Do We Need A New Phylum? (Part 2/2)

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Using recently discovered evidence from scientific professionals, students will determine if a new animal phylum is necessary.

Big Idea

When new evidence presents itself, scientific thinking is revised.

What Students Will Learn in This Lesson

1 minutes

In today's lesson, students evaluate the evidence to determine if a new animal phylum should be proposed. Using one of their questions from yesterday as a topic, students will research the topic and then draft a blog post. Students will have their peers review their initial post. They will make corrections and revisions. Then they will submit their final post for the class blog. This is day two in a two day lesson. Here is an overview of what they will learn today.

Hook/Check for Understanding

5 minutes

Students should share their remaining questions from yesterday. As a class, develop a plan to answer these questions.  

Note:  While completing this activity, my students still had the following questions:

  • How are the oceans explored and samples collected?
  • How do scientists know if something is a living fossil? 
  • Is a new phylum really necessary? What similarities and differences do Dendrogramma have with existing invertebrate phyla?


Assign each student group a question to research. Have students brainstorm keywords and additional subquestions to help them in their Internet search. (Note: See copy of student work.)

Student Research

25 minutes

Explain to students how to perform a good keyword search. Using student questions as example, have each student group use their list of keywords. Move around the room and check on results from each student group. Ask for volunteers to share some of the results of their searches. Guide students in modifying their keywords to gain more reliable, informative sources.  (Note:  I also do the same keyword search as my students. Typically, we have different results because of how Google tailors the search history to individuals. I take a moment to explain this to them. I also introduce them to Google Scholar.)

Next, have students use the online resources evaluation to determine if their sources are reliable. For those resources that students determine to be reliable, they should complete current events summary sheets to help them take notes over the resources.  


Student Writing: Drafting a Blog Post

20 minutes

Students should develop an outline for their blog post. Next, students should cut apart their current events summaries and move the parts that best apply each particular section. They should be sure to note the source of all information and cite those sources within the post. Using their revised notes, student should draft a blog post on a Google document and share that document with the teacher and their peer reviewer.

(Note: I like using Google documents in the writing process for several reasons. First, it allows both partners to be actively involved in the writing process. I also have my students share their document with me so that I can monitor their work. It also allows me to leave notes if I have suggestions for my students or if I have found a particular resource that they to which they do not have access due to our school's Internet filter.)

Peer Revision

10 minutes

Once students have written their blog post using a Google document, students should share that post with a student reviewer. (Note: It is the student group's job to get their own reviewer. They have to request that student's email address and share the Google document with editing privileges. Students are required to review at least one blog post and provide helpful feedback in the form of a peer review rubric. Typically, in order for everyone to complete a peer review, each blog post is reviewed by more than one person.  I encourage my student pairs to review a different post than their partner.)

Using the peer review rubric, students should evaluate the blog post. Students should pay special attention to any questions they might still have about the topic or any areas of confusion that needs to be better explain. Students should list those questions as comments within the Google document. (Note: I instruct my students to use the comments features found in Google documents. The section where the question arises can be highlighted and the comment icon can be selected. Peer reviewers should list their questions in the comment box.

When the peer reviewer is done, he or she notifies the student group. A paper copy of the peer review rubric is given to the student group so they can revise their blog post. Comments can be accessed within the Google document.  If more research is needed, students can complete a new keyword search, complete another current event summary sheet, and then update their blog post.


Final Submission

20 minutes

Using the input from their peers, student should rewrite their original post. Students should submit their blog post for approval to the blog editor.  The editor uses the same rubric that peer reviewer do and also posts questions and comments using the comments feature. (Note: I am the blog editor because of our school's social media policy. Students submit their posts to me. I edit them and ask them to revise them as necessary until they meet the standards of our social media policy.)  

Putting It All Together: Posting to the Blog

10 minutes

Students will submit their final copy of their blog post for uploading to the class blog.  Once a new post is submitted to the class blog, "advertise" the addition to the blog via social media.  (Note: in our case, we advertise via Facebook.  However, one could use Twitter or another social media outlet.)