Alaska Sea Grant

Alaska Seas and Watersheds Curriculum

Class Time Required

2 class periods plus 1-2 hours to participate in celebration

Materials Needed
  • Science notebooks
  • Student work from previous investigations
  • A gathering place and/or audience seating with mini stage
  • Display space in the school hallway or possibly display case
  • Invitations
Teacher Preparation

Organize all of the student work and materials from the unit.

Set dates and invite others to Celebration.

Set up room to facilitate presentations.

Prior Student Knowledge

Experiences that students have had during their K year with art, writing, reading and presentation will assist their ability to be successful throughout this unit.


Communication, presentation, all vocabulary used during the unit

Science GLEs Addressed

A1, A2, C2, C3

Investigation 5Overview: This investigation allows students an opportunity to share their thinking. They share and communicate their experiences and understanding using their science notebooks, art, photos from the field trip, classroom work, and a mural. First, they practice in the classroom and then share their thinking and work as part of a classroom and/or whole school celebration of the Alaska Seas and Watersheds Curriculum.

Focus Questions:

  • How do we find out information?
  • How can we, as scientists, naturalists, and biologists share our information?
  • How do we share our ideas and thinking?

Engagement (10 minutes):
Reread information about living and nonliving things, to model how to present information. Model different ways of sharing information: Use a science notebook, and then use a puzzle or mini-book in another example. Another way to share might be to roleplay a scientist coming together with other scientists to ask for help in identifying newly found habitat (dress in outdoor gear: coat, hat, and rain-pants with magnifier, science notebook, backpack, etc.)

Students will be using their science notebooks to note experiences and information from their work in describing living and nonliving things. They may also choose to use a mini-book, additions to the class mural, or a sea creature puzzle to "teach" about their understanding.

Exploration (30 minutes):

Work with the students to create a rubric that helps them understand how they are expected to share their information (see Evaluation below). Organize the students to give their own presentations and/or explanations of one aspect of their learning, giving them choices of presentation methods that work for the classroom schedule.

Group the students into pairs to practice sharing their findings. Invite them to roleplay during their presentation, asking fellow scientists (peers) to listen to their findings. Students listen to each other as they share presentations of living and nonliving things. Encourage students to listen carefully and then provide feedback to the practice presenter, asking questions and/or making connections to living and nonliving things based on their own experiences during the classroom unit study.

Science notebooks and all other work should be ready and available when students pair-share with each other. The room should reflect student learning and their experiences during the entire unit.

Explanation (40 minutes):

Students ask each other questions, which can be about specific living and nonliving things presented or about possible connections to different characteristics discovered during the unit. The pair-share practice is about 5-10 minutes long with students asking each other questions at the end.

This is an important part of the learning process. When students ask each other questions, the students giving the information will be encouraged to defend their thinking, share their ideas, and/or agree and disagree with each other about living and nonliving things. This is the place where students get to use their evidence to clarify understanding. They can share specific information found through books and/or experiences. Characteristics (colors, shapes, and sizes) and specific ways living things move will be a key part of the information presented.

Gather the class together to debrief as a whole group. Help students brainstorm what makes a good audience for other students to present their information. Have a few students demonstrate their explanations and allow questioning. Use your rubric to discuss the presentations and talk about what makes a good presentation. Help students to connect their explanations to habitat information, book learning, and their field experience as well as visits from guests and explorations in the classroom.

Elaboration (1-2 hours):

Take part in a Whole School Celebration of the Alaska Seas and Watersheds Curriculum, or organize an opportunity for students to share their learning with others.

One way to organize the overall communication part of the unit is to set up a "scientific conference" for the culmination of the unit. Students can display information, artwork, books, and exhibits from their lessons. Invite parents, community members, and/or other classes to come, view, and listen. All through the unit the teacher should call each discussion and/or investigation of information a “mini-conference” letting children know that their final information will be shared at the scientific conference. In this way, children will be expected to offer a piece of science information for the conference, emphasizing that everyone’s thinking would be important to the whole process.

Gather students together for the scientific conference. Students will act as groups of “scientists” who will report their findings to the rest of the group. It is fun if the lead educators are quirky conference reporters during this conference, so that key questions can be asked of the scientists: “How did you come about these findings?” and, to a member of the‘audience’: “How would you have gone about answering this question?” In particular, it is key to prod students to ask and answer their own questions about the data they are collecting and the merits of their methodology.


