Grade 5, Module 2A
Researching to Build Knowledge and Teaching Others: Biodiversity in Rainforests of the Western Hemisphere
This module—intended to be used in conjunction with a Social Studies unit about Latin America—features a close read of The Most Beautiful Roof in the World (1160L)* by Kathryn Lasky. This beautifully illustrated informational text describes the work of scientists documenting the biodiversity of rainforests. The specific literacy focus is on reading scientific and technical text as well as writing to inform and explain. In the first unit, students build basic background knowledge about the rainforest (particularly those of the Western Hemisphere), and begin to examine how scientists closely observe the natural world to then help them communicate their research through carefully organized and worded scientific text. Unit 2 focuses on a case study of Meg Lowman, the researcher featured in The Most Beautiful Roof in the World. Students then analyze the structure and function of scientific field guides and filed journals determining what quality field guides and journals look and sound like. Students research about a living thing that scientist Meg Lowman may encounter in the rainforest in her research and write with clear and effective word choice about their chosen insect of the rainforest. As the final performance task, students produce an informational report and then field journal–style pages intended for younger readers. This performance task centers on NYSP12 ELA CCSS RI.5.7, RI.5.9, W.5.2, W.5.3, W.5.4, W.5.7, W.5.8, and W.5.9.
Unit 1: In this first unit, students will explore the question: “What is unique about living things in the rainforest?” Students will begin by building background knowledge about unique living things in the rainforests and the scientists that study them. Students will also explore various forms of informational text as ways to communicate about rainforest scientists’ research. Students examine two types of informational texts, an interview and an article, for specific elements and how those elements inform the reader. During those close reads, students will also build their background knowledge about rainforests of the Western Hemisphere through a focus on vocabulary and finding the main idea.
Unit 2: In this unit students will continue to build new reading skills and learn about the process scientists use to conduct research in the natural world through a close-read of The Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy (L1160), by Kathryn Lasky, with photographs by Christopher G. Knight. They will take an in-depth view of how one scientist, Meg Lowman, became interested in her chosen career, created new ways to study the natural world, and communicates her findings to others. Students will compare and contrast Meg Lowman’s work to other rainforest scientists while navigating the terrain of various forms of informational text (articles, interviews, videos). The class also will read the short story “The Wings of a Butterfly,” fiction modeled after an indigenous tribe’s folktale of animal encounters with humans in the Amazon rainforest. This will allow the students further opportunity to practice fluency when reading as well as compare literature to informational text.
Unit 3: In this third unit, students will focus on the literacy skills that scientists need to use in order to take field notes, deepen their knowledge through research, and communicate information in writing. First, students will learn how to write field notes like a scientist, by observing carefully and writing precisely about their local natural environment. Then they will work within expert groups to conduct research on the insects found in the rainforest, taking notes from print and digital sources.