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Backward Design - UNIT PLAN TEMPLATE

Title: How do living things survive in the desert?

Year Level: 5

Teacher: Brandon Ellis

Focus Curriculum Area (s): Mathematics, Science, English

Duration: 4 Weeks

STAGE 1: Curriculum Links

(What do we want students to learn? From the Australian/SCASA Curriculum)
General Capabilities

Priorities (CCP)

Year Level



Ethical Behaviour

Personal and Social

Intercultural Understanding

Aboriginal and TSI

Asia and Australias



Histories and Culture

Engagement with Asia

Students interpret different data sets.
They use appropriate units of
measurement. Students list outcomes
of chance experiments with equally
likely outcomes and assign probabilities
between 0 and 1. Students pose
questions to gather data, and construct
data displays appropriate for the data.


(ACMNA291) Use efficient mental and written strategies

and apply appropriate digital technologies to solve

(ACMMG108) Choose appropriate units of measurement

for length, area, volume, capacity and mass

(ACMSP118) Pose questions and collect categorical or

numerical data by observation or survey

(ACMSP119) Construct displays, including column graphs,

dot plots and tables, appropriate for data type, with and
without the use of digital technologies


(ACSSU043) Living things have structural features and

adaptations that help them to survive in their environment
(ACSHE217) Science knowledge is used to inform personal
and community decisions

Critical and Creative Thinking

Year Level Achievement


They analyse how the form of living
things enables them to function in their
environments. They use equipment in
ways that are safe and improve the
accuracy of their observations. Students
construct tables and graphs to organise
data and identify patterns in the data.
They make presentations which include
multimodal elements for defined
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(ACSHE081) Science involves testing predictions by

gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations
of events and phenomena
(ACSIS231) With guidance, pose questions to clarify
practical problems or inform a scientific investigation, and
predict what the findings of an investigation might be


(ACELA1512) Understand the use of vocabulary to express

greater precision of meaning, and know that words can
have different meanings in different contexts
(ACELY1796) Use interaction skills, for example
paraphrasing, questioning and interpreting non-verbal cues
and choose vocabulary and vocal effects appropriate for
different audiences and purposes
(ACELY1700) Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations for
defined audiences and purposes incorporating accurate
and sequenced content and multimodal elements
(ACELY1707) Use a range of software including word
processing programs with fluency to construct, edit and
publish written text, and select, edit and place visual, print
and audio elements

purposes. They contribute actively to

class and group discussions, taking into
account other perspectives
They demonstrate different techniques
and processes in planning and making


(ACAVAM115) Selection of a range of elements, materials

and techniques to enhance their artworks

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How do living things survive in the desert

Create scientific inquiry and investigation questions

What adaptations have living things developed in order to survive

Plan investigation methods for answering questions

What are the structural features living things have which help them survive

Use equipment and safety materials identifying risks

Create a range of representations including graphs to present data
Create and plan for presentations and present them orally


Create methods and pose questions for investigation

Use materials and equipment to carry out scientific investigations
Interpret different data sets and represent them in graphs
Explain and describe the different adaptational features of living things in the desert
Explain how living things have adapted in order to survive in the desert
Describe and give examples living things which populate the desert
Utilise artistic tools to represent living things of the desert
Create a presentation utilising digital technologies


