Genetics

Ms. J. recently attended a workshop with other teachers at the university where she learned equally from the instructors and the other attendees. She also reads research regularly, reviews resources, and makes judgments about their value for her teaching. Ms. J. engages in an iterative planning process, moving from a broad semester plan to daily details. The students in her high-school class have opportunities to develop mental models, work with instructional technology, use multiple materials, teach one another, and consider the personal, social, and ethical aspects of science. She has the support of the school and district and has the resources she needs. She also relies on resources in the community.

[This example highlights some elements from Teaching Standards A, B, D, and E; Professional Development Standards A, B, and C; 9-12 Content Standards A, C, F, and G; Program Standards C and D; and System Standards D and G.]

Ms. J. is eager to begin the school year, and is particularly looking forward to teaching a semester course on transmission genetics—how traits are inherited from one generation to the next. She taught the course before and read extensively about the difficulties students have with transmission genetics conceptually and as a means of developing problem-solving skills. She also has been learning about new approaches to teaching genetics. From her reading and from a workshop she attended for high-school teachers at the local university, she knows that many people have been experimenting with ways to improve genetics instruction. She also knows that several computer programs are available that simulate genetics events.

Ms. J. is convinced that many important learning goals of the school's science program can be met in this course. She wants to provide the students with opportunities to understand the basic principles of transmission genetics. She also wants them to appreciate how using a mental model is useful to understanding. She wants her students to engage in and learn the processes of inquiry as they develop their mental models. Ms. J. also wants students to understand the effect of transmission genetics on their lives and on society; here she wants them to address an issue that includes science and ethics.

Selecting an appropriate computer program is important, because simulation will be key to much of the first quarter of the course. Ms. J. has reviewed several and noted common features. Each simulation allows students to select parental phenotypes and make crosses. Offspring were produced quickly by all the programs; genotypes and phenotypes are distributed stochastically according to the inheritance pattern. With such programs, students will be able to simulate many generations of crosses in a single class period. All the programs are open-ended—no answer books are provided to check answers. All the programs allow students to begin with data and construct a model of the elements and processes of an inheritance pattern. Students will be able to use the model to predict the phenotypes and genotypes of future offspring and check predictions by



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