From Trees to Trout

Outdoor Teaching Plan

Teacher’s Name:  Rob Lindsay

Class Grade Level & School:  Seventh Grade, Lincoln Middle School

Class Subject:  Science

Number of Students in Class:  70

Lesson/Project Name:  From Trees to Trout


1. What are your own teaching goals going into this?

I hope to gain practice with organizing multiple activities, and with using parent volunteers more effectively.

2. What are your goals for students going into this?

a. Process/skill goals

Students will use observation and measurement skills, and practice taking plans from paper to actuality.

b. Subject/content goals

Students will

  1. describe ways in which two types of organisms may interact, and describe the positive and negative consequences of such interactions (Maine Learning Results);
  2. describe how science and technology can help address societal challenges including…sustainability and environmental quality (Maine Learning Results).


  1. Materials– a variety of tree saplings and  shrubs, 20-30 plants;  shovels; water and        watering containers.
  2. The Class/Project
    1. Prep before going outside: (Three weeks, 55 minutes per day)

Description of prep:  Last year, students choose tree planting as their service learning project for this year.  We have partnered with the Portland Water District, which also organizes our trout in the classroom project.  Mill Brook, where students will release their trout fry, is the area in which students will plant trees and shrubs.  “From Trees to Trout” connects the needs of trout in the brook with remediation of the land around the brook.

Students will work in committees to organize various parts of the project.  Some committees will include map-making, tree research, shrub research, blog writers, trout tank tenders, and plant tenders (to take care of plants between the time we get them and the time we plant them).

Before visiting the site, students will look at it on Google Earth to locate places in need of planting. They will investigate and choose native plants compatible with the area.

For the field work, students will be organized into working groups of 4-8 students, each with a parent volunteer or school staff member. (The number of students per group will depend on the number of volunteers available.)

Immediately before going outside, we will review norms for outside work and group tasks.  (See attached norms)

  1. Outside: (Two lessons of three and a half hours each)

Description of activity:

Students will visit the site twice.  (To make the class sizes more manageable, we will divide the students into two groups of 35;  each of the smaller groups will visit the site twice). On the first visit, to learn about the specific conditions and needs of plants in the area, they will map and inventory existing trees, map shaded and open areas on the brook, test water quality, and take notes on erosion problems.

On their second visit, half of the students will begin with tree planting while the other half will document water conditions and release trout fry.  After an hour, we will take a break.  Then the groups will switch tasks- the tree planters will document water conditions and release trout fry, and the group that had been working with the trout will begin tree planting.

Tasks for the trout station include:  inventorying plant species along brook and measuring shade cover, and marking results on map;  drawing and photographing erosion conditions; testing dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature at various sites in brook; and releasing trout fry.

Tasks for the tree planting station include:  locating the planting spots they determined based on maps and Google Earth;  measuring distance from neighboring plants to create good growing conditions; planting trees and shrubs, and watering them.

  1. Classroom follow-up (2-3 class periods)

Describe follow-up activity:  Students will assemble their findings and documentation (photos, drawings, maps, lists of trees and shrubs, and water quality results) on display boards and post on blog.

The day after the trip, each student will write a reflection on his or her experience.  Because I want the conditions in which they write to match those of the experience, we will write outside in the woods across the street from the school.  We may post some anonymous reflections online as well.


I will reflect on this project in several ways.  As the students write their reflections on the    experience, I will write to the same prompt.  Because the project is funded by a grant, I will also be writing a final report which will include reflections.

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