Insect or Not?

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Students engage in scientific argumentation during a picture sort by identifying insects vs. non-insects and stating evidence to support their claim.

Big Idea

Students act as entomologists and practice their argumentation skills!


10 minutes

I ask students to stand behind their chair at their seats.  We all participate in reviewing the parts of an insect by singing the "Head, Thorax, Abdomen" song that we learned in the previous lesson.

We review and sing the song a couple of times.  It is important that the students have a solid grasp on the parts of an insect and practice using the new scientific vocabulary the learned in order to participate in today's lesson.

After singing a couple of times, I ask students to sit down at their seats.


Group Activity

10 minutes

I explain to students that they will be working with their table groups to sort a box of pictures into two groups, insects and not insects.

On each table I have placed a box of pictures. Each box contains the exact same pictures. 

The pictures were pulled from many resources. I just went through all of my teacher resources and copied several pictures cut them and glued them to card stock. They were then laminated to be used year after year. You could also use photographs from the internet or book. Be mindful of copyright law.

I remind the students that while they are sorting the pictures into the two groups, that they must justify their placement to the group. I expect to hear talking about why they put them in that group. If I do not hear talking and justification, I will join the group and give them an example and model for them what I want to see and hear. For example, I put the millipede in the "not insect group because it has too many legs."

This is important as the teacher because it tells me who has a grasp of the concept of the parts of an insect and who does not. It also tells me if they can support their claim with evidence.

I set the expectation that everyone should be participating and no one person should be doing all of the work.

I tell students that they can begin. During this activity, I am walking around listening to the conversations and jumping in where needed.



10 minutes

When each table group has completed the picture sort, we end by having a group discussion about why the groups sorted the way that they did.

I go through each picture and we essentially do the activity as a group. If we come to a picture that there is disagreement about, we then stop and go through the reasons together till we come to a consensus. Students must validate their answers with information and support.

When the pictures are complete and sorted, I ask students to complete a sentence in their science journals.

I give them the sentence stem, "I can identify an insect because ______________________."

The idea here is to close the lesson with students being able to tell me in their own words how they can tell if a creature is an insect or not.

Several of the students struggled with this journal page.  It was necessary for me to help them figure out what to write down even though when I ask them verbally, they could tell me the parts of an insect.