Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Identify and analyze the potential impacts of CRISPR technology on individual health and society, including medical and ethical considerations.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Determine the meaning of selected academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Analyze the author's purpose for highlighting important aspects of CRISPR technology in the text, as well as the purpose for highlighting two specific researchers in this field.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes the main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science:
- Students should understand some basic information on human pathology, including that viruses and bacteria are different types of infectious agents that can cause disease, but that disease can also be caused by genetics or exposure to environmental toxins. Students should know that bacteria are single-cell organisms that can cause disease in humans but can also be infected by viruses. While a virus is not a living organism in the sense that it cannot reproduce outside of a host, viruses do contain genetic information in the form of DNA or RNA and can infect all types of life forms.
- Students should be familiar with some of the basic terminology and concepts of genetics. Specifically, students should know that human cells contain our entire genome, or complete set of genetic instructions, in the nucleus. Almost every human cell contains the full genome, which includes over 3 billion DNA base pairs stored on 23 pairs of chromosomes. Individual genes are the segments of DNA with instructions for coding a protein, and humans have over 22,000 genes total. Genes can also be thought of as the individual units of heredity as they impact our traits and are passed down across generations.
- Students should know that genetic engineering refers to deliberately modifying the characteristics of an organism by altering its genetic material and that genetic engineering technology has been in development for many years. While this technology can be as specialized and modern as CRISPR, it can also be as simple as selective breeding in agriculture.
- Students should understand that there are ethical questions and societal debates about many forms of biotechnology and genetic engineering.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text, including use of context clues and dictionary skills.
- Based on the writing rubric provided with this lesson, students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion or concluding statement.
- Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of to help them.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. What is CRISPR technology? CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is a natural immune system found in bacteria. In a CRISPR-Cas9 system, guide RNA targets the DNA of an invader such as a virus and the protien Cas9 cuts the DNA, disabling the invader's ability to infect its host. Researchers are beginning to harness this system to edit DNA in other living cells, such as plant, animal and human cells.
2. What does this technology have the potential to offer society? This technology has the potential to offer many clinical and societal benefits. Its research applications include allowing scientists to quickly make changes to many genes in living cells and effectively turn on and off gene function. This advancement can offer a great contribution to our knowledge of the human genome and how specific genes function. CRISPR technology has many potential applications in agriculture. For instance, scientists could alter a vegetable's DNA to prevent it from ripening too quickly without adding any foreign DNA into the organisms, as is currently done with genetically modified foods. In a clinical setting, this technology has the potential to cure genetic disease, including complex genetic disease such as cancer, by correcting mutations at the molecular level.
3. What are some potential drawbacks of this technology? The huge potential benefits of CRISPR have caused many scientists to call for a cautious approach to its application, especially in clinical settings. Changes made to human DNA through CRISPR technology would potentially be passed down across generations. Genes are complex and the potential for scientists to introduce errors, or for unanticipated effects to occur over time, is real. There are also ethical considerations involving the potential to edit human embryos to be healthier and to have more desirable traits.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin by posing the following question to the class: "What can scientists do right now with genetic engineering technology, and what advancements do you expect to see within the next 10 years?"
- Students will likely cite many examples from agriculture as well as cloning. We can alter organisms, often by adding another organism's DNA in order to make plants and animals more nutritious for our consumption or resistant to disease.
- Students might have some guesses that within the next 10 years, genetic engineering technology might extend to humans in a clinical setting, such as the ability to cure genetic disease. List student ideas on a white board or piece of poster paper.
- This (Mother Nature Network- "Twelve Bizarre Examples of Genetic Engineering") offers a fun list of examples of previously developed genetic engineering technology students might enjoy learning about.
2. Now offer the following prompt to the class: "Imagine that in 10 years scientists will be able to edit our DNA as easily as correcting typos in a word processing program. We will have the ability to rid humanity of genetic disease, delay aging, and even select the most desirable traits for our children. We'll also be able to improve agricultural production, nutrition and environmental health. Today we are going to learn about a technology already in development that offers the potential for many of these benefits."
3. If you are able to spare 15 minutes, show the class this video ("We Can Now Edit our DNA. But Let's Do it Wisely") of a TED talk by CRISPR technology inventor Jennifer Doudna as an introduction to the topic. A shorter but still great option (~4 minutes) from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT is this video ("Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cas9").
