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School District:De Smet
Unit of Study Title:Critter Classification
Grade Level:3-5
Time Frame:7 days utilizing Science, Computer, and Language Arts class times.
Key Words:animal, classification, South Dakota
Unit Designer:Tricia Holland
Unit Designer
Date Added:6/14/2002 11:47:19 AM
Date Last Revised:6/14/2002 11:47:19 AM
Topic Area:Communications/Language Arts, Science
Peer Reviewer:Donna DeNure
Peer Reviewer

Brief Summary of Unit: In this unit students will learn how to develop a classification system of their own and describe their method to the class. They will relate this activity to how the animal kingdom is classified.
Through the science text, group activities, internet research, and community research, students will understand that the animal kingdom is divided into subcategories that each animal can be classified according to special traits of the animal. Students will explore animals found in our area and throughout South Dakota and then choose an animal to research. They will classify the animal and be able to describe what characteristics the animal has that put in into its respective category. Students will use graphic organizers included in this document to organize information and use a PowerPoint slide to publish their findings.
By listening to class discussion and viewing student reports students will be able to name and describe families and classes of animals and species included in each.
Students will Understand: Understand the difference between living and nonliving
Understand that the differences of individual living things allow them to be classified into different categories.
An understanding of various animals that live in South Dakota

Link to Standards #1

Students will identify and evaluate the relationships and ethical implications of science, upon technology, environment, and society.

Indicator:Nature of Science
Demonstrate understanding and use a variety of processes for scientific investigations.

Life Science
Understand the fundamental structures, functions, and mechanisms found in living things.

Goal 1 – READING
Indicator 1: Students will use various reading cues/strategies to interpret and comprehend text, e.g., context, semantic, syntactic, and graphophonic cues.
Indicator 4: Students will access, synthesize, and evaluate information from a variety of sources.
Goal 2 - WRITING
Indicator 2: Students will use appropriate style, organization, and form in technical, transactional, creative, and personal writing.
Indicator 3: Students will use various strategies and techniques to improve writing quality.
Indicator 1: Students will use various listening and viewing strategies in social, academic, and occupational situations.
Indicator 3: Students will use various strategies to retain/retrieve critical oral and visual information.
Indicator 2: Students will use the appropriate language and style for a variety of social, occupational, formal, and informal situations.
Benchmark(s):a. engage in various systematic scientific investigations.
b. explain the reasons for and expectations of scientific investigations.

a. identify relationships between structures and functions within an organism.
b. identify ways that living things are organized and classified.

a. determine which cues are the most effective for making predictions about and clarifying meaning of text.
b. select the appropriate cues and/or strategies needed for comprehension of specific types of text.
c. use prior knowledge to interpret unfamiliar information/materials/text.

a. examine numerous information/reference sources for a variety of purposes, e.g., Internet, CD-ROM, print materials, video materials, library.
b. determine the usefulness of specific factual and technical materials.
c. gather and sort specific information/sources to make informed decisions.

a. use appropriate organization based on the established writing purpose and intended audience.
b. use appropriate writing style based on the established writing purpose and intended audience.
c. use the writing format required for a specific type of publication.

a. use suggestions from others to improve logic and consistency in writing.
b. write on a routine basis to gain confidence in personal work.

a. describe mental and physical barriers to effective listening and viewing, e.g., personal interest, extraneous sounds.
b. describe various listening techniques which can be used in problem-solving and decision-making situations.
c. describe the influence of non-verbal cues on communication.

a. examine oral/visual information for usefulness.
b. use various questioning approaches to clarify oral/visual information.
c. determine ways to organize oral/visual information for later recall.

a. describe how attributes of an audience influence presentation language.
b. consider purpose of an oral presentation when deciding appropriate language.
c. use appropriate conventions of language in personal communication.

Other Content Standards:None Listed

Other Components
Essential Questions to Guide this Unit and Focus Teaching and Learning: How are animals classified and why do specific animals fit into their respective categories?
What are some animals in South Dakota that would fit into these categories?
Key Knowledge and Skills Students will Acquire: 1. Students will show understanding of how things are classified by their ability to classify shoes and explaining the classification system they used.
2. Students will successfully complete textbook materials.
3. Students will be able to describe the traits of animals that belong to the following classes: Mammal, Reptile, Amphibian, Arthropod, and Mollusk
4. Students will be able to give at least one example of an animal from each class.
5. Students will correctly classify an animal from South Dakota.
Assessment Plan: Unit assessment rubric (found on my Internet resource link)
Unit test
Learning Activities: 1. Classifying Shoes—Each student will each take off one shoe and put them in a group with all of the other students’ shoes. This will be the “Shoe” Group. Then they will need to find a way to classify the shoes into 2 or 3 large groups that are alike. They will be able to describe the groups they made. They will continue to put the shoes into smaller and smaller groups, describing each until each group has only one or two shoes. As a group we will use Inspiration to display the classification schemes. Students will be able to relate this activity to how scientists classify of living things. (Adapted from Harcourt Science A4=A5)
2. Read Lessons 1 Classification (p. A6-A9) paying particular attention to the chart on p. A8
3. Read Lesson 2 Animal Classification (p. A12-A15)
4. Complete Workbook Page WB9 over Lesson 2
5. Complete activities on
6. Take a nature walk around town taking pictures with the digital camera of animals we see.
7. Brows pictures of animals found in South Dakota on the web site.
8. Class Activity: Begin PowerPoint Presentation by completing slides outlining traits of each animal category (Mammal, Reptile, Amphibian, Arthropod, and Mollusk).
9. Choose an animal and research its classification from South Dakota Page or from the pictures that we took of animals in our community. Could also choose other animal that lives in SD if they can find a picture.
10. Record information in the PowerPoint template. Slides will include:
a. Name of Animal
b. Kingdom
c. Phylum
d. Class
e. Order
f. Family
g. Genus
h. Species
i. Picture of the animal
j. Optional: Another animal from the same family
11. I will compile PowerPoint Slides and we will view them as a class. PowerPoint will be posted on our class web page.
12. Unit Test

Additional Activities For Early Finishers:
1. Use Excel to make a bar graph showing how many bones in the spines of 5 vertebrates including humans. (Harcourt Science p. A15)
2. Write a paragraph about whether you would prefer to have a hard outer shell or the skeleton you have now. (Harcourt Science p. A15)
Notes:I used Harcourt Brace Science book for Grade 4 (Copyright 2000) as the basis for this unit.

Students will need basic knowledge of using the digital camera, PowerPoint, Internet, Encarta Encyclopedia, and Excel. Review and additional skills needed will be provided at the time of the lesson. Inspiration is a new software available to students so introductory lessons will be provided in advance.

Worksheets will be provided to help organize information for research and for note taking throughout the unit.

Prior knowledge of animal classification will be informally evaluated at the start of the unit and formally evaluated at the end by a rubric upon the completion of their research project and unit test.
Internet Resource Link:

Adapted from the the work of Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. Understanding by
Design. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Alexandria, VA. 1998.

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