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The Life of Environments
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This 4th grade unit is designed to address the concept that organisms ...

This 4th grade unit is designed to address the concept that organisms sense the environment in order to live. It is a far-ranging and comprehensive unit that is designed to address multiple NGSS performance expectations (4-LS1-2, 4LS1-2, 4-PS3-2, 4-PS4-2) in seven explorative sections, with an additional summative assessment step. STEP 1 - the structure of the unit is introduced and students complete a KWL-type activity. STEP 2 - students make observations outdoors and explore the meaning of alive, eventually developing a model of an environment for seeds, creating it and monitoring the growth of plants over the course of the unit. STEP 3 - students learn about the types of energy organisms perceive through a Reader's Theater activity with material at three differentiated reading levels. STEP 4 - students read about and construct 3-D models of how humans perceive sense information from the environment and convert that energy into a different form that the brain can process to make sense of and respond to stimuli. STEP 5 - students use text and math skills to develop an understanding of the brain's structure and function. STEP 6 - students explore environmental change and the interactions between those changes and the organisms within the environment, and then investigate the effects of varying the environment of the seeds they've been monitoring since being planted in Step 2. STEP 7 - students synthesize their understandings of the unit. They create a model of an imagined environment in small groups, and then construct and write a viable argument as to how their senses could help them survive within this imagined environment. STEP 8 (summative assessment) - students synthesize many of the ideas and practices they have explored during the unit. It is estimated to take at least 11 hours of instruction, although individual steps could be adapted, extended, or done separately to address specific standards.

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Mind My Education
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
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