4. If you feel your students could benefit from a basic review of DNA base pairing and replication, have students explore this online interactive (University of Utah Health Sciences- "Build a DNA Molecule") or work through it as a large group on the projector.
5. This 7-minute video (Bozeman Science- "What is CRISPR?") offers a more thorough explanation of the actual CRISPR-Cas9 mechanism aimed at a high school audience and might also be useful to show to the class before reading the article if time permits.
6. End the discussion by informing students that we will be reading an article about CRISPR technology and its potential benefits and drawbacks to society.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article, "Rewriting Genetic Information to Prevent Disease." Ask students to number the paragraphs. This will be helpful for discussions that follow, especially since the article lacks subheadings.
2. Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
3. Ask students to fill in the note-taking guide as they read the text. Students will likely need to use a dictionary or online resource to define some vocabulary. Students can work individually, in pairs, or in small groups based on the teacher's discretion.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding):
- Teachers can choose to collect the student note-taking guides and offer corrective written feedback by grading them using the sample answer guide or have the students share out their responses to the questions in the note-taking guide and facilitating a group discussion.
- If the teacher chooses the latter option, it may be helpful to ask students to explain how they arrived at vocabulary definitions and question responses so that other students may learn from their strategies.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
1. Use of CRISPR technology on humans in clinical settings is imminent. At times, the article speaks of the technology and recent advancements in the field as though they are moving at lightning speed, however, it's important to make sure that students understand that all the potential benefits and drawbacks of the technology are theoretical at this point and that science moves relatively slowly, especially concerning medical applications. Researchers have demonstrated that some applications of the technology are possible in theory, but implementing the techniques will take much time and practice and a long period of clinical trials. As an example, remind students that scientists first cloned a sheep shortly before they were born in 1996. The global buzz surrounding the first cloned mammal and all potential applications, benefits, and problems was enormous, but 20 years later the technique is not widely used outside of research settings.
2. CRISPR technology can only be used to cure disease by destroying invaders such as viral DNA. Although this is the function of the natural CRISPR system found in bacteria, scientists are discovering how to program the mechanism to target any type of DNA (not just viral) in almost any life form. If this goal is reached, the CRISPR system could be used to edit genes including correcting mutations and deactivating genes causing harmful effects, but also to replace entire genes or segments of DNA with newly engineered versions. In theory, scientists could use this type of technology to "improve" humans by editing genes to make us taller or stronger, and other applications that do not involve a medical problem.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions. Remind students to continuously refer back to the text and cite evidence when forming their responses.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding):
Teachers can choose to collect the students' answers to the text-dependent questions and offer corrective written feedback by grading them using the answer key found at the end of the text-dependent questions document or have the students share out their responses to the questions and facilitating a group discussion.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
Please see the text-dependent question answer key for specific common errors/misconceptions.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
1. Before students complete the writing prompt for the summative assessment be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the answer key.
2. After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, the teacher might wish to go over the sample writing prompt response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher might want to discuss some of the following:
- Have students examine how the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph. (Students often struggle with ideas in how to start a written response, and they often want to repeat the prompt back in the first sentence because they are not sure what other options they have. Go over how this writer opened his or her piece of writing. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.)
- Note to students how, in this example, the writer made the main point clear in the first sentence of his or her introduction.
- Point out the use of some textual specifics in the introduction that quickly illustrate some of the key potential benefits of CRISPR technology.
- Point out the author's use of transitions to reiterate the main point, as well as textual specifics, in paragraphs 2 and 3. The opening sentences of these paragraphs in particular, intend to reiterate the key points while providing a smooth transition for the reader.
- In the final paragraph, point out how the concluding sentences support the main point. Brainstorm with students additional ideas about how to wrap up the piece.
- Throughout the sample response, have students identify the effective use of domain-specific vocabulary, including genome, mutation, and organism. Have them identify the use of academic vocabulary such as ailments and mechanism.
- As one final option, teachers might want students to use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a 4.
3. The following (~5 minute clip: "Promise and Peril of Gene-Editing Technology CRISPR") on CRISPR, its applications and concerns, as well as Dr. Doudna, would be a great and rather light-hearted way to close the lesson while briefly summarizing most of the main points covered in the article.
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion or concluding statement. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
3. Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
Explore the potential positive impacts of CRISPR-based technology on individual, societal, and environmental health as well as the potential drawbacks, such as medical and ethical concerns. Be sure to cite evidence from the text in your response.
4. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting the Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson.
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."