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Running Head: EXPLORING THE AMAZON TRAIL

Exploring the Amazon Trail


Lauren Sammon
Virginia Commonwealth University

Exploring the Amazon Trail

Table of Contents:
1. Introduction

3-5

2. Unit Goals

3. Rationale

4. 4 UDL Lesson Plans

8-21

5. Unit UDL Assessment


6. Integration Plan
7. Self-Reflection
8. Reference Page
9. Appendix of Resources to utilize in Virginia

Exploring the Amazon Trail


Introduction
I am a 3th grade general education teacher, which means that I am responsible for
the instruction of the core subjects; including mathematics, language arts, social studies,
and science. For the purpose of this paper, I will be focusing my unit on 3rd grade science.
My main priority in my classroom is to guide all of my students to comprehension of the
material through whatever means necessary. I believe in presenting subjects in a variety of
platforms to try to reach each and every one of my students, whom all are on unique
development paths. There are several different ways of approaching each topic and it is my
responsibility to decide which ways are the best for my class as a whole, as well as for
individual students. In my classroom, I have a full-time assistant to assist my student
Melody. There is a speech therapist that meets with two of my students, Zach and Johnny,
once a week. Melody also meets with an occupational therapist and physical therapist once
a week outside of my classroom. The school counselor, special education teacher, and I all
have a close working relationship; they are both readily available for advice and assistance.
I will have a trained behavior coach meet with my class for 50-60 hours over a three-month
period to implement the First Step to Success program, which is an evidence-based early
intervention program designed to help children who are at risk for developing aggressive
or antisocial behavioral patterns. (WWC, 2012)
I have three special needs children in my classroom. Melody is a sweet girl who has
been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She is intelligent, collaborative, friendly, and has a
great working vocabulary. Zach has a speech/language disability. He is empathetic, a great
problem solver, is strong in math, and is very patient. Johnny has been designated
emotionally disturbed. He is a hard-worker, collaborates well in small groups, and
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performed with a high average at reading comprehension and word identification. I believe
that the other students in the classroom will benefit from the inclusion of Melody, Zach, and
Johnny. Our classroom will be highly collaborative, working with the variety of students
will provide opportunities for my students to empathize and see from others perspectives.
I will implement cooperative learning strategies Cooperative learning has been studied
extensively with positive results in self-esteem and self-efficacy boosting, as seen in
evidence-based research from Slavin (1995) and Johnson and Johnson (1995). Working
with these students will help me grow as an educator because it will force me to find new
ways of presenting material; these new lesson ideas may end up beneficial to all of my
students.
Melodys goals for this year are to increase her abilities to: (a) navigate her
wheelchair, (b) use her communication computer independently, (c) spell at the 4th grade
level, and (d) solve basic math skills. She will also increase her reading comprehension and
increase her range and motion of her arms. I will require a full-time assistant who will cater
to her extensive needs; including assisting her with her communication device, personal
care, and mobility. Once a week she will meet with a speech consultant, occupational
therapist, and physical therapist outside of the general education classroom. For Melody, it
will be imperative that I understand her communication device. My assistant will assist
Melody during in-class assignments and assessments with using her communication board.
Zachs goals for the year are to: (a) organize his thoughts orally, (b) organize his
thoughts in written form, and (c) participate more during in-class activities and
discussions. Zach will meet with the speech consultant once a week for one hour. I

Exploring the Amazon Trail


anticipate adding in extra time for all of the students for planning their written and oral
assignments; this can be beneficial to all of my students.
Johnnys goals for the year are to: (a) improve reading comprehension, (b)
participate in standardized tests (with visual accommodations and breaks), and (c)
improve attendance. His accommodations include flexible scheduling, hearing aids, largeprint tests, additional testing time, use of graph paper, and preferential seating. I anticipate
possible problems with behavioral issues, and poor attendance. It will be difficult to help
Johnny improve if he is frequently absent.

