Skip to main content
Ithaca Schools - click for home 
Ithaca City Schools - click for home
Students on field trip Student poster Students take notes    

Click Thumbnails to Enlarge

School(s): Beverly J. Martin Elementary
Grade(s): Third Grade
Subject(s): Science, Reading, Writing, Art, Technology

Essential Questions

What happens to organisms when their environment changes?
How does the health of an ecosystem impact the survival of one species?
How do environmental changes and human acttions impact frog populations/survival?
How do frogs adapt to live in varying environments around the world?
How are traits passed down, and how do they change over time, in frog species?

Case Study At A Glance

The study began with students watching a short video, reading, and analyzing pictures in a scavenger hunt designed to get them thinking about frogs and their declining populations. Students worked to understand the basics of frogs, how they grow, change, and interact with their environment. Students read rich narrative nonfiction such as Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle, while engaging in science investigations: closely observing and studying changes, gaining insight into physical features and how frogs vary in their traits. Students observed leopard frog tadpoles as they went through metamorphosis, and learned about variations to the frog life cycle through reading Slippery, Slimy Baby Frogs. The students then turned their gaze outward to the larger world, inquiring into why populations of frogs, and other amphibians, are declining in recent years, and possible causes related to their environment (including climate changes, pollution, habitat destruction, and disease). Lastly, they shared their learning in a Frog Teach In that included videos students created, games they devised to teach others, shared readings of books they wrote, and interactive scientific demonstrations. The Teach In's purpose was to put their learning into action, to teach others about the importance of a healthy environment for frogs, and for us!

Standards Addressed/Long Term Learning Targets


  • Determine the main idea of a text; recount key details and explain how they support the main idea.
  • Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.
  • Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • Construct an argument with evidence that, in a particular habitat, some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
  • Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.


Zamudio Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell
Mr. Collin, Animal Specialist, Sciencenter


EngageNY ELA Module: "Researching to Build Knowledge and Teach Others: Adaptations and the Wide World of Frogs"
Other digital resources

Anchor texts

Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle, Dennard, Debra
Slippery, Slimy Baby Frogs, Markle, Sandra
The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery, Markle, Sandra
The Frog Scientist, Turner, Pamela
Frog Song, Guiberson, Brenda