Week 5: Classifying Living Things

This week I got my first crack at a science lesson. The grade 6’s I work with have spent the last while learning about invertebrates, so my co-op thought it would be good if I gave them an introductory lesson on vertebrates and how to classify them. I always like to start my lessons out with some form of community engagement where we have a discussion or exercise on the front board. For this week, I started with a KWL chart to activate prior knowledge about invertebrates. The students listed facts like how invertabrates don’t have backbones or how they have exoskeletons, or how they’re generally smaller. Based on these classifications, we began to make inferences about what might characterize vertebrates (i.e. they have backbones, their skeletons are inside their body, they’re bigger).

We then spent some time learning the 5 classifications of vertebrates, such as mammals, reptiles etc. We then played a game where where I should show the image of an animal of the screen and they were to figure out what classification it belonged to and justify why. The students really liked this game! We played it for about 10 minutes so that students could solidify their understanding as to what significant traits about an animal help us to categorize it into these classifications. I was also sure to throw in some curve balls. For example sharks give birth to live young much like mammals but are technically part of the fish classification.

I ended of the class with giving them a work sheet where they had to choose and animal from a list and fill-in weather it was a vertebrate or invertebrate and what characteristic made it belong to that category. As a bonus, I also asked them to write down the classification of the animal if it was a vertebrate.

My professional target for this week was giving directions, so I tried to explain the assignment as straight forward as possible. I verbally explained the assignment but also listed concise point form instructions on the board. I also had more thorough instructions on the worksheets. I think the target was fairly easy to meet for this particular lesson. This lesson worked well, but my co-op suggested that we could have played the game longer just for extra practice with the students before they tried to classify animals on their own, because some students still struggled with what made a mammal a mammal and what made a reptile a reptile.

You can view the DL6.3 Intro to Vertebrates lesson plan, powerpoint, and assignment sheet here.


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