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Backwards Design

Food Chain Unit


Stage 1 Identify Desired Results
Established Goals:
3.5 The student will investigate and understand relationships among organisms in
aquatic and terrestrial food chains. Key concepts include
a) producer, consumer, decomposer;
b) herbivore, carnivore, omnivore; and
c) predator and prey.
I am using the entire SOL for my unit, but focusing solely on terrestrial food chains
and making connections to aquatic food chains afterwards.
What essential questions will be considered?

How do food chains relate to me? (Interpretation)


How can we use interdependence concepts from the food chain to understand
how interdependence works in everyday, real-world situations? (Application)

What understandings are desired?

Students will understand that the role anyone or anything assumes can change
depending on the situation present, which then impacts the decisions that are
made.

Students will understand that if all the parts in any system, whether a specific
food chain or the entire world, are not functioning individually, then the
system does not work, showing that the success of any situation can be altered
with a small change in one its parts.

What key knowledge and skills will students acquire as a result of this unit?
Students will know:
o Key vocabulary:
Food chain- shows a food relationship among plants and animals in a specific
environment
Food web - consists of all the food chains in a single ecosystem
Environment - the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or
plant lives or operates
Habitat - the specific place in an environment where an organism lives.

Desert - a place that receives less than 10 inches of rain per year
Forest a place that is dominated by trees, but has a complex system of
different organisms
Grassland a place that has grass as the naturally dominant vegetation,
instead of trees or other plants
Producers (Green Plant) an organism that makes its own food using
sunlight, air, and water
Consumers- an animal that eats living organisms (plants or animals)
Decomposers - organisms that break down decayed plants and animals into
smaller pieces that can be used again by other living organisms
Herbivore- an animal that eats only plants.
Carnivore - an animal that eats only other animals
Omnivore - an animal that eats both plants and animals
Predator - an animal that can hunt other animals to get its food
Prey - an animal can be hunted by another animal for food
Food chains are a pathway for energy to flow through a specific ecosystem.
Terrestrial organisms are found on land. Some habitats these organisms live in
include deserts, grasslands, and forests.
In a grassland environment, an example of a food chain could be grass>grasshopper->snake->hawk.
In a desert environment, an example of a food chain could be wildflower>beetle->lizard ->snake
In a forest environment, and example of a food chain could be fruit trees>rabbit->fox->cougar
Any organism can be a part of multiple food chains, where their role can vary in
each.
An example can be seen in how a snakes position in a food chain can be
altered depending on the environment. (See grassland and desert food chain
examples)
Even in a single food chain, the role an animal assumes changes depending on the
exact moment.
An example can be seen in the grassland food chain. When the lizard is
consuming the beetle, the lizard is the predator. When the lizard is being
hunted by the snake, the lizard is the prey.
The way an organism acts and the decisions it makes depend on their role in a
given situation.
Small changes in one part of a food chain will have effects at all others levels.
If all plants (producers) die off, all other parts of a food chain (consumers)
will also die.
If a prey population goes extinct, the predators will also die off.
If a predator population goes extinct, the prey population would increase.

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Students will be able to:


o Define key vocabulary associated with food chains.

Differentiate between predators and prey.


Identify omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores.
Describe consumers and producers.
Evaluate how a change in one part of a food chain might affect the rest of the food
chain.
Analyze how the situation an organism is in impacts how they react and make decisions.
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Stage 2 Determine Acceptable Evidence


How will students show they understand?
Evidence

Tests/Quizzes
o 3 quizzes The students will take 3 quizzes throughout the unit that will
test their understanding of key vocabulary and knowledge.
In-Class Work Samples
o The students will create a visual representation that shows characteristics
and examples of omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores.
o The students will complete an activity where they sort prey and predator
examples and characteristics.
o The students will order and label food chains from each habitat we
discuss: desert, grassland, and forest.
o The students will write a poem about the roles and characteristics of
consumers and producers.
Homework Assignments
o 3 worksheets that assess whether the students can:
Match characteristics and examples with each carnivores,
omnivores, and herbivores.
Show how to differentiate between predators and prey.
Write about the differences between consumers and producers.

Metacognition

Exit Slips Exits slips will be used throughout the unit for the students to reflect
on areas of the content they feel strong about and still need improvement with.
Exit slips will also be used as a way for students to self-assess their performance
for the given day.
Journal Entry Journal entries will be used each day the students are working on
their performance-based tasks. Some days, the students will be required to reflect
on content they used confidently and areas where they feel underequipped to
transfer in these situations. Other days, the students will record their selfassessment of how they promoted their own learning and stayed focused
throughout the performance-based task on that given day.
Closing Prompts Everyday that exit slips are not used, closing verbal prompts
will allow the students to reflect on how they feel with the content or how they
feel they are doing as a learner. Examples of prompts include:
o Fist to Five

