Starting evolution

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Camel13, Feb 19, 2018.

  1. Camel13

    Camel13 Rookie

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    Feb 19, 2018

    I have taught evolution in student teaching, but that was four years ago, and I cannot remember how I began the topic. I know I am stressing about this because my formal observation is falling around day two into this hot topic lesson, but this Biology class has really been lacking motivation lately. I have seen lesson plans that start by having students interview parents at home about their knowledge on evolution as a starter. That sounds like the worst idea ever for my majority religious student body. When religion comes up, I have always been adamant that evolution does not prove nor disprove the existence of God, and that one can entirely believe in God as well as accept proven evidence of evolution as a mechanism of change over time.

    How can I make an interesting and hands-on start to this unit? Sorry for all the newbie teacher questions to the forum! Your fellow encouragement really helps though!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mice/shirt box?
     
  4. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Brief geology lesson- rock layers/mountain building/etc. Then something with the fossil record?
     
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    HHMI.org - Things Darwin Never Knew, Your Inner Fish, Natural Selection - especially the one about the pocket mouse
    All of these videos and worksheets that go with as well as lesson plans are available on biointeractive, or on the HHMI website - educators resources.

    There is also a NSTA webinar coming up March 3 - Teaching controversial subjects. I am a member. and I think I paid $65, but it is always great to find new approaches that I can slip into what I already know.

    HHMI should be one of your go to resources. Everything that they offer is shipped to teachers without charge. I love them.

    You might also check the NSTA website/blogs for resources and suggestions.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/darwin-never-knew.html

    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/explore-your-inner-animals
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution-collection
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/great-transitions
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/origin-species
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution-constant-change-and-common-threads More for teacher
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/lizard-evolution-virtual-lab
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution-action-data-analysis
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/film-guides-origin-species-beak-finch
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/mass-extinctions-lessons-past
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/animated-life-living-fossil-fish
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/fact-patterns-film-guide
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/making-theory-fact-or-fiction
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/film-guides-origin-species-making-theory
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/animated-life-ar-wallace
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/fossils-genes-and-mousetraps
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/galapagos-creatures
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/stickleback-film-quiz
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/making-fittest
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/film-guides-day-mesozoic-died

    Just a few of my favorites

    Evolution didn't just happen once - it is a continuing process.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
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  6. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Feb 19, 2018

    I still remember my high school biology teacher from 11 years ago,
    EVOLUTION MEANS LIFE HAS CHANGED IN INHERITABLE WAYS. PERIOD.

    She made us write that definition over and over again to beat any misconceptions out of us. I don't remember much of biology, but that is something I remember.
     
  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    https://kaiserscience.wordpress.com/biology-the-living-environment/evolution/abiogenesis/
    If you are going to start at the very beginning, this is Point A. Follow the sequence: Redi, Needham, Spallanzani, and finally Pasteur. Life comes from life. If you are secondary science, you can even recreate some of this history in the classroom. Each scientist built on the work of who went before, and the sequence became more clear. If I had to narrow it to two, I would start with Redi - if the flies couldn't reach the meat, no maggots were found on the meat. The work of Needham and Spallanzani build on each other, but lack the real "Ah-ha!" moments of Redi, and then Pasteur. Pasteur is the nail in the coffin of spontaneous generation theory, and going forward, we realize that there can be no life without coming from life. I also like to add Von Leeuwenhoek in the beginning, since the microscope added visual proof of cells. This is where I begin, and it lays out the sequence of scientific proof that won over the scientific and then the popular understanding. Pasteur introduces the concept that bacterial contamination can be introduced by access to air, and that goose-necked flask is pure genius. Once this groundwork is established, you can jump into natural selection, genetics, and evolution over time. Remember, evolution is an ongoing process, one of the most important concepts to get your students to understand. Mutations are constant, most are not beneficial and disappear, but some are beneficial and it sticks, changing the genetics of future generations. This will lead you into genetics, inheritance, punnet squares, and the genetic basis for many diseases. This is where Darwin's finches come in, "Your Inner Fish" makes sense, and the marriage of Darwin's observations with the later understanding of genetics using "What Darwin Never Knew." Mass extinctions show how nature survived, but created genetic bottle necks that limited variability. I LOVE teaching evolution and genetics, so let me wish you the best of luck.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  8. Camel13

    Camel13 Rookie

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    Feb 21, 2018

    Thank you. You are very helpful with resources!
     
  9. MrTempest

    MrTempest Companion

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    Feb 27, 2018

    Perhaps this is a little morbid, but this is a way to utilize the prior knowledge of students and incorporate how slight changes help species to adapt to ever changing environments. I have the students imagine a world where razor sharp metal ceiling fans and installed all around the world 6 feet off the ground. Makes not sense, but that is the scenario. Ask the kids what would happen to those who are taller than 6’ and then talk about how they would not longer be able to share their tall genes to their offspring. Eventually the population will exist of only people under 6’ (give or take for recessive traits).
     