Exploring the Amazon Trail


Unit Goals
During this unit, we will be learning about animals and their environments, with the
focus on the Amazon rainforest.
Students will learn:

that adaptations allow animals to satisfy life needs and respond to the environment

methods of gathering and storing food

the ways and reasons why animals use camouflage

that environments support a diversity of plants and animals that share limited
resources

physical characteristics of the rainforest environment, as well as several animals


that live in the rainforest

Exploring the Amazon Trail


Rationale
This unit is important for all of my students alike, regardless of it they have a
disability or not. I feel that it is essential for all humans to understand the world around
them, and that other species inhabit this earth, not just us. It is important to realize the
impact humans have on the earth, as well as how to protect it. Part of protecting our
planet is being able to understand its wildlife. These are concepts that should be
instilled in children at a young age, and will hopefully be carried with them for the rest
of their lives. I chose to focus this unit on the Amazon rainforest to focus the attention of
the students on a specific model to demonstrate the themes of the unit.

Exploring the Amazon Trail


Lesson Plan 1
I. Purpose:

This lesson will be the introduction to the Exploring the Amazon Trail rainforest
unit; it is important to study the characteristics of different environments in order
to understand why certain animals survive there

Standards of Learning: Science 3.6(b): The student will investigate and understand
that environments support a diversity of plants and animals that share limited
resources. Key concepts include (b) dry-land environments (desert, grassland,
rainforest, and forest environments).

II. Objectives: The student will be able to:

distinguish the characteristics of the rainforest environment

explain a type of plant that lives in the rainforest with reasoning

IEP goals addressing: Zach (a) organize his thoughts orally and (c) participate more
during in-class activities and discussions; Melody (b) use her communication computer
independently; and Johnny (c) improve attendance.
III. Procedure:
a. Introduction This lesson will provide the basis for our Amazon Trail Unit. The
students will learn the characteristics of the rainforest environment, and will
understand why certain plants flourish in this environment. This is important to link
the understanding that different plants survive in different environments based on
the characteristics and living conditions of that environment.
b. Development

Exploring the Amazon Trail


1. We will start with a Thumbs up/Thumbs down activity. I will read a
statement about the rainforest, and instruct the students to show a thumbs
up if they think that statement is true, and a thumbs down if they think the
statement is false. I will provide an appropriate wait time after asking each
question. This gives all students a chance to think about what they already
know and dont know about the rainforest, while providing me insight to the
same information.
2. For instruction, I will first show a short video that encompasses the basic
characteristics of the rainforest with accompanying visuals. I will do a thinkpair-share activity with the class, where they will pick out something
interesting they noticed specifically about the rainforest from the video. I will
write what the group shares in a list on the board. From there, we will make
a definitive list of rainforest characteristics collaboratively as a group, as well
as what types of plants flourish in this environment.
3. Students will then have a choice for working with the information about the
characteristics of the rainforest. They can either (a) draw a picture of the
rainforest and label the characteristics unique to this environment, (b) make
a paint project on the computer of the rainforest with corresponding labels of
the characteristics, or (c) orally describe the characteristics of the rainforest
to me. For each activity, the students must also describe one plant that lives
in the rainforest and why the environment suits the plants needs.
c. Summary After completing these assignments, the students will have a clear
understanding of characteristics of the rainforest. I will be able to assess each
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students final activity; whether they choose the drawing, the computer picture, or
the oral description.
IV. Materials:

Art supplies: paper, markers, colored pencils, crayons

Computer paint program

Rainforest video

UDL Considerations: The thumbs up/Thumbs down activity specifically gives Melody a
chance to practice the mobility of her arm movements. This also gives Zach and Johnny a
non-threatening way to participate in a group activity. Providing an appropriate wait time
gives Zach more time to sufficiently organize his thoughts to present orally. The video and
discussion provide opportunities for visual and auditory learners. The think-pair-share
activity gives Zach, Johnny, and Melody opportunity to interact with a classmate;
specifically allows Melody practice with using her communication device with a peer.
Think-pair-share is an activity that corresponds with cooperative learning, which is an
evidence based practice. (Lyman, 1981) Think-pair-share and thumbs up/thumbs down
provide personalized, engaging activities which are shown by research to improve student
attendance. (Railsback, 2004)

