Reflection: Backwards Planning Using Protists to Understand Evolution (Part 2/2) - Section 3: Student Activity: Sickle Cell Genetics


When I start to realign my existing lessons with the NGSS, I use backwards planning. First I ask myself "what do I want my students to know?" Then I ask "How can I make it fun?"  I absolutely love using case studies when teaching my students about scientific principles because it allows them to discover the big idea in science themselves.  So, when I got to this point in the course, I decided it was time to revamp the method in which I teach about the correlation between sickle cell trait and survival advantage from a malarial infection.  

Here is the thought process I use when decide how to write a case studies.

  • First, I start with the standards and pick the ones that need to be covered.  
  • Next, I pick a specific example to back up the standards that I am going to teach.
  • I make a preliminary outline and include what I think is the important evidence to support the standard.
  • I do a keyword search using an online search engine and look for relevant scientific studies and resources. 
  • Then I read a lot and decide which studies best support the standards.  I make a list of the highlights of the studies. Then I decide what data I need to include to help my students arrive at the conclusion that the researchers of the study did.  
  • I make a more detailed timeline of the progression of scientific knowledge. Then I pick out several key studies that give students a gist of how the body of scientific knowledge grew over time.  
  • I write short scenarios of the studies I am including the case or include an abstract that has been revised to my students reading level. I also include the key graphs or data tables (and then make my students graph the data). I try to limit the number of scenarios to five so as not to overwhelm my students. 
  • Finally, I break the case study up into important highlights. Within the case study I present a little bit of information, then I ask students to think of any questions they might have. I have them list potential hypotheses that might explain the data presented. I also ask students what additional information they may need.  
  • I give them the next scenario and repeat the process until all scenarios are presented.  
  • At the end of the case study, I present some final conclusions and ask what additional questions might be studied from this information.  

  How to Write a Great Case Study
  Backwards Planning: How to Write a Great Case Study
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Using Protists to Understand Evolution (Part 2/2)

Unit 4: Protists
Lesson 9 of 11

Objective: Students examine the life cycle of Plasmodium for use as an example of natural selection.

Big Idea: What makes some humans better adapted to resist malaria? Find out in today's lesson.

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mutation, Science, natural selection (Evolution), cause and effect, adaptation, genetic variation, Obtaining and Communicating Information, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Biological Evolution, pattern, Genetic dieases, Genetic polymorphisms, pattern, Genetic dieases, Genetic polymorphisms, Protists
  66 minutes
1911 sickle cells
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