This Invertebrate is Clamtastic!

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SWBAT Identify characteristics of invertebrates by examining, observing and diagramming a clam's shell and anatomy.

Big Idea

In order to study organisms, scientists examine and observe live specimen. By having hands-on experiences with mollusks, one of the most common invertebrates,students become familiar with some of the many inherited characteristics of clams.


1 minutes

Warm up

5 minutes

I sometimes like to start my science lessons with a "fun fact" or a "strange but true" introduction. That's what I did with this lesson. Hooked them with " fun fact, did you know that almost all invertebrates are edible?" and of course I got the " Even worms? Yuck!" "Yes, in some countries, worms are a delicacy." Then I used the powerpoint I created to to delve even deeper into the world of invertebrates.

During this lesson, students get up close and personal with a very common invertebrate, the clam.The purpose of this lesson is for my students to see and feel the characteristics of an invertebrate, while completing a diagram of the clam's shell as well as its anatomy.

I try to infuse as much academic vocabulary as possible into our discussions. In order for this vocabulary to become more permanent, they need to use it during discussions and eventually "own" the word. I scaffold this process by using a modified version of the Frayer Vocabulary Model.pdf for all new academic vocabulary, which they glue into their interactive notebooks.

 The first time I did this lesson with my class, I did not separate the closed clams from the opened ones. I learned my lesson, I had students focusing on the open ones before we were ready. Now I give the closed ones, we do that section, then I give the open ones. This worked out much better.

Guided practice

15 minutes

Using a powerpoint to guide the lesson is my favorite way to teach. It is an uncomplicated way to differentiate in my classroom. Each slide  in my Clams & Invertebrates power point includes a visual that enables my visual learners to make that connection between the word and the picture, my auditory learners are hearing what is right in front of them and my kinesthetic are connecting to it by writing and later in the lesson by doing!


25 minutes

Before we even get to the hands-on portion of this lesson, I try to scaffold the information and academic language as much as possible. By scaffolding during the lesson, students build some background knowledge and a point of reference they will need in order to be successful. For example, one of the slides in the powerpoint is a diagram of a clam's anatomy. I gave my students the same diagram, but with the words missing, Clam anatomy diagram.pdf, this way, as I go through the sections they can fill it in and glue it in their notebook.

During the hands-on section of this lesson I rely heavily on the "focus page" I created, a Clam Investigation lab.pdf, which acts as a guide, along with the powerpoint to keep both my students and me on schedule. This focus page includes sentence frames, as well as opportunities for my students to practice answering questions using facts from what has been covered, a very important skill in the Common Core Standards. Their examination of the inside of the clam ,and the outside of the clam had them acting like scientists!

Class Discussion/Wrap up

10 minutes

The focus page, "clam investigation lab" really helps guide our discussion. The students use the academic vocabulary they have been learning throughout this unit to express what they have observed and done. This was the first time many of them had ever even touched a clam, or seen the anatomy. They stepped away with a new understanding of how scientists explore the animal world. 

The focus page gives me a demonstration of learning. However, at times I will create a cloze activity that helps the students really hone in on that academic vocabulary.  I gave the  Clam Cloze Activity.pdf  as homework, this enabled the students to revisit and review the information on their own.