Grade 4 - Elementary Science and Integrated Subjects: Sage Grouse and Sagebrush, Threatened Partners

Grade 4 - Elementary Science and Integrated Subjects: Sage Grouse and Sagebrush,  Threatened Partners

Introduction: Standards, Phenomena, Big Ideas, and Routines

Elementary Science and Integrated Subjects resources are designed to be an example of how to develop a coherent lesson or suite of lessons that integrate other subjects such as English Language Arts, Mathematics and other subjects into science learning for students. The examples provide teachers with ways to think about all standards, identify an anchoring phenomena and plan for coherence in science and integrated subjects learning.

Washington Learning Standards

Fourth Grade Disciplinary Core Ideas include PS3, PS4, LS1, ESS1, ESS2, ESS3,

For LS1, students are expected to develop an understanding of:

  • plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. understanding that organisms have different inherited traits,

The Crosscutting Concepts are called out as organizing concepts for these disciplinary core ideas.

Crosscutting Concepts:

  • systems and system models

Students are expected to use the practices to demonstrate understanding of the core ideas.

Science and Engineering Practices:

  • developing and using models
  •  engaging in argument from evidence

Performance Expectation(s)

Identify Climate Science related Performance Expectation(s) from Next Generation Science Standards that will be your focus. Copy and paste below all the possible disciplinary core ideas and performance expectations that relate to your topic.

4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
Clarification Statement: Examples of structures could include thorns, stems, roots, colored petals, heart, stomach, lung, brain, and skin.
 Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to macroscopic structures within plant and animal systems

4-LS1-2. U Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.
Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on systems of information transfer.
Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the mechanisms by which the brain stores and recalls information or the mechanisms of how sensory receptors function.

Science and Engineering Practices

Which SEPs will be a focus for investigating this topic/phenomenon?

Engaging in Argument from Evidence: Students would develop a model with evidence to argue about the structures of the sage grouse and sagebrush that support their growth, survival, behavior and reproduction and interdependence.

Develop a Model to explain the communication and information reception of sage grouse in their mating displays

Crosscutting Concepts

Which Crosscutting Concepts will be a focus for investigating this topic/phenomenon?

Systems and Systems Models: using models to explain the sagebrush/sage grouse system and to explore and explain the interdependency of organisms in the shrub steppe

English Language Arts (ELA) Standards

How will I Integrate ELA Standards (which standard, what strategy…?)

Reading Informational Text.4.3: Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific or technical text including what happened and why based on specific information in the text.

Reading Informational Text.4.7: Interpret information presented visually orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, timelines animations or interactive elements and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

Writing.4.1: Write opinion piece on topics or texts supporting a point of view with reasons and information

  1. Introduce a topic or text clearly
  2. provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
  3. link opinion and reasons using words and phrases
  4. provide a concluding statement related to the opinion

Speaking and Listening 4.1: Engage effectively in range of collaborative discussions (one on one, groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Students will write an argument to answer the question “Why are Sage Grouse populations in Washington declining?”

Mathematics and Social Studies Standards

How will I Integrate other Learning Standards?

Math Practices.4 Model with Mathematics: examine two different graphic models to glean information on sage grouse range percentages and acreage

Social Studies Standard SSS4.4.1: Draw clear, well-reasoned conclusions with explanations that are supported by print and non-print texts in a paper or presentation.

Social Studies Standard SSS4.4.3: Identify relevant evidence that draws information from multiple sources in response to compelling questions.

Social Studies Standard SSS2.4.1: Identify disciplinary concepts and ideas associated with a compelling question or supporting questions that are open to different interpretations.

Social Studies Standard SSS2.4.2: Identify the main ideas from a variety of print and non-print texts.

Social Studies Standard SSS1.4.1: Identify the concepts used in documents and sources. SSS1.4.2 Evaluate primary and secondary sources.

Using primary sources including sage grouse range maps, infographics and articles to identify evidence to develop an argument about whether sage grouse populations are dwindling in the West and Washington State in particular.


I was wondering about why people are so worried when sagebrush in our area is burned or sagebrush areas were dug up for building in our area. Is sagebrush important? I always thought it was just some sort of weed or something.

Then I saw this is an article in the Yakima Herald and it made me wonder, what is sagebrush important to and what is important for sagebrush.

Anchoring Phenomenon

Introduce the article, Habitat Loss Means Washington Sage Grouse in Trouble. Read up to the subtitle Losing Ground. (This is a higher Lexile score so may be best as a read aloud, read along or guided reading activity).

Lesson Phenomena

Big Ideas

  • Animals communicate/process information in unique ways
  • Plants and animals in the shrub steppe system are interdependent and the success of a species impacts other species
  • Plants have specific structures that support their survival, growth and reproduction

The sage grouse is a keystone species that can show us structure and function and ways of animals sending, receiving and responding to information. This animal also leads to thinking about the interdependence of species in a fragile shrub steppe ecosystem and to think about this system and how the components interact. The structures of various plants in the shrub steppe function to increase their ability to survive, grow and reproduce.  A look at sagebrush in particular, a necessary species for sage grouse can give insight into external structures and their function.

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