Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Alien Behaviors

Lisa Capon

Description

Students work in cooperative groups to list and classify which human characteristics are learned and which are inherited. Each student then writes a letter identifying and explaining learned and inherited human characteristics.

Objectives

The student creates expository responses in which ideas and details follow an organizational pattern and are relevant to the purpose.

The student knows that many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents of the organism, but that other characteristics are learned from an individual's interactions with the environment.

The student completes assigned tasks in work related projects in a high quality and timely manner.

Materials

- Two pieces of chart paper for each cooperative group
- Markers

Procedures

1. Read the following scenario to the class. Today you are a scientist from the planet Zoltar. Your mission here on Earth is to study earthling children's characteristics and behaviors. The people of Zoltar have been curious about which characteristics and behaviors are inherited from earthling parents and which behaviors are learned from the environment. You will identify characteristics and behaviors and explain which are inherited and which are learned so that the people of your planet will have a better understanding of the -strange- habits of youth on Earth.
2. Divide the class into cooperative groups of four students.
3. Each group will brainstorm characteristics and behaviors of children all over the world; e.g., being a good athlete, liking certain foods. Record this information on one piece of chart paper.
4. Each group will use the second piece of chart paper to construct a concept map labeled Human Characteristics with 2 subheadings labeled Learned and Inherited.
5. The students in each group will place each characteristic and behavior that they identified in the learned or inherited column.
6. After the concept map is completed, each group will orally present their findings to the class.
7. Each student will write a letter to the people of Zoltar explaining why they believe certain human characteristics and behaviors are learned or inherited.

Enhancement

Complete the same activity using various animals other than humans as the subject of the investigation.

Assessments

Scoring rubric for the letter to the people of Zoltar:

Level 3 The student's letter demonstrates the ability to differentiate an understanding of the difference between learned and inherited characteristics. The letter includes at least six accurate examples (three of each type) and includes a description that explains why these characteristics are either learned or inherited.

Level 2 The student's letter shows a satisfactory understanding of the difference between learned and inherited characteristics. The letter includes three - five accurate examples and includes a limited description that explains why these characteristics are either learned or inherited.

Level 1 The student's letter shows a weak or sometimes incorrect understanding of the difference between learned and inherited characteristics. The letter does not include a description that explains why these characteristics are either learned or inherited.

Level 0 The student's letter does not address the question of inherited and learned characteristics.

Extensions

Genetics is the study of heredity, or the passing on of characteristics from an organism to its offspring. In plants, these characteristics may include seed shape, seed color, and flower position. In humans, these characteristics may include eye color, hair color, and earlobe shape.

Other characteristics are determined by the environment. In plants, for example, weak roots may be a result of poor soil conditions. In humans, many characteristics are learned when humans interact with their environment. These characteristics include such behaviors as learning to ride a bicycle or learning appropriate manners based on cultural expectations.

Some behaviors may be a combination of both inherited and learned behaviors. For example, a person may inherit a musical ability, but needs to have musical opportunities in his environment before this inherited characteristic can develop.
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