In this lesson, students will analyze an designed to support reading in the content area. The article addresses opposition to genetically modified foods. The text discusses the possible reasons why so many people are anti-GMO even though science finds them safe. GMOs allow for more of the world to be fed with a lower impact on the environment. The author suggests some ways that misinformation can be combated with education. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.
Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 11, 12
Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office, Computer Media Player
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: genetically modified organisms, genetically modified foods, genetically modified, GMO, text complexity, controversy, GM, essentialism, DNA, disgust
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Explain the impact of GMOs on society and the environment.
- Realize why so many people are averse to GMOs despite their proven benefits.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Determine the central ideas of the text.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes a main point, contains relevant textual evidence to support it, 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 have a basic knowledge of genetic engineering and what "genetically modified" means.
- The Learn.Genetics website has an on genetically modified foods. The page discusses how they are made and the results.
- How are GMOs Created? is a 5-minute video from GMO Answers. The video revolves around the papaya and how scientists were able to make it resistant to a ring spot virus.
- This website contains WHO's "frequently asked questions" about GMOs.
- DNA Interactive has an interactive website showing students how insulin is made with biotechnology.
- This website from WIRED gives a lot of details and specifics on gene manipulation and CRISPR.
- Students should have general knowledge of DNA and how it carries information. This 2-minute video from Plethrons titled "What is DNA? - Basics of DNA" provides a good, quick review if students need one.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text.
- For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial.
- In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
- Students should understand the term "central idea" and be able to distinguish central ideas from key details.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in this article include the title, photographs, and captions.
- 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 that supports the main point(s).
- 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. This site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- What is a genetically modified organism (GMO)?
A living organism whose DNA or genome has been modified or altered is called "genetically modified." Such modification can be done by adding genes from the same species or adding new information from another species. GMOs aren't made from scratch; instead, certain genes are simply added or modified.
- Why are many people suspicious or even scared ofGMOs?
They believe GMOs will...
- Will make food taste different.
- Will make food contaminated.
- Will hurt the environment.
- Is not natural.
- Is "disgusting."
- Causes cancer.
- What are some positive outcomes ofGMOs?
- Improved soil.
- Higher incomes for farmers.
- Reduced Vitamin A deficiency.
- Drought resistance.
- Virus resistance.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by posing a general question to the class: "What is a GMO?"
- Students answers will vary. A GMO is a genetically modified organism. It can be a plant, animal, fungus, or even a bacterium. These organisms may have an altered gene from the same species or a different species.
2. Show the following 8-minute video, uploaded by Top10Archive: .
- Take and discuss any questions or comments students have about the video.
3. Ask the class: "Have you ever eaten a GMO before?"
- Most students don't realize that most of the soy and corn that they eat is genetically modified and has been since the 1990s. So anytime they eat some corn on the cob, or drink a soda flavored with corn syrup, they are consuming a GMO.
4. End the discussion by informing students that they will be reading and analyzing an article on GMOs titled "Why People Oppose GMOs Even Though Science Says They Are Safe."
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a printed copy of the Scientific American article .
- For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph.
- Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
- Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Why People Oppose GMOs Even Though Science Says They Are Safe
- Subtitle: Intuition can encourage opinions that are contrary to the facts
- Caption: Located under the photo
- Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- Note: Based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can adjust the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the note-taking guide.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words.
- If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following definitions to guide them:
- GMO (Genetically Modified Organism): organism whose genetic material has been altered by genetic engineering
- Agriculture: the production of crops and livestock
- Sustainable: system that maintains its own viability by using methods that allow for reuse
- Herbicide: substance that kills plants, specifically weeds
- Multinational: involving several nations or countries
- Salient: prominent or important
- Biotechnologist: scientist who uses living organisms or other biological systems to manufacture drugs, other products, or environmental management
- Intuitively: perceiving without rational thought
- Constituent: a component or part of
- Essentialism: belief that there are necessary properties of things that exist prior to their actual existence
- Immutable: unchangeable
- Respondents: someone providing an answer or response
- Transgenic: transfer of DNA between two different species
- Cisgenic: transfer of DNA within the same species
- Vulnerable: open to attack, difficult to defend
- Assumptions: things taken for granted
- Secular: not regarded as religious, spiritual, sacred
- Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence
- Pathogen: disease-causing microorganism
- Mechanism: routine method or procedure
- Erroneously: done with an error or mistake
- Elicited: brought out
- Innocuous: harmless
- Averse: having a strong feeling of opposition
- Sterility: not able to produce offspring
- Commercialization: to offer for sale
- Cognitive: the act or process of knowing
- Debunk: to prove something false or exaggerated
- A priori: something deduced or assumed from logical arguments
- Immunize: to make an organism unable to contract a disease
- Unsubstantiated: with no proof to back something up
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guides, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
- For discussion of students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- Students often believe that scientists can create organisms "from scratch" in the lab. For example, it is an urban myth that UF created love bugs! Scientists don't create whole new organisms, but they are able to remove and add genes.
