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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Learning task 3

Expected time frame: 2-3 lessons

These learning activities are designed to help students understand, explain and construct food chains and food webs and to understand how a specific community works.

Ensuring learners know the content and language learning outcomes

  • Share the learning outcomes, including language learning outcomes, with your students, for example:
    • I know how to construct a food chain.
    • I understand the differences between a food chain and a food web.
    • I understand what trophic levels are.
    • I can use key vocabulary relating to food chains and food webs.

Providing many opportunities for academic language use with a focus on using authentic language

1. Constructing food chains and food webs

  • Constructing a food chain

    Ask students to construct a food chain which ends with themselves, including as many links as possible.

    Write a description of the above food chains using at least six words from the key vocabulary list.

    Play the ‘food chain game’. Divide the class in two. One team starts a food chain by naming a producer. The other team must name a herbivore, then back to the first team for a carnivore and so on.

  • Understanding differences: food webs and food chains

    Explain the difference between a food chain and a food web using the descriptions below:
    Food chain
    A food chain shows the way living things depend on each other for food. All energy comes originally from the sun. The first step in a food chain is always a plant. This is because plants use energy from the sun to make food.
    Food web
    A food web is made up of a number of food chains from the same community that are linked together.

    Ask students to look at the food web associated with the gorse community (Word 67KB). Explain what gorse is, using the description below:

    Gorse is a spiky plant with yellow flowers. It grows wild in New Zealand and is a weed. Farmers use gorse as a hedge to give shelter to animals.

  • Understanding trophic levels

    Ask students to read the definition of trophic levels below:

    ‘What are trophic levels? The trophic level is the feeding level in a food chain. This means that the producer is the first trophic level, the herbivore is the second trophic level, the first carnivore is the third trophic level and the second carnivore is the fourth trophic level.’
    Use this model food chain as an example:

  • Constructing food chains for a specific community

    Ask students to look at the diagram of the gorse community (Word 67KB) again and construct four different food chains. Each food chain must contain at least three organisms.

Include opportunities for monitoring and self-evaluation

2. Metacognitive monitoring

Ask students to complete this self-checking activity:

  • What does ‘growing wild’ mean?
  • What is a weed?
  • Do I understand the ideas of ‘community’, ‘food web’ and ‘interlocking food chains’?
  • What are ‘trophic levels’?

 Ask students to label the trophic levels of each of the food chains they have constructed.

3. Constructing food webs for a specific community

Explain the organisms found living in a rose bush below:

  • aphids and caterpillars feed on the leaves of the rose bush
  • moths and butterflies feed on the nectar in the flowers
  • caterpillars are eaten by sparrows
  • ladybirds feed on aphids
  • sparrows eat butterflies and spiders
  • spiders catch and eat ladybirds and moths
  • hawks and cats eat sparrows.

Ask students to draw a food web using this information and answer the following questions:

  1. Which animals are herbivores? Which are carnivores?
  2. What is the producer?
  3. What is the source of energy for this food web?
  4. If all the ladybirds died, what would happen to the aphids, spiders, and moths?

Ask students to complete the ‘middle of the unit’ column in the learning grid (Word 2007 17KB) .

Discuss this with students and use the information to identify any areas requiring further teaching and learning for individual students. This will also help you identify students who need increased challenge.

Published on: 09 Jan 2018