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Task description:
Towards the end of the unit of work, students will be asked to begin investigation of a particular living species of the desert. This task requires students to research and
make claims about the adaptations which help them survive in the desert. They will then use their research to create a presentation which will be presented to the class
orally. Students will utilise computer program PowerPoint to create their presentation using, images, text, photos, diagrams etc. Students will begin by forming groups to
plan and carry out their research into a particular species. This will be done online with computers and books used from the library. Students will be given time and
opportunity to carry out their research, however they will be required to complete some of the task at home. Groups will consist of 2-3 students. Presentations will
commence at the end of the unit.
Assessment Criteria: Students will be required to explain and describe the different adaptational characteristics living things have developed in order to survive in desert
environments. They will interpret data gathered from scientific investigations to then create graphs and tables to represent data. In addition students will showcase their
ability to plan and execute an oral presentation using technology, whilst being assessed on their delivery skills. Finally, students will be required to create an artwork
using various techniques and processes.
Assessment recording template:
Diagnostic At the beginning of this inquiry unit students will be required to contribute their knowledge and understanding in a number of diagnostic tasks participate in
a number of diagnostic tasks including class discussions, creating a TWHL chart on their knowledge and a word wall. Anecdotal notes will be taken in this phase using a
Formative- Students ongoing learning will be recorded in their journals for the teacher to monitor and a checklist will be created to gauge students engagement in tasks
throughout the unit. At the conclusion of the unit a rubric will be used for an overall journal grade
Summative Students oral presentations will be recorded with the teacher Ipad. This will allow the teacher to refer to them if need be and as evidence. Students will
then be given 2 rubrics, one whole group rubric on science content and one individual rubric for oral presentation skills.
Feedback: A journal which each student will keep as a rich assessment task throughout this unit of work will form the basis for bulk of the formative assessment and
feedback. Throughout the unit students will be adding work samples, artefacts, photographs etc to this journal and will be regularly collected by the teacher to gauge
each students engagement. Thus it will be important to write constructive comments and create some one on one time with each student to reflect on their learning. At
the conclusion of the unit an overall mark will be allocated to the journal using a rubric.
Feedback will also be given at the conclusion of the summative assessment, the presentation. Students will be receiving peer feedback and in addition teacher comments
will be given on a marking rubric to each group as whole for the content of their presentations. These comments will include both what the students did well and what
they could improve upon in the future. Finally, as the teacher will be assessing students oral presentation skills, each student will be given individual feedback on these
using a short separate rubric.
At the conclusion of the presentations and upon receiving their feedback judged by their peers, students will be required to reflect on this and their entire
investigation experience. They will be required to complete a self-assessment proforma which will involve reflecting on the investigation process, the success of the
group and how effective they worked together and any suggestions on how they might improve upon these processes next time.
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What events will help students:

Experience and explore the enduring understandings and essential questions in the unit?
How will you equip them with needed skills and knowledge?
Achieve the desired results identifies in Stage 1?
Equip students to complete the assessment tasks identified in Stage 2?
Learning Experiences

In this lesson students will be introduced to the topic through class discussion of
Burke and Wills who were early explorers. They will then complete a TWHL chart
on the features of deserts. As a class they will complete the Think we know and
What we want to know. Students will then read through a passage about
Australias deserts known as Red Heart and identify desert characteristics. Finally
students will contribute to a word wall in relation to the topic.
Note: In this lesson students will learn about the Journal they will be keeping
throughout the unit.

Assessment For/As Learning (Formative

Diagnostic- Teacher will assess students
prior knowledge and contributions to
TWHL chart, Word Wall and class
discussion this will be done using
anecdotal notes.

-Journals for each student
-Australias Red Heart copies
-Copies of TWHL charts A4

Formative Assessment Observe

students engagement in investigating.
Analyse the PROE table students in

-Science Journals
For Each Group:
-2 plastic bags
-leafy branch

INCURSION: This unit involves learning about the adaptations and structural
features of living things which help them survive in their environment. As a result,
it provides a great opportunity for students to get some insight on the topic from
the perspective of the Aboriginal people. The incursion will involve Aboriginal
members of the community and education officers giving a presentation on their
knowledge of adaptations and living things.

In groups, students will work together to investigate how plants have adapted for
surviving in the desert. Students will cover a leafy branch with a bag and observe
what happens. All observations will be recorded in journals. Before investigation
students will make predictions using PROE table (Predict Reason Observe Explain).

