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      Strategies: Help with Fundamentals

      The following activities are suggestions for working with students who need help with fundamentals. We hope that the activities spark ideas and conversations among teachers about useful classroom strategies that can supplement existing curriculum.

      Difficulty 1

      Students can observe that the cell is the basic unit of structure in living organisms, but they may have difficulty inferring and explaining that the cell is also the basic unit of function.

      • Students should have previously explained that many of the basic functions of organisms are carried out by or within cells (Life Sciences, Benchmark A, Grades 6-8). Students may review this skill by explaining how cells extract energy from food and get rid of waste.

      • At this level, students should explain that living cells are the basic unit of structure and function of all living things and come from pre-exsiting cells.

        Click here* for "Cell Structure", which contains background information about the processes of cell organelles and membrane.

        Click here* for an introduction to cell functions, which may help students interpret and apply conceptual models that explain cell functions (Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A).

        Click here* for a tutorial which illustrates how all cells arise from pre-existing cells.

        By using these resources in research-based lessons, students may be ready to explain that living cells are the basic unit of structure and function in all living things and that all cells come from pre-existing cells after life orginated (Life Sciences, Benchmark A).

      Difficulty 2

      Students may have misconceptions about heredity: physical traits are inherited only from one parent; some always come from the mother and others always from the father; offspring blend the traits from both parents.

      • Students should have previously explained that some traits come from each parent (Life Sciences, Benchmark B, Grades 6-8). Students may review this skill by using arguments based on chance to predict the outcome of inherited characteristics in offspring from observations of the parents. Click here* for additional strategies in which students use gene puzzles to understand fundamental inheritance concepts.

      • At this level, students should be able to use concepts of Mendelian and non-Mendelian genetics to explain inheritance.

        Click here* for "Classical Genetics", an animated tutorial which illustrates concepts of Mendelian genetics, including segregation, independent assortment and dominance.

        Click here* for "Basic Principles of Genetics", which introduces the concepts of Mendelian genetics through activities including flashcards and puzzles.

        By using the resources as part of aligned lessons, students may be ready to uses concepts of Mendelian and non-Mendelian genetics to explain inheritance (Life Science, Benchmark C). Based on these grade-level skills, students may also demonstrate that reliable scientific evidence improves the ability of scientists to offer accurate predictions (Scientific Ways of Knowing, Benchmark A). For example, students may explain the limitations in the "coin-flip" model and apply concepts, including incomplete dominance, to improve the model.

      Difficulty 3

      Students may have difficulty identifying the sources of energy for plants, and as a result, may not fully grasp energy conversion processes like photosynthesis.

      • Students should have previously explained how the number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on adequate biotic and abiotic resources (Life Sciences, Benchmark C, Grades 6-8). Click here* for a series of lessons from the Digital Library of Earth System Education that address these foundational skills.

      • At this level, students should be able to explain the flow of energy and the cycling of matter through ecological systems (Life Sciences, Benchmark D). Click here* for "Toxic and Harmful Algal Blooms", a series of lessons in which students describe how photoautotrophs, like algae, contribute to food webs and describe how matter cycles and energy flows through different levels of organization in marine ecosystems. Students may apply this skills to additional lessons from this resource, which include assessing of benefits and risks of various treatments designed to curb the harmful impact of algal blooms (Science and Technology, Benchmark B).

        *This link contains resources or information that may be useful. These resources were not written to align specifically to Ohio's Academic Content Standards. The inclusion of a specific resource is not an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.

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