- work in one of three groups, focusing on: basic information about coral polyps and coral reefs; coral reef habitats; or natural and human threats to coral reefs
- create a poster about their assigned topic and use the poster to teach the topic to the rest of the class
- Paper and pencils
- Computer with Internet access
Blue Planet: Coral Seasvideo and VCR
- Engage the class in a discussion of coral reefs. Encourage students to share what they know about these marine communities, and about the animals that create and live in them.
- Tell students that they will research aspects of the life of corals. Divide the class into three groups, and assign each group one of the following subjects:
Corals Close-Up, Coral Communities, or Threats to Coral Reefs.
- Explain that the Corals Close-Up group will research coral polyps and coral reefs; the Coral Communities group will focus on the interdependent habitats of coral reefs; and the Threats to Coral Reefs group will research natural and human threats to coral reefs.
- Tell students that each group will create a poster about their assigned topic and use the poster to give a presentation to the rest of the class. Explain that their posters should include both facts and relevant illustrations, such as pictures, diagrams, or charts, and should address the following questions:
- Describe the physical characteristics of a coral polyp.
- How do corals reproduce?
- How do corals eat? When do they eat?
- How does a coral polyp grow?
- How are coral reefs created?
- Where are coral reefs found?
- Approximately how many species of plants and animals (or percentage of the world's species) live among the coral reefs?
- Why do so many animals live in and among coral reefs?
- Name at least five species that depend on coral reefs, describing how each relies on the reefs for survival.
- Describe the symbiotic relationship between coral polyps and zooxanthellae (microscopic algae).
- Why are coral reefs called the "rain forests of the sea"?
Threats to Coral Reefs
- What are some natural threats to coral reefs?
- Describe at least three human threats to coral reefs.
- What is blast fishing, or dynamite fishing?
- Why does overfishing affect the coral-reef communities?
- How do people on land affect coral reefs?
- How might a boater or a diver affect a coral reef?
- How can we protect coral reefs?
- Have students use print and online resources in their research. These Web sites may be helpful:
- When the groups have finished their research, have them work on their posters.
- When the groups have finished their posters, have them give presentations about their topic to the rest of the class. Allow time for students to ask questions.
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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
Three points:Students were highly engaged in class discussions; created clear, well-written posters that addressed all the research questions; actively participated in their group's presentation about their assigned topic.
Two points:Students participated somewhat in class discussions; created fairly well-written posters that addressed most of the research questions; contributed somewhat to their group's presentation about their assigned topic.
One point:Students participated minimally in class discussions; created poorly written posters that addressed only a few of the research questions; contributed little if at all to their group's presentation about their assigned topic.
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Definition: The use of dynamite to bring dead fish to the surface
Context: Blast fishing can destroy coral reefs.
Definition: A population of plants or animals of one species that lives in a particular place
Context: Large coral reefs are formed when colonies of coral polyps grow together.
Definition: The tiny animals that join together to form coral reefs
Context: When a coral polyp dies, it leaves behind its hard calcium skeleton.
Definition: The natural environment of a plant or animal
Context: Nearly a million kinds of plants and animals are known to live in coral-reef habitats.
Definition: The beneficial relationship between two species that live together and depend on each other for survival
Context: Corals and algae live together among reefs in symbiosis.
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This lesson plan addresses the following standards from the National Science Education Standards:
- Structure and function in living systems
- Reproduction and heredity
- Populations and ecosystems
- Diversity and adaptations of organisms
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Joy Brewster, freelance curriculum writer, editor, and consultant
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