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Lesson Plan 2
I. Purpose:

to help students better understand the purpose of animal adaptations; with the
focus on the methods in which different rainforest animals gather and store food

Standard of Learning: Science 3.4 (a): The student will investigate and understand
that behavioral and physical adaptations allow animals to respond to life needs. Key
concepts include: (a) methods of gathering and storing food, finding shelter,
defending themselves, and rearing young

II. Objectives: The student will be able to:

compare the physical characteristics of animals and explain how the animals are
adapted to certain environments

give examples of methods that animals use to gather and store food

describe in detail the purpose and characteristics of a specific animals adaptations


in regards to their food gathering and storing methods

IEP goals addressed: Johnny (a) improve reading comprehension; Melody (a) navigate
her wheelchair and (b)use her communication computer independently; and Zach (a)
organize his thoughts orally, (b) organize his thoughts in written form, and (c)
participate more during in-class activities and discussions
III. Procedure:
a. Introduction This lesson will focus on the ways different animals in the
rainforest gather and store their foods, and what adaptations they use in order to do so. For
example, a frog uses its long, sticky tongue to reach its food at a distance. This lesson is

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important to guide students to respect and better understand animals in nature and how
they are different from humans.
b. Development
1. Begin with a class discussion regarding a specific rainforest animal; for
example, the Red-Eyed Tree Frog. I would present a picture of this frog in
front of the class on a projection, and then guide the discussion with
questions about the tree frogs features, and why they think they use those
features. I would write down their answers on the board. Then we would
discuss the adaptations of the tree frog, what those adaptations are actually
used for. The entire class would be seated together, organized in such a way
that everyone can see and hear.
2. Read The Rainforest that Grew All Around, by Susan K. Mitchell, to the
class. I would model reciprocal teaching by pausing in between to point out
different animals and ask the class how they gather and store food, and what
adaptations they are using to do so. After reading, I would clearly state the
lesson goals and objectives with the class, and connect them with the animals
we discussed in the book.
3. The students have the choice to work with a partner, or alone for the next
activity. I would pass out images of different rainforest animals to each pair
or single student, along with several cards that have adaptations listed on
them. The students then have to match the adaptations with the animals they
were given. The backs of each card list the purpose of each adaptation. I

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would monitor each individual/pairs progress; and they would check in
when finished.
4. Four learning centers would be set up in the room. Each student is given the
choice of which rainforest animal they would like to study for these activities.
They would first use their choice of the internet, books, or magazines to
research their animals adaptations. Each student has the choice to
participate in 2 of the 4 centers; either 1 or 2, and either 3 or 4. The first two
centers will focus on the methods of gathering and storing food of their
animal of choice; either by Center 1 create a drawing/painting of their
animal labeling their food gathering adaptation or Center 2 using the
computer center to play an adaptation game that is setup about each of their
animals. The second two centers will focus on the differences of adaptations
of different animals. Center 3 will be a book center, where the students will
create a book with their animal and their choice of another animal to
compare characteristics to. Center 4 will be a graphic organizer station,
where the students will create a graphic organizer on the computer to
compare and contrast the adaptations of their animal and another animal in
the rainforest. The centers also provide the students with an opportunity to
self-regulate, and gives them a choice in their education. I will be monitoring
during the activities to make sure the students stay on task, and am available
to ask any questions.
c. Summary For each student, I would have two center activities to evaluate after
the lesson for assessment as well as their individual/partner work with the images
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and cards to assess. When they are finished with the centers, we would meet up as a
class and discuss our findings. The students will pair up to discuss their findings,
then have a choice to present to the class.
IV. Materials:

