Meet My Great Ants (and Uncles)

3 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT synthesize a science reading into a set of key ideas.

Big Idea

Successful science involves teaching science concepts and communication skills. Using a reading strategy, students practice bringing meaning to, as well as constructing meaning from, a science text.

Bell Ringer - What Does This Photo Tell Me?

5 minutes

What Does This Picture Tell Me?

I use this Picture of an Ant to build Science Process Skills such as observing, inferring, and comparing and contrasting.

Pictures provide a source of inquiry and stimulate the visual and mental senses. People understand photos very well.

I ask students to look at this picture and take 2 - 3 minutes to write in their Science Journal. 

I ask:

  • What does this photo tell me?
  • How is this photo helpful to a scientist?
  • How could you get more information about this photo?


Then I ask students to make 4 - 5 observations about the photo and write that in their Science Journal.

I ask students to take 1 minute to share with their partner (Think-Pair-Share) and then I take 1 minute to have students share answers with the class.

Cloning An Author

30 minutes

The "Cloning An Author" strategy helps students identify key elements and structures to create meaning as they read and write. Good readers understand that key ideas are a function of the text, the context, and their own purposes for reading. Readers create their own unified meaning rather than trying to replicate the author's unified meaning. Students "clone" the activities of an author as they construct their own meaning, not reconstruct the author's meaning. 

This lesson focuses on a variety of complex skills. RI.6.2 determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details. RI.6.5 analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph,, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas. NGSS SP#8 Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information asks students to critically read scientific texts adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas and communicate scientific information. RST.6-8.2 determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text and provide an accurate summary of the text. RST.6-8.10 by the end of grade, read and comprehend science texts in the grades 6-8 complexity band independently and proficiently.

I ask students to cut a sheet of paper (8.5" x 11") into eight (8) note cards. Students will use the notecards to write their eight (8) key ideas. Each student should have a copy of the Article Meet My Great Ants (and Uncles) and as they read, students identify what they think are the eight (8) key concepts in the text and put each concept on a separate card. Students can complete the cards as they read or after they read and they do not have to write in complete sentences.

After reading, and once students have completed the eight (8) cards, they should select what they see as the five (5) key concepts and discard the remaining cards. I ask students to put an X over the unwanted cards and put them to the side. This step encourages decision making and active reading.

What Was Your Central Concept?

5 minutes

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

Students will use the decision making process to identify an overall theme of the text. After reducing their stack of notecards to five (5), students identify the idea they see as most central to the article they have just read and place this card in the center of the table or desk. If students cannot find a central idea on one of their cards, encourage them to cross out one of their cards and write a card that they believe fulfills this function.

Once a central idea has been identified, students place the remaining cards around it and reflect on how these concepts tie together and work with each other.

When students works in pairs or small groups, they are expected to take turns explaining their reasons for selecting the center card and for the placement of the other cards.

As a large group (class), I ask students to discuss and share the commonalities as well as differences that they "discover" as they manipulate the cards. This process gets students to connect the ideas and concepts in the article to the essential question, "What does it mean to be living?"