Lesson Plan

Biological Indicators

A student in a blue poncho holds a white ice cube tray; several of the try compartments contain aquatic organisms.
Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RST.1, 6-8.RST.2, 6-8.RST.3, 6-8.RST.4, 6-8.RST.5, 6-8.RST.6, 6-8.RST.7, 6-8.RST.8, 6-8.RST.9, 9-10.RST.1, 9-10.RST.2, 9-10.RST.3, 9-10.RST.4, 9-10.RST.5, 9-10.RST.6, 9-10.RST.7, 9-10.RST.8, 9-10.RST.9, 11-12.RST.1, 11-12.RST.2, 11-12.RST.3, 11-12.RST.4, 11-12.RST.5, 11-12.RST.6, 11-12.RST.7, 11-12.RST.8, 11-12.RST.9
State Standards:
Ohio Learning Standards (middle and high school): 7.LS.2, 8.LS.1, B.DI.1, B.DI.2, B.DI.3, ENV.ES.1, ENV.ES.3, ENV.ER.3, ENV.ER.5, ENV.GP.2, ENV.GP.9, PG.ER.3
Additional Standards:
Next Generation Science Standards: MS-LS1-5, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2, MS-LS2-3, MS-LS2-4, MS-LS2-5, MS-ESS3-3, HS-LS2-1, HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-6, HS-LS2-7

Essential Question

What are biological indicators?
Why are macroinvertebrates good indicators of water quality?


Students will:
- Be able to successfully identify macroinvertebrates using a dichotomous key.
- Understand how macroinvertebrates are important indicators of water quality.


Instructor should review the presentation, accompanying dichotomous key(s) and "Life on the James" activity before instruction. Total preparation time: about 60 minutes.


  • Opening questions (5 minutes)
  • Introduction to macroinvertebrate identification (25 minutes)
  • Dichotomous key practice (10 minutes)
  • “Life on the James” activity (30 minutes)

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Last updated: September 24, 2020