Create a rubric with the students (see rubric ideas in resources) so that they will understand the different aspects of presenting information to others. Criteria might include speaking in a clear voice, showing evidence, asking for questions, and sharing enthusiasm. It is important for students to be part of the process so they can understand the expectations and purpose of sharing information. Roleplay with the class to assist this process once the rubric is created. Ask students to watch for best ways to give information.

Teacher Preparation:

Tips from Teachers

Do presentations informally, in "fair booth" style where parents and staff can mingle and inquire.

Do a drama circle activity. Prior to the lesson, have each student record themselves on a cassette recorder. Limit them to one minute to tell what they learned. When students share their work they can choose actors to help act out their recorded story.

Read the Teacher Background for more information.Find exemplars in science notebooks, mini- books, on the mural, and in other work to demonstrate the sharing process to students. Be sure that student work and materials from the entire unit are accessible to students during this investigation.

Decide on a date and time, then prepare and send out an invitation to parents and possibly flyers to the community to come to your celebration. Students may help to generate the invitations. Organize refreshments and a seating area for demonstrations, explanations, and other activities.

Curricular Connections:

Language Art. The investigation provides experience in speaking and listening.

Art. Students practice presenting and critiquing art.

Materials Needed for Investigation 5:  

Student Handouts

Science notebooks

Items for Group Display

Any charts, lists, and displays used during the unit

Material Items
  • All materials related to the unit, including:
  • Books
  • Posters
  • Samples of living and nonliving things
  • Any specimens collected
  • Jars of water and land
  • Pictures
  • Field trip equipment
Facility/Equipment Requirements 

Hallway, wall, and other display space.

Gathering space for student presentations with "audience seating."

Alaska Science Grade Level Expectations Addressed:

In Investigation 5, kindergarten students begin to build toward these K-12 Alaska Science Standards:

Science as Inquiry and Process
(A1) develop an understanding of the processes of science used to investigate problems, design and conduct repeatable scientific investigations, and defend scientific arguments.

(A2) develop an understanding that the processes of science require integrity, logical reasoning, skepticism, openness, communication, and peer review.

Concepts of Life Science
(C2) develop an understanding of the structure, function, behavior, development, life cycles, and diversity of living organisms.

(C3) develop an understanding that all organisms are linked to each other and their physical environments through the transfer and transformation of matter and energy.

Essential Question:

  • What are the characteristics of the living and nonliving things you discover in the water?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Living and nonliving things in Alaska waters come in a great assortment of colors, shapes, and sizes.

  • Living things move, grow, and change.

Events and Announcements

Get Your Feet Wet

April 1 - May 31

Celebrate and share your local event with other Alaskan teachers and students! We'll send you and your students a certificate of accomplishment and place them on the Alaska Sea Grant honor roll if they complete a clean-up or other type of stewardship project. xx

Register here

Alaska Seas and Watersheds teaching resources and activity ideas for field trips and stewardship projects are available for all grade levels along with new NGSS-aligned lesson plans and units for field trips and the use of drones and submersibles to collect environmental data.

Coming Soon!

A collection of teaching resources for the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research Project area and a link to resources for teaching about ocean acidification.

Professional Development

Alaska Sea Grant provides professional development in a variety of formats. Onsite in-service presentations and workshops are provided free-of-charge as an opportunity for Alaska K-8 teachers and informal educators to learn about our award-winning, Alaska-relevant curriculum materials and other educational resources.  Graduate-level courses can also be provided for the cost of Continuing Education Credits through the University of Alaska.

More information

Professional development

Grants to Alaska Schools

Since its beginnings during the 2014–2015 school year, the Alaska Sea Grant school grant program has provided more than $100,000 to 10 Alaska school districts to increase local marine and aquatic education in 22 communities. The three-year, $10,000 grants have supported science curriculum revisions, development of NGSS-aligned lesson plans and units, field trip transportation, and the purchase of equipment and supplies.

If you are an Alaska teacher or administrator, contact us to get on the email list for the next announcement for a Request for Proposals.

anchoragewetlandsStudents explore and collect data in Westchester Lagoon, the outlet to Chester Creek. Alaska Sea Grant funds support a watershed education field trip program for more than 250 Anchorage School District students.
Alaska Sea Grant University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Department of Education and Early Development NOAA

Photographs courtesy of Reid Brewer, Verena Gill, Heloise Chenelot, Stephen Trumble, and David Menke.

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The University of Alaska Fairbanks is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual: Learn more about UA's notice of nondiscrimination.