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Pennsylvania Ecosystems and Wildlife

Keywords: wildlife, terrestrial, vertebrates, habitat, species, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, generalists vs. specialists, succession, edge effect, population, limiting factor, carrying capacity, home range and territory, intraspecific competition, interspecific competition, communities, predator, prey, commensalism, mutualism, parasitism, wildlife management; Grade level: 6th; Total time required: 4 x 40-minute classes - 160-minutes; Setting: Classroom and forest, wetland, stream

Subject: science
Topics: PA Ecosystems and wildlife

Goals

The students will become familiar with terminology associated with ecosystems and wildlife.  The students will be able to identify cover, food, and signs of wildlife in the summer in PA.  The students will be able to identify tracks of wildlife in PA.

Materials

  • 2-pieces of medium-sized graph paper for each group. (one for the crossword puzzle and one for the answer key) 
  • 1-copy for each student of pgs. 4, 10, and 11 from 4-H Wildlife Conservation Program, Unit 1, Book 3. Summer 
  • 1-copy for each student of the 25-vocabulary terms with their definitions.
  • Pencils
  • Reading material related to PA ecosystems and wildlife

PSSA Standards: Environment and Ecology (gr. 7)
4.6.7:  Ecosystems and their interactions
4.8.7:  Humans and the environment

Methods

teacher-led instruction, small group work, whole class activity

Day 1: Students (whole class) will read and discuss briefly 25-vocabulary definitions related to PA wildlife ecosystems. (30-minutes)

Day 1 and 2: Students will begin working in groups of 2 - 3 to create a crossword puzzle using the vocabulary terms.  The definitions will be used as the clues and each group will use 12 - 13 of the vocabulary terms.  (Day 1: 10-minutes, Day 2: 20-minutes)

Day 2: Students will finish their crossword puzzles and create an answer key.  Crossword puzzles will be handed into the teacher.  They will keep their own answer key.  When all groups have created their puzzles, they will then receive another groups puzzle to solve.   (20-minutes)

Day 3: Students will use 4-H worksheet pg. 4, Questions About Summer and pgs. 10 - 11 Tracking in the Summer Observation Sheet to record observations and information gathered as the whole class walks through a forest, by a wetland, and near a stream.  These areas are a 2-minute walk from our classroom.  It is common to see raccoon, fox, turkey, deer, and bear tracks in the area we will be walking in.  That's one of the beautiful things about living in the PA Wilds!  (40-minutes)

Day 4: Students will participate in a 15-minute debriefing about Day 3's nature walk.  Students will share their observation worksheet pages.  Students will then be given 5-minutes to study for a vocabulary/concepts of wildlife test.  Students will then have the remaining 20-minutes to complete the test. (40-minutes total for Day 4).
 
* Some teachers may have to schedule field trips to conduct the nature walk while others may wish to assign the nature walk tasks as homework or any other activity decided upon by the teacher.

Evaluation

informal discussions and observations, completion of crossword puzzle, checking 4-H worksheet pgs. 4 and 11, PA Ecosystems and wildlife test

Sources cited

FRIT 2009 "Wildlife Ecology Concepts and Terms" by Margaret C. Brittingham;
4-H "Wildlife Conservation Program, Unit1: Wildlife Is All Around Us, Book 3. Summer" prepared by Kristi L. Youngfleish and Margaret C. Brittingham

 Author

Brian Lovett, Woodland Elementary, Cameron County School District, Emporium, PA