At this point there is not much review as this is the first lesson in the unit. However, this is an important preview time as we go through the pre-assessment to see where students are in their understanding of what constitutes life and their understanding of how animals are structured, what holds them up, and together. In this unit, we begin with bi-peds (humans) and look at quadra-peds (four-legged) animals, and flying animals.
NOTE: with older students, this discussion of living and non-living can go to a philosophical level, which can be a deep discussion, but try to keep it to a scientific conversation at this point. I do try to go to the philosophic discussion at another time, if there is a lot of interest, but you have to be careful to respect student beliefs on this issue (or the spouting of parental beliefs that often comes from students in this type of discussion).
Have students fill in a graphic organizer with characteristics and examples of living and non-living things. This should be done independently so you get an accurate idea of what students know, independently.
After students have completed their independent pre-assessment, I gather them together to watch the PBS Learning Media video, Is It Alive? This video shows students different images that they have to classify as living and non-living. They can write them down on their T-chart and we discuss them as a class.
I tell students that biologists look for 7 signs of life to classify something as living or non-living:
(List adapted from http://infohost.nmt.edu/~klathrop/7characterisitcs_of_life.htm, http://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/Science-Stories/Earthworms/Characteristics-of-living-things)
We look at our T-charts and see if items from the video were correctly classified as living and non-living. Students make changes in another color so I can see how their thinking has changed.
Together we define living and non-living.
Some student definitions of living are:
Some student definitions of non-living are:
I assess student understanding from their pre-assessment and T-chart. These are pasted into their interactive science notebook and turned in to me.
Although much of this lesson is about classification of living and non-living, I bring students' attention back to the structure part at this point. I remind them that we have worked with non-living things in our previous weathering unit, and are now working with living things. I want them to see the differences and how this lesson helps us shift our thinking from observing non-living things to observing living things. I remind them that we are going to be looking at structures in animals and a few plants. We will be discussing if all parts of a living being are living themselves (ie. are bones living?)