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Sample Lesson Plan: Tortoise Terrain


To emphasize the importance of a good lesson plan, here is a direct quote from a PRM student leading outdoor groups at NOLS

"I also found out that I really need to work on my lesson planning and that it is important to have a plan and outcome for each lesson. I flopped on a few of my lessons and I do not believe that the students got what they needed from it. I will now plan for most of my lessons and have a written itinerary for each one."

Sample Lesson Plan:

Name of Lesson: Tortoise Terrain
Overview: In this lesson, students learn about the biodiversity of the Mohave Desert, focusing on the desert tortoise.

Level: 6th Grade

-changes in habitat affect biodiversity
-habitats can be protected

-explain the importance of biodiversity
-identify ways in which biodiversity is threatened.

-note sheet "Notes on Mojave Habitats and Biodiversity"
-test sheet .'Mojave Habitats and Biodiversity"
-pictures to help lesson

Time: 45 minutes

References for Lesson:
Most information needed for this lesson can be found at the following Web site:

http://www.redrockcanyon.blm.gov grades6through8.htm

This short lesson is an overview of the importance of biodiversity focusing on the desert tortoise. The Las Vegas area is much like " many areas across the country affected by" expansion. There are easy to identify problems surrounding any neighborhood, and this lesson can help show those problems.

Getting Ready
1. Make a collection of pictures and photos pertaining to this lesson plan, i.e. desert tortoise, Hoover Dam, desert landscape, and construction zones.

Doing the Activity
1 Ask students to identify features that make
the Las Vegas area unique compared to other areas of the country. Guide them to identifying features such as the hot temperatures and low precipitation Have them record their responses on the note sheet. Use this opportunity to make the following points:

bulletexplain that the Mojave is a rain shadow desert and why that is.
bulletexplain that the Las Vegas area averages less than 5 inches of rain a year
bulletexplain what a habitat is and what type of habitats are in the Las Vegas area. 

2. Make sure the students understand species and ask them to identify some of them from the area and have them list several on their work sheets. Make sure the desert tortoise ends up on that list. Use this opportunity to make the following points

bulletscientists don't know exactly how many species there are on earth The estimations have been between 40 and 50 million, but scientists have identified 1.4 million
bulletexplain biodiversity, its definition, and its importance to the survival of all life on earth

3. Explain what a biome is, and the biome type in the Las Vegas area. Also, explain how ecosystems are communities of living organisms inside biomes" Have the students record the biome type of the area and some of its characteristics on their note sheets.

Desert Tortoise

4. Ask the students to think up some ways that ecosystems are being destroyed in the Las Vegas area and have them list their
ideas on their note sheets. Guide them through several changes such as the Hoover Dam, flash flooding, and bulldozing major areas of land Have the students record these major changes on the note sheet. Use this opportunity to make the following points

bulletprotecting habitats helps to prevent air pollution, increase biodiversity, and beautify public spaces.
bulletprotecting wild habitats preserves species, and ecosystem diversity

5. Tie the whole lesson together by relating it to the Nevada state reptile. the desert tortoise. Make sure the heart of the lesson is related including the threat of the loss of habitat, and what it means if the tortoise disappears. Have the students record this on their sheets.
6. Have the students take the test sheet "Mojave Habitats and Biodiversity."

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