activities for teaching biology

This Genetic Condition Was Not Inherited

This minds-on discussion/worksheet activity guides students to think about how mutations and meiotic nondisjunction can result in genetic conditions that are not inherited (most cases of achondroplasia and Down syndrome, respectively). 

The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes.

Soap Opera Genetics – Genetics to Resolve Family Arguments

This minds-on discussion/worksheet activity contains four episodes that can be used to reinforce understanding of principles of genetics and the relevance of genetics to everyday life. Each episode focuses on important genetics concepts, including Punnett squares, co-dominance, incomplete dominance, sex-linked inheritance, test cross, polygenic inheritance, and the interacting effects of genes and the environment on phenotypic characteristics. You can use all four episodes or just the specific episodes that help students understand the specific topics you want to teach.

The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes.

 

Genetics – Major Concepts and Learning Activities

This overview summarizes important genetic concepts and provides links to suggested learning activities. Part I provides an outline of key concepts needed to understand how genes are transmitted from parents to offspring and how genes influence phenotypic characteristics and a learning activity to develop student understanding of these key concepts. Part II presents learning activities that support the Next Generation Science Standards, including Disciplinary Core Ideas related to inheritance and variation of traits and Scientific Practices.

The attached file has the key concepts and suggested learning activities.

 

Mitosis, Meiosis and Fertilization - Major Concepts, Common Misconceptions and Learning Activities

These teacher notes summarize important concepts concerning mitosis and meiosis and propose a sequence of learning activities that will help students understand and learn these concepts and progress beyond common misconceptions. Students also learn how understanding meiosis and fertilization provides the basis for understanding how inheritance occurs.  Links to suggested activities are provided, including a hands-on simulation of mitosis, meiosis and fertilization, a card sort activity, a discussion activity about the effects of mistakes in meiosis, and a vocabulary review game.

The attached file has the key concepts and suggested learning activities.

Mitosis, Meiosis and Fertilization Vocabulary Review Taboo Game

This game helps students to enjoy reviewing vocabulary related to mitosis, meiosis and fertilization.  Each card in the deck has a target vocabulary word and two related taboo words that the student may not use as he/she gives clues so the other students in his/her small group can guess the target word.  Many students have trouble learning the substantial new vocabulary required for biology, and this game lets students have fun while reinforcing their understanding of key terms. 

The first file below provides the master copy for creating the card decks for this game, and the second file below provides the teacher notes, including instructions for playing the game.

 

Enzymes Help Us Digest Food

In the hands-on activity, Enzymes Help Us Digest Food, experiments with the enzyme lactase and discussion questions help students to learn about enzyme function, enzyme specificity, and the molecular basis for lactose intolerance. Students also learn about the scientific method by interpreting evidence to test hypotheses and designing the second and third experiments to answer specific scientific questions about lactase. An alternative version of the Student Handout which gives specific instructions for all three of the experiments is provided as an attachment below.

Download Student Handout: PDF format or Word format

Download Teacher Preparation Notes: PDF format or Word format

Cellular Respiration and Photosynthesis -- Important Concepts, Common Misconceptions, and Learning Activities

 This overview of energy, cellular respiration and photosynthesis summarizes important concepts and common misconceptions.  It also suggests a sequence of learning activities to overcome misconceptions, develop student understanding of important concepts, and relate these concepts to familiar topics such as breathing, food, body weight, and plant growth.

The attached file has the key concepts and suggested learning activities.


Where Does a Plant's Mass Come From?

The questions in this worksheet/discussion activity help students understand that a large part of a plant’s mass consists of water, most of the biomass comes from carbon dioxide, and minerals from the soil contribute only a tiny amount of the plant’s mass. The first attached file has the Student Handout and the second attached file has the Teacher Notes.

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