Portrait of a Leader in Biotechnology (Part I)

7 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will be able to identify at least three key characteristics of an effective leader in biotechnology in order to create an accurate portrait of a successful member of this dynamic industry.

Big Idea

What attributes are essential for leadership in biotechnology?


5 minutes

This lesson is intended to be a Day 1 or Week 1 lesson that deviates from the traditional or explicit discussion of the syllabus, class rules, and course description. I strive to provide experiential learning opportunities where these types of discussions occur as a result of our interactions with one another as we engage in meaningful tasks. My students have an opportunity to dive into acquiring valuable job skills immediately with this lesson while I communicate key protocols which will govern our work together. Furthermore, Part II of the "Portrait of a Leader in Biotechnology" lesson provides students with innovative ways to demonstrate their understanding of abilities they must acquire in order to be successful in this exciting industry!

Students who have mastered the standards being addressed in this lesson will be able to identify at least three attributes of an effective leader and cite specific evidence from texts used in the lesson to support their conclusions. Students will also be able to synthesize information shared during the lesson, and from research conducted on the biotechnology career of their choice, to create an employment ad that provides an accurate portrait of a successful member of the Biotechnology industry.


10 minutes

In the warm-up I want to make a connection between what students may already know about what it means to be a member of the biotechnology industry and what is truly an accurate portrait of a leader in this exciting industry.

We begin by addressing several misleading images found in popular media such as in movies and television. We view photos as well as clips from movie trailers and commercial teasers for several television shows such as CSI and ER and discuss any potential misconceptions that these forms of media may promote. At the end of this section, I have the students complete a Quikwrite, found on Page 1 of the Student Lesson Guide, which addresses the following prompt(s):

- "How do the popular media images found on television and in movies influence the public's view of the world of a biotechnologist?"

- Do these images negatively or positively affect society's view of the work of biotechnologist? Explain your position.

Students have a wide range of responses to these inquiries. Many have shared that television shows such as CSI and movies such as Contagion have "given the biotechnology industry a platform" and although the images are not always completely authentic, they are "making our field more mainstream". Others feel that the images are damaging and may affect how the public votes on issues relating to biotechnology as well as "pass on incorrect information" which often spreads faster than the truth!

For my students, who are members of groups which are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, I believe it is important to begin my year addressing these misconceptions. Hopefully, by surfacing some of their incorrect perceptions we can begin to build accurate portraits of leaders in biotechnology!


15 minutes

In this section my students and I engage with this topic by researching what experts refer to as The Dread Factor. First we read an excerpt from the Houston Journal of Health Law and Policy text, "Popular Media, Biotechnology, and the "Cycle of Hype". We read the selected excerpt four times:

1. The first time we read the selection a student reads the excerpt aloud as other class members follow along.

2. Secondly, we read the excerpt and circle terms or phrases, "we want to get to know better" and attempt to decode the terms together.

3. The third time we read the text we underline a phrase that we feel represents the main idea or main argument.

4. Finally, after a fourth reading students annotate the text with at least one question they would have for the author.

After reading the excerpt we have a brief Think-Pair-Write in which we address the prompt, "How do images promoted by popular media negatively or positively affect society's view of the work of biotechnologist?" The goal of this portion of the lesson is to enable students to justify their position by providing evidence from the text and not necessarily to debate the ins and outs of Hollywood! In order to achieve this goal students discuss their initial reactions with their "elbow partner" and then complete a short, intrapersonal writing activity found on Page 2 of the Student Lesson Guide. This keeps the students engaged and able to voice their reactions yet also moves the lesson along at an effective pace.

Next, we listen to a three minute excerpt of a National Public Radio (NPR) show and evaluate claims that University of Oregon psychologist, Dr. Paul Slovic, makes in regards to the media's influence on the public's perception of biotechnology. I find that evaluating multiple sources of media (radio, video) and complex texts not only engages a greater number of my students but it also addresses objectives found within both Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)!


10 minutes

At this point in the lesson my students begin to inquire, "If the media is not portraying what it truly means to be a biotechnologist, then how do we determine if this field is really for us?" In order to develop an accurate view of our industry, I suggest that they intern in a lab or shadow a scientist or better yet apply for a summer/afterschool job and/or....engage in this lesson!

Then, my students and I look through a collection of employment ads I have gathered from magazines and newspapers over the last 15+ years and begin to create a list of qualifications based on the type of candidate we believe each ad is targeting and chart the list on a piece of chart paper. We try to determine if the ads can help us paint an accurate "portrait" of what it means to be a part of the biotechnology industry by providing insights into the qualifications necessary for several jobs in this field. This also gives us a wonderful opportunity to infer/predict how the biotechnology industry has changed over time based on the imagery of the advertisements.

As we conclude this portion of the lesson, my students Turn and Talk (found on Page 3 of the student lesson guide) with their elbow partner and using the employment ads provided address the following prompt:

- "What can you infer or predict about the candidate that each company or agency was hoping to attract?"

In a brief whole group share out we create a classroom Anchor Chart which list characteristics we feel are truly necessary for individuals who would like to be a biotechnologist! This is also a great time to address several misconceptions we may have regarding who gets to be a scientist. Finally we ask ourselves, "Do we have what it takes?" to make a career in biotechnology a reality! Indeed we DO!


20 minutes

A-B pairs of students will engage in a Reciprocal Reading and Notetaking routine in which they are exposed to new concepts and skills with the goal of developing conceptual clarity and cohesion between their prior knowledge and the objective of the lesson.

The following VIDEO shows two students as they engage in this collaborative reading routine. An explanation of the sequence of steps in the Reciprocal Reading protocol can be found on Slide 13 of the Lesson PowerPoint Presentation and the accompanying student notetaker on Page 4 of the Student Lesson Guide.

The objective of this reading is for students to develop an accurate, present-day, authentic portrait of what it takes to be a leader in biomedical science, or more specifically, leadership as seen in the role of a Nurse Anesthetic. In order to meet this objective, student pairs complete a close read of the text, "Yes You Can.....Succeed in Nurse Anesthesia School" using a specific focus or lens as assigned by the instructor. Partner "A" reads the text and lists the attributes of a nurse anesthetic while Partner "B" read the same text yet focus only on creating a list of responsibilities for a nurse anesthetic.

As we conclude Part I - "Portrait of a Leader in Biotechnology", students have had the opportunity to confront misleading images in the popular media in regards to the biotechnology industry and more importantly its members. They have also been able to gain valuable insight into the realities of this industry through the attributes, experiences and responsibilities of a leader in biomedical science, a nurse anesthetic! In Part II - "Portrait of a Leader in Biotechnology", students will be able to apply what they have discovered to dispel myths and build an authentic portrait of a leader in this prestigious industry!