Dichotomy is Key – 7726

Dichotomy is Key – 7726


This mini-project empowered students to work in collaborative groups with the goal of making their own “Personalized Dichotomous Key.” The first step of the project required that students use their critical thinking and creativity skills in order to develop an entirely new species of an organism (a total of 9 organisms). Each organism had to have similar characteristics, yet contain a minor difference or altercation for an observer to be able to distinguish each organism by that one observable trait. Students were given a number of digital tools to consider in the creation of their dichotomous key. Some of those tools included, but were not limited to, Photoshop, Pixlr, Sumo Paint, Google Draw, or ActivInspire. Upon completion of the newly created organism, students were tasked with developing the key so that peer observers would be able to figure out the exact scientific name for each individual organism. Each group was asked to have at least eight steps in their key. Student reflection and peer evaluation was an integral part during the conclusion of this lesson.

TIPC Ratings

Entry – Research was not a major component of this lesson. Students relied on prior knowledge as well as independent fact finding in order to present their findings.

Developing-Approaching – Students had to use collaborative digital tools in order to complete this project. Online resources such as Google Draw or Pixlr allowed for students to utilize cloud based technologies in order to complete the project even if group members were working asynchronously in two different locations hereby promoting collaboration within as well as beyond the classroom walls.

Ideal/Target – This project was ENTIRELY student centered where the teacher acted as facilitator. Students had to think critically when creating a dichotomous key from scratch in order for their classmates to deconstruct the key to accurately identify the newly created organisms. Students were able to arrive at the conclusion that Dichotomous keys are very useful in nature for scientists who may not necessarily be experts of certain types of organisms. Justification and analysis played a huge role in the students being able to correctly break down the parts of slightly different organisms and logically map out next steps in the dichotomous key. By creating and explaining the process of dichotomous keys to their classmates strongly supports that students would be able to use one correctly in nature if given the opportunity to do so.

Approaching – This mini – project relied heavily on students analyzing trends and making predictions when forming the dichotomous key of organisms that are slightly different in nature. Students had no choice but to use self-generated knowledge to construct dichotomous keys for organisms that do not exist in our world. At the conclusion of the project students reflected on this meaningful work and set goals for future growth.

Student Artifact


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