Insect or Not?

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SWBAT determine which benthic macroinvertebrates can be classified as insects based on their external body structures.

Big Idea

Some macroinvertebrates are insects and they all share characteristics that set them apart from non-insect macroinvertebrates.

Warm Up

5 minutes

To begin the lesson, I encourage students to review their Benthic Macroinvertebrate Exit Ticket from the previous lesson. When completing this exit ticket, students were asked to define benthic macoinvertebrates and to describe how benthic macroinvertebrates compare to other insects they have seen. This review allows students to activate their shared prior knowledge.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

The goal of this lesson is to have students identify macroinvertebrates and classify them into two groups; insects and non-insects. To accomplish this goal, I ask each student group to sort a set of Insect or Not Sorting Cards as many ways as they can. I know that students build teamwork skills, uncover misconceptions, and deepen their understanding of a topic through their discussions with peers, so I encourage students to use any sorting rule they can think of. Oftentimes this means that students may sort by superficial characteristics, such as color, instead of using more complex sorting rules, such as body type or number of legs. This is perfectly okay as I am hoping to see my students effectively collaborating and critically examining each picture. I elaborate on my strategies for ensuring effective group work time here. As students progress through the sorting activity, I ask them to record their sorting rules on the Insect or Not Reflection Sheet

Additional resources, including links to pictures of macroinvertebrates native to various locations in the United States, can be found here.

Class Discussion

15 minutes

After students have completed their sorting activity, I bring all students together for a class discussion. During this discussion, I ask each group to share one of the ways they sorted their insect cards. I record these on a chart or on the whiteboard so that they are visible to all students. After each group has shared all of their sorting strategies, I guide the students in selecting the rules that they think a scientist might use to pick out the insects and non-insects in the cards. I write a star on the chart next to each sorting rule that students feel might help identify insects. Next I display a list of characteristics of insects. I then ask students to revisit the starred sorting rules to see if these would actually help someone identify which pictures show insects and which do not.  Because so many new vocabulary words are introduced as we discuss the characteristics of insects, I then guide students in completing a insect vocabulary worksheet with all of the newly introduced words.


10 minutes

To assess student learning from this lesson, I have students complete an Insect Exit Ticket which summarizes their understanding of the characteristics of insects. The exit ticket is a Venn Diagram where students write characteristics of insects alone, those shared by insects and macroinvertebrates, and characteristics of benthic macroinvertebrates alone. The success criterion in my classroom are that students are able to correctly place at least 2 characteristics into each portion of the Venn diagram.