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Lesson One Outline- Learn About Orcas

Why Problem Based Learning?
Unit Plan
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Click on the links below to access the activities for this lesson:

Day One Lesson Plan Outline:  Introduce the Problem/Learn about Orcas.



To guide student through the activities in this lesson and introduce them to the Unit problem.


The Problem:

An Orca Debate- Would you adopt an Orca?

Researcher have been studying Orcas in their natural habitat since 1976.  Researchers believe that the whales of these pods may be in danger.  The students will research Killer Whales in depth.  They will learn about their habitat and feeding habits and investigate the problems facing Orcas.  Once they have researched this information in depth they will make a decision whether or not we as a class should adopt an Orca.


Teacher Strategy:

  • Explain the problem to be solved.
  • Introduce information on Orcas via a Power Point presentation.
  • Divide the student into groups.
  • Introduce the Adoption program (Activity Two).
  • Clarify the instructions in the Response Journal/Log.
  • Make sure group has divided the daily tasks.
  • Monitor the groups, coaching them with questions that delve deeper into their thinking.
  • Initiate the What we know/Need to know/Ideas Chart.  Click to follow link to:  What we Know/Need to Know/Ideas Chart
  • Encourage all students/Groups participate.


Student Activity:

  • Fill out questionnaire about Orcas endangerment.
  • Watch Power Point Presentation.
  • Ask questions they might have regarding Orcas from the presentation, ask them to write these down in their reflective journal/log.
  • Write down the important vocabulary in response journal/log.
  • Learn about the Adoption Program (Activity Two).
  • Write whether or not they would adopt an Orca and why.
  • Students are divided into groups and a group leader for that day is assigned.  The group leader will assign the role for today’s group discussion.
  • Students investigate What we know/Need to know/Ideas and participate in group discussion according to their role.  Click to follow link to:  What we Know/Need to Know/Ideas Chart
  • Students participate in class discussion, suggesting ideas for the What we know/Need to know/Ideas Chart.
  • Students reflect in their reflection journal, any homework or questioned assigned should be given at this time.



  • Students will be graded on their participation
  • Students will be given the opportunity to self assess their participation
  • Students will be graded on the completion of their reflection journal activities
  • Students will be graded on the completion of their daily Role activity
  • Students will be given the opportunity to self assess their journal entries, including Role specific activities.

You will assess students on the criteria outlined in the Unit plan introduction.  You will consider the self-assessments completed by the students each day.


Click below to follow link to Self Assessment Charts:


Daily Self Assessment Chart


Role Self Assessment Chart




Consider the responses made by the students in their Reflective Journals, ask yourself if the students utilizing the elements of transfer that are outlined in the Goals of the Unit plan introduction.  Evaluate the questions the students proposed in the Need To Know Chart, note how you might guide them in their research in the following activities. 


Click the links below to navigate through this lesson:
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