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Biology–Reproduction and Heredity




4, 5, 6, 7  


  • NCES—Life Science Standards levels 5-8—Reproduction and Heredity (NAS, 1996)
  • GPS: S7L3—Students will recognize how biological traits are passed on to successive generations.
    • c) Recognize that selective breeding can produce plants or animals with desired traits (Cox, 2007).


  • Academic: Students will be able to identify all the main concepts of genetics and heredity.
  • Language: Students will be able to understand and define all age-appropriate vocabulary related to genetics and heredity.


  • Student Provided:
    • Family tree/Collage making materials (pictures of family members and themselves or pictures of animals, poster board, glue, scissors)
    • Paper/Notebooks
    • Pencils/pens/colored pencils/markers/crayons
  • Teacher Provided:
    • Vocabulary lists for each student
    • Any materials needed for lecture i.e.: slides, power point, etc.

Vocabulary List: Can be used to help ELLs to stay in touch with the vocabulary that will be used during this lesson.

  1. Heredity- the passing of traits from parent to offspring
  2. Trait- a characteristic that an organism can pass on to its offspring through its genes
  3. Genetics- the study of heredity
  4. Recessive- trait of an organism that can be masked by the dominant form of a trait
  5. Dominant- trait that will show up in an organism’s phenotype if gene is present
  6. Homozygous- having two identical alleles for a trait
  7. Heterozygous- having two different alleles for a trait
  8. Gene- a segment of DNA on a chromosome that codes for a specific trait
  9. Allele- the different forms of a gene
  10. Genotype- genetic makeup of an organism
  11. Phenotype- physical characteristics of an organism
  12. Punnett Square- a chart that shows all the possible combinations of alleles that can result from a genetic cross

(Quizlet, 2011a)


  • Pre-test: Give students a pre-test that will gauge their knowledge of heredity and reproduction.  This should include any questions about the scientists involved in heredity and reproduction as well as questions about the discovery of genetics and how the study of genetics works. 
    • This is a formative assessment that will help the teacher understand where students are in their knowledge of basic genetics and will help teachers to know which students will need help in the areas of ELL achievement and special needs achievement.
    • The use of pre-tests will also lend a structure to the classroom instruction that will greatly help ADHD students.


  • Family Chart: Derived from the exploration created by Liza Jenkins (2011), students will create a chart listing at least six traits that they and their immediate family members share; it will detail which family members have those traits.  After, they can infer things from the chart such as which traits may be dominant or recessive. 
    • To differentiate this instruction for students who may be adopted, the students can use animals such as dogs or cats that look slightly but not entirely different from their parents.  Keep in mind that if one student must use animals, then all students probably should.
    • This activity will help students to see that their cultures are important.
    • It will also be a good activity for the visual learners.


  • Guided Practice/Class Discussion: Use this time to explain/lecture on/discuss the intricacies of genetics, focusing on the history of the science as well as the use of the Punnett Square.  First, teach students how to use the Punnett Square by completing examples on the board or overhead and then allow the students to practice a few.
    • Use observations during this practice time as a formative assessment. 
    • This activity will be perfect for the auditory learners.
  • Cloze Test: “The Cloze test measures students’ comprehension abilities by giving them a short text, with blanks where some of the words should be, and asking them to fill in the blanks” (Mayer, n.d.).  The test for this lesson could be simply a copy of a passage from the text with some major vocabulary words missing that the students must fill in.  Word banks or the vocabulary list are optional based on the teacher’s preferences.
    • This is a type of informal assessment that can be used for a grade as well as for informational purposes.
    • This will also be a great opportunity for ELLs to discuss their language needs.


  • Family Tree/Collage: this authentic assessment activity will require students creating a photo family tree so that they can visualize the existence of genetic traits.  They should get as many pictures as possible and go back in their family line as far as possible.  Beside/under each picture should be a list of the six traits from their explore chart that each family member has.
    • This activity will work great for both the visual and kinesthetic learners.
    • Again, to differentiate instruction for students that may be adopted, students may simply create a collage of animals that have the same traits.
    • If possible, teachers should observe the students’ work during this time as a formative assessment.
    • If necessary, this can be homework in which case it will also be an informal assessment.


  • Post-Test: This test is a formal evaluation that can be a copy of the pre-test with any extra questions/evaluations thrown in that may be needed based on the informal evaluations done throughout the lesson.
    • The use of a post-test after each lesson will also lend structure to classroom instruction to help ADHD students.
  • Journal: This is an informal assessment that can be done as homework.  Have the students write in journals that will be used throughout the year for the same purpose as it is used for in this lesson.  They should write about what they find fascinating about genetics.  Each student should come up with something new they would like to know and find the answer to that something.  Students should do an annotated biography (some bullet-pointed information) about a scientist from their same culture/background that is related to the subject.
  • Students should also complete their family tree/collage if necessary.
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