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Causal Patterns In Ecosystems

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The Understandings of Consequence Project The Understandings of Consequence Project 124 Mount Auburn Street, 5th Floor Introduction 1 Section 2: Learning about Decay Using Cyclic Causality 49 Understanding Different Patterns of Causality *Most ecologists use the individual as the level of analysis in reasoning about natural selection. Each mouse wants to maximize its relative reproduction within the population. You could say that all populations want to maximize their relative ecological importance; however, the intentions are attributed at an individual level and the actions are carried out at an individual level. Therefore, reasoning about cumulative systems effects involves a puzzling juxtaposition of thinking about individuals and populations as “agents,” although they differ substantially in how one would attribute goals and intentions. Individuals can be said to have intentions, whereas populations do not. Agency at the population level is an emergent property. Helping students to understand the causal patterns in ecosystems and to master the related causal concepts makes it possible for them to achieve deep understanding of ecosystem concepts. The activities in this module aim to support students’ developing understanding. Instructional Approach - “Revisiting activities in the earlier lessons after completing later lessons resulted in much deeper understanding for my students. This was especially so for the Web of Life Game [Section 1]. It gave them a good basis that they expanded upon when we did the activities again.” - “It’s important to think about how you time the unit. For instance, make sure that you set up the worm tanks well in advance of the end of the year and before the unit ends so you are able to include the findings in the unit discussions [Section 3].” - “I used white boards to have students create causal diagrams, for example in the story about parachuting cats into Borneo [Section 6]. That way they could modify them easily as they understood more about the situation.” - “My students kept notes in their science journals so that they could go back and revisit previous activities after they had learned new things.” - “I had my students do lots of drawing and writing as a way to see how they were making sense of the ideas. Even though some of the ideas are complex, I had a good sense of what my students understood and they grasped a lot more than I would have predicted.” Leach, J., Konicek, R., & Shapiro, B., (1992). 6Brinkman, F., & Boschhuizen, R. (1989). Preinstructional ideas in biology: A survey in relation with different research methods on concepts of health and energy. In M.T. Voorbach, & L.G.M. Prick (Eds.), Teacher Education 5: Research and Developments in Teacher Education in the Netherlands, (pp. 75-90). Understanding Goals 13 Lesson Plan: Exploring the Web of Life 17 12 Resources for Section 1 23 Understanding Goals Background Information Lesson Plan: Exploring The Web of Life Analyze Thinking RECAST Thinking Explore Causality Review, Extend, and Apply Reinforcement Activities Resources for Section 1 Endnotes for Section 1 - Ms. Nolan: Right. This one made the next one fall, which made the next one fall, which made the next one fall. This is what we call “domino cause and effect.” It’s a good way of thinking about how the energy from the sun affects all of the things in the food web and what would happen if the green plants that make the link to the sun disappeared. Creating the Web of Life Teacher Preparation Owls eat: A FOREST FOOD WEB How is this food web different from food webs that you typically see? Teacher Preparation See Food Web Connections Game Directions on page 39 for instructions on how to play the game. Directions Understanding Goals 51 Lesson Plan: Learning About Decay 53 12 RECAST Activity A: Investigating a Rotting Log 53 RECAST Activity B: Creating a Decomposition Chamber 53 Resources for Section 2 62 Understanding Goals Lesson Plan: Learning About Decay RECAST Activity A: Investigating a Rotting Log RECAST Activity B: Creating a Decomposition Chamber  Observation sheets  Field guides RECAST Activity B: Creating a Decomposition Chamber Analyze Thinking RECAST Thinking RECAST Activity B: Creating a Decomposition Chamber Explore Causality Review, Extend, and Apply Resources for Section 2 Name: Cycles of Nature Game Teacher Preparation Nutrient Cycles Game Teacher Preparation Nutrient Cycles Game Card Explanations Bacteria Animals NOTE: Elimination is the process of passing solid wastes. Excretion is the process of passing liquid (nitrogenous) wastes. - Worms The number of spaces students move varies because the ways in which insects contribute to nutrient cycling varies. They play a large role in decomposition, but the movement of nutrients, which stick to the outside of their bodies, is relatively small. Fungi “You move from the soil to the inside of these fungi. Move ahead 1 space.” Nutrient Cycles Game Directions Nutrient Cycles Game Cards Nutrient Cycles Game Cards Nutrient Cycles Game Cards Nutrient Cycles Game Cards Nutrient Cycles Game Cards Nutrient Cycles Game Cards Nutrient Cycles Game Cards (Photocopy and put on the back of the playing cards.) Understanding Goals 95 Lesson Plan: Comparing Worm and Worm-Free Compost Tanks 98 12 Reinforcement Activities 106 Resources for Section 3 107 Endnotes for Section 3 118 Background Information Lesson Activity: Comparing Worm and Worm-free Compost Tanks Analyze Thinking RECAST Thinking Explore Causality Review, Extend, Apply Reinforcement Activities Earthworms: Nature’s Soil Builders Video3 – This film will help students understand the role of earthworms as decomposers in the ecosystem and the processes by which they improve soil. Collecting Evidence for Non-Obvious Decomposers: Growing Microbes on Bread (p. 114) – This activity helps students understand that microbes are so tiny that you can’t see them, but you can witness their effects. It is a particularly useful support activity for students who are unconvinced that microbes exist. Worm and Worm-Free Tank Observation Sheet Collecting Evidence for Non-Obvious Decomposers: Growing Microbes on Bread Learning about Preservatives: Bakery Bread Versus Store Bought Bread The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: The Many Sides of Bacteria Background Information Lesson Plan:


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