Classification and the Dichotomous Key by: Sandy Watson and Ted Miller

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Classification is a vital science-process skill for all students to master. Understanding dichotomous keys as a means of classification enables students to better comprehend large amounts of information and understand how to organize, compare and contrast, and analyze that information. To biology students, mastering the dichotomous key provides an avenue through which they can identify any organism they come in contact with. This article discusses how to approach and teach the concepts of classification and identification in science classes.

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  • on Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:35 PM

I have used these activities with my biology classes with much success. All of the activities described in this article guide students through the thinking process they need to use and construct dichotomous keys. Students start learning to think like a taxonomist using common household items with which they are familiar. Once students have mastered the thought process, then they practice classifying organisms. Student handouts are provided with this resource.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

  • on Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:29 PM

This article engages students in classifying objects and using dichtomous keys in a sequential manner to teach the process skills necessary for students to classify and create dichotomous keys for organisms of their own choice. A thorough understanding of classification is developed through a series of carefully planned activities. Detailed worksheets make this easy to immediately implement into your teaching. Suggestions for additional sources of classification activities are also included.

Patricia McGinnis  (Pottstown, PA)
Patricia McGinnis (Pottstown, PA)

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