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Grade: Middle
Subject: Science

#1866. Ocean Unit

Science, level: Middle
Posted Sun Jul 23 13:55:33 PDT 2000 by Liz Sanford (
Auburn Elementary, Auburn, Illinois, USA
Materials Required: ocean related books, ocean floor information, animal behavior information
Activity Time: 9 week unit 50-60 minute lessons
Concepts Taught: basic floor plan design, persuasive letter, research

Please see url for complete unit information and directions:

Students will begin this unit exploring the ocean through books, posters, ocean specimens,
and web sites.

Day 1 - free discovery- ocean resources are displayed at centers. This can be done as small
group rotations or open atmosphere.

Day 2 - Class discussion why it might be important to study the ocean- list all ideas given-
students take notes from board- students write in journals(15mins) what would they like to
learn more about the ocean. Share journal writings.

Day 3- Students read-"Living Underwater" section 3.2 Scott Foresman's Discover the
Wonder - class discussion- students write in journals what it would be like to live underwater.

Day 4- As a class read 3.3 Discover the Wonder ,"Diving in the Alvin" and Sylvia Earl's,
Deep into the Ocean. and p. 285 Discover Science, Scott Foresman 1989 edition "Conquering
the Ocean Depths" Discuss underwater research and its importance.

Day 5- Tell students they are going to design an underwater building that can support life for a
one week research project- but first they will need to acquire funding. Give them the rubric for
the persuasive letter and go over each part in detail. Have students create an ocean pocket
folder to store all their work.
Week 2
Day 1- . Review or present persuasive writing techniques and business letter format. Write a
class letter to model. Students write a letter to a friend persuading them to help with this
project. Share letters- students give feedback

Day 2- Review letter rubric and expectations of group performance- Students work in groups
to write their letter for funding. After completion each group should read and edit another
groups letter giving feeback and a "pregrade" using the rubric. Group letters and pregrades
given turned in.

Day 3- go over student assessed rubrics, discuss how rubrics were used, and teacher
comments. Groups will rewrite letters using ClarisWorks and making necessary adjustments
for a final grade . Explain that if their letter is persuasive and well written they will receive
funding required to continue.(14-15 points required for funding)

Day 4- groups who received funding are given facility directions and rubric to read and
discuss. They must fill out an action plan that states how they will work together and who will
do each part of the assignment. Groups who need to rewrite the letter will meet with teacher to
discuss missing requirements and redo assignment.

Day 5- (hopefully all groups now funded)- go over facility requirements and rubric as a class.
Groups who read through it can help explain and ask questions. Inform students of a guest
speaker who will be in the next day to help them design their buildings according to
specifications. Have each group prepare 3 or more questions to ask speaker. (my class is
using an engineer-my husband- as the guest speaker- try parents for guest resource)- some
groups make need to make action plan

back to activity descriptions
Week 3
Day 1- Guest Speaker discusses how to design a building when given specific requirements,
answers student questions and designs a building with the class.

Day 2 -As a class we look through floor plans from the internet. Groups design their buildings
and turn in for inspection Each group member fills out a self assessment on how well they
performed as a group- turn in.

Day 3- Return graded designs, groups whose designs were insufficient will redo and turn
in(must be 13 or better for approval) Groups who are on target may go through ocean
resources, read, look through the web sites, etc.

Day 4- Tell students that will now need to find a location for their building. Read chapter 11
"Oceans" lessons 1&2- Scott Foresman Discover Science discuss. Assign pages 396-397
questions as groups.(any reading material that discusses the location of the oceans, ocean
resources, etc can be substituted)

Day 5- Groups read lesson 3 Discover Science. Each student draws and labels the ocean
bottom using p. 280 and 281.(readings that describe the ocean bottom that includes basins,
trenches, ridges, etc )

back to activity descriptions
Week 4
Day 1- Go over facility description directions and rubric together as a class. Discuss where
students can find resources to complete the assignment (use social studies latitude and
longitude) McGrawHill Regions p. 156-158. Students make an action plan that states how
they will work together and who will be working on what part of the assignment. Every
student is expected to participate in some part of each assignment. Groups should be divided
so each group is working on a different aspect of this assignment. Some groups are working
on supplies and spreadsheets, others on latitude, longitude map making, others on scavenger
hunt. If time begin assignment.

Day 2- Review expectations of group work- Groups begin facility description assignment

Day 3- facility description assignment continues

Day 4- facility description assignment continues

Day 5- groups finish description assignment to be turned in. Early finishers will choose ocean
books to read individually
Week 5
Day 1 -ocean video- or assignment completion

Day 2 -class meeting to discuss successes, group problems, and alternatives. Discuss graded
facility descriptions when returned.

Day 3 -Tell students that they will be required to make a 3 dimensional model of their facility.
List possible materials they could use on the board. Hand out rubric and discuss. Each group
makes a list of materials they will use and decides who is responsible for bringing in
materials. Students should use the description page as a guide.

Day 4- model work begins

Day 5 -continue model work

back to activity descriptions
Week 6
Day 1 -complete models

Day 2 -display models for student assessment. Groups use rubrics to grade each model
including their own. Each group receives, reads and discusses the rubrics assessing their

Day 3 - Inform the students that their facilities are now going to be put to use. Each student
will research an ocean animal. Give them the research requirements. Create a rubric as a class
that will assess their progress. Students are responsible for copying information from the

Day 4- Read lesson 1 Chapter 2, "How Do Animals Live in Groups" Discover
Science.(readings that involve symbiosis and animal groups). Groups complete questions on
page 378-379.

Day 5- Read in Reading Book, Big Friend Little Friend ,about symbiotic relationships and
poem, A Kettle of Hawks, poem about animal groups
Week 7
Day 1-read lessons 2 and 3 Discover Science (animal behaviors) discuss animal instincts.

Day 2 in groups students read Chapter 3 lesson 2 and 3 Discover Science (food chains,
predators and prey)

Day 3- review class made rubric and revise as necessary after readings. Begin research
requirements 1 and 2

Day 4 -research requirements 3 and 4

Day 5- requirement 5
Week 8
Day 1- requirement 6

Day 2- requirements 7,8 and 9

Day 3- go over presentation methods, expectations and rubrics- passout Hyperstudio sheet for
students to look through as you explain.

Day 4 -students begin presentation work

Day 5 -continue presentation work

back to activity descriptions
Week 9
Day 1- continue presentation work

Day 2 -continue presentation work

Day 3 - Day 5- present projects to class,parents, and/or other classes.