The Rise of the Dog: Day #2 of 2

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The prevailing theory explaining how man's best friend came to be has been recently challenged. Students will determine which of theory best matches the evidence.

Big Idea

The rise of the domestic dog has been been both rapid and well-researched but the theory is still a work in progress.

Learner Goals

Note: I recommend that you first check out this resource in order to get the most out of this lesson!

In high school I took several drafting classes and, for a while, I had hoped to become an architect. With respect to planning instruction and teaching, I feel that I can still live out the detailed approach to building something intricate and complex even though the product is a lesson rather than a certain "built environment".

The lesson-planning document that I uploaded to this section is a comprehensive overview of how I approach lesson planning. This template includes the "Big Three" aspects of the NGSS standards: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science Practices. Of course, there are many other worthy learning goals, skills, instructional strategies, and assessments that can be integrated into a class session. I don't feel compelled to check every box but, rather, use it as a guide to consider various options and tailor the lesson in light of these.

With regard to this particular lesson...

1) Students will be able to construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: reproductive potential, heritable variation, competition for scarce resources, and survival of the fittest. (HS-LS4-2)

2) Students will understand that natural selection occurs only if there is both genetic (genotypic) variation and differences in its phenotypic expression (leading to an increased allelic frequency in the population). (HS-LS4-2 & 3)

3*) Students will be able to cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the specific details of explanations or descriptions. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.1)

I hope you get some value from my work!


*Potentially controversial, I have chosen to tag this lesson with the stated Common Core standard. While the medium featured in this lesson series is film rather than text based, I have seen similar tagging with films from reputable organizations. Fortunately, this series is not built upon this standard alone should my perspective be askew!

Anticipatory Set ("Hook")

5 minutes

Using the Stretch It technique from Day #1, I want to determine what students learned from yesterday.

Check for Understanding: Pose the following questions to determine the extend of Day #1 student learning

a) “Humans and canines are mutually beneficial. Describe one benefit that each brings to the other.”

b) “Explain the concept of short- and long-flight distance.” (gets at the genetically determined differences inherent to populations of dogs; both wild and domestic)

c) “Describe the original theory that attempted to explain the origin of the domesticated dog.” (gets at the fluid nature of theories and the role of new evidence in modifying them since this original theory has been called into question by more than a few biologists)

Instructional Input/Student Activities

35 minutes

Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Assignment

Showtime! NOVA Dogs the Changed the World: The Rise of the Dog (Part 2) (32:00-53:10)

Since this is an extension of the work begun in Lesson #1, click here to refresh yourself on my approach to using this model. Therefore, using the same engagement techniques from yesterday, students will be prompted to finish collecting evidence (Box 2) of the CER Template: Rise of Dogs.

-Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Assignment

Now that students have gathered sufficient evidence from a reliable source (PBS does good work, you know) students should now complete part three of the CER. This is the trickiest part of the process because it requires that students discriminate among the three claims and weigh the evidence to determine which claim is best supported. Not only that, students must now reason (make sense) of how the causal links between the "E" and the "C" relate.

This sample response is provided for students to follow (at the end of the template).

Air is matter (claim). We found that the weight of the ball increases each time we pumped more air into it (evidence). This shows that air has weight, one of the characteristics of matter (reasoning).

Closure: What did we learn? Where do we go from here?

15 minutes

Class Vote: Which claim is best supported by the evidence? #1, #2, or #3?

For this task, I post a large piece of butcher paper (approximately 4' x 3') that is divided into thirds (each section representing a horizontal row of equal heights and numbered with a 1, 2, and 3).

Students are given one sticky dot (color is irrelevant) and they are to vote for their selected claim by affixing it to the matching section. What emerges is a cool visual pattern of how the class thinks. It also shows whether consensus has been reached (whatever percentage you determine that to be). It represents (on a simplistic level) how ideas are validated in a community of scientists convening at the "XYZ Science Conference".

Discussion: It is my goal to determine how students chose to link the evidence to the claim while explaining their underlying reasoning. It is insufficient to make a claim and leave it undissected. It is more valuable to kick the tires (so to speak) and get at the thinking processes (reasoning) used to derive the claim.

It is in this space that underlying mental models are at work, oftentimes undetected. To do so, I mix up the format and solicit open-ended responses (rather than doing so randomly).

Some scripted questions I might ask are:

1. What evidence(s) stood out as most convincing? Why?

2. How can we tease apart "cause and effect" versus "correlation" (some things just tend to go together)?

3. How, exactly, did this alleged transformation (wild to domestic) occur according to the Theory of Natural Selection?

4. (Really tough one) What kind of evidence or how much counter-evidence is needed to call a prevailing theory into question? (This gets at the nature of how theories are formed and changed or discarded entirely)