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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Presenting Ecology through Rodent Control
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into two sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson


Media Components:

Computer Resources:

  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.
Bookmarked sites:
Rodent Control


This lesson was designed using The BSCS 5Es Instructional Model (The BSCS 5 Es Instructional Model is used with the permission of BSCS, Colorado Springs, CO). This is a five-step learning cycle, as summarized by the lesson author, with each step beginning with the letter E:

  • Engage: First engage your students by an event or question related to the concept that you plan to introduce.

  • Explore: Next allow your students to participate in activities to explore the concept. This exploration provides students with a common set of experiences from which they can initiate the development of their understanding of the concept.

  • Explain: Students, led by the teacher, clarify the concept under study and define relevant vocabulary.

  • Elaborate: Students elaborate and build on their understanding of the concept by applying it to new situations.

  • Evaluate: Finally students complete an activity that will help them and the teacher evaluate their understanding of the concept.

    Introductory Activity:

    Engage: (1-2 periods)

  • Ask students to freewrite about how they solved a real-life problem they had. Once writing has subsided, ask students to share their problem and solution first with the person next to them, then within a larger group of 4-5 students. Have students record any commonalities with either the problems or solutions and then write them on the overhead, board, or chart paper. Try to elicit these ideas:
    1. Thinking
    2. Planning
    3. Multiple solutions were possible
    4. Sense of accomplishment

  • Then explain to students that they will apply these problem-solving strategies to an ecological problem. Start by assessing students' prior knowledge of ecology using a KWL chart (What We Already Know, What We Would Like to Know, What We Learned). Try to elicit the following in the chart:

    Ecology is the branch of the biological sciences that deals with the relationship between organisms and their environment, including their relationship with other organisms.
    If there isn't enough correct student prior knowledge, it's time for some direct instruction or student research. Once students are able to fill out the chart with some accurate information, compose a definition based on the chart.

  • Now explain that the class will be exploring the following ecological problem:

    Due to mild winters in the last few years, the rat and mouse population has grown in your area. Your role as a member of a Health Department taskforce is to explore what kind of threat this might pose to the people living in these neighborhoods. You will also investigate ways that we can minimize this problem. After conducting research using the bookmarked sites, you will email your findings to local public health officials so that they may address the problem. Since you will have a greater impact if your message is well written and professional looking, therefore you should pay careful attention to the quality of writing in your email.

    Technology extension - You may want to ask students to come up with additional ways they can use technology to get their voices heard. Or you can tell them to look for community-based listservs or Web sites where they can post their information and reach a wider audience.

    Now that students completed the Engage step, tell students that they will solve this problem using the following steps:

  • Explore - Groups conduct research about different aspects of the problem.
  • Explain - Then the class will reconvene to share their findings.
  • Elaborate - Groups investigate strategies for solving the problems.
  • Evaluate - Both the teacher and peers will evaluate the quality of the solutions presented in the emails.

    Teaching tip: Note that when using the 5 E's strategy, it is essential that the teacher's role is supportive, not directive. It is also important that evaluations emphasize integration of knowledge. You may want to have students review What is Problem-Based Learning.

    Learning Activities:

    Explore: (2-3 periods)

  • Students will work in teams of three to research the problem. Each team member should select from one of the following roles:

    • Scientist -- investigates what methods are currently being used.
    • Researcher -- helps the scientist find resources and asks other researchers for help.
    • Writer -- synthesizes the information and writes the report.

  • After teams have been established, discuss research strategies with the class as a whole. Ask groups what kinds of information they'll need to look for and where and how they will get this information. Or, you may tell students directly to use the Internet; print resources, and interviews, letter or email writing to relevant government, academic, health department, or pest control representatives. Add that they should also find out who their local, state, and federal representatives are and how to contact their offices by e-mail.

  • Allow at least 1 full period for research. If more time is required, ask groups to give a quick synopsis of their findings at the end of each class period to ensure that groups are staying on task.

    Explain: (1 period)

  • The teacher will ask the students for common findings. These will be shared by the whole group. The class should brainstorm for possible solutions to this problem. This should be approached by asking: what do we know, what do we need to know, and what possible actions can we take? By the end of the class ask groups to reform and choose an action plan to research.

    Elaborate: (2-3 periods)

  • Each task force team will research their action plan.

  • Once research is complete groups should write an e-mail explaining their action plan. The e-mails should explain the problem and their proposed solution. You may want to discuss strategies for writing a convincing persuasive e-mail before students begin writing. Although the writer is responsible for writing the e-mails, the researcher and scientist should be involved in organizing and editing the content.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:

    Evaluate: (2 periods)

  • Have each task force team send their e-mails to classmates for feedback on quality of writing, and quality of the action plan. Have groups make their final edits and then send on to teacher for final recommendations for edits. Teams then revise and send e-mails to their government officials.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students