April 3, 2017
by Anna Whaley
Lesson Plan:

Ecosystems Explained

1.7 based on 12 ratings
Download lesson plan
Click to find similar content by grade or subject.
  • Students will use the strategy of synthesizing information from multiple sources.
  • Students will compare and contrast information found in multiple sources.
  • Students will be able to identify and describe some of the main features of an ecosystem.
(5 minutes)
  • Review the terms compare and contrast. Utilizing a selected text on ecosystems, ask the students to make predictions using the cover and title. Introduce the following essential question: How do plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment contribute to an ecosystem?
  • Tell the students that they will be using the reading strategy of synthesizing as they compare and contrast texts. Synthesizing involves using information from multiple texts and combining this information in a meaningful way that is inclusive of multiple sources.
(15 minutes)
  • Begin with broad topic of ecosystems and use two books of choice on ecosystems.
  • Tell the students that you will be using two texts to answer the question, “What is an ecosystem?”
  • Using large sticky notes or pieces of blank paper taped to the board, demonstrate the process of selecting details from both sources that can be used to answer the question.
  • Model the process of synthesizing -- combining the details from both texts in contrast and comparison to take notes and write an explanation.
(15 minutes)
  • Tell the students that you will now be progressing to the various parts of an ecosystem, including the plants, animals, decomposers, and environment that are all a part of the ecosystem.
  • Divide students into small groups so that there are three or four students in each group.
  • Using selected books on components of an ecosystem, distribute one topic, one book, and one piece of paper to each group.
  • Ask the students to look for details in the text that can answer the essential question, “How do plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment contribute to an ecosystem?” Tell the students to record their details on their piece of paper, being careful to use their own words or selected words or phrases.
  • After students have had 10 minutes to work, invite students to share the details that they found.
  • Invite students to participate in creating a written description and visual to represent that information.
(20 minutes)
  • Tell the students that they will now be working on specific ecosystems, learning about the specific ways plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment contribute to the ecosystem. Remind the students to compare and contrast texts, synthesizing information from both texts that they receive.
  • Distribute selected texts and the Putting It All Together worksheet. Ask students to work on locating details from each text, synthesizing the information by making contrasts and comparisons.


  • Using the Illustrative Infographics worksheet, have the students use two of their sources to create a diagram, infographic, or illustration that represents the concepts they synthesized.


  • For students who read at a lower level, consider using leveled books or articles that are written at their specific reading level.
  • Have students complete an alternative assignment, Soil and Decomposers: A Perfect Pair, which includes key phrases that students can use to synthesize the information.
  • For the enrichment component, have the students create a digital infographic that represents their information.
  • Have students create a flowchart using Google drawings that represents their information.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students complete the Earth’s Ecosystems worksheet in which they synthesize information from both passages, comparing and contrasting sources.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to place their completed graphic organizers on their desk.
  • Invite all students to participate in a “gallery walk” to look at other students work and observe what they noticed and found.

How likely are you to recommend Education.com to your friends and colleagues?

Not at all likely
Extremely likely