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Students will be shown an enlarged copy of Comparing plants and animals. The
class will read through and discuss structural features which may help them
survive in the desert. Students will be informed that they will forming the same
groups in the previous lesson to investigate whether the surface area of leaves
affects a plants water retention. Students will investigate the question What
happens to the water in the cloth when we change the surface area of the cloth.
Students will first examine their plastic bags from the previous session and fill out
the rest of the PROE table.

Formative Assessment Monitoring

students during investigation. Analyse
students PROE tables in journals.

-Enlarged copy of Comparing

Plants and Animals
- water
-1 copy of Surface drying
investigation planner
- 2 absorbent cloths (eg, 36 cm
x 36 cm)
- 2 paper clips

In this lesson students will analyse their results and present them by creating a
graph. Using these results students will make predictions on whether plants that
have smaller leaves are able to survive deserts. All writing will be done in students
science journals. The TWHL chart will also be updated based on new learning.

Formative Assessment Collecting

students science journals. Analyse
students graphs to judge success and
provide constructive written feedback.

-Graph paper
-Science Journals
-TWHL chart

This lesson will have students participating in a scientific investigation in regards
to heat. In groups, students will investigate heat loss and whether an increase in
surface area Students will use an investigation planner to make predictions on
what may happen.

Formative Assessment- Monitor students

as they investigate whilst making
suggestions and asking questions.

Students will work together to discover whether camouflage assists living things
survive in the desert. Students will be guided into suggestions for how this could
possibly be achieved. They will then use provided materials to carry out an
investigation. Students will create column graphs of their results in their science

Formative Assessment Collect students

science journals and provide constructive
written feedback on results. Monitor
students contributions to class

Students will reflect on last lesson. This lesson will have them discovering why
some animals are not camouflaged. Class discussion will be had on this. Students

Formative Assessment Students

engagement with activities. Providing

Each group:
-a cup and a plate of similar
material with high sides
- 1 timing device eg, a
1 thermometer
- 500 mL hot water
- 1 x 250 mL measure
Each group:
-1 A3 piece of white paper
- 1 A3 piece of newspaper
- Piece of newspaper to make
- Piece of white paper to make
- 1 hole punch
- 1 timing device (eg, a
-1 enlarged copy of Peacock
tales (Resource sheet 6)
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will then read through Peacock Tales. They will then make evidence based claims
in a hands on activity walking around the class.

guidance for students when making their

claims. Continual use of checklist.

Students will be focusing on the Ships of the desert, camels. They will discover
why they were used in exploring central Australia, state structural features which
help it survive in deserts and its adaptations. This will lead to a game where
students share their knowledge of plants and animals of the desert.

Formative Assessment Anecdotal notes

will be taken during the sharing of
knowledge game.


Students will form groups to devise a plan and research a specific species which is
found in the desert. They will be presenting their findings in the form of an oral
presentation in week 5.

Formative Assessment Anecdotal notes

whilst providing students with guidance
on how they may structure their
presentation and go about planning their

Library books


Students will create an artwork in regards to a particular desert species of their
choice. This will be done using materials natural environment including sand,
sticks etc.

Formative Assessment Monitor

students as they develop their artworks.
Ensure students are endeavouring to
apply correct techniques.

Sticks, leaves, etc

A4 paper
Example art pieces


In this lesson students will learn about how to make evidence based claims more
specifically. This will allow them to make claims about adaptations in the oral
presentations. Students will investigate a claim by creating a question and then
use materials to solve it.

Formative Assessment Collect students

science journals and assess work sample
and provide students constructive

Science Journals


In this lesson students will be presenting their oral presentations. Students
watching are to pick one group and provide written comments on the
effectiveness of their presentation and what they could improve on.
This lesson will have students reflecting on the unit of work. This will be done
through discussion and reflecting on their peers comments. Students will
complete a self-assessment on their investigation experience.

Summative Assessment A rubric will be

given to each group on their content
knowledge with a separate individual
rubric for oral presentation skills.
Self-Assessment Students will complete
a self-assessment proforma.
Summative Assessment Collect all
students journals.

