Teaching TRAITS, using Classification and Dichotomous Key!

Physical and Behavioral Traits, NGSS

If you have ever taught Physical and Behavioral Traits (or Adaptations), then you know some students struggle with differentiating between the two!

We are getting ready to launch into our unit on TRAITS LS3-1, LS3-2, LS4-2.  Before we begin, I like to pull out my Classification Unit to engage and elicit background information... 

WOW!  It is such a powerful way to start this unit!
NGSS: traits and classification
Check it out here!
(Note: classification is a part of 2nd Grade NGSS, and 
Traits can be found in both Middle School and High School NGSS!)

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Here's how we classify:
1. Students are asked to work in small groups and choose a Leader, Time-Keeper, Recorder, and Encourager (check out our democratic role-taking practices!) 👇😊

Soft Skills: Transferable Skills
2. Once roles are established, groups begin to brainstorm all the ways they can sort the items on the worksheet.  

Using traits on dichotomous key Using traits on dichotomous key 
Using traits on dichotomous key Using traits on dichotomous key

3.  We come together as a large group and share out.  I record these ideas down, and then we work together to determine which 'traits' are physical and which are behavioral.
Using traits on dichotomous key

4.  Next, I model how to use a dichotomous key with these same items.   This year, one student actually said, "I love doing this!" 😍
anchor chart

5.  Afterwards, we continue to practice classifying by sorting with Sort Cards and with actual objects.  I prefer to use collections of buttons, shells, and toy cars.

6. This typically takes about 3-4 sessions, and then we are ready to launch our TRAITS unit!

This can really enhance any STEAM, STEM, or PBL unit you are doing, which involves classification or traits!  
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What resources do you wish you had, to help your students learn traits or classification?  

Comment below!