Adaptation: Poison Dart Frogs - Real World Reading & Writing

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Use this lesson to supplement your biology unit on adaptations. It is the first lesson in a new series I am creating using real world texts as the basis for a text-based writing assignment. I’ve designed it to be both student- and teacher-friendly. Students access the text on their own (you do not have to find or copy the text) and complete the assignment as outlined on a one-page handout that includes a grading rubric.

The document is a PowerPoint presentation, but it prints on standard 8.5 x 11 paper and is easy to edit if you’d like to make it your own.

About this lesson:

The text: “How Do Tropical Frogs Get Their Stunning Colors?” by Amy Maxmen from the September 2013 Smithsonian.

• Fits nicely within a unit on adaptations
• 741 words/10.8 Grade Level (Flesch-Kincaid)
• Teaching Guide includes a pre-reading activity, vocabulary, and text-based discussion questions

The task: Students will write to explain the causes or effects of the colors of the poisonous dart frogs.

• Writing tips focus on organization and logical presentation of examples
• A student-friendly rubric allows students to self-evaluate and revise as needed

About the Read + Write Series of Lessons:

No matter what our states have decided to call the new standards or how they plan to assess the standards, I believe almost all of us recognize that our students are expected to do more reading and writing across the curriculum. As a literacy coach, I am working hard to help the teachers at my school realize that they can use reading and writing of real-world texts to reinforce their content.

One of the challenges of real-world reading is the copyright issue (not to mention copy budgets). As we steer away from paper and toward technology, we can solve this problem by letting students access and read real-world texts on their (or the school’s) electronic devices. This lesson is designed for students to read and respond to the article on their own; however, I have provided more background information and suggested teaching points in case teachers would like to turn it into a larger lesson.

Each Read + Write lesson is formatted the same. Students can access the articles using the QR code or shortened URL—and then follow the instructions to read with a purpose in mind and write a thoughtful, quick response that demonstrates their understanding of the text. These texts can stand alone or serve as real-world supplements to textbook units.

The writing tasks are all argumentative or informative in nature, but cover the rhetorical patterns expected in academic writing. The student handouts contain tips and suggestions that will guide the students in the right direction and give the teacher enough background that he/she will be comfortable assigning and evaluating the task.

Included in every Read + Write activity:

For the Teacher:
• A ready-to-go student assignment (that is also editable, should you decide to change it)
• Reading/Teaching strategies for the article if you wish to turn it in to a shared reading exercise or want to do more than just write about
• Suggestions for grading the student work

For the Student:
• An easy to follow link or QR code to access the text
• Tips to complete the academic writing task (different tips are included with every activity)
• A writing prompt and rubric explaining how their writing will be evaluated

Be sure to follow my TpT store to receive notifications as I post new Read + Write activities for your content area. Once you’ve established the routine, they’ll make great sub plans!
Total Pages
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Rubric only
Teaching Duration
45 Minutes

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Adaptation: Poison Dart Frogs - Real World Reading & Writing
Adaptation: Poison Dart Frogs - Real World Reading & Writing
Adaptation: Poison Dart Frogs - Real World Reading & Writing
Adaptation: Poison Dart Frogs - Real World Reading & Writing
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