Juliana Texley: Powerpoint

Linking Literature and Science
Using the content-rich nonfiction book,
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, in the classroom.
Begin with a Personal Story
Then Use the Practices of Science to
Explore the Biology of Snails
Methods of applying the Next Generation Science Standards to a nonfiction trade book.
The “Next Generation” of Students and Standards
value the study of healthy organisms in normal
Linking science practice to literature enables students to
bring many learning styles and intelligences to their
study of science.
The Practices of Science can help you discover more
about snails and yourself.
From the Frameworks:
LS1.A: Structure and Function
Organisms have feedback mechanisms that help them regulate or adapt to
conditions essential for survival (temperature, food, water)
LS1.D: Information Processing
Each sense receptor responds to different inputs (electromagnetic, mechanical,
chemical), transmitting them as signals that travel along nerve cells to the
brain. The signals are then processed in the brain, resulting in immediate
behaviors or memories. (MS-LS1-8)
Specific Middle School Disciplinary Core Ideas:
MS-L. S1.5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how
environmental…factors influence the growth of organisms
MS-LS1.8 Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond
to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior…
Creating a habitat
“A woodland snail is most at home in the soft
layer of debris, leaf litter and duff that carpets
the forest…” —Page 80, The Sound of a Wild
Snail Eating (TSWSE)
To study a snail’s normal behavior, you must
first create an environment as close to nature
as possible.
“…From the snail’s own woods:
many kinds of moss, small polypody ferns; a
tiny spruce tree; a rotting birch log; and a
piece of old bark encrusted with lichen…” —
Page 27, TSWSE
Begin with Observations
Make sure the snail is in a comfortable
“…a roomy terrarium filled with fresh native plants
and other materials from the snail’s own woods… “
—Page 27, TSWSE
The snail’s “skin” (epidermis) must be moist. Make
sure it has moisture in its environment.
Then sit quietly and watch:
How big is the snail’s body when fully extended?
How long are the snail’s eyestalks when fully
What proportion of the snail’s mass is its shell?
To quantify your observations, you might
want to leave a small metric ruler on the
“floor” of your terrarium environment.
Investigating Sensory Inputs
What are the main sensory inputs
that the snail uses to survive?
What are the limits of its senses?
What sorts of external sensations
(like noise or vibration) outside the
terrarium can the snail sense?
What level of input (for example,
how loud a sound) makes the snail
Can you train or accustom the snail
to ignore certain sounds? Odors?
Levels of light?
More Quantitative Observations
While qualitative observations are a good
way to begin to form hypotheses, scientists
use quantitative data to support their ideas
(or refute them.)
To answer a question about what area of a
snail’s habitat it prefers, you might need to
create a transparent, gridded cover for the
terrarium to use when observing.
Number each block on your grid.
Then refer to those numbers as you measure
variables like
Amount of plant or decomposing material
Temperature of the soil
Movement of the snail over time
Then test your ideas
Here are some sample questions:
Does the snail prefer
light or dark areas of
its habitat?
Does the snail prefer
moist or less moist
areas of its habitat?
Develop a procedure for your observations that:
•Controls for the variable of temperature
•Provides quantitative data
•Produces no harm to the snail
Investigating Preferences
Snails are often thought of as decomposers.
Their favorite foods come from a complex
array of living and dead materials in their
“The foraging of snails is complex; they vary
their diets to balance their nutritional
intake…” —Page 80, TSWSE
Once a snail is completely adapted to a
terrarium environment, try to measure its
preference for some of the foods mentioned
in the book:
Decaying leaves, Algae, Mushrooms
Bits of crushed eggshell, Loamy soil
Investigating Slime
“Slime is the sticky essence of
a gastropod’s soul, the medium
for everything in its life;
locomotion, defense, healing,
courting, mating and egg
protection. Nearly one-third of
my snail’s daily energy went
into slime production.” —Page
You have “slime” too—your
mucus. You can use it to
investigate the value of mucus
to animals.
How does mucus keep the epithelium of an
animal more moist?
Develop a controlled experiment to
compare the wetness of water and a
mixture of water/mucus.
Make sure your procedure is safe:
incorporate ways to make sure that
nothing in your own environment is
contaminated by the mucus.
 How will you measure “wetness?”
 How long will you conduct your

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