Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Life Science: Session 3

Investigating Life Cycles; Science T.R.A.C.S.

classroomLesson at a Glance:
Curriculum
: Science T.R.A.C.S. (Teaching Relevant Activities for Concepts and Skills), Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company
Grade: Third
Topic: Life Cycles

Prior to the activity featured in the video for Session 3, Mary worked with her class on life cycles. In the unit’s first activity, she gave her students pictures of animals or plants and asked them to answer the question: “What was it before?” Without any other guidance, the students worked in small groups and drew what they thought represented an earlier stage of each plant and animal’s life. “A lot were accurate, a lot not totally accurate, and in some cases they were totally wrong,” said Mary.

In the next activity, Mary presented her class with a jar containing several objects and asked them to sort the contents. Inside were adults, larvae (mealworms), and pupae of the darkling beetle. Working in small groups and then as a class, the students decided that the objects were “beetles,” “worms,” and “some dead stuff,” with the pupae being the dead stuff. She then gave each group three empty baby food jars and had them sort the objects for further observation.

The class monitored the jars over the next several days. Soon the pupae matured into beetles, causing Mary’s students to decide that the “dead stuff” was actually “beetle eggs.” Then the mealworms were observed to develop into pupae. “The kids just exploded with thoughts,” said Mary, “and then we probably had a good 30-45 minute talk as a class and in small groups…the groups came back together and presented their findings. And in that talk, they discovered the life cycle for themselves.”

To synthesize their ideas, Mary gave each of her students a paper plate and a piece of paper with pictures of an egg, larva, pupa, and an adult beetle on it. The students were to cut out the pictures, label them, and place them clockwise on the plate in the order of a beetle’s life cycle. At the end, in an effort to give her students a notion of the life cycle as a series of successive generations of individual beetle’s lives, she had her students put their plates together, making the class’s life cycle model a spiral rather than a simple circle.

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