Handbook of Engaged Learning Projects


Project Summary


Student Pages

Internet Links


Subject/Content Area: Biology

Target Audience: Thornridge is a comprehensive high school serving approximately 2,000 ninth through twelfth grade students living southeast of the Chicago city limits. Student backgrounds vary greatly socio-economically (below the poverty line to approximately six figures), ethnically (7% Caucasian, 87% African-American, 6% Hispanic) and culturally. Mobility and unemployment are high. Steel mills, the auto industry, steel processing plants and the construction trades have been the major employers; however, many no longer exist. Student test scores in all areas are below the state mean. Sophomores enrolled in biology are targeted to use this genetic unit.

Project Goals: The goal is to investigate the problem of inherited human disorders, as defined by the students, using a variety of tools: appropriate technology to collect and analyze data; telecomunications to gather data and for collaborative research with experts and other students; and multimedia technology to report and present the process and results of their research. During the project, each team is responsible for developing a plan for conducting their research and for managing their plan.

Learner Outcomes: After completing this unit, the student will be able to:

  1. discuss examples of inherited disorders, their symptoms, and their causes.
  2. demonstrate how modern knowledge and techniques have led to understanding the cause of genetic disorders. (If known, show the location of the defective allele).
  3. relate genes and protein synthesis to the expression of phenotypes.
  4. describe techniques that permit diagnosis of a genetic disorder.
  5. demonstrate how increased knowledge and advances in medicine have improved the quality of life for people with the disorder.
  6. use a Punnett square and a pedigree as a tool to provide parents with information about the possibility of having a child with a genetic disorder.
  7. discuss the impact of the disease on the victim, their family, and society.
  8. access, use and manage information from the Internet effectively (using links provided as well as locating other relevant links using search engines).
  9. communicate and collaborate with other people in other locations (using e-mail, newsgroup, snail mail, and/or telephone).
  10. follow the Acceptable Use Guidelines which both you and your parents signed.

Alignment with National Standards: This project demonstrates elements of the National Science Education Standards:

Science Teaching Standards A, B, C, D, E, F
Science Assessment Standards A, B, C, D, E
Science Content Standards A, C, E, G
Science Program Standards A, B, C, D, E, F

Assessment of Students: Performance-based assessments that we will use throughout the project include Problem Logs, Know/Need to Know Boards, Concept Maps, Thinking Logs, and a variety of scoring rubrics to assess a variety of skills.

Know/Need to Know Board

Throughout the experience students answer their questions, raise new ones, and find solutions. The "Know/Need to Know" board functions as a map/tool for gathering and sharing information with the class. J. N. Mitchell and P. A. Irwin (1989) have developed a scoring rubric, The reading retelling profile; Using retelling to make instructional decisions.

Search Strategy Logs

Students will keep a log of the information and resources that were used to answer their questions related to the problem and how they found that information and reflect upon and improve upon their searching strategies.

Concept Mapping

Students develop concept maps to organize their understanding of the problems related to "How Do We Inherit Our Biological Characteristics?" Concept maps are useful in examining a student's unfolding understanding of the problem, the interrelationship of ideas, and the relationship of parts of the problem to the whole. Contrasting students' maps of the problem are useful to see both how the number of ideas grow over time and how the concepts are reconfigured to illustrate newly identified, increasingly complex relationships. From the concept map students construct a statement which defines the problem.

Thinking Logs

Students keep a log book and make journal entries in such a way that they generate their own "progress reports." Writing activities are used to facilitate reflections and discussions, to make logs of what they learned, identify problems, and plan their next move. Some log entries are "directed entries" that specifically ask students about their work. Other entries are "non-directed" and occur when students feel the need to write.

Author: Shelly Peretz, Thornridge High School, Dolton, Illinois
Handbook of Engaged Learning Projects sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab. Funded by the North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium based at the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL).
Created: July, 1997