In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text by scientist Paul Marek, who re-charted the millipede Motyxia Bistipida's evolutionary tree based on new information about its bioluminescence. This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
Explain how molecular biology is used to show evolutionary relationships.
Explain the significance of Motyxia bistipita's bioluminescense and how it evolved.
Explain how evolutionary relationships are used to classify organisms.
Describe how other organisms use bioluminescence and why scientists are studying this process.
Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
Construct an informative written response that clearly establishes the main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science:
Students should clearly understand the basic principles driving evolution, including the idea of natural selection.
Students should know the types of evidence scientists use to support evolution.
Students should be familiar with taxonomic classification, specifically the terms genus and species.
Students should understand different types of adaptations, including morphological, behavioral, and physiological.
Students should understand how to read cladograms and/or phylogenetic trees.
Students should be able to explain how new investigations and data add to the body of scientific knowledge.
In regards to literacy:
Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text.
For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial. In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in the article include: title, subtitle, headings, photographs, captions.
Students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
Students should have some awareness that transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
What are some factors which led to the evolution of bioluminescence as a defense mechanism in the genus Motyxia?
Originally, it is believed that Motyxia might have evolved bioluminescence to protect itself from the dry habitat it lived in. The chemical reaction that causes the glow can neutralize harmful by-products produced from oxygen metabolism in hot weather. However, the species that live at higher elevations have a brighter glow as well as larger cyanide glands. Those at a higher elevation share their habitat with more predators than those at a lower elevation. Therefore, this suggests they need a brighter glow to warn predators of their higher toxicity.
Explain why Xystocheir bistipita was reclassified as Motyxia bistipita?
This particular species of millipede was not known to be bioluminescent. The author rediscovered the species and found that in fact it did glow like other bioluminescent millipedes. When a DNA sequence was performed, they realized that X. bistipita actually was closely related and showed an evolutionary relationship to millipedes classified as Motyxia. Because they are closely related, they were placed in the same genus.
Why is bioluminescence studied in other organisms?
The process of bioluminescence serves a variety of roles for other organisms, including acting as a lure for predators, distracting predators, and providing illumination. Scientists are studying this process because the chemical reaction seems to have evolved independently in these different organisms based on the different enzymes and proteins that are involved. Scientists only understand this process in a few organisms and probably best understand the reaction in the firefly. The research of the phenomenon has led to many practical applications in cellular and molecular biology.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
Begin the lesson by asking students: What makes an organism successful?
Students might answer that successful organisms live longer, they can avoid predators, they are able to capture prey, etc.
Ask: How are organisms able to do all of these things?
Students might suggest or allude to adaptations, or say that successful organisms evolved traits making them more successful.
Ask: What are some factors that cause evolution to take place?
Students are likely to mention natural selection. Encourage them to focus on the key points of the theory and call them out. The teacher can make a list: genetic variety, isolation, environmental influences, reproduction, patterns of heredity, survival of the fittest.
Note: If there are obvious gaps in students' knowledge, show some or all of the videos from the extension section as review.
Ask: What are the possible outcomes or effects that can result when species evolve?
Students are likely to mention adaptations that make species more successful, the extinction of some species with undesirable traits, noticeable structural changes within a species, etc. Have them share answers with the class and make a list to form the basis of a discussion.
Tell students that they are going to read an article informing them about one scientist’s discovery of an elusive millipede and how finding the millipede led to the exploration of the evolutionary path ofitsbioluminescence. The article will outline how this adaptation has affected its location on the evolutionary tree of millipede species. This article also highlights how adjustments can be made to the body of scientific knowledge when new findings emerge. In this case, the use of molecular biology allowed for a new taxonomic classification.
Misconceptions: Remind students that evolution and natural selection are not synonymous. Natural selection is a mechanism that can causes evolution to occur.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
Hand out copies of the article, "Shedding Light on Millipede Evolution." For the class discussion that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section. They can also number the sections.
Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
Title: "Shedding Light on Millipede Evolution"
Subtitle: "A Virginia Tech entomologist discusses millipedes that light up, and some really bright ideas inspired by bioluminescence."
Headings: July 31 2015, In hot pursuit of a millipede, All in the family, Brightening up, Different functions in different organisms, many remaining mysteries, Societal benefits
Caption: A recently rediscovered bioluminescent millipede emits a blue-green light
Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
Based on the needs and skills of students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students need to define on the note-taking guide.
For academic vocabulary, students can draw on a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge or use a dictionary to define the words.