Printed out images of rainforest animals with cards

Projection screen with images

Poster board

Art supplies paper, markers, colored pencils, crayons, paints, paintbrushes

Computer center activities

Rainforest book

UDL considerations The instruction provides methods for visual and auditory learners.
Reciprocal teaching is an evidence-based practice to improve reading comprehension,
which is one of Johnnys goals, but will be beneficial for my entire class. (WWC, 2010) The
discussion will also give Melody a chance to practice using her communication device
independently, though my assistant will be available if she needs help. The centers activity
will benefit Zach, as it gives him the opportunity to organize his thoughts in a variety of
ways; it will benefit Melody, because the activities give her an opportunity to
independently move her wheelchair around the room, and there are two computer
activities that she can participate in with assistance from my personal assistant; it will
benefit Johnny by providing interesting and varied ways to engage with the information,
which has shown to be a motivator in school attendance (Railsback, 2004.) The first
activity also benefits all three students because it gives them the opportunity to work with
a partner; small group work tends to be a motivator for both Johnny and Zach, and working
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with a classmate provides Melody a chance to practice using her communication device
with peers.

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Lesson Plan 3
I. Purpose:

The students will learn about physical adaptations of animals, specifically their use
of camouflage, and why animals use camouflage in the wild

Standards of Learning: Science 3.4(b): The student will investigate and understand
that behavioral and physical adaptations allow animals to respond to life needs. Key
concepts include (b) hibernation, migration, camouflage, mimicry, instinct, and
learned behavior.

II. Objectives: The student will be able to:

create a camouflage pattern for an animal living in the rainforest

demonstrate understanding of why animals use camouflage

describe how a specific animal uses camouflage for its life needs

IEP goals addressing Johnny (a) reading comprehension; Melody (a) navigate her
wheelchair, (b) use her communication computer independently, and (d) solve basic
math skills; and Zach (b) organize his thoughts in written form and (c) participate more
during in-class activities and discussions.
III. Procedure:
a. Introduction This lesson will focus on the specific animal adaptation of
camouflage, which is an interesting topic to get the students engaged in learning
about animal adaptations, and provides a visual for learning the material. It is
important for students to understand why animals look the way they do.
b. Development

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1. We will begin with a group discussion. I will bring up the topic of camouflage
and explain its definition. Then I will show the class visuals of animals from
the Amazon rainforest that use camouflage to hide in their habitat. I will ask
the class if they can think of examples of camouflage in everyday life; we will
discuss their examples as a group.
2. Before class, I will have set up pictures of Amazon moths that I have printed
out beforehand that blend in with different areas in the room, but are out in
the open. I will split the class up into pairs to try to find the moths in the
room. After the moths have been found, we will meet up together as a class
and discuss the activity; for example, what made the moths hard to find?
What made them easy to find? Why do you think it would be good to hide if
you were a moth in the Amazon?
3. The students will then have access to the internet, books, and magazines to
conduct research about camouflage used by animals in the Amazon
rainforest. They will have the choice of working independently or with a
partner. During their research, or after they are finished, they will create a
graphic organizer of their findings. I will demonstrate three different kinds of
graphic organizers, and will let the students choose which they would like to
do. They have the choice to make their graphic organizer on the computer, or
to draw it out on paper.
4. The students will then create their own camouflage pattern. They will have
the choice of working on the computer to design a pattern, creating one by
combining different colored papers, or by drawing a pattern. Once finished,
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the students will write an accompanying description of their pattern, what
kind of animal would use the camouflage and why. This description can be
typed if working on the computer, or written if creating by hand.
c. Summary By the end of this lesson, students will have learned about camouflage,
researched it independently, and created their own camouflage. The students will
understand why different animals use this adaptation in the wild. I will be able to
assess their knowledge on the description of their camouflage patterns.
IV. Materials:

