Is It Alive?: A Closer Look At Viruses (NGSS MS-LS1-1) (5E Model)

Grade Levels
6th - 8th, Homeschool
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  1. Students will generate questions about viruses and their effects on the body by exploring the 1918 Spanish Flu via a teacher-provided text or video (suggestions included in Storyline Summary file).  Then they will dive deeper into what viruses are and how they “invade” to determine if they could be
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  2. n this learning sequence, students explore the circulatory system to understand how the body works together to carry out complex functions. Students apply their understanding to a phenomenon related to "body invaders" like viruses and bacteria.Students will generate questions about viruses and their
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In this 5E Model activity bundle, students explore the characteristics of life to launch a unit that addresses NGSS standards MS-LS1-1, MS-LS1-2, and MS-LS1-3. In the first explore activity, students participate in a card sort to activate prior knowledge about the characteristics of life. Students complete three additional explore activities, utilizing web resources (videos) to investigate viruses. Students then utilize a text and/or video resource to make sense of the characteristics of life, participating in an explain activity. Students elaborate on their learning by applying newfound knowledge and complete a formative assessment writing task to evaluate their understanding of the characteristics of life.


**If you have previously purchased this lesson and would like the digital version for distance learning, please email me at

This activity is part of the middle school unit Organization of Living Things: Body Invaders and is designed to launch the unit. It is followed by the explore/explain/elaborate activity bundle, Discovering Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells and the explore/explain/elaborate activity bundle, Exploring Plant and Animal Cells.

This activity bundle is part of a complete unit that builds towards these standards:


Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.


Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways the parts of cells contribute to the function.


Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.

5E Model Phase: Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate (Formative)

Learning Target:

>> Students will identify some characteristics of living things.

>> Students will apply their understanding of the characteristics of life to evaluate whether viruses are living or not.

>> Students will construct an argument based on evidence to support or refute the claim that viruses are alive.

Success Criteria:

>> I can identify some characteristics of living things.

>> I can use the characteristics of life to determine what is living and what is non-living.

>> I can construct an argument based on evidence to answer the question: Are viruses alive?

Science and Engineering Practices:

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Engaging in Argument From Evidence

Crosscutting Concepts:


Prior Knowledge:

This activity does not require any specific prior knowledge.

Resource Includes:

Teacher Guide (10 pages)

Student Activity Sheets (19 pages)

includes Answer Keys

For related resources, don’t forget to check out…

Life Science

Cells and Body Systems

Explore (5E Model)

Terms Of Use:

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Total Pages
30 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
4 days
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells. Emphasis is on developing evidence that living things are made of cells, distinguishing between living and non-living cells, and understanding that living things may be made of one cell or many and varied cells.


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