Students may work in pairs taking turns ('rally robin' or 'round robin' technique) to read the sections of the article. As they encounter vocabulary words, they can attempt to define them using context clues and/or a dictionary. They should write the meanings using complete sentences on their note taking sheet. They can refer to Dictionary.com or other sources available to the class.
If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use tips like the following to help them:
Wanderlust: a "lust" is an urgent desire to do something. To do what?
Deterrent: to "deter" someone is to prevent them from reaching their goal.
Colonized: the U.S. was colonized by Great Britain. How would that relationship play out in nature?
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guide, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
For discussion of students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Students may confuse bioluminescence and fluorescence. Explain to them bioluminescence is light produced by a chemical reaction within an organism; it is of their own production. Fluorescence is a physical process where energy from a light is absorbed and re-emitted almost immediately. This is usually seen in the presence of black light.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
Before students complete the writing prompt:
Be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher might show the sample response on an overheadorwithanLCD projector and discuss some of the following:
How the writer introduced the topic and addressed the prompt. (Brainstorm alternatives.)
How the writer included specific details and text evidence in the body paragraphs.
How the writer used transition words and phrases at the start of, and within, paragraphs.
How the writer concluded the response and referred back to the prompt. (Brainstorm alternatives.)
As one final option, teachers might want students to use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a 4.
Have students complete an exit ticket after the lesson and discussion. Be prepared to discuss some of the responses the following day:
The three most interesting science concepts I learned were…
Three new science vocabulary words I learned or better understand are...
I am still confused about…
Refer back to the responses generated during the teaching phase discussion and compare students' knowledge before and after.
Students will individually respond to the writing prompt included in the text-dependent questions. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over it with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
The prompt:New information from discoveries and investigations adds to the body of science knowledge and often contributes to revising or changing ideas. Discuss the reasons the author gives for his placement of this millipede in the genus Motyxia as opposed to placing it as an unrelated species in our evolutionary tree database. Be sure to include the author's explanation of how the millipede Motyxia bistipita derived its ability to fluoresce, and note the significance of this adaptation for its survival and evolution. Use detailed information from the text in your response.
Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will teachers check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will teachers check for student understanding?"
Accommodations & Recommendations
Pairing students to review vocabulary and complete their note-taking guides helps struggling readers to develop confidence and bounce ideas off others. It also builds engagement.
Teachers may also provide a simplified version of the note-taking sheet with fewer vocabulary words, or some of the charts at the end can be left off. Frequent circulation and facilitation should be done so that the teacher can be ready to address times when students might be stumped.
Teachers may wish to show this video of author Paul Marek discussing his experiment before they complete the writing prompt to deepen the understanding of auditory and visual learners.
For struggling learners, or possibly before the lesson, the teacher may want to show any or all of these YouTube videos:
On cladograms: "Cladogram" (9:46, uploaded by YouTube user educreations)
The author, Dr. Paul Marek, on bioluminescent millipedes: "Bioluminescent Millipedes" (5:18, uploaded by YouTube user cellvideoabstracts)
Follow-up questions for last video:
How many species of millipedes glow, and where are they found in the world?
Describe what was done to sort the millipedes in their new relationships, according to the video.
What is the benefit of luminescence in millipedes, according to Paul Marek?
What was the previous view about the role of luminescence in species?
What is the new view about the role of luminescence after the research was done?
Why is this adaptation important for understanding millipede evolution?
How does null hypothesis impact the nature of science investigations?
Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Overhead Projector, Speakers/Headphones
For teachers who would like more support in understanding and implementing Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects into their science curriculum, please see the teacher tutorials featured in the section of this lesson's CPALMS resource page labeled "Attached Resources."
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Alison Seaton
District/Organization of Contributor(s): St. Lucie
Click "View Site" to open a full-screen version. This tutorial is designed to help secondary science teachers learn how to integrate literacy skills within their science curriculum. This tutorial focuses on using specific textual evidence to support students' responses as they analyze science texts. The focus on literacy across content areas is designed to help students independently build knowledge in different disciplines through reading and writing.
Click "View Site" to open a full-screen version. This tutorial is designed to help secondary science teachers learn how to integrate literacy skills into their science curriculum. This tutorial will demonstrate a number of strategies teachers can impart to students to help them use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words within science texts. It will also help them teach students how to select the appropriate definition from reference materials. The focus on literacy across content areas is intended to help foster students' reading, writing, and thinking skills in multiple disciplines.
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