into a document.
• Navigating appropriately within an Internet site.

• Types of groupings used in this task
    Given the varying difficulty levels of internet resources that students would be required to read through in order to research, students were grouped heterogeneously based upon reading levels.  It was important for me to include high, medium, and low level readers in each group so that students could support one another in their understanding of the sites they used.  There were grouped in both small-group and whole-class groupings depending on the activity.

• Any differentiated strategies used in this task
    In addition to the above, support staff was available to help those students with special needs.  One or two students received a preview of PowerPoint before the whole-class teaching to familiarize them with the program and its features.  Use of the computer and student-friendly sites lent themselves well to the success of all students.
Curriculum Frameworks
State Science Standards
B INQ.1 Make observations and ask questions about objects, organisms and the environment.
B INQ.2 Search the Web and locate relevant science information.
B INQ.3 Describe how animals, directly or indirectly, depend on plants to provide the food and energy they need in order to grow and survive.
B INQ.4 Describe how natural phenomena and some human activities may cause changes to habitats and their inhabitants.
Ashford Science Curriuculum
4.2  All organisms depend on the living and non-living features of the environment for survival.

Student and/or Teacher Technology Standards
State Technology Standards
Content Standard 2: Students will understand and demonstrate information skills and strategies to locate and effectively use print and non-print resources to solve problems and conduct research.
Content Standard 3: Students will apply information from a variety of sources and formats using evaluative criteria to interpret ,analyze, organize and synthesize both print and non-print material.
Content Standard 4: Students will use appropriate information and technology to create written, visual, oral and multimedia products to communicate ideas, information or conclusions to others.
Content Standard 5: Students will operate and use computers and other technologies as tools for productivity, problem solving and learning across the content areas.
Content Standard 6: Students will demonstrate the responsible, legal and ethical use of information resources, computers and other technologies.

Ashford Technology Curriculum
Technology Research Tools
    Use appropriate search engines to perform a simple keyword search
    Locate appropriate Internet sites with teacher assistance
    Basic navigation within an Internet site unassisted
Technology Communication Tools
    Use technology to create documents or projects designed to communicate thoughts,
ideas, or stories
Gather information and communicate with others using telecommunications

    Each group’s final product was assessed by the teacher using the rubric in the attachments below.  Individual students were also given the opportunity to reflect upon their own progress and participation in the project using the Student Reflection Sheet.

• Working together in groups presented both challenges and advantages to students during this project.  My students were split into four groups based on the four ocean zones.  The next time I implement this project, I will group students into groupings no larger than two or three, as the larger a group, the more challenging it is for them to effectively communicate and accomplish common goals.  Smaller groups would still allow for the element of collaboration, while facilitating ease of communication and effectiveness.
• Although I chose to focus on the zones of the ocean for this AE, it could also be adapted or expanded very easily to different habitats such as deciduous forests, deserts, arctic regions, etc. 
• Use of the internet and PowerPoint kept students both motivated and engaged throughout the duration of the project.  They were excited to be creating a final product that they could share with peers, and enjoyed the challenge of organizing the information they found into presentation format. 

Material Resources
• Laptops or computers with Internet access
• Microsoft PowerPoint software
• Inspiration software
• Websites listed in Technology Resources
• Student note-taking/reflection sheets listed in Task Description
• Projection device for use with whole-class lesson
• Picture of each student for lesson on Microsoft PowerPoint

Technology Resources and Web Links


Marji Roy,
Jun 27, 2009, 3:02 PM
Marji Roy,
Jun 27, 2009, 3:02 PM
Marji Roy,
Jun 27, 2009, 3:02 PM
Marji Roy,
Jun 27, 2009, 3:02 PM