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Unit 1: The Ecological Perspective [Individual]

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The Ecological Perspective teaches you how to develop observational skills and fundamental, basic ecological principles. The curriculum’s opening unit is a collection of lessons, activities and assessments that will help you learn how to view the world from a variety of perspectives, using ecologically based knowledge. Unit 1 will teach you how to develop an ecological perspective of the world and utilize that perspective throughout the curriculum and in your own life. Understanding an ecological perspective will help you look for, find, and understand key interconnections between humans and the environment, over the vast period of time explored in the curriculum.

Student Goals and Expectations

Students will:

  1. understand how they examine and perceive the world around them
  2. learn how to investigate their connections to other living organisms
  3. develop an “ecological perspective” that will influence the way they view and impact the natural world


  • Electronic, Interactive Textbook (PDF)
  • Interactive Visual Timeline
  • Unit Overview Video


3 Curriculum Introduction
7 Unit 1 Introduction
8 Lesson 1: Perspective – What is it?
8 Lesson 1.1: What is perspective?
8 Lesson 1.2: Understanding multiple viewpoints
9 Lesson 1.3: A better visual perspective: the bird’s-eye view
9 Lesson 1.4: One bird, many parts
10Lesson 1.5: Structure and function: top-down or bottom-up?
11 Lesson 1.6: Organizing parts into a hierarchy pattern, from the bottom up
12 Lesson 1, Activity 1: Feather structure, function, and scale from a top-down perspective
14 Lesson 1.7: Biological levels of organization
16 Lesson 1, Activity 2: Biological levels of organization
17 Lesson 1.8: A review of Lesson 1
18 Lesson 2: What is an ecological perspective?
18 Lesson 2.1: How do you connect with your environment?
19 Lesson 2, Sidebar 1: Breathe your way to better health
20 Lesson 2, Activity 1, Part 1: Basic connections with my environment
22 Lesson 2, Activity 1, Part 2: Basic Connections with my environment
24 Lesson 2.2: Patterns in the movement of matter and energy: the Laws of Thermodynamics
26 Lesson 2, Activity 1, Part 3: Matter can be recycled, energy cannot
28 Lesson 2, Sidebar 2: The importance of fossil fuels
29 Lesson 2.3: Taking an ecological perspective
30Lesson 2, Sidebar 3: Ecological patterns – designs of distribution and abundance
31 Lesson 2, Activity 2: Ecological Patterns: Food Chains, food webs and trophic levels
34 Lesson 2.4: The ecological levels of organization
36 Lesson 2.5: Applying levels of organization to natural systems
37 Lesson 2, Sidebar 4: The Triad Method: levels of organization as a framework for investigation
38 Lesson 2, Activity 3: Ecological levels of organization
39 Lesson 2.6: Determining the scope of an investigation; extent and grain
42 Lesson 2, Sidebar 5: Extent and grain: defining scale
44 Lesson 2, Activity 4: Using Google Earth to measure the extent of our study area
46 Section 2.7: The ecological timeline
46 Unit 1 review
49 Index
51 Glossary