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Janelle Burgos Lesson Plan

I. Lesson Foundation

Lesson Title: Darwins Finches and Natural Selection

Grade Level: 10th Grade

Subject Area(s)/Subject Content Explanation: Biology, Natural Selection/Adaptation/Traits -

How they are all related in terms of an organism's ability to survive when influenced by abiotic
and biotic factors.


NYS/NGSS Standards
(HS-LS4-3) Apply concepts of statistics and probability to support explanations that organisms
with an advantageous heritable trait tend to increase in proportion to organisms lacking this trait.
(HS-LS4-4) Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to
adaptation of populations.
(LS4.B) Natural Selection - Connection to (HS-LS4-3, HS-LS4-4)
(LS4.C) Adaptation - Connection to (HS-LS4-3, HS-LS4-4)
Crosscutting Concepts - Cause and Effect

Common Core Standards

ELA - Literacy - RST.9-10.3, RST.9-10.5, RST.9-10.7, RST.9-10.9

Essential Questions:
How do organisms change over time in response to environmental changes?
How do these changes affect the survival of an organism?
What is the difference between natural selection and adaptation?

Instructional Objectives and Performance Expectations:

The students will understand how trait variance directly affects the survival of an
organism through relationships with abiotic and biotic factors.

The students will be able to define and explain natural selection, adaptation, and
evolution using previous scientific research as evidence for conclusions.

The students will be able to follow instructions and carry out experiments while
collecting data from observations during activity and create interpretations of results.
Formative Assessments: Ask probing questions to the students throughout activity to evaluate
level of understanding of topics as well as redirect thinking towards essential questions and
instigate critical thinking. Emphasis will be towards students asking the essential questions in a
reflective manner.

Summative Assessments: Homework will be a exercise on understanding the effects of natural

selection. The students will be asked to create an animal and then redraw the animal with
possible adaptations that suit various scenarios of biotic and abiotic factors and reflect on their
choices with justifications. This will also be accompanied by a case study on natural selection
with another organism.

II. Lesson Body

Lesson Introduction: Start class with video of Tiny the T-Rex from Meet the Robinsons.
Connect previous lecture on the definition and effects of natural selection, survival, and
evolution to the success of the T-rex in the video through pre-written questions on the board.

Teaching Procedures: After the video discussion, the simulation exercise will be described to
the students using a handout sheet with guided instructions. I will summarize the history of
Darwins finches (previously explained in detail in a previous class) and show that our activity
will be to simulate what Darwin saw and theorized. I will explain that each student represents a
different type of finch that has a various sized beak (tweezers, tongs, spoons, forks, knifes,
etc.) and caloric need. I will show them how in order to meet their caloric need, they must use
their beak to pick up a certain amount of seeds (various small foods - M&Ms, sunflower
seeds, pasta, beans, etc.). Each small seed will have a designated calorie that is labeled in the
handout along with the amount of calories each bird needs to survive.
I will then proceed to explain the stages of the activity to the students. They will follow
along as I describe how abiotic (food size/type and weather) and biotic (predation and
competition) factors affect survival. Next, I will direct the students to the various stations that
represent each factor and explain how they all work:

Food size/type: There will be 4 plates, each with a different seed on them in a quantity
of 30. Each plate represents a different type of food and caloric count (small seeds have low
caloric count and large seeds vice versa). Each student has 30 seconds to take one seed at a time
and transfer it off the plate and onto another plate, their stomach, using only their designated
beak. They will track their data of seed count and calorie count in the data sheet.
Weather: There will be 4 plates with only small seeds in a quantity of 30 due to weather
causing the removal of large seeds from the environment. Each student has 30 seconds to take
one seed at a time and transfer it off the plate and onto another plate, their stomach, using only
their designated beak. They will track their data of seed count and calorie count in the data sheet.
Competition: There will be 1 plate with a mixture of small and large seeds in a quantity
of 30. Students will have 30 seconds to take one seed at a time and transfer it off the plate and
onto another plate, their stomach, using only their designated beak. All students in the group
will forage for seeds at the same time to simulate competition from other finches. They will track
their data of seed count and caloric count in the data sheet.
Predation: There will be 4 plates of mixed seed types in a quantity of 30. Each student
will have 15 seconds to take one seed at a time and transfer it off the plate and onto another
plate, their stomach, using only their designated beak. Then, they will roll a die and if they rol
between 4-6, they must put their seeds back in the original plate and than forage for another 15
seconds. If they roll between 1-3, they can continue to forage without losing their seeds. They
will track their data of seed count and caloric count in the data sheet.
I will demonstrate during these explanations how each exercise is done and then walk
them through the movement of the exercise around the classroom. The students will be urged to
think of interesting ways to use their beaks within the constraints of the exercise as well as
reflect on how adaptation might help or harm their ability to pick up different seeds. I will walk
the students through the rest of the handout which has questions imbedded between stations to
assess critical thinking and probe for possible questions and misunderstandings. After each
station is complete, the questions in the handout will ask the students to refer to a survival table
to see whether the students reached their caloric need to survive. It will also ask why the student
survived or not to probe for understanding as to how traits affect survival ability.

Description of Methods - Video, Handout, Procedure Explanations, Finches Activity

Guided Practice - Students will use probing questions that I will ask as well as reflective
questions after each station to help them understand the relationships between natural selection,
traits, and survival.

Independent Practice - Students will think of new ways to use their beaks as well as reflecting
on possible adaptations to improve results will allow them to utilize prior knowledge. They will
create connections between previous lectures and the empirical data they are collecting and
create inferences from their work.

Closure: After all students have completed all of the stations and collected the necessary data,
we will sit together and review the results by collecting class data. This will be an interactive
section where students will write on a sticky note designated for each station as to whether they
survived or not. We will then discuss why certain beaks survived in some stations more than
others and how this is reflective of how natural selection, adaptation, and survival affect an
organism's traits. The students will then answer the essential questions through an exit ticket
individually or in pairs which will get them their homework for the next class (see Summative

III. Lesson Essentials

Differentiated Learning Activities: Students who are in need of coordination guidance, have a
physical disability, or are incapable of participating in the physical aspect of the lecture have two
options for an alternative activity. Option one will be a Darwins Finch case study which will
provide a written version of the activity with guided questions (written or vocal) throughout to
provoke observation and inference about the relationships between natural selection, adaptation,
survival, and traits. The second option is a educational video that will review the same
relationships but through a more interactive media. The video will be complemented with similar
guided questions (written or vocal) to lead towards the essential questions.
For students who struggle with large classroom settings, the activity can be moved to a
smaller, quieter setting and the competition station would be adjusted as so that the student will
only pick a seed for 15 seconds total.

Instructional Resources, Materials and Technology: Computer, Projector/Screen or

SmartBoard, 5 Stopwatches, Various seeds (Beans, sunflower seeds, pasta, M&Ms), Various
beaks (Tweezers, tongs, plastic spoon/fork/knife), Plates, Handouts, Whiteboard and markers.

IV. Post-lesson Reflection:

Analysis of Student Learning: This will be done through the exit tickets. By reviewing the
students answers, I can determine which essential questions were understood and which were
not. I can also reformat the following class to clear up misconceptions and any questions students
still have about the topics.

Analysis of Teaching: In the beginning, I will gauge the level of understanding and
remembrance the students have from the previous lesson during the quick review through pre-
meditated questions on the board. By using the formative and summative assessments as well as
tracking student questions throughout the exercise, I can modify my lesson to clear up areas of
confusion in the future. It will be a necessity to continually ask students if they understand what
they are doing and why. If I find that they are struggling in this area, I will make my instructions
and procedures more clear as to aid in the fluidity of the activity. I will also use the closure
discussion to see if key ideas and objectives where met and understood.