Lesson Plan Template: Confirmatory or Structured Inquiry
Learning Objectives: What will students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
Students will be able to explain that some traits are caused by multiple genes, not a single gene.
Students will use text features, such as diagrams and headings to decipher a complex text.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
Students should know that chromosomes exist, are made of DNA, and that a gene is a section of that DNA which codes for a trait.
Students should be familiar with the concept of dominant and recessive alleles and, preferably, have worked with simple genetic problems using Punnett squares (to provide scaffolding for the article). This lesson does not require students to complete Punnett squares.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
How do our genes determine our traits, such as the color of our eyes?
How can we read text that seems too challenging at first?
Introduction: How will the teacher introduce the lesson to the students?
Distribute this article to students . (Available on pdf at Basics of eye Color PDF )
Say to the students:
We've been talking about how traits are inherited, and I thought I had a pretty good understanding. We've learned how to use Punnett squares to see what gene combinations two parents' offspring could have, and I did pretty well with those. This weekend, I met a couple who is expecting a baby. They both have blue eyes, an I remembered hearing that blue eyes are caused by a recessive gene. With all my smarty-pants life science knowledge, I said, "Your baby is going to have blue eyes. Since blue eyes are caused by a recessive gene, that means you don't have any other color genes to pass down to your baby."
My friend, who was there, is extremely knowledgeable about genes and very kind. She said, "You know, its really not that simple," and she emailed me the article that's on your desk. I'm going to read the article aloud. Whenever you hear a word or idea that makes you have a question or that is confusing to you, put a question mark by that word or idea.
After this first read, somehow gather information as to what words/ ideas were confusing for students. This can be by calling on individual students and creating a list on the board/large paper, having student groups record ideas in a share-able format.
If students do not have any or many question marks (which may happen with students who are very low readers), role model the types of questions readers with good metacognition ask themselves, such "A couple of sentences after the 'Primer on Pigmentation' heading, the article says 'Specialized cells known as melanocytes produce the melanin, storing it in intracellular compartments known as melanosomes.'" I understand that melanin gives color, but I don't know what melanocytes and melanosomes are, so I put a question mark by that. If you can't tell me what melanocytes and melanosomes are, you need to put question marks there, also.
Investigate: What question(s) will students be investigating? What process will students follow to collect information that can be used to answer the question(s)?
Say to students:
That article is really technical and written at a high reading level. It reminds me of when I was in college and I'd have to read and re-read my text in order for it to make sense. Maybe some of you already have to do that in some of your classes; when you get you to high school, you'll have to do it even more. Today, we're lucky to all be in the same boat and able to figure this idea out together (so that we don't go around spreading wrong information to expectant parents).
In groups/pairs/whatever works for your class, please use the article to think through some questions I had. They're the kind of questions we should be asking ourselves when we read a complicated text like this. (questions attached)
Allow time for students to work through attached questions regarding text features and reading text above one's comfort level. This amount of time will vary depending on the needs of your students, but these questions really shouldn't be instantly answerable. If students are quickly writing down answers that don't come from the text, encourage them to re-examine/reconsider.
When students have answered the attached questions, direct them to re-read the article in groups or pairs. Say, "This time, we are really reading to make sure we understand the point of the article. When we're done, we should be able to answer the question, 'How DO our genes determine our eye color?' This time through, if a word is important, you need to stop and figure out what it means. You might be reading along and realize you have to go back and look at a sentence or paragraph again. Work together so that your group members/partners can all answer the question 'How do our genes determine eye color?'"
As students work through the article, affirm their effort and ask clarifying questions. When a student makes a statement regarding information from the text, ask other group members/partners follow up questions such as "Does that seem accurate to you, based on what you read?" and "I think I understand what ____ is saying. Could you say it another way, just so I can make sure?"
Questions for Eye Color article.docx
Analyze: How will students organize and interpret the data collected during the investigation?
After students have had the opportunity to analyze the article's text features and re-read the article to answer the question, "How do our genes determine our eye color?", direct their attention back to the list(s) created during the formative assessment. Ask students to identify confusing points that now make sense to them and confusing points that they've determined not to be essential to understanding the article (these non-essential points would be any vocab that they could determine the gist of from the article and specific details, such as why the gene would have its name, etc).
If there are any points that you find to be essential that students have not addressed, this would be an appropriate time to bring them up, using questions such as "When I was reading, I was wondering about _______. What do you think, based on the article?"
Closure: What will the teacher do to bring the lesson to a close? How will the students make sense of the investigation?
Congratulate your students on deciphering a challenging science text. Say something like, "Wow! Thank you! You have helped me understand this article SO MUCH! Now, I just need to make sure I can remember an important point of the article because eye color isn't the only trait caused by multiple genes. On the back of your question sheet/ in your science journal/ your exit ticket, please give me 2-3 sentences to answer the question 'How can multiple genes affect the same trait?'"
Teachers should direct students' attention back to the lists created during the formative assessment. If students have successfully deciphered the article, they should be able to either clarify all confusing information or determine it to be non-essential to understanding the article.
During the first read, students put a "?" next to any words or ideas that are confusing to them. After the first read, the teacher will call on individual students to determine what part of the reading was confusing for students. From this, the class (or student-groups) will create a list of topics that are unclear to post on the board in a shareable format. After a second reading of the document, students will be asked to revisit these lists to see if information was a) clarified or b) determined to be non-essential.
If students do not have any or many question marks (which may happen with students who are very low readers), teachers should role model the types of questions to ask themselves, such "A couple of sentences after the 'Primer on Pigmentation' heading, the article says 'Specialized cells known as melanocytes produce the melanin, storing it in intracellular compartments known as melanosomes.'" I understand that melanin gives color, but I don't know what melanocytes and melanosomes are, so I put a question mark by that. If you can't tell me what melanocytes and melanosomes are, you need to put question marks there, also.
Feedback to Students
As students work through the article, teachers will affirm their effort and ask clarifying questions. When a student makes a statement regarding information of the text, the teacher will follow up by asking other students questions such as "Does that seem accurate to you based on what you read?" and "I think I understand what ____ is saying. Could you say it another way, just so I can make sure?"