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

Learning task 4

Expected time frame: 1-2 lessons

These learning activities are designed to help students understand an ecological community and the different types of adaptation which enable organisms to survive successfully in their own environment. Students read scientific descriptions and complete reading activities to encourage deep processing and raise awareness of structure and cohesion in these texts.

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 an ecological community works
    • I can identify the members of an ecological community
    • I understand how scientific descriptions are organised
    • I can identify some cohesive devices in a scientific description
    • I understand and can describe three types of adaptation
    • I know about parts of speech in word families.

Giving learners many opportunities to first notice then use new language

1. Understanding how a community functions

Three level reading guide

Tell students that the purpose of this guide is to help them understand what a gorse community is like and what animals they will find in it. Ask them to read the descriptions of animals in the information text Animals in the Gorse Community (Word 27KB) and look at the diagram of the gorse community (Word 67KB) while completing the 3 Level Reading Guide (Word 47KB) . See three level reading guides for more information about this reading strategy.

2. Understanding adaptations

  • Sequencing activity

    Ask students to read the sentences (Word 32KB), which describe aspects of an ecological community, and then – in pairs – write the sentences out in the correct order, thinking carefully about the language clues which indicate the right order. Students could then compare their ordering with another pair, discuss any differences and reach a consensus about the sequence. Mark the exercise, asking the students to explain the language clues they used to make their sentence order choices. Use the Annotated Description of an Ecological Community (Word 32KB) to go over more fully how to find the language clues to put the sentences in the correct order.

Finding out about learners’ prior knowledge

  • Making links to prior knowledge

    Ask students to think about their country of birth and write down at least one example of an ecological community from their own country. They make a list of as many members of this community as they can think of. For example, in Samoa, you might find a taro plantation community; what would the members of this community be? See Five Standards of Effective Pedagogy (PDF 48KB) – Making Meaning - Connecting School to Students’ Lives (page 7) for more information about the importance of connecting teaching and curriculum to students' experiences and skills of home and community.

Giving learners many opportunities to first notice then use new language

  • Understanding different types of adaptation

    Ask students to read and record the descriptions of structural, behavioural and physiological adaptations:

    ‘An adaptation is something that an organism inherits to enable it to live successfully in its environment. A structural adaptation is some part of an organism that helps it to survive. A behavioural adaptation is something an organism does to help it to survive. A physiological adaptation has something to do with the way that the chemical reactions happen in an organism which helps it to survive successfully. ‘

    Ask students to think of three different organisms and write these down. Then ask them to think of an adaptation of each which enables it to survive successfully and write this beside the organism. Students can use their first language if they wish.

    Ask students to head up three columns with the head words - structural, behavioural, physiological. In each column, ask students to write three other words from the same word family as the head word and check the meanings of each. Ask students to label these as parts of speech (e.g. noun, verb, adjective, adverb) and think about how they are related to the head word and why they are in the same word family.

Published on: 09 Jan 2018