This four day lesson series gives students the opportunity to follow the flow of scientific discoveries that led to an understanding of the structure and function of DNA. I have used a jigsaw method to introduce this material for many years and this year I added an additional day using an effective and engaging drama technique to give students the chance to hear each other's versions of the science discovery stories, check for understanding, and be active listeners and participants in their own metacognitive processes.
On Day 2, students meet in their expert groups to compare notes and prepare to present their findings to their lab group. Standard(s): W.9-10.2d, SL.9-10.1, SL.9-10.1a, RST.9-10.2, RST.9-10.4, HS-LS3-1, XC-SF-HS-2
And finally, on Day 4, students participate in a drama technique activity to share out individual interpretations of the DNA discoveries while in the roles of the actual scientists and reporters tasked with interviewing them. Standard(s): W.9-10.2d, SL.9-10.1, SL.9-10.1a, SL.9-10.1b, SL.9-10.4, HS-LS3-1, XC-SF-HS-2
This last day is what makes this lesson series really shine! Students enjoy the role playing activity and are able to clearly assess and communicate the learning benefits they saw in both of their researcher and reporter roles. I can't wait to hear about your experience using this teaching strategy with your students!
1. Tell students that this week they will be learning more about how we figured out the structure and function of DNA.
2. Ask each lab group member to choose a letter: A, B, C, or D. Once they have done so, tell them that each letter corresponds to a specific experiment they will be investigating.
3. Pass out the Jigsaw activity directions sheet and indicate which letter corresponds to which researcher/DNA discovery topic.
4. Pass out the DNA discovery chart document. Tell students they may take notes on this document or on their own paper and that the focus of their research is listed on the document and can be summarized as:
5. Summarize/review their overall task for this lesson series:
1. Point out the expert group area locations around the room, one for each DNA discoveries letter group A-D.
2. Remind students that they tomorrow they can access their notes, our DNA discoveries slide presentation, and any of the web resources listed on their activity document using their personal devices, but that for today, I'd like them to focus on the information contained in their textbook.
3. Review the expectations for today's work:
4. As students move to their expert groups, they should settle in to some quiet reading time. Some students may ask to do this in a separate area or in pairs out loud for additional reading support.
5. Allow students quiet time for reading and researching. This tends to be a very quiet and focused time frame that requires little teacher interaction…that part is coming up!
6. After about 15 minutes, you'll hear students shift from reading on their own to working with other students in their expert group. You will hear groups begin to discuss their findings and add to their initial note pages. See this typical final student work product for an idea of what students will eventually produce by the end of the lesson series. As they work, observe closely. As much as possible, allow students to determine, state, and research their own clarifying questions.
1. As the class session comes to an end, ask students to check in together briefly with their lab groups to determine homework expectations for that evening. The goal is for each student to be ready with their individual research in order to dig in deeper with their expert group tomorrow before moving back to their lab groups and presenting their findings.
2. Tell students that it is time to return to their desks and leave their lab table areas tidy.
3. Once students are seated, tell them that tomorrow they will have more time with their expert group before going back to their lab group and sharing out their research/discovery information. Suggest that students come to class tomorrow with as much of their research/discovery information filled out on their document as possible so that they can work exclusively on their issue areas with their expert group and you tomorrow before their presentations.
Now on to Day 2!