As the students enter the room, they take out their journals and respond to the prompt: What is genetics? While the students write, I circulate through the room reviewing the students' answers. As I read their responses, I ask students to elaborate or to provide examples. This is especially important in the instances in which students write down the exact definition of genetics from their flipped notes. I ask them to provide examples or to rephrase the definition using eighth grade language. Doing this requires the students to go beyond the basic memorization of facts.
Once the students have had an opportunity to record their thoughts, I ask for volunteers to share their responses with the class. As each volunteer shares, I ask the rest of the class if there is anything that could be added to what has been said. By doing this, I am looking for elaboration on the part of the students and am trying to develop their ability to build off of one another's ideas or to respectfully question others' ideas. For instance, if the first student provides only a definition for the term genetics, then I ask the class to provide support/elaboration for the definition or examples.
This is the video my students watch to create their flipped notes prior to this lesson.
Once the students have finished providing a definition and examples of genetics, I have them take out their flipped notes. Genetics is new to the students, so the first set of notes consists primarily of terminology and general genetics concepts. I review these terms with the students and explain concepts while pointing to specific sections of the flipped notes.
For instance, I spend a bit of time explaining who Gregor Mendel was and the context of his studies. I also go over the correct answers on the notes review. In particular, the students have difficulty with the elaboration question as many of them merely wrote the definition for genotype and the definition for phenotype without explaining the relationship that exists between the two. At this point in the unit, I am not expecting them to be able to explain this relationship, but want to know where my students are in the thought process of making the connection. This is a concept that we will review in upcoming lessons.
After reviewing the notes, I have the students take out their Chromebooks and open the Exploring More with Mendel activity. The website listed does not work on Chromebooks and the students had issues with it running in Chrome on desktops as well. I have been able to use it on both Chrome and Firefox. We do this activity as a class using the SMARTBoard. I read the introductory information to the students as they complete the first few questions on the worksheet.
From there, we move on to the Plant and Cross section of the interactive. I ask students to tell me how many different traits are exhibited by the pea plants. I then call on students to select parent plants to cross in order to produce offspring. As each parent is selected, the students write down its information on the worksheet. After the offspring are displayed, we review their traits and the students write the information on their chart as well.
Having the students complete the simulation and analyze the data to determine which traits are dominant and which ones are recessive, addresses SP4 - Analyze and interpret data as well as CCC Patterns - Use a chart to identify patterns in data. This lesson also helps to prepare students to complete Punnett squares in order to address MS-LS3-2 - Develop and use a model to describe why asexual reproduction results in offspring with identical genetic information and sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation.
Near the end of class, I reiterated that in the beginning of his experiments, Mendel did not know which traits were dominant or which traits were recessive. He had to perform observations and record data that he later analyzed. I explained to the students that that is what they would be doing in order to complete the activity we had begun in class. I explained that the students should look at the crosses we completed in class and then make predictions regarding which of the traits was dominant and which ones were recessive. As an example, I analyzed the first cross we completed together. I reminded the students that they needed to analyze all of the crosses and that simply looking at one cross may not provide them with all of the necessary information. I also explain that we will review their analyses in an upcoming class.