- Students should also remember that DNA is universal. DNA is a molecule, just like glucose is glucose no matter where it is or what happens to it. Taking a gene out of an organism does not make the recipient like the donor, it just expresses one new gene. The cell doesn't know the origin of the DNA: it just reads it and produces a polypeptide.
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 to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
- Before students complete the writing prompt, be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
- After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with anLCD projector and discuss the following:
- How the writer introduced the topic
- What the main point is (underline)
- How the writer used topic sentences to introduce and connect the paragraphs
- Where text evidence is used
- Where transition words/phrases are used
- How academic vocabulary from the text is used (underline)
- How the writer wrapped up the piece
- 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.
- Ask students to fill out and turn in an "exit ticket" at the end of the lesson answering one or all of the following questions:
- What is one question you still have about GMOs?
- Do you feel GMOs are safe to eat? Why or why not?
- Do you think there should be a limit on the production of GMOs? Why or why not?
- Use students' responses as the foundation for a follow-up lesson or discussion.
- 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. They should refer back to the text as they construct their response.
- Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over it with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
- 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:
- Today you went to the grocery store with a friend who insists on buying only food that contains no GMOs. On the way back to their house, you decide to start up a conversation about GMOs. You ask your friend, "Why are you against GMOs?" She tells you that they are unnatural and gross. Using evidence from the article, try to persuade her to accept GMOs.
- Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Accommodations & Recommendations
For students struggling with the science content:
- , titled "Are GMOs Good or Bad?" (uploaded by PragerU) offers a great introduction to the benefits of GMOs. This video covers many of the topics that are discussed in the article.
For readers struggling with the note-taking guide:
- Teachers might want to fill in some answers, leaving students to fill in only the blank boxes in between the provided answers.
For readers struggling with the text:
- It might benefit students to chunk the text. Have students independently read section one, then have several strong readers read section one aloud.
- Then, have students highlight the selected vocabulary for section one on the article. Work with students to model ways to define a few of the academic vocabulary words to get them started. The teacher can think aloud as he or she decides which vocabulary strategy or strategies to use to define a word, and think aloud while deciding which meaning from a dictionary entry with multiple meanings would be the best fit for how the word is used in the context of the article.
- Then, have students complete the note-taking guide for this section. When students are ready, have them share out their answers and provide corrective verbal feedback as needed, allowing students to make corrections to their work. Then repeat this process for the other sections of the text if needed.
For struggling writers:
- It might help to provide students with an outline to help them structure their written responses. The outline might include places for them to record:
- Ideas on how to introduce the topic
- A place to write down their main point(s)
- Topic sentences (the first sentence of each body paragraph that will reveal the point of the paragraph and will connect to the paper's overall main point)
- Specific evidence from the text for support in each body paragraph
- Ideas for transition words
- Ideas for use of selected vocabulary
- Ideas on how to wrap up their piece and connect back to the main point(s)
- Pair student into groups of 4. Allow students to investigate and research the opposite side of GMOs (why they may be harmful/unnatural). Ask the groups to create a poster showing both the pros and cons of GMOs. Students may present if time allows, or the teacher may grade the posters as an assessment.
- As of July 2016, the U.S. government is in the progress of that will force all U.S. food labels to disclose any GMO products. Ask students to research the contents and progress of this bill.
Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office, Computer Media Player
For teachers who would like more support in understanding and implementing Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects into their science curriculum, please see the teacher tutorials featured in the section of this lesson's CPALMS resource page labeled "Attached Resources."
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Jennifer Heflick
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Brevard
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.