Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Arthropod Genetics - Section 3: Guided Reading: Arthropod Body Plan


Because students already have some understanding about the body plan of Arthropods due to their previous experience earlier in the year, I like to use this review of the genes controlling arthropod body structure to show students the complexity of gene expression.This is a very difficult group of concepts to understand and can be overwhelmingly difficult to students. Although not all of it is required to satisfy teaching of NGSS, I feel this is an area where the general public and especially my students lack understanding. It is important for all students to understand how genes control phenotypic expression and that some genes can inhibit the expression of other genes. Before they start biology, most of my students do not understand this principle of gene expression. In fact, their understanding of gene expression and how scientists study how genes are expressed is either very naive or nonexistent. This is unfortunate because as future voters they need to understand why it is important to use model organisms in scientific studies and they need to understand that there are some fundamental genes that all organisms have in common. 

To make this topic more clear, I make my lesson very hands-on.  First, I have students review arthropod body structure by constructing models in day one. Using those models, we next review the laws responsible for Mendelian inheritance to make sure that all students have a basic understanding about how genotype and phenotype are expressed. On the second day, I show students pictures of actual hox mutants so they can compare them with what is typical in flies. Students begin to speculate the purpose of hox genes before they look at the review.  After looking at the review, I have students apply their newly acquired knowledge to the model they created yesterday. Watching the video helps students see professional scientists in action and gives them insight into experiment that we would never be able to perform in a high school science lab.  Finally, by revisiting the initial questions from the beginning of class, students can revise their writing based on their newfound knowledge.  

  Explaining Gene Expression
  Staircase of Complexity: Explaining Gene Expression
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Arthropod Genetics

Unit 13: Mendellian Genetics
Lesson 2 of 2

Objective: Students will explain how embryonic development is regulated by hox genes.

Big Idea: If every cell contains the same DNA, what controls where your arms and eyes are? Why don't you have an arm growing out of your ear?

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1 teacher likes this lesson
inheritance (Biology), Science, cause and effect, structure and function , Engaging in argument from evidence , asking questions and defining problems, Inheritance of Traits, Variation of Traits
  61 minutes
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