Lesson 3 of 7
Objective: The objective of this lesson is to evaluate a Genetic Testing case study of Huntington's Disease (HD) in which students describe the symptoms and inheritance patterns of HD and explore bioethical dilemmas in gene testing.
Jenny is a young woman with a family history of Huntington’s disease (an inherited disease caused by a defective dominant gene). In this uniquely made for the biotechnology laboratory theatrical production, students will be able to use models and pedigrees to calculate the risks of inheriting the gene for Huntington’s disease, weigh the benefits and risks of participating in genetic testing and perform a simulated genetic test to determine if Jenny and other members of her family have inherited the gene for Huntington’s disease.
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to clearly communicate their personal viewpoints on genetic testing and evaluate if participating in genetic testing is a practice they would consider.
NATIONAL BIOTECHNOLOGY STANDARD(S):
BT. 7.2 - Research ethical issues presented by evolving science, including genetically modified foods, cloning, bioterrorism, gene therapy, genetic testing and stem cells.
Students will be introduced to Jenny Lanahan, a teenager with a family history of Huntington's Disease (HD), and a character in our made-for-the-biotechnology-lab theatrical production, "Family Secrets". Students are assigned one of five characters in the case study and instructed to read the entire play, all five acts, from the point of view of that character only; meaning students should only read that particular characters lines. Students do not actually perform the five acts at this point in the lesson but will merely evaluate genetic testing from one of several potential perspectives.
Since most courses have an enrollment that exceeds five, it is suggested that you have multiple students share the same character. This will prove to be favorable during portions of the lesson that suggest cooperative groupings as students can be quickly grouped by character! For example, to conclude this portion of our lesson my students are asked to meet in expert (character) groups with other students assigned the same character and create a character sketch based on the information found in the script or "text". Students should write the character sketch as a team and record the composition on Page 1 of the Family Secrets Student Lesson Guide.
Students complete a close read of the conversation between Jenny, her Dad and brother, Jeremy found on Pages 11 - 13 of the following HD Genetic Testing Student Resources and highlight parts of the conversation that indicate reasons for getting and not getting genetic tests. Using the notetaker provided students record a list of benefits and risks involved in genetic testing.
To conclude this activity students are asked to respond to the following inquiry on a Post-It note and add the note to our class anchor poster:
"In your opinion, what is the greatest benefit and the greatest risk to getting genetic testing?"
Students get to try out acting skills in biotechnology class! Who knew they would be so fabulous! Each expert group selects a student to assume the role of one of five characters in a moving performance of ACT 1 of the case study, "Family Secrets".
Following the performance students use laptops or Smartphones to conduct a short WebQuest aimed at explaining the inheritance, symptoms, testing and treatment of Huntington's Disease beginning at the "Your Genes, Your Health" Huntington Disease webpage. Students are directed to Page 2 of the student lesson guide in which they can record what they discover.
First in pairs and then in small groups, students identify and discuss the facts in this case study and write questions they may have or ones they think others may have about this case. Finally, they are asked to write ONE key fact they have learned and ONE critical question on a Post-It and "post" on our class anchor poster.
To conclude this portion of the lesson, I select several questions and read them aloud to the class. Students are encouraged to share their opinions, viewpoints and insights in response to the questions be posed by members of our class.
Students continue their initial webquest with the goal of addressing the inquiry: "Can I pass HD to MY children?" This activity serves as an opportunity for students to apply the knowledge they have gained to a very personal, real-world inquiry that is both relevant and authentic. Students are asked to complete several Punnett squares in the Elaborate portion of the Family Secrets Student Lesson Guide which illustrate the possibilities and risks of both inheriting a dominant, autosomal disease such as HD and passing this genetic disorder on to their offspring!
To conclude this lesson students are asked to address the inquiry, "If they were Jenny, would they agree to having genetic testing for HD? Why or why not?" Students are asked to address they same question based on their personal beliefs and graph their response on the class barometer posted. Finally, students create a bar graph using the class data as the exit inquiry for the day. The class barometer can provide valuable insight for me as an instructor and how to guide future discussions. For example, as a warm-up for the next class period I have asked students to refer to the class barometer and compose an argument in opposition of the most popular position.
As an extension or homework activity, students select "golden" terms and "golden lines" from the inspiring story of Dr. Jeff Carroll in the Current Science article titled, "Self-Help". We will begin our next class sharing our favorite terms, phrases and sentences!