o Response Cards
o 4 Corners
o Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down
Performance Based Tasks
EQ1 How do food chains relate to me? (Interpretation)
EU1 Students will understand that the role anyone or anything assumes can change
depending on the situation present, which then impacts the decisions that are made.
(Role impacts decisions)
PBE 1 Food Chains Alive!
Goal Write a play
Role Playwright
Audience Director at the Patrick Henry Community College Theatre
Works Theater in Martinsville Virginia
Situation Your local community college drama department is seeking to
create a series of summer plays for elementary school students. They have
approached you to design a play for the series because you are an expert
about food chains and how the role an organism is in impacts the decisions
that are made. Your goal is to write a script proposal that will inform
other students about how organisms in a food chain have to make
decisions depending on the context present. Make sure to reference three
specific examples from our unit in your script.
Product, Performance, Purpose A script proposal
StandardsEQ2 How can we use interdependence concepts from the food chain to
understand how interdependence works in everyday, real-world situations?
(Application)
EU2 Students will understand that if all the parts in any system, whether a
specific food chain or the entire world, are not functioning individually, then the
system does not work, showing that the success of any situation can be altered
with a small change in one its parts. (interdependence)
PBE 2 - Chain Reaction
Goal - Design an exhibit to inform the public of how specific
interdependence food-chain concepts are used everyday in real-life.
Role Industrial Interior Designer
Audience Museum Director of Virginia Museum of Natural History of
Martinsville, Virginia
Situation The Virginia Museum of Natural History wants to inform the
public about how food chains work and how the interdependence concepts

and processes can be applied to real-life situations. Your goal is to design


an exhibit that shows how three interdependence ideas found in a food
chain can be applied to real-life.
Purpose, Product, Performance Exhibit design and description
Standards Stage 3 Plan Learning Experiences Food Chains
How will students progress in their understanding?

Metacognition through this unit will be addressed through:


Exit Slips Exits slips will be used throughout the unit for the students to reflect on
areas of the content they feel strong about and still need improvement with. Exit
slips will also be used as a way for students to self-assess their performance for
the given day.
Closing Prompts Everyday that exit slips are not used, closing verbal prompts will
allow the students to reflect on how they feel with the content or how they feel
they are doing as a learner. Examples of prompts include: o Fist to Five o
Response Cards o 4 Corners o Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down
Journal Entry Journal entries will be used each day the students are working on their
performance-based tasks. Some days, the students will be required to reflect on
content they used confidently and areas where they feel underequipped to transfer
in these situations. Other days, the students will record their self-assessment of
how they promoted their own learning and stayed focused throughout the
performance-based task during that specific class period. *** I did not list these
throughout the below activities because I do not know how long each activity will
take. Activities
1. In order to hook students to the concepts of food chains, they will watch a short video
about how humans really rank in the food chain. After, have the students discuss
what surprised them from the video and how those concepts could impact their
everyday lives.
2. Introduce the unit to students. Draw connections to the second grade SOL on living
systems (2.5). Inform them of the essential questions, where the unit is headed,
why it is important, and the PBEs they will be completing as a culmination of the
unit.
3. As a whole class, we will complete the K and W of a KWL poster about food chains.
This will allow me to see what, if any, prior knowledge students have about food
chains and what they want to know more about based on the introduction video.
4. Show a diagram on the SMART Board that has examples of producers, consumers, and
decomposers. Have students work in groups to come up with ideas for definitions

and roles based on the categories and items you have shown. Then come back
together to discuss their ideas and come up with correct definitions and roles as a
whole class. Add these to these to the word wall.
5. Students will complete a sort where they have to organize different organisms based on
if they are consumers, producers, and decomposers.

6. The students will write a poem about the roles and characteristics of consumers,
producers, and decomposers. They will also include examples of each. Anything
that is not completed in class will be completed for homework.
7. The students will take a quiz on consumers, producers, and decomposers to assess their
knowledge of their characteristics and roles, as well as examples of each.
8. The students will complete a Jigsaw about herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores.
Students will be numbered off in threes. From each group of three, expert number
one will research herbivores, expert number two will research omnivores, and
expert number three will research carnivores. All of the links will be on my
Portaportal so they are deemed appropriate and are easier for students to access
They will then meet in their expert groups to come to a consensus about a
definition. Students will come back to their home groups, where there is one
expert from each the herbivore, omnivore, and carnivore groups to discuss their
findings about what each one means. T-content
9. We will have a small follow-up lecture about herbivores, omnivores, and
carnivores. We will discuss what each one means and add a formal definition
to the word wall. We will also discuss examples of each of the three types.
The students will complete a graphic organizer as we do so. T-Process
10.

For homework, the students will complete a matching activity where they have to
align characteristics and examples with each carnivores, omnivores, and
herbivores.

11.

The students will create a visual representation that shows characteristics and
examples of omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores.

12.

The students will take a quiz on herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores to assess
their knowledge of their characteristics and roles, as well as examples of each.

13.

A short lecture will be used to introduce the concepts of predator and prey. The
students will then write the definitions in their science notebooks, include
examples of animals that fall in each category, and draw an illustration that
corresponds.

14.

The students will complete a Webquest with graphic organizer where they
investigate predator prey relationships in the surrounding ecosystem. T-Process

15.

