Research Day - Genetic Disorder Group Project (Lesson 1 of 3)

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SWBAT decipher the guidelines of the project description to guide their research and collect data regarding their selected genetic disorder research topic.

Big Idea

Let the research fun begin . . . students will work in collaborative groups to obtain data about various genetic disorders that are caused by chromosomal mutations.

Video Introduction - Sorting Through The Data

1 minutes

This lesson will build on the understanding of the cause and effect of genetic mutations from the previous lesson and will prepare students for the next lesson where students will create informative Google Drive presentations to share their research findings with their classmates.


Hook - A Group Review of Mutations

15 minutes

Students will watch the video clip and record at least 10 facts that supports their understanding about the cause and effect of genetic mutations in DNA.  A class discussion will follow the video to review the interesting facts that students identified during their viewing of the video clip.  If students did not record all 10 facts during the length of the video clip, they can add to their list as they participate in the class discussion.  

The video clip is closely related to the lecture notes that were given in the prior lesson and will used to make sure all students have a strong understanding of genetic mutations before we begin today's activity!

Direct Instruction - Introducing The Research Project

10 minutes

Students will pair up with their neighbor to collaborate during today's research portion of the Genetic Disorder Research Project.  The same student pairs will work together for the Google Drive creation lesson, as well as the Gallery Walk Presentation Day lesson.  

Students will use the Genetic Disorder Research Project to brainstorm a topic from the provided list of possible genetic disorders that are caused by chromosomal mutations.

Potential Genetic Mutation Topics Include:

  • Down Syndrome
  • Achondroplasia
  • Sickle-cell Anemia
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Hemophilia

Students will use the Genetic Disorder Research Project Sign Up Sheet  to reserve their selected topic.  Students seem more interested and vested in research projects when they are given the freedom to choose their topics.  Students groups are not allowed to pair up and have to look up their own approved topic if they are not interested in the topics that are remaining on the list.

Once the students have reserved their research topic, they are encouraged to begin their research right way using the class set of lap tops or the Biology textbook.  My Biology College Prep class currently uses the Prentice Hall 2007 Biology textbook with the dragonfly on the cover.  I am very happy with this textbook, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to adopt new textbooks that are NGSS-based!

Areas of Project Research:

  • Symptoms 
  • Genetic Cause
  • Treatment
  • Screening
  • Percentages of the population
  • Society
  • Diagrams and Illustrations

Students are also provided a copy of the Genetic Disorder Group Project Assessment so each student understands the performance expectations for this multi-day research project.

Guided Practice - Partner Research

25 minutes

Students work in their groups of 3 to complete the questions that were outlined in the activity handout:

Areas of Project Research:

  1. Symptoms 
  2. Genetic Cause
  3. Treatment
  4. Screening
  5. Percentages of the population
  6. Society
  7. Diagrams and Illustrations

Students have the rest of the class session to complete their research.  The group has autonomy to divide the research requirements up as they see fit.  The teacher is encouraged to rotate around the room to each group to assess group progress and assure that the group dynamics are such that the group will successful in completing their research assignment.  The research data from today's lesson will be used in the next lesson where students are tasked with creating and interesting and informative Google Drive presentation for their peers.


This group said their disorder topic was not a genetic disorder.  What they meant was that their topic of Turner's Syndrome involves the X and Y chromosomes and not one of the autosomal chromosomes.  This statement was made early in our unit of study and has been clarified to the students.  It was also enlightening to hear the students discuss technology difficulties because they are so prevalent and it is a red flag for our school site to continually improve our access to technology and work out all of the glitches.




Close - Brain Dump on Genetics

5 minutes

Students will have one minute to write down everything they know about genetic disorders and include  special attention to the genetic cause of the mutation and the resulting physical effects of their selected research topic.

Sample Student Work - Genetics Brain Dump - Students were encouraged to record everything and anything they could think of in regards to genetic disorders.  This strategy allows students to be creative without the pressure of being "right" or "wrong" with their responses.  Students seem to be more engaged and more productive with this strategy and enjoy the freedom to write!

With the time remaining in the class session, student volunteers will be asked to share the most interesting fact they learned through the research session.

If students or entire groups did not complete the required research for the project, they will need to complete it as homework in preparation of the next lesson in which group members will create a Google Drive Presentation.