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Overcome student and teacher discomfort with this series of lessons—touching
The article in Science and Children entitled Teaching with Live Insects seeks to discover how educators can teach and introduce a study of live insects in the classroom. Both a fifth-grade science teacher and an entomology specialist wrote this journal article. The article followed three Montessori type classrooms as they studied live insects with elementary aged students. Using what the writers learned from this experience, they suggest how to implement a study of live insects in the classroom.
The article explains how the three schools in the study began their insect study and the introduction is simple enough that a teacher can follow the outline provided if they wanted to. This article suggests beginning with three insects for student investigation that are easy to care for, inexpensive to purchase, and are hearty enough to be handled by inquisitive students. Initial steps include activating student’s prior knowledge, and insect observations. The writers then explain the lesson progression, which has students eventually studying habitats, defenses, and life cycles, all of which fall within the NGSS listed at the end of the journal article.
The lesson plans used in the classrooms discussed in the article were designed and presented in a way that students in the classroom never have to touch any of the insects if they do not want to, which can be a reassurance to some students. The lessons were structured in a way that built classroom community, and focused on helping students understand the roles insects play in our world. The lessons also worked to dispel the negative stereotypes often held by those who have an aversion to insects.
One huge positive of this article is that it is very thorough in regard to giving specific information on purchasing the insects and the level of care involved with them,
which is minimal. This information would be extremely beneficial for teachers who ordinarily would not consider used live specimens in the classroom. An additional positive is the lessons are very general, so educators can take the essential questions, for example, and manipulate them for the students in their age group. However, this could also be viewed as a negative because the article may be too general for those teachers who may need specific step-by-step lesson instructions.
Overall, this article gives a basic understanding of how to implement a live specimen study in an elementary classroom with minimal cost and time commitment. It also reveals some potential outcomes, for instance in the area of student engagement. The take away from this journal article is one that empowers teachers to try something new in regard to live studies in science, and to also challenge students to be critical thinkers and analyzers.
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