Printed images of butterflies and tape

Colored papers

Art supplies paper, markers, colored pencils, crayons

Computer art program, and printer

Research materials books and magazines about the Amazon rainforest

UDL Considerations: The searching for moths activity will provide Melody with the
opportunity to practice navigating her wheelchair and using her communication computer
independently to communicate with her partner. The use of graphic organizers is an
evidence based practice that has been shown to help with written organization, which will
benefit Zach specifically, as well as the entire class. Graphic organizers are a spatial
learning strategy, and spatial learning has been shown to improve math comprehension,
which aides Melody to solve basic math skills. Graphic organizers have also been shown to
help with reading comprehension, which is one of Johnnys IEP goals. (Lyman, 1981)

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Lesson Plan 4
I. Purpose:

This lesson will focus on the difference between behavioral and physical
adaptations; this is important to further the understanding animals unique and
individual features in their environment

Standards of Learning: Science 3.4 The student will investigate and understand
that behavioral and physical adaptations allow animals to respond to life needs. Key
concepts include: (a) methods of gathering and storing food, finding shelter,
defending themselves, and rearing young and (b) hibernation, migration,
camouflage, mimicry, instinct, and learned behavior.

II. Objectives: The student will be able to:

Distinguish between physical and behavioral adaptations of animals

Explain how an animals behavioral adaptations help it live in the rainforest

IEP goals addressed: Johnny (b) participate in standardized tests (with visual
accommodations and breaks) and (c) improve attendance, Melody (b) use her
communication computer independently, and Zach (a) organize his thoughts orally, (b)
organize his thoughts in written form, and (c) participate more during in class activities.
III. Procedure:
a. Introduction During this lesson, we will distinguish, as a class, the differences
between physical and behavioral adaptations, with examples of each presented.
Students will be able to link these adaptations to animals theyve already learned
about in an environment they are familiar with, the Amazon rainforest.

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b. Development
1. To begin, I will present several images to the class; all of Amazon rainforest
animals, some depicting behavioral adaptations, and others depicting
physical adaptations. With these images on display, I would explain to the
class the difference between physical and behavioral adaptations; providing
one image as an example of each. I would draw a graphic organizer on the
board, with one side labeled Behavioral and the other labeled Physical. We
would then as a class determine which side of the graphic organizer to place
the remaining adaptation images.
2. For the next activity, I would then break the class up into their
predetermined PALS partners. They will then take turns as tutor and student,
and present each other flashcards of different adaptations of animals in the
Amazon. The tutor will present the flashcard with the adaptation, and the
student will determine which category to place the adaptation, either
Behavioral or Physical. Once both partners have had turns as tutor and
mentor, they will go back to the flashcards and discuss how each adaptation
is helping the animal live in the rainforest and why. When everyone is
finished, we will reconvene and have a group discussion about what the
partners discussed.
3. I would then hand out a practice SOL test. The students will have the option
to take this test on the computer or by hand; and will have the option to take
breaks if needed. The students will be aware that this test is just for practice,
but will serve as a participation grade.
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c. Summary By the end of this lesson, the students will have had used a variety of
practice techniques to distinguish the difference between physical and behavioral
adaptations, and will have been introduced to several examples of both. The practice
SOL will give the students a chance to practice their test-taking skills in a low-stress
environment. I will be able to observe their progress based on their test scores and
participation.
IV. Materials:

Amazon rainforest flashcards

Printed out images of rainforest animals and adaptations

Practice tests; both paper and computer-based

UDL Considerations: PALS partners is an evidence based practice shown to improve skills
for those with learning disabilities; I believe all of my students will benefit from being
partnered and acting as a tutor with a peer (WWC, 2012.) This activity will help Melody
with practice of using her communication computer; my assistant will be there to hold up
the flashcards for Melodys partner when Melody is the acting tutor, but Melody will be
responsible for communicating with her partner. Demonstrating the graphic organizer on
the board as a class will help Zach in seeing how to effectively organize his thoughts both
orally and written. The practice SOL will benefit Johnny in helping prepare him for
standardized tests, as well as preparing the rest of the class.

