Schoolyard Biodiversity Investigation Educator Guide

The Schoolyard Biodiversity Investigation provides students with the opportunity to learn about biodiversity in a tangible and available environment – their own schoolyard. Whether the campus is a sea of cement and grass or contains a diverse garden or forest, the opportunity for students to investigate first-hand will deepen their understanding of biodiversity, ways to measure it, and the impact people have on it. After looking at their schoolyards, students can then apply their newly-gained knowledge to understand biodiversity and its deeper issues in their local habitats, as well as in far-reaching places. The Schoolyard Biodiversity Guide builds upon student’s field investigation skills, including formulating a hypothesis, designing and implementing an investigation, analyzing data and developing conclusions. For more information, please see the Pacific Education Institute’s Field Investigations: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Processes. A downloadable pdf is available at: http://www.pacificeducationinstitute.org/resources/research/.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.2
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.2
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.3
Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.1
Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.3
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.5
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a...
GLE 0301.1.1
Demonstrate knowledge of Standard English usage, mechanics, and spelling.
GLE 0401.1.1
Demonstrate knowledge of Standard English usage, mechanics, and spelling.
GLE 0501.1.1
Demonstrate knowledge of Standard English usage, mechanics, and spelling.
GLE 0601.1.1
Demonstrate control of Standard English through the use of grammar and mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, and spelling).
GLE 0601.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
GLE 0601.3.2
Employ various prewriting strategies.
GLE 0601.3.3
Organize ideas into an essay with an introduction, developing paragraphs, conclusion, and appropriate transitions.
GLE 0601.3.4
Refine strategies for editing and revising written work.
GLE 0601.4.2
Gather relevant information from a variety of print and electronic sources, as well as from direct observation, interviews, and surveys.
GLE 0601.4.3
Make distinctions about the credibility, reliability, consistency, strengths, and limitations of resources, including information gathered from websites.
GLE 0807.5.5
Describe the importance of maintaining the earths biodiversity.
SPI 0501.1.2
Identify the correct use of verbs (i.e., action/linking, regular/irregular, agreement, tenses) within context.
SPI 0601.1.1
Identify the correct use of nouns (i.e., common/proper, singular/plural, possessives) and pronouns (i.e., agreement, subject, object) within context.
SPI 0601.1.10
Identify the correct spelling of plurals and possessives.
SPI 0601.1.18
Identify correctly and incorrectly spelled words in context.
SPI 0601.3.1
Identify the purpose for writing (i.e., to inform, to describe, to explain, to persuade).
SPI 0601.3.5
Select illustrations, descriptions, and/or facts to support key ideas.
SPI 0601.3.8
Select appropriate time-order or transitional words/phrases to enhance the flow of a writing sample.
SPI 0601.3.9
Select an appropriate concluding sentence for a well-developed paragraph.
SPI 0801.1.15
Select the appropriate use of underlining/italicizing with titles, specific words, numbers, letters, and figures.
TSS.ELA.5.FL.SC.6
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when speaking and conventions of standard English grammar and usage, including...
TSS.ELA.6.L.CSE.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage.
TSS.ELA.6.L.CSE.2
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. When reading or writing, explain the functions of...
TSS.ELA.6.L.KL.3
When writing and speaking, vary sentence patterns for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style; maintain consistency in style and tone.
TSS.ELA.6.W.PDW.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
TSS.ELA.6.W.PDW.5
With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new...
TSS.ELA.6.W.TTP.1
Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
TSS.ELA.6.W.TTP.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of...
TSS.ELA.6.W.TTP.3
Write narratives (fiction and nonfiction) to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective techniques, relevant descriptive details, and...
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Essential and guiding questions: 

If we collected vegetation or animal data at a different time of the year, would we get the same Diversity Index calculations? Why or why not?
An area with lots of weeds might score a high Diversity Index. Does a high Diversity Index always mean a habitat is healthy? Why or why not?

  • What are some limitations or problems with random sampling to calculate diversity? (random samples don’t cover all areas; students may not have collected data from enough sample areas; some people have more experience indentifying differences in plants and animals, etc.) 
  • What does biological diversity mean?
  • What is a monoculture?
  • Why didn’t all the different trees get the disease? (hint - genetics)
  • In which forest would you need to use more chemicals to control disease: the Douglas fir forest or the more varied forest? Why?
  • Which forest would have more diversity of wildlife? Why?
  • If you cut down a forest that has a variety of trees and replanted with one type of tree:
  • What will happen to much of the wildlife that was adapted to that prior forest? (Hint: they can always just move elsewhere. If other habitats are good, they will probably be near carrying capacity already. In other words, the surrounding areas may already have good-sized populations growing in them.)
  • Will this happen to all the wildlife? Explain.
  • Growing one plant, as is the case of growing only Douglas-fir, is called monoculture. Besides in neighborhoods, where else might we find monocultures?

Unit Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Analyzing

Helpful Hints

Materials:

  • Pencils
  • Colored Pencils
  • Campus Maps
  • Plain paper for student-created maps
  • Large butcher paper and copy of school map for large, cut-up map
  • Schoolyard Biodiversity Data Sheets (1 set for investigation, extra copies for practice, as needed)
  • Vegetation Survey Data Sheet
  • Wildlife Survey Data Sheet
  • Alien Planet Habitat and Key (1 set per pair of students)
  • Clipboards
  • Tape measures
  • Stopwatches/timers
  • Thermometers
  • Pre-measured rope or tape measure
  • “Flagged sticks” (sticks or pencils with flagging tape tied on top) – 4 per plot
  • Clipboard
  • Student Instructions for Vegetation Survey (this paper)
  • Schoolyard Biodiversity Investigation – Vegetation Survey – Data collection sheet
  • Invasive Plant Identification Cards

References

Contributors: