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Case Study: The Most Beautiful Roof in the World and the Work of Rainforest Scientist Meg Lowman

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


In this unit, students will continue to build new reading skills and learn about the process scientists use to conduct research in the natural world through a close read of The Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy (L1160), by Kathryn Lasky, with photographs by Christopher G. Knight. They will take an in-depth view of how one scientist, Meg Lowman, became interested in her chosen career, created new ways to study the natural world, and communicates her findings to others. Students will compare and contrast Meg Lowman’s work to that of other rainforest scientists while navigating the terrain of various forms of informational text (articles, interviews, videos).

The class also will read the short story “The Wings of a Butterfly,” fiction modeled after an indigenous tribe’s folktale of animal encounters with humans in the Amazon rainforest. This will allow the students further opportunity to practice fluency when reading as well as compare literature to informational text. For the mid-unit assessment, students will demonstrate skills learned for determining the meaning of new vocabulary and the main ideas in informational text through the completion of a text-dependent short-answer quiz. In the end of unit assessment, students will continue to demonstrate their ability to summarize, use quotes to explain the meaning of text, and determine the meaning of new words in context.

In preparation for individual research to be conducted in Unit 3, the members of the class will hone in specifically on the research Meg Lowman did during extended stays in the canopy of the rainforest. Students will write an essay in which they analyze Lowman’s research of biodiversity in the rainforests, providing examples of what and how she researches to clarify their analysis.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How do scientists communicate what they learn about the natural world?
  • What is unique about living things in the rainforest?
  • Scientists observe closely and record those observations in various ways.
  • Authors organize informational text in specific ways to convey scientific ideas and concepts.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies and Science content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum:

  • Geographic reasoning: people, places regions, environment, and interactions in Brazil/Latin America

NYS Science:

  • Standard 4, Living Environment:
  • Key Idea 6: Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment. 
  • Key Idea 7: Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environment.


Texts to buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please refer to Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
The Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy
by Kathryn Lasky
One per student
ISBN: 978-0152008970, 0152008977

Texts included in the unit

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
The Wings of the Butterfly
by Aaron Shepard
Cricket, 2011



Optional Activities

Invite scientists (biologists, naturalists, environmentalists, etc.) to come speak to the class about their work.

As a class, observe the natural world outdoors, at a nature center or in an arboretum.

Design a campaign to promote biodiversity locally or internationally.

Research other women naturalists: Harriet Tubman (c. 1820–1913) and field naturalists such as Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), Anna Botsford Comstock (1854–1930), Frances Hamerstrom (1907–1998), Rachel Carson (1907–1964), Miriam Rothschild (1908–2005), and Jane Goodall (b. 1934).

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