DNA Mutations

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SWBAT identify the types and effects of various genetic mutations.

Big Idea

In this lesson students learn about the types of mutations that can occur during DNA replication.


5 minutes

As the students enter class, they take out their journals to respond to the prompt:  

Describe the steps in either transcription or translation.

While the students work on the prompt, I circulate through the room, reading the students' journals and asking them to clarify their responses as necessary.  The information required for this journal was covered in the previous lesson, so I use this prompt as a way to determine students' levels of understanding and retention of the concepts.  The expectation is that students will remember the key terms involved in the processes and be able to describe the basic terms what happens during the process.

Once the students complete their journals, I ask for volunteers to share their responses with the class.  To facilitate the sharing session, I open a Cell Transcription and Translation website from the previous lesson and ask the students to use the simulations to facilitate the explanation of their journals.


7 minutes

Once the students have reviewed the steps of translation and transcription, I revisit a question asked at the end of the previous lesson (DNA Transcription and Translation), if they made any errors when trying to replicate DNA during the second activity.  I then ask them if they think that mistakes ever occur when DNA is replicated.  The students agree that it is possible for mistakes to occur.  I then explain that these mistakes can lead to mutations.  

I assign the Mutations reading (found on CK-12) and preview it with the students, explaining that they are going to work with a partner in order to take notes from their reading.  While the CK-12 reading is available online, I print out copies for the students.  Printing the pages from CK-12 allows me to take out portions of the content, such as the review questions and the summary section.  The students are expected to use the Cornell notes format that we have reviewed in class to take their notes.  In addition to writing a summary at the end of their notes, I ask the students to write a CER (Claims Evidence Reasoning statement - Introduced to students in the lesson Drawing Conclusions with CER) explaining which type of mutation is the most harmful.  The students' completion of the CER is facilitated through the use of the CER Anchor Chart and the CER Graphic Organizer.  Writing the CER addresses NGSS SP7 and SP8 as the students obtain and communicate information in the form of an argument with supports.


20 minutes

The students begin working on writing their notes with a partner.  The partner process requires the students to verbalize their thoughts about a reading and then to determine the information that needs to be written down.  This also provides the students with an opportunity to clarify information for one another, if necessary.  As the students work on their notes, I circulate through the room, listening to their conversations.  I also read through the notes they have written to ensure accuracy or to ask questions about items that they seem to misunderstand. The students were able to complete their notes on paper or on the Chromebook.  Students who completed their work on the Chromebook created their own notes template and filled in all of the information.  This is an example of proficient Student Mutations Notes.

Once the students finish their notes and their CER, they begin working on the Mutations Activities worksheet, which also comes from CK-12.  We review the first website together as a class, so I can facilitate a discussion about the information being read.  The students especially enjoy viewing the mutation of the Hox gene that causes flies to grow legs in the place of antennae.

I then allow the students to complete the second activity on their own or to continue to work with a partner.  While the students work, I ask them to explain various portions of the simulations or to justify the answers they have written on their worksheet.  This is an example of proficient  Student Work for the questions that accompany the simulations. This video provides an example of the types of questions that I ask the students when they are working on the mutation simulation.

The completion of the notes, our class discussion, and the online activities address NGSS MS-LS3-1 and MS-LS1-5 as students examine mutations as genetic factors that impact the formation and growth of organisms.

Wrap up

5 minutes

Near the end of class, I ask the students to revisit the CER they wrote at the beginning of class.  I give them a CER rubric and ask them to evaluate their CER.  After they review their CER, I encourage the students to make any changes that might be necessary in order to achieve full points.  For example, in this Mutations CER student rubric the student identified that while she included some examples of diseases caused by mutations, she did not provide a summative reason as to why her selected mutation was the most harmful.