IWB (Interactive
Student presentation
Copies of selfassessment proformas


- 5 x A4 sheets of paper (see

-Science Journals
- Each team members
science journal
- Copies of Our ideas
Copies of Camel

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1. Oral Presentation Rubric

Group Member Names:


Adaptational Claims



Eye Contact


Group Presentation
Excellent - 3
Satisfactory - 2
Evidence of
There is evidence of
some research into
research into the
the topic.
Multiple and
Some adaptational
accurate adaptational claims have been
claims have been
made with
made in regards to
reasonable accuracy.
presented species.
Presentation is neat
Presentation is
and professional.
satisfactory. Some
Images, text and
examples of images,
diagrams have been text and diagrams.
Presentation falls
Presentation almost
within correct time
falls within time
Oral Presentation Skills
Holds attention of
Consistent use of
entire audience with eye contact however
direct eye contact
still often reads from
Keeps audience
Speaks in consistent
engaged with clear
tone and volume of

Needs Work - 1
Limited research has
been conducted into
the topic.
Little evidence of
adaptational claims
have been.

Presentation is
incoherent. Use of
text, images and
diagrams is not.
Presentation does
not fall within time
Student reads from
notes and gives
limited eye contact.
Speaks in uneven
voice losing interest
of audience.


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2. Journal Rubric


Engagement of




Evidence Based

Recording Data
Interpreting Data

Graphs and Tables


Process and



Needs Work

All tasks are

included in the
journal and are
All tasks show
evidence of detail
and development of
Journal is neat and
professional with
correct sequence.

Most tasks are

included in the
journal but some are
Most tasks show
adequate detail with
some gaps in
Parts of the journal
are neatly presented
with appropriate

Limited number of
tasks are in the
journal and are
Included tasks show
little detail and
development of
learning is minor.
Journal is presented
in a careless manner
with no sequence.

Student displays
evidence of
All investigation
planners are detailed
and complete,
development of
Student shows
evidence of
developing scientific

Student shows some

evidence of
understanding with
minor errors.
Some investigation
planners are
complete and show
some development
of learning.

Student shows little

to no understanding
of adaptational

Student shows some

evidence of making

Data is correctly
interpreted and
recorded accurately.

planners are
incomplete and
show limited
development of
No attempt has been
to show knowledge
of making scientific

Data is somewhat
interpreted correctly
but has minor errors
in recording.
All graphs and tables Graphs and tables
are complete and are are complete with
some minor errors.
Student shows
Student shows some
correct measurement correct measurement
in all recordings.
with some minor
errors in recording.

Data is inaccurately
interpreted is
reflected in
Graphs and tables
are incomplete with
minor errors.
Student shows
multiple errors in
recording units of

Various materials
and techniques have
been used in creating
and planning an

Artwork is
incomplete and
shows limited use of
materials and

Some techniques
and materials have
been used to create
an artwork.

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3. Tasks Checklist

Task 1
ion Table

Task 2

Task 3

Task 4

Task 5

Task 6

Task 7

Task 8


4. Self-Assessment


What worked well in your investigation?

What didnt work well?

What might you do next time to make your inquiry process more effective?

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Group Reflection
Did I complete my
tasks to the best
of my ability?
Did I enjoy taking
part in this group?
Do you think the
group worked well
Did all group
contribute equally?

Give 2 things you enjoyed about working in this group and 2 things which you would want to do
differently next time.

