How do scientists classify organisms? What similarities are used to classify animals?
One expectation for lesson planning at my school is to begin each class period with a Bell Ringer. Bell Ringers get the students "thinking about science" and help "jump start" the class.
I have students write in their science journal, but they could also write on a pre-printed worksheet or blank paper as they respond to the Bell Ringer Questions. I give them 3 minutes to write and/or draw a response, then take 1 minute for them to share with their partner. Finally, we share responses as a class so students can hear and process other's thoughts. I want students to tell me how scientists classify organisms and what similarities they use to classify animals. This is a valuable opportunity for students to Think Pair Share, a strategy that encourages a high degree of classroom participation.
Some answers I am looking for include: Scientist classify organisms by their traits or features, how they eat or get food (energy), and if they are single-celled or many celled.
What characteristics would you use to group your animals?
This lesson focuses on emerging skills related to NGSS MS-LS1-4 which states students use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation of now characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction for animals and pants respectively. Additionally, these Science and Engineering Practices are addressed in the lesson including SP (#2) developing and using models, SP (#6) constructing explanations and design solutions, and SP (#7) engaging in argument from evidence. One Cross Cutting Concept addressed in this lesson is Structure and Function understanding that complex systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on shapes, composition and relationship among parts. Students begin to understand how structure and function are related as they design their zoo.
I ask students to sort living things into groups based on their structure and function as they relate to a Zoo environment. Students begin to classify organisms based on the characteristics of organisms based on how these organisms grow, develop, and reproduce. Students should recognize that organisms need a specific, well-planned space for these conditions to occur and that a Zoo, which is a human-made environment, can be successful if the conditions are right.
To begin, I provide a Post It Note pad for each group of students and ask them to write the names of 15-20 animals. These Post It Notes will be used later as students organize (classify) their animals for the zoo. The Post It Notes are a visual way for students to organize their thinking.
I ask students to develop a model of a Zoo and visualize that an organisms structure and function depend on its shape, composition, and relationship among its parts, that structure and function are complementary properties, and that the shape of an organism relates to its function.
To differentiate the experience, I provide the Zoo template in two (2) formats. One format is a paper copy where students can write, draw, color, and add pictures to create a final product. The second format is a copy of the template (PDF) on Google docs. Using Goggle Classroom, I share the Zoo template, then students can upload the template into Google draw and customize their final product by adding text, images, and additional information. Students submit (turn in) their final product through Google Classroom.
We grouped our zoo animals . . . because . . .
To understand student thinking, I use a formative assessment with a sentence frame. Sentence frames are especially helpful to ELL and Special Education students and serve a purpose for students in any content area.
To develop an argument, students use their evidence, which they create from a discussion with their partner and record this on their worksheet. For this lesson I group students because in Science it is helpful to work with a team and share findings with others. By working in teams, students develop a way to organize the zoo more systematically.
Some student arguments include:
We grouped our zoo animals by their natural habitat because we want to make sure they are comfortable and healthy.
We grouped our zoo animals by their characteristics because it is easier to find and study them.
We grouped our zoo animals by their habitat and what they eat because not all of them live in the same habitat and not all of them eat the same thing.