When students think of an animal, it is usually a vertebrate. I offer an overview of the classification process, however, I let them work together to figure it out. Science is about inquiry. My goal is for my students to work collaboratively, and use evidence or data of a pattern through observations to construct an explanation. In this lesson I start by giving my students the evidence,Classification strips activity sheet I created and ask them for a claim.
I have 5 collaborative groups in my class. I give 2 of the groups the same classification strips, but they don't know it. When they reveal what the strips are describing, most likely they have chosen two different animals within the same classification. This brings them to the realization that though those specific animals are in the same classification, they will look completely different because of their inherited traits.
I try to use a power point , for this lesson I created Animal_Classification overview, it helped keep both my students and me on track. It helped with the flow of the class and since I show it on my interactive whiteboard, I can add info or highlight specific items based on the students' discussion and inquiries. The powerpoint is invaluable when introducing concepts and academic vocabulary. It is a tool that helps me differentiate my teaching even though I am teaching whole group.
At times, just having students reference their own schema on a topic may be a enough, this is not one of those times. I want them to learn about new animals while working collaboratively. Students use the Popplet App ( which is free!) to find an animal that fits into the specifications required of their team's Virtual Animal Expedition. They create a popplet and save it to the ipad.
I also give the students a rubric in order to assess their group work as well as their ability to classify correctly while following directions.
If you have never used this app in your class before, start small. I introduced how to use it during the first week of school, just having them show the different things they like to do after school. If I were to introduce how to use the app in this lesson, then I would have had to add about an additional 10 minutes to show them how to use it.
As students finish their Popplet , I add it to another fabulous free app, Educreations, this way as students finish, they can enjoy each other's work. I've used Educreations two ways, if I have already shown the students how to use it, they can add it themselves, if not, I do it for them.
This lesson allows my students to work together through the ease of technology, they learn how to share their work electronically, a skill they will use in all academic areas. The excitement they feel when sharing their work shows through!