Natural Selection: Follow up

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Students will be able to follow the basic ideas of natural selection in an infogram and apply those ideas to the story of the Peppered Moth.

Big Idea

Natural Selection brings about change.

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Purpose of Lesson:

 The purpose of this lesson is to give students another chance to read and interpret the infographic, expose students to information about mutations, and allow them to connect mutations with their learning.

Major Strategies to Watch for:

1) Shared Reading - This is a three day strategy to help students decode a new genre while they are getting access to content.

2) Mini-lecture - Getting information in small chunks with visuals and interaction is a great way to help students form memories.


3 minutes

Learning Goal: Understand how the infogram explains the process of natural selection.

Opening Question:  What are the most important ideas about natural selection in the infogram?

Students record their opening question on their learning goal sheet and are ready to start class 3 min after the bell has rung.  I reward students who get started early with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets


5 minutes

For the hook today, I am showing the Evolution of the Pepper Moth video.  The students learned about the Peppered Moth in yesterday's lesson, but I like to show this video for several reasons.  It is a nice way to quickly review the concepts of the day before, they get to see the actual moths, and they see a real scientist.

Because of the British accents and the speed of the video, I stop the video several times to make sure that they caught important information.  For example, I stop the video where the white moths are nearly invisible on the tree to talk about characteristics and variation.  During the video, my expectation for students is that they are closely attending and participating in answering questions during pauses.  When the video ends, I let the students know that we are going to be using this information later in the class after we've done day 2 of our shared reading on the infographic.

Shared Reading: Day 2

10 minutes

The purpose of this section is to exhibit my thinking about the infographic and natural selection to the students.

Today is the second day of the shared reading lessons.  I am concentrating on the skill of Determining Importance. I start by projecting the image of the Natural Selection Infographic and also directing the students' attention to the copies at their desks.  My expectations for their behavior during this section is that their eyes are on the text and they are listening carefully to my explanation.  

During my focus lesson, I help students understand HOW I -- as an expert reader -- figure out what is important in the reading.  This is especially difficult for me to do because I don't always know how I do this task!  The complexity of reading is one of the reasons it is so important to display its thinking to students.  I start by simply reading the text again to the students out loud.  As I'm reading I connect back to the vocab words and to my background knowledge.  When I find things that I think are important, I put exclamation marks by them and explain WHY I thought that section was important.  

This focus lesson is designed to be very short, no more than 5-7 minutes.  I model this lesson for you in the video.

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When I am through with modeling the reading process, I ask the students to find other important information and record why the information was important.

At the end of the shared lesson, I ask students to use metacognitive thinking and explain how this skill of Determining Importance helps them understand the reading.  I've seen many teachers do shared reading lessons and skip this metacognition part, but I think that is a mistake because it is the explicit thinking about the skill that will help the student the next time they face a similar task.  


10 minutes

The purpose of this section is to have students work collaboratively to connect the two stories we are studying, the birds and caterpillars on the infographic and the peppered moths.

I have the students open their notebooks to their peppered moths storyboard notes.  They also have the infographics on the tables to use.  Working in groups of two to three, I ask the students to use the questions below to guide their thinking as they connect the stories.  I walk around and listen to the discussions, giving positive feedback on student work using ClassDojo.  If students are struggling I use the strategy Praise...Prompt...Leave to guide them forward.  Praise...prompt...leave is exactly what it sounds like.  You praise the student's work, prompt them towards the next step, and then walk away before you give them to much information. 

  1. What do the stories have in common?
  2. What is different about the stories?
  3. Take the storyboard notes about the peppered moths and add these terms in the appropriate place; variation, natural selection, predation, normal environment, environmental change, selection pressure.  Discuss with your team how you chose where to place the labels.  

This is a story board about the peppered moths from yesterday's lesson.  Now I'm asking students to use a different color to go back and mark the appropriate terms.  This is really a vocabulary strategy because the students are using real vocabulary words to label science content.  By putting in the vocabulary words, you are pushing the students to start making these science terms a part of the story.  

Guided- Mutations

20 minutes

The purpose of this section is to give students information about mutations.  I like to do mini-lectures because neither the kids nor me have the stamina for a full class lecture.  I find that animated powerpoints with interesting visuals allow the students to stay engaged and focus on the important information.  During the lesson, I expect students to take notes in their notebooks.  Generally, since they are 7th graders, I point out what is important and how they might record that in their books.  

At the end of the lesson I go back to the two story lines we are in the middle of and ask the students to point out traits that might have been mutations in the infographic and peppered moth story.  

Finally, I have students listen to the NPR Story Speeding Up Yeast's Evolution And What It Says About Cancer to connect this learning with what is happening in real life science.  Since the content of the story is higher than my expectations for the day, I do not expect students to take notes, but I stop the story often to emphasize certain points, have students predict what will happen next, and get their opinions.  This last activity is not essential to the lesson.  I add it in when I have time to extend the learning for my GT students and build relevance by showing science in the "Real World."  I'm often surprised later in the year by the connections that students make, even with content that is "too high."  This makes me believe that periodic access to content geared towards adults is important and worth the class time.  


2 minutes

Closing Statement: In this lesson, we returned to our infographic and compared it to the story of the peppered moths.  We also learned about mutations and found out how mutations can happen.

Closing Question: What would happen if there were no mutations?  Why are mutations actually good for a species?

Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening.  You can find more information about how I manage closure here.