Life Cycles

David Gillam
National Science Teachers Association Recommends
June 4, 2009

Using a variety of images and video clips, this 15-minute DVD and 25-page binder provide great support for an elementary level study of life cycles. The DVD's graphics are clear and well sequenced, making them suitable for students at this level. Major topics include recognition of the fact that most living things follow a pattern of birth, growth, reproduction, and death; life stages of plants; differences between complete and incomplete metamorphosis; and the major differences between mammal life cycles and those of other animals. Periodic discussion questions are provided throughout the DVD, with a final review at the end. Other features of the DVD are a glossary of words used in the video and a series of still images with captions. Teachers could use the glossary to build vocabulary and the still images to reinforce concepts, allow students to make closer observations of important material, or as a review. The support materials found in the teachers' guide allow teachers to maximize the DVD's effectiveness. The guide contains a script of the video, which is important not only for preparation but also for hearing-impaired students. Assessment of student learning can be done with a pre- and post-test covering the material in the video. A Video Review sheet provides a way to help focus students while they are watching the video and includes questions that can be used after the video to immediately assess learning or as a review. There are also vocabulary practice sheets, readings, and extension activities to be used with the video. An answer key for the various activities is provided at the beginning, and the teachers' guide references the National Science Education Standards and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy. The video and guide would be an excellent addition to an elementary or middle school video collection. It would also be an excellent tool for differentiating instruction. In a district’s media center it could also be used as a resource for high school special education classes.