Middle School Science Lessons

Teaching about evolution in the classroom can be tricky. I've planned a series of three 50-minute classroom lessons that address important topics in evolution: reading an evolutionary tree (phylogeny), identifying and interpreting traits derived from common ancestry (homology), and identifying and interpreting traits that have evolved similarly in different lineages (convergence). The rigor of these lessons is pitched roughly at a 6th grade level, in line with the following Massachussetts state learnign standard for 6th grade science:

MS-LS4-2. Construct an argument using anatomical structures to support evolutionary relationships among and between fossil organisms and modern organisms.

Although these lessons should be a useful resource for anyone teaching on these topics, they are especially designed to prepare students for making the most of a trip to The Harvard Museum of Natural History. Specifically, the lessons are tightly aligned with this excellent self-guided gallery activity for understanding key ideas in evolution, which is free to download.

A few quick notes about the lessons; first, they are all word documents so you can edit them as desired. Second, they are formatted as student work packets, with the "plan" (i.e. time stamps for activites, teacher script, answer key) appearing as comments in the right margin of the document. I always preferred to teach from a document in this format, but as I mention above, please edit however you wish. Lastly, if you use lessons in your classroom I would like to know how it went! I can be reached via email at nherrmann@g.harvard.edu



lesson3_-_convergent_traits.doc2.98 MB
lesson2_-_homologous_traits.doc2.61 MB
overview_-_lesson_objectives_and_alignment_with_ma_state_standards.docx16 KB
lesson1_-_evolutionary_trees.doc1.06 MB