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Wil Franklin's picture

Understanding Ecosystems: Structure and Function



Make a Legend for this Map.
(one possible legend)
(another possibility)








  • What is an Ecosystem?
  • Where does one start and another begin? How does one distinguish between ecosystems?
  • What do they do?
  • What happens when ecosystems are degraded? How does one even tell if ecosystem functions are diminished?

Links on Ecosystems and Biomes:

Relevant information about plant (and fungal) life on earth:


Mary Ellen McGinnity's picture


Mary Ellen McGinnity

The mapping activities were thought-provoking and terrific icebreakers! I find that I'm still constructing different versions of maps in my mind, based on some of the topics we discussed as we shared our individual and joint maps. I'm going to try that activity in my classroom.

I was intrigued to learn about the five zones of the deciduous forest biome; amazingly, each zone is in evidence on my school grounds.

Rosemary Krygowski's picture


Today we had a chance to learn about one another using maps. I found that although we are a very diverse group, we have much in common.I enjoyed learning how to use the interactive maps.
Anonymous's picture


I enjoyed the mapping introduction. I thought that was different how we got to introduce each other. I do the samething at my school on the first day of class. I write at least six questions on the board and have the students answer them at there desk or they stand in the front of the classroom. They really enjoy getting to know each other.

joycetheriot's picture

Connecting Biomes to Chemistry or Physics

I would not teach Biomes in general but I do look at the chemistry of certain plants and in Physics I connect plant growth to my unit on Light. Looking for a plant that would engage them as something they have in their environment; I thought of poisn Ivy because my daughter just had a bad case on her legs. Every student has some knowledge or experience with this plant so it would serve as an excellent link to their environment.
Victoria Brown's picture

This Morning!!

This morning session was very interactive!!  I really enjoy activities that help me get to know those around me better.  This is the key to cooperative learning.  I can' wait to use this activity in the Fall 2007!!!  The Web search was great I got to explore different animals and species.

Syreeta Bennett's picture

Exploring Ecosystems

I n fifth grade our last module focuses on ecosytems and adaptive behavior in plants and animals. During this unit we took the students to Awbury Arboretum. What I enjoyed about the experience was that it gave the children a visual and hands-on experience about what we learned in class. We talked about our region as being in the deciduos forest biome but in a few blocks away they could see what it looks like. The students could see what trees, plants and animals reside there. We even learned about the watershed in the area and how fragile our environment is and I say we because I learned just as much as the students.
Rita Stevens's picture


I knew a little bit about biomes before I read some information. To learn that we live in a temperate deciduous forest biome was new to me. Trying to find specific information about my specific area where I live in regards to climate, plants, animals, birds and their adaptations is somewhat difficult. There are numerous plants, animals and birds in this biome but only certain ones have adpated to our section of the biome.

Our biome's climate include the four seasons. But within each of these seasons, the temperatures in the biome varies greatly. I will probably get home this evening and spend most of it online attempting to get to more specific information about this biome in the area where I live.

Benjamin Zerante's picture

Morning Response

I thought this morning's session was a great introduction to the course and the course participants. I agree with Judith that this is a great activity to use in the classroom and could be adapted for almost any age group. The second half of the morning was also very interesting. I went through each of the posted links and then focused more in depth on the particular biome/ecosystems present in Pennsylvania. I would like to continue exploring the topic more with a more specific focus on Philadelphia and the examples present that we/our students might have access to. I think it's a good way to begin thinking about science and a sense of place.
Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

Morrning Session

Today's morning session was excellent! I enjoyed the getting to know you map activity. I will use this with my students. The ecosystem web search is an excellent idea. Looking forward to more!