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Unit Assessment
For the final unit assessment, I will create a test that covers the materials from all
four lessons. This test will include multiple choice, true/false, matching, and short answer
questions. The test will be available for all students to choose whether they prefer in a
written format or on the computer. Melody will be able to take the computer version. I will
allow extra time for students who need more time to complete the test, and will allow for
breaks in between for stretching/getting up and moving around the classroom. This will
allow all of the students to have a break to regain focus, but will especially benefit both
Zach and Johnny. This format of test-taking will benefit all of my students because it will
relieve some of the pressure associated with test-taking, and the variety of question types
will also benefit students. After they have completed their tests, if they have answers that
they missed, they will be allowed to correct those mistakes and earn partial credit by
explaining their mistakes either verbally or in a written statement.

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Conclusion
All four lesson plans utilize the fundamentals of Universal Design Learning. Each
lesson provides multiple means for representation, engagement, and expression. None of
the activities in the lessons single out any of my students; and the evidence-based practices
will be beneficial for all of my students. I believe that all of my students will be able to
succeed with multiple ways of accessing the information and having the information
presented to them. The assessment will also benefit all of my students because it provides
them a variety of ways to demonstrate their knowledge.
I will require extra help for my special education students. Each of my students will
need the assistance of other professionals in order to succeed. I will ask the IEP team for
Melody what the best plan of action is as far as Melodys schedule. Melody needs to be
moved in her chair every hour or two, so it will be important for our team to plan a
schedule and routine to stick to in order to have those moments align during times that do
not coincide with direct instruction time. I will also want to meet with the other
professionals that will be working with Zach and Johnny and decide as a team when the
best time would be for them to be taken out of class.
I will assign journal assignments to all of my students. These journals will be
another way for the students to demonstrate their knowledge, and their reflections of how
they feel their education is coming along. These journals will also provide a way for the
students to express any concerns they have, or suggestions they have for the course. The
journals will be a great way to keep up with all of my students and understand them on a
deeper level. They will specifically help me to better understand the needs of my special
education students.
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References
CAST UDL Lesson Builder. Explore a Model UDL Lesson Plan: The life cycle of butterflies, day
2. Retrieved from
http://lessonbuilder.cast.org/explore.php?op=static&pid=butterflies_2
CAST UDL Lesson Builder. Explore a Model UDL Lesson Plan: Rocks and Their Propertie, day
1. Retrieved from
http://lessonbuilder.cast.org/explore.php?op=static&pid=rocks_1
Virginia Department of Education. (2005). Enhanced scope and sequence. Richmond, Va.
Retrieved from
http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/scope/scopeseq_science3.doc
Griffin, C. C. & Malone, L. D. (1995). Effects of graphic organizer instruction on fifth grade
students. Journalof Educational Research, 89(2). Retrieved from
http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.vcu.edu/ehost/detail?sid=02f2131d-45d9-476fbcc43f31e54fd7cb%40sessionmgr15&vid=1&hid=22&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwLHVybCxjb2
9raWUsdWlkJnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=ehh&AN=9602192554
Lyman, F. (1981). The responsive classroom discussion: The inclusion of all students. In
Anderson, A. S. (Ed.), Mainstreaming Digest (109-113). College Park, MD: University of
Maryland Press
Railsback, J. (2004). Increasing student attendance: Strategies from research and practice.
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved from
http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/302
What Works Clearing House. (2012). Peer-assisted learning strategies. Institute of
Education Sciences. Retrieved from
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/interventionreport.aspx?sid=569
What Works Clearing House. (2010). Reciprocal teaching. Institute of Education Sciences.
Retrieved from
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/interventionreport.aspx?sid=434

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APPENDIX
Supplemental Resources
Lesson 1
III. b) 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3xN7bPTz7gw
Lesson 2
III. b) 1:

III. b) 2:

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Lesson 3
III. b) 1:

III. b) 2:

Lesson 4
III. b) 1:
Behavioral Adaptation

Physical Adaptation

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