Grade level:


Approximate Lesson Duration:

1-2 blocks

Unit/Lesson New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS):

MS-LS3-1. Develop and use a model to describe why structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes may affect proteins and may result in harmful, beneficial, or neutral effects to the structure and function of the organism. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on conceptual understanding that changes in genetic material may result in making different proteins.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include specific changes at the molecular level, mechanisms for protein synthesis, or specific types of mutations.]  

MS-LS3-2. Develop and use a model to describe why asexual reproduction results in offspring with identical genetic information and sexual reproduction results in offspring with genetic variation. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using models such as Punnett squares, diagrams, and simulations to describe the cause and effect relationship of gene transmission from parent(s) to offspring and resulting genetic variation.]

Brief Summary of Cultural Competencies Related to the Unit/Lesson:

What makes this lesson culturally relevant?

Genetic disorders are diseases that are caused by a defect in a person’s DNA. Sickle cell anemia and Cystic fibrosis are classic examples that are often cited in science textbooks. Chromosome abnormalities are disorders that occur when chromosomes or portions of chromosomes are either deleted, duplication, or damaged (re-arrangements, etc). Multifactorial disorders result from mutations occurring in multiple genes, often associated with environmental causes. Alzheimer’s disease and several cancers (breast, ovarian, colon) are examples of multifactorial disorders. Recently several genetic tests have been developed to determine if a person possesses genes, which are often found in people with these disorders. However, other influences such as diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposure are other risk factors that contribute to these disorders. This lesson will give students a chance to research one of several genetic disorders – learning about causes, diagnosis, treatment and how the disease can impact someone’s life.

Lesson Overview:

Essential Question(s)

How do structural changes to genes (mutations) located on chromosomes affect proteins or affect the structure and function of an organism?

How do asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction affect the genetic variation of offspring? 

Why is the study of heredity important for understanding human health? 

How can probability be used to predict genetic traits?

Enduring Understanding(s)

DNA is the molecule that determines an organism’s traits.  

Variation is DNA result in different phenotypes that can be predicted with simple probability problems.

Potential Misconceptions

When asked to explain how physical traits are passed from parents to offspring, students express the following misconceptions: Some students believe that traits are inherited from only one of the parents (for example, the traits are inherited from the mother, because she gives birth or has most contact as children grow up; or the same-sex parent will be the determiner). Other students believe that certain characteristics are always inherited from the mother and others come from the father.Students have some understanding that characteristics are determined by a particular genetic entity which carries information translatable by the cell. Students of all ages believe that some environmentally produced characteristics can be inherited, especially over several generations.

Learning plan, experiences, intstruction and learning activities:

What is Expected?
  • List the intentional learning objectives on the board.

Students will be able to:

  • Research genetic diseases
  • Determine the causes and consequences of different genetic diseases 
  • Describe the impact of the genetic disorder on a person’s life.

Today we will be working on…

What is expected?
How will we hook (Introduce this to) the students?
  • Activate thinking
  • Consider the language you will use to introduce the lesson (See example in the table)

Link to Engagement

Recently, we…

Turn and talk to a partner about…

Warm Up “What do you know about DNA, genetics, and heredity?” Using your favorite brainstorming technique (e.g., Circle Map, K-W-L chart, Post-It notes, etc.) ask students to answer this question. Direct the students to share their answers with the class (this will help you gage each student’s knowledge base).

A good follow up question is “How have your heard about DNA, genetics, and heredity?” Examples often include the news, internet, TV shows like CSI, and movies such as GATACA and The Incredible Hulk.

Teacher should present list for genetic diseases for students to research

What equipment, resources, or materials are needed?

Internet access (if available)

 Class set of disease fact sheets from the Internet

How will we rethink or revise our thinking throughout the lesson?
  • What learning is confirmed?
  • What misconceptions are uncovered?
  • What is your new thinking?

Students working independently or in pairs can research a genetic disorder including the impact of the disorder on a person growing up, going to school and pursuing a career.

How will students self-evaluate and reflect on their learning?

Students should listen to the news or read the news on the Internet or newspaper for a week and write a sentence about each story that relates to a genetic disorder. Students can share their articles in class as a way of gauging which genetic disorders garner the most attention in the news.

How will we tailor learning to varied needs, interests, and learning styles?

Students can select a genetic disorder of interest to research.

Students can create a video, poster, Google slideshow to present their research.

Students can work in pairs/small groups

How will we organize the sequence of learning during the lesson?

Scaffold the Instruction

Model: Teacher can share an example of a disorder ( common and uncommon)

Guided Practice: Teacher should provide guidelines on researching and citing sources.
Teacher can conference with students during research to provide feedback.

Independent Practice

Check for understanding:

(Formative evidence such as conferencing, group Q/A, teacher observation, exit-slip, etc.)


Review student evidence of research

Quiz/Test (optional):
(attach copy of assessment)

Performance Task/Project:
(attach rubric)

Supplemental Resources: 

Genetic Disorders Mini-Research Projects Disease Name: _______________________________

What is ________________________? 

How do you get the disease? 

How is the disease spread? 

What are the signs & symptoms?

How is the disease diagnosed? 

How can you prevent the disease?

How do you treat the disease? 

References for more information?

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