5. Anecdotal Notes Template

Room 3 Year 5 Mr Ellis








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In this unit of work, students will be taken on a process of inquiry based on the inquiry question, How do living things
survive in the desert?. The Australian/West Australian science curriculum stipulates that students are to learn about how
living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (SCSA, 2014). Thus, it
was decided that students would investigate how living things in the desert have developed adaptations which help them
survive. Specifically, students will learn cause and effect relationships, through exploration of adaptations of living things
and how this links to form and function for the central focus. The unit is designed as a unit of integration and as a result
students will be learning and assessed from other areas of the curriculum including Mathematics, English and Art. This will
have students making graphs, showcasing oral presentation skills and creating an art piece.
The focus of assessment in this integrated unit of work is based on the achievement standards presented by the Western
Australian. Specifically, students will be required to display evidence that they can describe and explain the different
adaptational characteristics living things have developed in order to survive through the context of desert environments.
Furthermore, students will be assessed on whether they can gather and interpret gathered from investigations, and
display these in tables and graphs. Students will also showcase their ability to plan, create and execute an oral
presentation whilst being assessed on their delivery skills. Finally, as this integrated unit incorporates the arts subject
area, students will be judged on their ability to use various materials and incorporate techniques to create an artwork.
This integrated unit of work incorporates an approach which is informed by the backwards design and is based on an
inquiry approach to learning using the 5es model. The backwards design is advocated by Wiggins and McTighe and is
based on the approach of planning learning experiences with the final assessment in mind (Culatta, 2013). The desired
results (goals and standards) are determined first. The next stage is to then decide on what evidence needs to be collected
in order for students to showcase proficiency and understanding (Wiggins and McTighe, 2006). This then allows teachers
to plan for learning experiences with clear learning goals and assessment in mind (Wiggins and McTighe, 2006). For this
unit of work it was important to create an assessment in mind which would reflect students learning in an integrated
program. Thus the decision to create a summative assessment which would allow students to showcase their learning
across the posed achievement standards incorporating all their learning was made. It was determined that an oral
presentation would be a great assessment for students to showcase the desired achievement standards.
This integrated unit of work follows an inquiry based approach to learning. When an integrated program is inquiry driven,
sees students actively thinking about their learning in the means of research, making connections to prior learning,
processing information and application of skills and ideas through meaningful contexts (Murdoch and Hornsby, 1997). The
inquiry based, integrated program is supported by Wilson and Wing Jan (2003) who state that when skills and content are
developed through relevant integrated contexts, where students have responsibility in constructing their own learning,
learning is more powerful. The model of inquiry in which this unit of work is based on, is the 5es inquiry model. The 5es
model is effective as it allows students to be actively involved in the learning process (Education and Training, 2015). Each
step of the 5e inquiry model, allows students to draw on prior knowledge and then actively construct new knowledge
through authentic learning experiences. Furthermore, the 5e model complements and integrated program of work
(Education and Training, 2015). The 5e model has students participating in five phases known as engage, explore, explain,
elaborate and evaluate.
Students will be taken through multiple forms of assessment in a number opportunities. To begin, students will
participate in some diagnostic activities to gauge their prior learning and knowledge on the unit topic. Assessment and
reporting expert Patrick Griffin states that identifying students developmental levels before initiating teaching is of critical
importance. Thus, students will be taken through activities such as TWHL chart, class discussion and questioning. TWHL
charts are effective as they scaffold discussion and they provide opportunities for reflection (Fitzgerald, 2012). The basis
for formative assessment in the unit of work is the tasks which students will be completing and adding to a journal over
the course of learning. After each task is completed the teacher will be collecting each journal to assess students
engagement with the task according to the achievement standards presented in the Western Australian curriculum.
Constructive written feedback will then be written in each students journal for them to reflect on. A checklist will be kept
to monitor students engagement with each task and will be kept with inference to the achievement standards of the
curriculum. Wolfolk and Margetts (2012), advocate the use of checklist as an effective form of formative assessment.
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Other modes of formative assessment include guidance and the teacher acting as a facilitator, reflective of the inquiry
process (Wolfolk and Margetts, 2012). This will have the teacher working closely with students providing, feedback and
prompting students when needed.
