Field Study: Field Study Basics

We began our Field Study unit learning about what a field study is and how scientists actually do field studies.  Students brainstormed ideas for field studies focusing on understanding the impact of various variables on the ecology of our school’s front lawn.  We marked a picture of the lawn off into sectors, and students went outside to identify sectors they will use for their field study.  For the remainder of the class period, students worked in pairs to write a procedure for their field study.  The slide deck is available here.

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Unit Exam

We closed out the unit today with a review of dihybrid crosses.  Students received their scored unit quizzes from last Friday, and the common theme across all of my classes was that students needed more practice with dihybrid crosses.  After the review today, students received a copy of the unit exam.  They must turn it in on Monday, along with the scored copy of the quiz.  Students who demonstrate improvement on the dihybrid cross question on the exam will have that question’s score substituted for the score the received on a similar question on the quiz.  Good luck!

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Contraception Project – Day 2

Students continued working on their Contraception Projects, turning in yesterday’s worksheet and the brochure at the end of class.  Students who need extra time may complete the work as homework and turn it all in at the beginning of class tomorrow.  Slides for today can be viewed here.

After grading the quizzes from last Friday, it is clear many students need additional practice with dihybrid crosses.  Because of the short class period tomorrow (made even shorter by the extended advisory time), we will review dihybrid crosses during class and then students will receive the Unit 7 Exam as a take-home exam.  It will be due next Monday at the beginning of class.

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Contraception Project – Day 1

After learning about sexual reproduction yesterday, with a focusing on fertilization, students worked with partners to learn about the hormones involved in sexual reproduction (BSCS book, pages 481-484).  Working in pairs, they completed a worksheet to help them make sense of the major hormones.  Next, they assigned a variety of birth control methods into categories using a list from the textbook on page 409.  Finally, students received a grading rubric to help them construct a birth control method brochure.  The reading assignment and brochure information is available in the slide deck for today.

Additional information about birth control methods is available in both English and Spanish at


Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Strategies for gene propagation

After learning about how cells divide to produce gametes (meiosis), and how genetic traits are passed along, we turned our attention to the process of sexual reproduction.  The lesson began with an entry task challenging students to connect their understanding of meiosis with what they might have previously learned about fertilization.  We then watched a video which explains the process of fertilization (below).  For the remainder of the lesson, students read from the BSCS biology textbook and completed a worksheet.

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Sources of inherited genetic variation

We returned to our class textbook for today’s lesson.  After an entry task designed to promote student thinking around which types of cells pass along traits to offspring (the gametes!), students worked together to construct histograms which they then used for the lesson from the textbook.  Slides for today are attached here.

Note: students who need additional time to complete Friday’s quiz can complete the quiz in my classroom after school until 2:30 today.

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Quiz

The quiz today covered one and two-trait Punnett Squares, challenged students to compare mitosis and meiosis using ten key unit vocabulary terms, and included a questioned designed to provoke student thinking around a topic incorporating genetics, evolution, and student opinion.

For students interested in learning more about how genetics affect appearance, the links below are excellent resources:

The genetics of eye color: What Color Eyes will your Children Have?

The genetics of height: Number of genes linked to height revealed by study

The genetics of skin color: Unpacking Human Evolution to Find the Genetic Determinants of Human Skin Pigmentation

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Sickle cell anemia case study

The lesson began with an HHMI video about the connection between sickle cell anemia and malaria:

After the video, students had time to begin reading a ScienceDaily article (alone or in pairs) which provides additional information about the genetic basis of how sickle cell anemia protects from malaria.  Students then had time to work on the case study worksheet before the end of class.

Update: April 14 – Students requested the opportunity to re-watch the video from yesterday, so we began class with the video and then transitioned to a review of the video through a set of class notes (pictured below).  Students then had the remainder of class to complete the worksheet and turn it in.  The NIAID website is a great resource for information about malaria, including the life cycle of the parasite.  The NHLBI website is an excellent scientific resource for information about sickle cell anemia.


Students were relieved to learn that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes in the United States.  However, mosquitoes in our part of the world do transmit other diseases of concern.  For example, West Nile Virus has recently been found in mosquitoes across the United States, including our corner of the country in Western Washington.  The USGS has an interactive map viewer that allows the user to visualize individual counties across the country that have reported infection with West Nile Virus and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.  The map includes data from the most recently completed year and each year dating back to 2003, so it is possible to observe how the geography of infection patterns has changed over time.

Reproduction, Inheritance, and Meiosis: Dihybrid Crosses

Students learned to construct and analyze the products of a dihybrid cross (two-trait Punnett Square) today.  We worked through the entry task slide using the white boards and document camera in class to ensure student understanding of the process.  Slides 3-7 of the attached PowerPoint deck were not presented in class, but are included as an example for students needing to review.  Students then had the remainder of the class period to complete the dihybrid cross worksheet.