The Tree/Web of Life (Lesson 01: Diversity of life)

Diversity of Life: There is a myriad different organism on Earth
[ezcol_1quarter]Main Idea:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]There are countless different organisms on Earth. In order of make sense of such great diversity of life, we need to put them into categories. Can we group these innumerable creatures using common characteristics?[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Objectives:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end] 1. To understand that organisms can only be studied if we can group them in discrete categories.
2. To To find out how much students know about specific organisms, and their relationships to other organisms and to their habitat.
3. To be able to work in groups, to produce results, and to present them to the rest of the class.[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Students’ Skills:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]Observation, application, analysis, making use of knowledge, and synthesis; these skills were drawn from Bloom’s Taxonomy and the constructivist list. NGSS connections: MS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes; MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics; and MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity.[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Materials[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end] 1. For the lecture/discussion: textbooks, material reference.
2. For the activity: handouts, cards depicting several different animals, poster paper, crayons.[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Lesson:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]1. Entry card: What is your favorite organism (animal, plant, microbe)? Write three reasons why. Allow time for students to answer the question, and follow up with a whole-class discussion. Using students’ input, make a list of organisms’ characteristics. Record interesting ideas on the board. Lead the questions and prompts toward discussing topics like the importance of the environment in the life of an organism, and the similarities among creatures.

2. Communicate to your students the topic of study, the importance of learning it, the objectives, and how this lesson relates to the unit’s big picture. Write the objectives on the board.

 3. Explain to the students that they are going to work in groups, and classify several animals (20-30 cards) into collections or sets.

 4. As a group, students will decide how to fill the handout containing a table and an organizer.

 5. Give each student a worksheet, and explain how to fill the table in, using as an example the first column. The idea is to have the students learning and practicing to recognize commonalities among elements, animals, things, etc. There are three parts to the class activity. In the first part, students should work individually. Remind them to look to the list of characteristics on the board from the entry card about “your favorite organism,” and add a few more traits to the list. The students will group the cards (creatures) based on commonalities. In the second part of the activity, students will work in groups, and fill in the table by writing the names of the animals that possess the indicated characteristics. The table’s main categories are structure (limbs’ shape and number, and other characteristics), eating requirements (meat, vegetables, both), habitat (wet, dry, hot), and attitude toward other animals (hostile, friendly).

6. Circulate among the groups, make sure students understand what are they doing, and try to have them think about the possible functions for a structure. For example, ask them,What is the function of the opposable thumb?”

7. After students have finished filling in the chart, in part three, each student will fill in his or her own organizer. This step not only increases the difficulty of the task, but also helps them integrate ideas.

8. Leave enough time for reflection. Ask the students to share their answers and discuss how have they grouped their animals and why.

9. Before class is dismissed, each group will randomly pick a paper from a basket or bag with a phylum written on it: Arthropods, Fish, Birds, Mammals, Amphibians, and Reptiles.

10. Exit card: Write three things you learned today, two questions, and one suggestion.

[ezcol_1quarter]Class Closing:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]
1. Collect entry/exit cards.

2. Inform students that each of them will create a portfolio where their homework, class handouts, and other work will be placed. During the “stop and think” portions of the lessons, periodically each student and the teacher should look at the portfolio together. This will allow the teacher to monitor progress and to evaluate whether it is necessary to give each student more support or more challenging work.

3. Homework: Go over the day’s handout, and if it is not completed, finish it. Hand it in to your teacher, and it will be placed it in your portfolio. Bring to class five 3×5 index cards, and on each of them, write one characteristic of the phylum given in class.[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Assesment:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]
1. Participation in class and discussions.
2. Grading: Homework, and completeness and thoroughness in filling out the activity handout and index cards.
3. Use a general rubric to evaluate the students’ overall performance.[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Teacher’s Reflections[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]
1. Were there things that I did not cover?
2. Did I meet the lesson objectives?
3. Comments, conclusions, and modifications
4. Pedagogical value of the lesson. Did my students learn the concepts and ideas explored in this class? Did the assessments provide enough evidence of understanding?[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Notes to the Teacher[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]
1. Make sure the students are grouping the animals by using commonalities. Encourage them to propose reasons for why some animals have the same characteristics. Do they live in the same type of habitat? What is the function of the characteristic? Is the trait helpful? In what way?

2. Try to lead the class discussion to groups of animals such as mammals, since the students are more familiar with these organisms.

3. The lesson’s level of difficulty could be increased by using different collections of cards. For example, furry animals are easier to pick from animals that do not have fur, while picking eye size from a group of primates would be more difficult.


Today we are learning about the diversity of life and how to group them.


YOUR ACTIVITY: In this exercise you will learn to form groups or sets of animals based on similar characteristics. This is the idea behind how scientists classify all the creatures on Earth and group them into species, families, order, genus, etc.


1. Once you are in a group, you will receive 25-30 cards depicting different organisms. Spread the given cards on the table with the picture of the organisms facing you.
2. Take a few minutes to look at them, and think in what way they are similar and in what way they are different.
3. Individually, choose any ONE characteristic, and pick or select all the animals (cards) that have that same characteristic or trait. Put those cards apart and fill the spaces below:
Characteristic or trait:



List of animals in my group that have that trait:



How does the selected trait or characteristic help the animal? What is the function?



4. As a group, use the table below and write in the blue squares the names of all the animals that possess the traits listed in the white squares.





















5. Fill the TWO organizers bellow using any two characteristics from the table above: For example, from (c) dry habitat in the right circle and from (a) cold habitat in the left. Write the names of the animals in the appropriate spaces.
















What animals did you list in the intersection of the two circles?

Organizer 1:

Organizer 2: