Winter lessons 6th - 8th grade

Winter lessons focus on the interactions between humans and wildlife. 

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Counting Birds for Science - Dec. 18

Counting Birds for Science takes middle school students into the world of birding and community science. Students are introduced to Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count, the nation’s first community science project. Next, they identify common winter birds and use technology such as Merlin, eBird, and Project FeederWatch.  

This lesson emphasizes the importance of community science for gathering and recording large amounts of data and observing long-term trends. Educators have the option of birding as a one-time lesson or to gather data over time for a more robust student experience. Though the lesson highlights the Christmas Bird Count, the lesson could also be taught in the spring or fall.  

The lesson is aligned with Common Core State Standards in math and Next Generation Science Standards in life science. Students record, graph, and analyze data and identify trends based on resource availability and interactions with other species.   

Lesson plan

Counting Birds for Science

Supporting materials 

Trafficking Wildlife - Jan. 22

In the lesson, “Trafficking Wildlife”, students explore the multi-billion dollar, illegal industry of wildlife trafficking. The lesson introduces poaching’s effects with a game that models how poaching harms communities. Students will also investigate how poaching and trafficking are harmful to communities, economies, and ecosystems in an interactive discussion.  

Students explore the roles of WDFW detectives and enforcement officers who work to protect regional and international wildlife. Teachers and parents can choose to include a career profile of a WDFW detective. Students read two cases studies of wildlife trafficking in Washington and create their own project informing their community how they can avoid supporting wildlife trafficking practices and help promote the sustainability of wildlife populations.  

The lesson encourages critical thinking skills and is rooted in Next Generation Science Standards in life science, as well as Common Core State Standards in writing, and an Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction environment and sustainability standard.  

Lesson Plan

Trafficking Wildlife

Supporting Materials

Wildlife Doctors - Feb. 5

In “Wildlife Doctors”, students investigate the field of wildlife rehabilitation. They explore reasons why wildlife gets sick or injured and learn about the people who help wildlife recover. The lesson teaches students that wildlife rehabilitation is a trained medical profession requiring special training, skills, and space to treat and care for wildlife.  

Students role play to choose what they might do if they were to find a sick or injured wild animal. The lesson culminates with students creating a communications plan for social media that helps inform their community about the importance of taking sick or injured wildlife to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Students put their plan into “action” and evaluate its success.  

The lesson incorporates Next Generation Science Standards in Earth science, Common Core State Standards in writing, and Washington State Standards in environment and sustainability. Some of the content from this lesson comes from PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.  

Orange Square with white text Progressive Animal Welfare Society

Lesson Plan

Wildlife Doctors 

Supporting Materials

Following Habitat - Feb. 26

This lesson introduces migration concepts in animals and birds, and has a focus on migrating waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans). Students read about and watch a slideshow that outlines why waterfowl migrate.   

Students create an annual cycle for one waterfowl species, outlining the species’ behaviors as they fly north and south throughout the year. The lesson concludes with students learning why biologists track waterfowl migration. They use real WDFW data to complete their own waterfowl tracking project on Google Earth.  

To learn more about waterfowl natural history and where to find waterfowl in Washington, educators can choose to supplement this lesson with all or parts of the WDFW Waterfowl virtual event (full video approximately two hours).  

The lesson aligns with Next Generation Science Standards in life science as well as Common Core State Standards in science and technical writing.   

Lesson Plan

Following Habitat

Supporting Materials

Endangered Species of Washington - March 12

In Endangered Species of Washington, middle school students enter the world of conservation biology as they learn about what endangered status for a species means. Students watch videos to learn about what species in Washington are considered at risk of extinction and how diverse stakeholders work together to recover species.  

The lesson has students study different classifications of endangerment at state, national, and international levels and research what’s being done to help the species or population recover. The final assessment includes student research into one Washington endangered or threatened species and has students create their own recovery plan based on their findings. 

This lesson incorporates Next Generation Science Standards in life science and engineering design as well as Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction standards in environment and sustainability.  

Lesson Plan

Endangered Species of Washington

Supporting Materials