  10. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    Theistic evolution as you described is where I fall typically. As far as to how to handle it with the kids,what does your State curriculum require? In our state so far, it is still listed to be taught as a theory.... so we do.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    It is a theory that will continue to be hammered out and perfected. To even be considered a theory, in the strictest scientific research, means tons of logical inferences based on the massive evidence at hand. The fact that we have a genetic framework across all living things, with differences in species/groups based on base pairs of DNA, with measurable differences in genomes, which are now so dirt cheap to prepare, compared to the first complete human genome is astounding and heady proof. Natural selection and evolution are ongoing processes, and mutations happen at fairly regular intervals, but the only ones that concern us are the ones that occur in the gametes - those are the mutations that can be shared with future generations. Look up the natural selection that happened to the lizards that were transplanted to a lizard-less island, different from the island where they were captured. In only a few years the leg lengths had changed, because the offspring with shorter hind legs were better suited for their new home. I love this story, and the fact that evolution is alive and well.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  12. MrTempest

    MrTempest Companion

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    I would imagine creationism is taught as a theory as well?
     
  13. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Feb 27, 2018

    The thing about the word "theory" is that it means something entirely different in science than it does in other contexts, and often creationists take advantage of that by misdefining it.
    I fall in the "theistic evolution" category as well; if you have to teach it as a theory, fine, because technically it is a scientific theory, but define what that means very well. A scientific theory is not a "guess" like some people make it sound -- that's a hypothesis. Scientific theories have evidence to support them.
    I know I'm probably preaching to the choir... this is a pet peeve of mine!
     
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  14. Camel13

    Camel13 Rookie

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    Feb 27, 2018

    We basically have six standards that are aligned with NGSS. I wouldn't say I teach it theistcally, just try to head kids off that will outright shut down on learning the topic by saying it neither proves nor disproves God. That the two topics are completely separate. Very strict religious people would of course argue still, but it opens the subject up for some to allow learning to take place and perhaps down the road for them to think for themselves.

    It's a tough topic because I know where they are coming from. I learned science from Bob Jones University in which they tried to refute evolution at every turn. So, I know the beliefs, arguments and theology. All I can do is respect that and try to give the students knowledge and facts.
     
  15. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I'm going to do you a favor and tell you that NSTA has a webinar that will be 3.3.18 on Teaching Controversial Subjects, and they don't get any more controversial for many people. It is worth the money, and you might want to put it on your "to do" list before starting this unit. Evolution isn't about the existence of God, but, rather, about following the trail of evidence of a scientific process. I never will discuss theology during my lessons, because I am following a trail of evidence that is something that can be studied and reproduced. IMO, those who bring religion into the course of study are doing a disservice to religion and science.
    http://learningcenter.nsta.org/products/online_courses/VC_180303.aspx
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
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  16. Camel13

    Camel13 Rookie

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    I don't bring it in at all, but it is the first thing students bring up so I have to address the controversy.
     
  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Your mistake is discussing it at all. It is science class, not theology. You should stick to teaching the science we do know, the science that will be on the SAT and ACT exams. That is our job. If they want to try to reconcile their faith with their education, your classroom is not the place to air their confusion, because you only have so much time to get them educated about the science that you are tasked with teaching. That is the end of my speech, because I jump right into the science I know.

    https://learningcenter.nsta.org/eve...campaign=20180227ConferencesVirtualLastChance
     
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  18. MrTempest

    MrTempest Companion

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    Gravity is a theory. So does that mean we will all just start floating away?
     
  19. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    You could start off with teaching about Charles Darwin and his scientific discoveries.
     
  20. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    I believe it is, at least it is in my district and it was as a child.
     
  21. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    not in a science class. Because it isn't a scientific theory.

    A theory is as good as it gets. There isn't anything better than a theory. It is as proven as anything in science could possibly be.

    There's no such thing as "just a theory" in science.
     
  22. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    the·o·ry
    ˈTHirē/
    noun
    1. a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.

    ....just saying after Ctrl C + Ctrl V

    I mean, cell theory.
     
  23. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    scientific theory
    noun
    1. a coherent group of propositions formulated to explain a group of facts or phenomena in the natural world and repeatedly confirmed through experiment or observation:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Theory in the context of science does not equal theory in the general usage.
     
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  24. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Unless, of course, they manage to pass on their genes prior to becoming 6 feet tall...
     
  25. MrTempest

    MrTempest Companion

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    I was actually trying to emphasize that when teachers are reluctant to teach evolution they often make the inference that evolution is "just a theory" and fail to make such inferences to creationism.
     
  26. Teacher234

    Teacher234 Cohort

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    Oh.....true. I mean, there is cell theory. Yeah, I think theory can be used in science.
     
  27. MrTempest

    MrTempest Companion

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    Theory of gravity
     
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