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This lesson is intended to take place over the span of five or six days, depending on your class. It can be condensed as needed to take up less time.
The resources provided here are not all-inclusive. Encourage students to find other sources of information to supplement their research when they have completed all the requirements of the lesson.
If time is a concern, consider using the final activity as the students’ assessment. It should demonstrate what the students have learned about the leafcutter ant. To check individual understanding, have each student write a few paragraphs explaining the different components of their group’s illustration and ask them to cite their evidence so that you can see their thinking.
45-60 minutes a day for 5 days.
Arrange students so that they can easily work in groups of 3-4.
Each activity should be prepared with directions and all materials needed for the activities. Most printed materials can be found in the Experiment Packet [PDF].
Ensure that you have access to computers for students to complete the Web activities. If computer access is limited then consider printing the online articles and webpages for your students to use. If you have access to a smart board or projector, then the video could be shown to the whole class.
Challenge the students to research the infrastructure of the average city. What does almost every community have? (e.g., fire department, police station, grocery story, water supply, etc.)
Students can design a community for people that meet the four basic needs; water, food, shelter, and space.
Have students compare the superorganism of an ant colony to the body of an organism. Do any castes align with organ types or specific activities? Students can use a table to compare the functions of a colony and a body that are similar and how either a caste or an organ system or action handles that function.
Activity suggested for standards for grades 3 through 6.
Concept 1: Observations, Questions, and Hypotheses
Formulate predictions, questions, or hypotheses based on observations. Locate appropriate resources.
Concept 2: Scientific Testing (Investigating and Modeling)
Design and conduct controlled investigations.
Concept 4: Communication
Communicate results of investigations.
Concept 3: Organisms and Environments
Understand the relationships among various organisms and their environment.
Concept 4: Diversity, Adaptation and Behavior
Identify plant and animal adaptations
Key Ideas and Details
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.1: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers. Also good for grades in between 3rd and 6th.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
Craft and Structure
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.4: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 (or up to grade 6) topic or subject area.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.3 to 6-8.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts at the appropriate text complexity band independently and proficiently. (Material can be modified for high end 3rd grade to 6th grade).
3-LS Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
Dr. Biology. (2014, October 22). Leafcutter Activity For Teachers. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved April 20, 2018 from https://askabiologist.asu.edu/experiments/leafcutter-ants/teachers
Dr. Biology. "Leafcutter Activity For Teachers". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 22 October, 2014. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/experiments/leafcutter-ants/teachers
Dr. Biology. "Leafcutter Activity For Teachers". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 22 Oct 2014. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 20 Apr 2018. https://askabiologist.asu.edu/experiments/leafcutter-ants/teachers