My students learn to classify animals as vertebrate and invertebrate while learning new academic vocabulary and creating a model of a backbone.
Animals are fascinating, and every year I look forward to the animal unit. I don't know who is more excited about it, me or the students! I always start this lesson asking about how many species, or types of animals are there on Earth? When I write the number 8.7 million in standard form on the board they are just amazed. I find any way possible to infuse academic language into every lesson by using the words in context and in the materials used which is why you'll see academic language sprinkled through out the lesson.
I find that using the Vertebrates vs Invertebrate power point to guide us on our exploration and discussion of vertebrates and invertebrates helps me stay on course and it adds another dimension to learning, especially for my visual learners.
The students know that every time we come across academic vocabulary we "save" it in our interactive notebooks. I use a modified Frayer Vocabulary Model which they glue into their notebooks. It's wonderful to see them "own" the words by the end of the lesson and use them in context with their peers.
I love using a birds crocodile Venn Diagram in Science. They are familiar with the compare contrast process that they've used in Reading and Writing, this just shows that we can use it in various subjects. I also added the Venn Diagram, to the power point. We can then do a whole class share using the interactive whiteboard in my classroom.
I get so excited when students make a model of what we are studying and hear them say "Yeah, I get it! That's exactly what happened when my students used the playdoh , pipe cleaner backbone model.JPG and Craft stick backbone model.JPG to make two versions of a backbone. Creating the backbone model and explaining which is a better model is how they demonstrate their level of learning and understanding. They really understood why a backbone needs to be strong and flexible.You can see their work in the model of what happens when an invertebrate tries to stand shown in slow motion.MOV and in the pictures. I also believe that the focus page, Create a model of a backbone.pdf , when used along with the power point really helps with class management and developing their critical thinking.
Getting my students to focus on the "why" is very important in order for them to become critical thinkers. Sometimes a focus page can do just that. I created one for this lesson that I used during the explore portion. The "focus page", as I call it, gets them thinking about the "why" when it comes to the versatility of an animal's backbone. During discussions this helps keep the students on topic and helps them practice that academic vocabulary! The students also use the focus page to revisit their findings as a review.