Genetics BINGO

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Students will use the BINGO gaming strategy to review and demonstrate mastery of vocabulary associated with genetics.

Big Idea

B-I-N---GO review genetics vocabulary!!!


5 minutes

Warm-Up: How are dominant and recessive alleles represented?

This question is a review question that serves as a formative assessment of content that was taught in Mendel’s Genetics and Punnett squares lessons. Although the question suggests that students know what an allele is, don’t assume that all students do.  So first ask the class, “What is an allele?” before asking the actual warm-up question.  This kind of precursory question will act as a scaffold for students who might not attempt to answer the question because they are not familiar enough with the academic vocabulary to know they might possess information that will help them respond to the warm-up question.

Actively solicit the input from the more silent students to better assess the penetration of learning in the student population.  Silence does not always indicate a lack of understanding but for many students it is a sign that they are unable or unsure of their ability to demonstrate understanding.

 Listen to see if students can communicate that alleles are genes.  Them after this is established, ask the warm-up question.  Look for students to readily respond that dominant alleles are represented by an upper-case letter and recessive alleles by lower-case letters.  If this is not the case, make sure that a quick review is provided. 

Content Review

15 minutes

Inform students of the learning targets for this lesson:

  •  I know the meaning and relevance of the content specific vocabulary associated with genetics.
  • I can use the content specific vocabulary appropriately in conversation and writing.

The topic of genetics consists of a lot of content-specific vocabulary.   Although each genetics lesson included explicit instruction of the vocabulary associated with the lesson, students often struggle to use and understand the vocabulary of genetics correctly. 

Repetition of instruction in multiple forms helps ensure that students are able to master concepts and lessons by focusing solely on review of a targeted content or skill.  For this lesson, the review is aimed in increasing students’ knowledge and ability to use the content-specific genetics vocabulary.

To activate student's recall of content specific vocabulary associated with genetics, show a video clip that summarizes genetics for students.  

View the video beforehand to ensure that it presents information at an appropriate learning level for the students in the class.  Both Discovery Education and Youtube are great resources for science video clips.

Establish viewing expectations before viewing so that students will know what is expected before viewing.  Using a video as the primary source of information for the review allows students to remediate instructional content in a different format.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

Inform students that they will prepare BINGO cards for the Independent Practice segment of the lesson. Display the genetics BINGO instructions. Distribute BINGO cards and markers to students.  Note: To save paper, I created a BINGO template that has 2 cards on each 8 ½ X 11 sheet

Model and explain how students will fill their BINGO cards:

  1. Tell students to select one space on the card as a “FREE” space.  This can be any space of their choice.
  2. Instruct students to select 25 words from the genetics word bank to fill in the spaces on their BINGO cards. Do not provide any more information than this right now.
  3. Instruct students that they will have 10 minutes to create their BINGO cards.  Set the timer and hold students to the specified time for the card creation.  I find that students will spend too much time with the preparation process if they are not held to a brief preparation period.
  4. Walk around to ensure that all students fill all spaces on their cards.  If student cards are not filled at the end of the timed period, use a marker to indicate on the card that the card is incomplete.  This will eliminate the temptation of students’ to fill their card as words are pulled during the game.
  5. Explain the game instructions:
    1. A word from the word list will be randomly selected and called aloud to the class.
    2. If a student has the word on his/her card, then the student will mark the term on his card.
    3. This process of calling and marking terms will continue until a student has 5 words across, 5 words down or 5 words diagonally.  At this point, the student will call “BINGO”.
    4. After calling out BINGO, the student then must pronounce each  of the 5 terms and give a definition of the term before being declared a BINGO winner. Require the student who has BINGO to not only pronounce the 5 terms, but also give a definition that conveys their understanding of the term.  This practice increases the rigor of the activity and ensures that students are actually saying and sharing what they know about the terms.

Model one round of the BINGO game to ensure that students understand how it is played.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

Walk around to ensure that students fill all spaces on their cards in the allotted time. After checking to ensure that all spaces on the students’ cards are filled with the content specific vocabulary associated with genetics, begin the game of BINGO. 

Remind students to watch and listen carefully to ensure that they mark terms on their cards as they are called, watching to see if they can get 5 terms across, down or diagonal. 

Randomly select words from the word list and call the word for the class.  Maintain a list of selected terms as they are pulled so that a check of what has been called or not called can be made when a student calls, “BINGO”.  Continue to walk and monitor to ensure that every student is engaged in the BINGO review activity by marking out the called terms that are on their sheets.

Reward winners with an incentive that aligns with the class’ interests.  Sometimes, a class will want bonus points and another class will opt for candy or a homework pass as an incentive.

Continue rounds of play until multiple students are afforded an opportunity to play and win.


5 minutes

Display a Genetics Quickwrite writing prompt and instruct students to turn their BINGO cards over and respond to a writing prompt:

Use content specific vocabulary to describe what occurs during a cross of two parent organisms (HH X Hh) that produces offspring. 

This closing activity will meet the second learning target by allowing students to write using the content specific vocabulary. Collect the cards and review the responses to assess whether the learning targets were met or not.  Look for responses that use the content specific vocabulary.

Students' written responses should indicate that they understand that the offspring will show genetic variation, with 50% being homozygous dominant and 50% Heterozygous dominant in genotype.  They should also be able to predict that 100% will show the dominant trait in phenotype. Look for students use of a Punnett square to correctly predict the probability of the offsprings' genotypes and phenotypes.  The student work sample shows the use of vocabulary and the degree of detail that students who understand the concept should be to convey in their response.  

If the student responses do not reflect use of academic vocabulary or correct conceptual thought, plan to revisit the content and vocabulary with students.