Reflection: Rigor Using Cladograms - Section 2: Using Cladograms


I was very happy when I found this resource. I saw it as a perfect way to engage the students  in using cladograms to find answers to a question that would be interesting to the class. The interactive nature of the exploration, and the way it is presented is simple enough so that even my lowest students would be able to access it without problems. It provides a great guide for the use of data tables as a way to organize scientific information.

However I wanted to go  beyond the task itself - "What did the T-rex taste like?" I decided that students needed to also be aware of how using the data table helped them revise their initial hypothesis when the data does not support it. This is why in the beginning of the lesson I asked "How would you go about answering the question being displayed", and ended with students responding to  "Explain how using the cladogram helped you answer the question..." This simple addition increases the rigor of the assignment since not only did the students acquire the knowledge and were able to apply it, they also had to analyze how they were using it. 

Adding rigor sometimes means a complete overhaul of a lesson you have done before, but sometimes it means asking students to elaborate on their answers or asking, as in this case, a very open ended "How" or "Why" question that does not necessarily have a right or wrong answer, and that makes their thinking visible. 

  Two Birds, One Stone
  Rigor: Two Birds, One Stone
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Using Cladograms

Unit 8: Evolution
Lesson 13 of 17

Objective: SWBAT use a cladogram to determine evolutionary relationships.

Big Idea: Cladograms are much more than pretty pictures. They can be used to answer questions such as, "What did a T-Rex taste like?"

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