The summative assessment tasks in this unit were created to showcase students learning in a way which would allow
them to showcase their learning from across the unit. It was important to create an assessment which would also
promote differentiation. Thus an oral presentation was created. The oral presentation gives students the ability to present
their learning of the topic, showcase their ability to create and deliver oral presentations reflective of the achievement
standards. Wolfolk and Margetts (2012), state that oral presentations provide the opportunity for rich assessment and are
very inclusive in nature. They cater for all different learning styles including all visual, kinaesthetic and auditory learners
(Wolfolk and Margetts, 2013). Furthermore, they give the students the opportunity to utilise their strengths such as
creating visual aids, creating text slides and manipulating presentation effect. Due to the presentation being based on a
PowerPoint, students will be utilising technology in this summative assessment. According to Howell (2011), incorporating
the use of digital technologies is an important aspect of 21st century teaching in order for students to develop modern day
Feedback is an important aspect of assessment and it will be important to provide feedback in this unit of work. According
to Lyons, Ford and Slee (2014), when feedback is given to students, it provides a link for maintaining a positive outlook to
approaching curriculum material. Feedback in this unit of work will be focused on being constructive and will help
students learn from their mistake. Explanations will be focused on explaining to children how they are wrong and or how
they are correct. Wolfolk and Margetts (2012) state that without this feedback students are more likely to make the same
In addition to the rich oral presentation task, students are required to complete a learning journal consisting of the tasks
they complete throughout the unit. This will give the teacher more evidence of student learning aimed at the individual
level due to the presentation being collaborative. Wolfolk and Margetts (2012), advocate the use of learning journals as a
rich summative assessment. Learning journals are very inclusive and nature allowing students of all learning styles to
showcase their learning (Wolfolk and Margetts, 2012). Diagrams, text, images, photographs etc can all be used in a journal
to showcase students learning.
Both summative assessments are very authentic in nature and require using skills which carry over into the real world. ()
states that authentic assessment is underpinned by the measurement of important abilities using procedures that
simulate the application of these abilities to real-life problems. Skills which are involved in oral presentations are relevant
to many real life contexts including jobs which require one to organise a presentation to present to a group of people or
pubic speaking in general. In addition, accumulating experiences of learning which occurs in learning journals/portfolios
carries over in the real world including creating personal portfolios for job interviews.
The learning tasks which students will be undertaking in this unit of work are based on the process of inquiry learning.
Each learning experience is intended to form the basis for learning in the next task. All learning tasks will have students
developing their learning in accordance with the Mathematics, Science, English and Art achievement standards for year 5.
Following the 5e model students will first be engaging in questioning activities and working out students prior knowledge
to form investigation. They will then explore, the topic by participating hands on scientific investigations whilst
showcasing the science inquiry skills. Explanations will be made by interpreting data and creating graphs to show what
learning has occurred in accordance with Maths and Science achievement standards. Students will elaborate by choosing
a desert species to create an art piece on using various materials and techniques as stated by SCSA (2014). Finally,
students will evaluate their learning through authentic summative assessment and self-evaluation of the investigation
process advocated by Wolfolk and Margetts (2012).
In this unit of work parents will be reported to in a number of ways. At the beginning of the unit of work parents will be
asked to attend parent teacher interviews to gauge what is happening over the next 4 weeks. This will involve showing
parents work samples and comments and from early diagnostic tasks to inform them of what they are working and the
learning goals for the unit of work. These parent teacher meetings will also allow parents to voice any opinions and ask
any questions they may have in regards to what their children will be learning.
During the unit of work a parent night will be organised so that parents are given the opportunity to look at what students
are learning and have learnt. This will be a good opportunity for students to show their parents their learning journals and
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what progress is being made in their learning. As comments will be present with each learning task parents will be able to
see what their child needs to improve or what their child is doing well at.
At the conclusion of the unit of work parents will be provided with the opportunity to view their childs summative oral
presentation as they will be recorded with class Ipads. The unit of work will also have them completing their learning
journals and thus students will be asked to take these home. Each journal will have a rubric and associated comments
which parents will be able to look at. Allowing parents to see the rubric will ensure there are no disputes in grades as they
can clearly see what criteria is required for each score.

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