Genetic Engineering & Genetically Modified Organisms: Forming Informed Opinions

Contributor
Lisa Smith
Type Category
Instructional Materials Assessment Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Instructor Guide/Manual
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This lesson will introduce students to selective breeding and the biotechnology of genetic engineering, specifically, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The goal of the lesson is to raise the awareness of bias and the importance of informed, defendable opinions regarding controversial science topics.  The lesson builds upon lessons on DNA, genes, and inheritance. Students should understand that DNA is the blueprint of life, that genes are the region on DNA that code for traits, and that genes are inherited.  The lesson will allow students to become familiar with the appropriate vocabulary and science behind selective breeding, biotechnology, genetic engineering, and GMOs. They will be able to identify the potential benefits and risks of genetic engineering and the opportunity to identify bias around this topic.  The lesson has many links to background information, scientists’ views on GMOs, video segments, a slide presentation, and graphic representations of data. These links will allow students a chance to examine various resources for bias.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-LS4-5 Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on synthesizing information from reliable sources about the influence of humans on genetic outcomes in artificial selection (such as genetic modification, animal husbandry, gene therapy); and, on the impacts these technologies have on society as well as the technologies leading to these scientific discoveries.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The provided links offer a sufficient variety of potential information sources on these technologies. However, to increase student autonomy, more research can be included to advance the learning. The extent to which the students research the topic can be individualized to meet the performance expectation. Also, the three posters provided offer students a way to see multiple representations on this topic from different points of view are sources of information that students use for their synthesis.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The variety of the links provided are sufficient in providing opportunities to look at various information on these technologies. However, to increase student autonomy, more research can be included to advance the learning. Using a “gallery walk” will help make student thinking explicit for informal assessment and the “argument-rebuttal” activity will help reinforce the students thinking before a written component is completed.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource was not designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The lesson provides the teacher with background information and a video to explicitly discuss the concepts and provide information for the students to ensure that students gain an understanding of the science of GMOs and their impacts before embarking on argumentation. These activities and information could be used as part of a unit on genetics, where the activities can be an extension of the unit based on the understanding of technologies. Or, the teacher could assign the activity before discussing genetic technologies and students would need to engage in three-dimensional learning to discover information about GMOs. Instead of just lecturing the teacher could do a read-around or gallery walk to allow the students to share their developed understanding and information on GMOs. This would mean that the students would be required to complete additional research to aid in their understanding of GMOs and the impact on their everyday lives.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Cause and effect play a role in the lesson as students make sense of GMOs and their benefits and risks. The lesson materials focus on mechanisms for causal relationships and on using evidence to identify bias. The teacher could facilitate critical thinking with “Philosophical Chairs” (https://www.ocde.us/AVID/Documents/Philosophical-Chairs.pdf) to help students solidify reasoning.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson does a good job of incorporating three-dimensional learning into students’ explorations of the phenomenon of how genetically modified organisms (GMO) have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits. The science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross-cutting concepts are developed fully with the opportunity to collect evidence to support the benefits or risks that surround their use. The lesson plan could be strengthened by clearly connecting GMOs to real-life situation, such as the article: “In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods”.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson uses scientifically accurate and grade‐appropriate scientific information and phenomena to support students’ three‐dimensional learning. Some teacher background information is provided, and additional resources provide good instructional support. One link is not functioning; however, this link: (http://learnaboutag.org/resources/lesson/z_genetic.pdf) will provide additional teacher support. Clear learning goals, background information, and additional resources all support instruction. The video link provided is non-functioning. An active link to it is: https://ca.pbslearningmedia.org/asset/tdc02_vid_breeding/ GMO’s – The Solution to World Hunger or a Disaster in the Making? (https://www.wku.edu/gifted/project_gems/documents/sfp_what_are_gm_food.pdf) provides a broader look at GMOs than the video excerpt provided and was written for Grades 5-8. This additional link will provide a variety of resources for both teacher and student information https://sites.google.com/site/ebingerscience/debate---gmo since the link provided is not active.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lesson demonstrates evidence of student three-dimensional learning in identifying the potential benefits and risks of genetically engineered products. A rubric is not included so teachers will want to consider embedding additional formative assessment questions throughout the lesson and also spend time listening to students as they consider the pros and cons of GMOs. Exit tickets and gallery walks would be an appropriate assessment tool. The lesson could be improved by the addition of scaffolds that connect the student’s own experiences. Utilizing the provided “Extension” lessons will increase assessment for student understanding.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This is not an interactive, technology-based resource.