Reflection: Grappling with Complexity Modeling Transcription - Section 4: Class Discussion: Modifying the RNA transcript into mRNA


It is critical to build on student's prior knowledge to help them understand how RNA is transcribed and how the previous models they learned are slightly incomplete.

First, I help students remember what they learned previously by having them made a model of RNA out of Legos. By having students construct the key, they are actively involved in the review. Most students come to my class with a basic understanding of base-pairing rules. In addition, they are well aware of the structure of DNA because of our previous lessons about DNA replication two days ago.  

Once the review is complete, I have students role play the steps in transcription so they can get a basic understanding of the cell process. However, the process that they model is a bit more complex than the model actually shows. Therefore, for them to completely understand how mRNA is formed, they need to know how the primary RNA transcript is modified.  

If I simply lectured about these steps without allowing students the chance to manipulated the Legos models, I would have many students tuning out.  I did find that after teaching this lesson that some of my less artistic students needed templates in which to fill, instead of simply drawing the changes in the model free hand.  It took them too long to draw the DNA template, primary RNA transcript, and subsequent mRNA because they lacked the confidence in their sketching ability.   

It was very important to show the video clip of transcription in real time so that students can understand the rapid nature of this process. 

  Helping Students Grasp Complex Cell Processes
  Grappling with Complexity: Helping Students Grasp Complex Cell Processes
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Modeling Transcription

Unit 12: Molecular Genetics
Lesson 6 of 7

Objective: Students will evaluate a model of the cell process transcription to determine its accuracy.

Big Idea: What occurs if there is a mistake in your mRNA? How will it affect the protein that is made? Find out today.

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1 teacher likes this lesson
transcription, Science, genes, RNA, Developing and Using Models, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, structure and function , DNA
  58 minutes
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