New Module: FIP in Action: Science Grade 5 Ecosystem Roles and Models


It was one of my favorite words from elementary school, and likely the first I knew with 14 letters. I remember repeating it over and over again for a fifth grade spelling bee that had me sweating bullets. I never even got that word in the spelling bee, knocking myself out of competition in an earlier round, likely to a word that was an exception to “I before e.” But as a nine year old, it was dynamic to learn that the same sun my mother protected me from with copious amounts of SPF 40 lotion was powering the plants that we saw every day in our backyard. I imagine it was a tough subject to teach to a student, given that this energy is unseen to the naked eye. 

Now, many years later, I know it wasn’t memorizing the spelling of the word that helped me remember photosynthesis, but the homemade ecosystems made out of two-liter pop bottles and a handful of potting soil, sitting along the window in our classroom. It was the classroom conversations with my peers, filled with questions for my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Meyer; the obvious one being “who gets to take the plant home when we’re done?” It isn’t until this very moment that I have come up with a new series of questions; these ones for my teacher. Was I being grouped with other students simply because they were my friends, or did you know all along that my learning was going to be best with that small group? Were you looking for evidence of my learning so that you could adjust and adapt lesson plans for everyone? Suddenly, the strategy and thought process behind every decision Mrs. Meyer made affirms that she truly was an effective teacher.

The Ohio Department of Education and Battelle for Kids are working to help educators understand what formative instructional practices look and sound like in specific grades and classrooms. In our latest FIP in Action module, and our first science module, we’re showing you formative instructional practices in Grade 5 Science. This module specifically focuses on ecosystem roles and models. The teacher featured in the module, Mrs. Cooper, explains how structures and behaviors of plants and animals help them survive in their environments. In this module, you will see whole group instruction, flexible grouping, and individual instruction modeled. Mrs. Cooper compared ideas with her colleagues on how to create clear learning targets in Grade 5 life science. You will watch as she uses evidence to effectively group students and plan out her instruction to meet the needs of all of the students, promoting student ownership along the way. Users will be able to download a copy of Deconstructing a Standard: Science, Grade 5 Ecosystems to review the approaches seen in Mrs. Cooper’s classroom, as well as experience several scenarios that are relevant to the classroom.

  • Scenario One: Teacher Team Deconstructs Standards
  • Scenario Two: Collecting Evidence with Laying the Base Targets
  • Scenario Three: Using Evidence to Group Students
  • Scenario Four: Sharing Learning Targets through Inquiry

You can access FIP in Action: Science Grade 5 Ecosystem Role and Models on the Ohio portal, available for all Ohio educators now.