Beacon Lesson Plan Library

To Be or Not to Be

Pamela Teske


In this lesson, students define the terms, abiotic and biotic. They compare and contrast biotic and abiotic factors presented while using the web cameras on the Web World Wonders website.


The student knows the nonliving (abiotic) and living (biotic) aspects of an ecosystem.


-Computers to access the Web World Wonders website
-Library books including field guides
-Venn diagram worksheet included in the attached file
-Notebook paper
-Colored pencils
-Textbooks with fauna and/or flora identification (if needed for reference)
-Science textbooks (if needed for reference)


1. Locate textbooks and field guides for research (if necessary)
2. Have computers available
3. Bookmark Internet website(s) and become familiar with how to use.


Introduce the lesson. Discuss with the students the layout of the activity. Discuss the benefits of biotic and abiotic properties in all habitats. Briefly explain how to manipulate the cameras.
1. Have the students from the science textbook, find and write definitions of the terms biotic and abiotic. Ask students to share the definitions and make sure everyone has a correct one for each word.

2. Prior to everyone logging on to the Web World Wonders website, demonstrate on the presentation system how to choose the camera sites and move the camera around. Instruct students to choose three different web camera sites. Have them identify the sites on their worksheets (see associated file). An option here would be to put students into groups of two. One could record as the other watched, then they could switch roles.

3. Tell students to make 2 columns under each chosen camera site listed on their papers. One is labeled -abiotic- and the other is labeled -biotic.-

4. Using the web camera, students should look at each site for approximately ten minutes and identify and list 5-7 abiotic and 5-7 biotic factors. These should be written in under the appropriate column for each site.

5. Review how a Venn diagram works. Students use one Venn diagram to compare and contrast biotic/abiotic factors at the different sites. It would probably be helpful to model how to place these factors on the Venn diagram. Information from all three sites is placed on the one Venn diagram. (see associated file)

6. Debrief students on the information they collected and the impact these factors bring or take away from the habitat. Discusss the commonality and diversity of the habitats.

7. Students turn in to teacher the definitions and biotic/abiotic list gathered from the websites and the Venn diagram for evaluation.


Use the Venn diagram -Comparing Biotic and Abiotic Factors on the Web World Wonders- website as a formative assessment. Make sure the students know the difference between biotic and abiotic. Assess the response for level of understanding of the impact:

10-14 factors placed correctly - insightful
6-9 factors placed correctly - adequate
3-5 factors placed correctly - limited understanding
0-2 factors placed correctly - no understanding

Students who demonstrate limited or no understanding need to receive corrective, formative feedback. Ask students to give the information in another way--verbally, paragraph format, etc. to make sure the Venn diagram format is not the problem.


Write a paper or discuss what could happen if one of the common factors were removed. Answer the question; -How would it affect the other biotic and abiotic factors?-

Web Links

Web supplement for To Be or Not to Be
Web World Wonders

Attached Files

A Venn diagram worksheet for students.     File Extension: pdf

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