Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Life Science: Session 6

Comparing Animal Skeletons; Insights


Lesson at a Glance:
: Insights, Education Development Center, Inc., Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company
Grade: Fifth
Topic: Comparing Animal Skeletons

Prior to the activity in Session 6, Gail’s class was studying similarities and differences in animal skeletons. At the beginning of the unit, the class dissected a “mystery object” – an owl pellet. Inside, the students found what they were sure were a variety of bones, but they were unsure what the bones did, much less which animal they belonged to. Gail had them put aside the pellet, while the class spent a number of days studying the human skeleton. Her goal was for her students to gain the skills they would need to identify the bones in the pellet, and, most important, for them to understand that all bones can be divided into six groups, with each group performing a separate function. Then her class went back to the owl pellets and sorted those bones based on what they had learned.

The class also spent time looking at different mammal skulls and at the various features of omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores. The goal here was to tie form to function, to get her students to look at the different parts of the skulls – teeth, jaw, cranium – of various animals and to think about why they were the way they were.

For the activity featured in the video, groups of students observed two pictures of skeletons and discussed the similarities and differences between them. Then the whole class discussed their observations. The activity was intended to get Gail’s students to consider the similarities between different animals and to think about the possibility of relatedness between them – could they have a common ancestor? What might it have looked like?

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