The students will complete an activity where they are given a specific organism
on a popsicle stick. The students will mix-freeze-match with an organism that
could be in a predator-prey relationship with them.

16.

Students will construct a foldable representing the differences and relationships


between predators and prey.

17.

For homework, the students will complete a worksheet that shows they know how
to differentiate between predators and prey.

18.

The students will take a quiz on predators and prey to assess their knowledge of
their characteristics and roles, as well as examples of each.

19.

Introduce food chains by having the students complete a simulation as you read a
story about how organisms interact in an environment. (ex. One student may be a
bear, one may be a plant, one may be a bird, etc.) Then, have the students
complete a think-pair-

share about what they think a food chain is based off of the simulation they just
completed.
20.

We will then have a short lecture and discussion about what food chains and food
webs are. We will also discuss the importance of food chains and food webs in
any ecosystem.

21.

The students will write a song about how food chains work, using key vocabulary
such as omnivore, herbivore, carnivore, predator, prey, consumer, and producer.
They will then record their song on the IPad to be shared with the class.

22.

The students will make a collage about how food chains work. They will write a
paragraph about why they chose the items they did and what they represent.

23.

Introduce terrestrial food chains by playing the terrestrial food chain song where
the students sing along. This song will be incorporated into class periods while we
study about three types of terrestrial ecosystems: desert, grassland, and forest.

24.

The students will watch a video about the desert ecosystem that discusses
characteristics of the ecosystem, specific animals that can survive there, and how
that impacts the food chains present. Handouts will be given to some students for
use during the video, while others will write ideas on notebook paper. T-process

25.

The students will work in groups to create 3D models of food chains found in the

desert food chain. They will have access to corresponding links through my
Portaportal. They will share their food chains with the rest of the class and they
will be posted for reference.
26.

The students will complete a Readers Theater that takes place in the desert. Roles
carried out would include wildflower, beetle, lizard, snake, cacti, ants, scorpion,
hawk, etc. The setting described will reflect what they have learned about deserts
so far.

27.

The students will each complete one of a variety of graphic organizers as they
work through a mini Webquest on the forest ecosystem. This will allow them to
get a foundation for what a forest is and how that impacts the types of organisms
and food chains that are found there. T-Process

28.

The students will watch a video and write down five new things they learned
about the forest ecosystems food chains.

29.

The students will create a mini-book about characteristics of a forest and food
chains found in the forest ecosystem. They must include an example of a forest
food chain, ordered and correctly labeled.

30.

We will have a short lecture about the grassland ecosystem. We will then discuss
and look at pictures of animals in grassland food chains As we are doing so,
students will be required to draw a visual representation of what stood out to
them.

31.

Students will do a round table where the topic is organisms in the grassland food
chain and then characteristics of a grassland food chain.

32.

Students will create a newsletter informing others about the grassland ecosystem.
They will include characteristics and examples of food chains found there.

33.

The students will complete a venn diagram that organizes animals into predator,
prey, or both. This will push students to think about how one organism plays
many roles in a food chain depending on the situation present.

34.

The students will simulate the food chains we have discussed in small groups.
They will write two journal entries or draw two comic strips based on how the
organism perceives situations and must react in two totally different positions. Tproduct

35.

Inform the students that we will now be taking all of these food chain concepts
and applying them to the larger, everyday world.

36.

Now, the students will write two journal entries or draw two comic strips based

how they perceive different situations and must react differently based on those
perceptions in two totally different positions. T-product
37.

PBE 1 Food Chains Alive! Your local community college drama department is
seeking to create a series of summer plays for elementary school students. They
have approached you to be a playwright for the series because you are an expert
about food chains and how the role an organism is in impacts the decisions that
are made. Your goal is to write a script proposal that will inform other students
about how organisms in a food chain have to make decisions depending on the
context present. Make sure to reference three specific examples from our unit in
your script.

38.

Read What If There Were No Gray Wolves?, a book about the deciduous forest
ecosystem. Even though here are many animals that live there, this books looks at
what would happen if one of those animals disappeared. It follows a reaction that
flows through the entire ecosystem when just one animal is removed. The
students will then create a one-minute video about what would happen if an
organism of their choice disappeared.

39.

The students will each be given an organism from a certain environment. All of
the students will stand in a circle and they will throw a ball of string to an
organism they eat, while holding on to the other end of the string. This will
continue until every organism is reached. Then, I will cut the string in one place
to simulate one organism being removed. The students will write a paragraph
about the changes that would occur as a result.

40.

Through my PortaPortal, students will research different relationships between


food chain concepts and bigger global concepts. They will create a presentation to
be shared with their peers. Each student will record two new connections they
learned from their peers presentations. T-Process

41.

PBE 2 Chain Reaction The Virginia Museum of Natural History wants to


inform the public about how food chains work and how the interdependence
concepts and processes can be applied to real-life situations. You are an industrial
interior designer and your goal is to design an exhibit and attach a description that
shows how three interdependence ideas found in a food chain can be applied to
real-life.

42.

As a whole class, we will complete the L of the KWL poster about food chains.
This will allow us to reflect on all we learned about food chains.