In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text that addresses the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Brazil to reduce the transmission of dengue fever. The male mosquitoes were modified so that when they reproduce, their offspring die before they can transmit the disease. The article contains a data table that shows a drastic reduction in the number of dengue cases in places where GM mosquitoes were used in addition to conventional control methods. This lesson is designed to support reading in the content area. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.
Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 9, 10
Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Computers for Students, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: genetically modified, biotechnology, dengue fever, disease transmission, mosquito-borne disease, vectors, genetically engineered, text complexity, informational text
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Explain how the use of genetically modified mosquitoes can be beneficial for the health of our society.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Determine the meaning of unknown academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Determine the central ideas of the text.
- 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 have prior knowledge on mosquito-borne disease like Zika, malaria, dengue, heartworm, and encephalitis. The American Mosquito Control Association has a list of mosquito-borne diseases and their descriptions.
- Students should also have a basic understanding of biotechnology, specifically what a genetically modified organism is. Several websites are listed below for background information:
- It would be beneficial if students have a basic understanding of a mosquito's life cycle to increase their understanding of certain aspects of the article for this lesson.
- The video (3:00) "How Are GMOs Created?", uploaded by GMO Answers, shows the complete life cycle of a mosquito.
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 dictionary skills and context clues.
- Students should understand the term "central idea" and be able to distinguish central ideas from key details.
- "Central idea" means the same thing as "main idea." The central idea is the author’s main point about the topic or topics in a text. The central ideas are the dominant, most important, or chief ideas that emerge from all the ideas presented in a text. Students should be aware that the author can have several main points he or she wants to make about the topic or topics in a piece of writing, and as a result, there can be multiple central ideas in a text, especially in longer more complex pieces.
- Key, or in other words, important, details in a text help an author support and develop his or her central ideas.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in the main article for this lesson include a title and subtitle, a photograph and caption, as well as a data table.
- 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 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. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. This site from Smart Words provides transition words and phrases teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- What isaGMO?
- A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism). A GMO is an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. Often, a GMO is an organism that has been modified to help humans in some way. For example, the GMO could provide nutrients a food doesn't normally provide, produce medicine, or in this case, stop the spread of a disease.
- How can the use of genetically modified mosquitoes be beneficial to the health of our society?
- GM mosquitoes can serve as an effective tool to help the government reduce disease transmission. Oxitec, a biotech company, has tested their use in Brazil, and they have been shown to reduce Dengue cases in greater amounts than use of conventional controls alone. After a year of control measures including releasing GM mosquitoes, selected neighborhoods in Brazil showed a dramatic reduction in cases of Dengue; the incidence percentage decreased from 2.66% to .24% in these areas.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Begin the lesson by posing a general question to the class: What role do mosquitoes play in the ecosystem?
- Student answers will vary. Many students may say that all they do is bite people and animals and carry disease. They are a food source for many birds, bats, fish and dragonflies. Students do need to realize that there are more than over 3,000 species of mosquitoes and only some species carry diseases.
- Next, ask the class: What would happen if all the mosquitoes on the planet were killed?
- Student answers will vary. Students may discuss how the transmission of many diseases would be stopped. Some may state they wouldn't have itchy bites from mosquitoes anymore. Depending on what was discussed in question one, the students will most likely bring up that they provide food for other living organisms.
- Then, show the following titled "What if We Killed All of the Mosquitoes?" (5:00),uploadedbySciShow.
- Ask for any comments, but hold off on an in-depth discussion until after the next video clip.
- Next, show the following videofromABC News titled "Genetically Modified Mosquito Study Sparks Debate in Florida," that discusses the release of GM mosquitoes in Key West.
- At this point encourage the students to discuss any concerns or opinions they have.
- Finally, end the discussion by informing students that they will be reading an article that discusses a research study conducted in Brazil where GM mosquitoes were used to combat mosquito-borne diseases there, particularly that of dengue.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a "GM Mosquitoes Succeed at Reducing Dengue, Company Says" from ScienceNews. For class discussions and the use of the note-taking guide, 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: GM Mosquitoes Succeed at Reducing Dengue, Company Says
- Subtitle: Brazil stats show fewer cases of virus where sterilized males were released
- Captions: Located under the photograph
- Table: Impact of mosquito control on dengue incidence
- Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed. On a separate sheet of paper, students will need to define the words that they put in the vocabulary section. Students will need access to print or online dictionaries.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guide, 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.
- For discussion on 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:
- Many students believe all mosquitoes can carry disease. Share with the students that there are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes and only some of them carry disease.
- Many students do not realize that only female mosquitoes bite. That is important for students to understand because it explains why Oxitec only releases male GM mosquitoes. Male mosquitoes can't transmit disease because they don't bite.
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.
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 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 sample answer key.
- After students' written responses for the summative assessment have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class to help struggling writers. Teachers may want to have students examine the following:
- Point out how the introduction establishes the topic and also the overall main point of the written response.
- Have students examine the body paragraph and identify effective use of textual evidence that supports the paper's main point.
- Ask students to identify accurate and effective use of subject-specific vocabulary (e.g., Zika, Aedes aegypti, biotech, vaccine, virus, mutant gene).
- Point out the conclusion of the response and how it ties back to the paper's main point.
- To close out the lesson:
- Share with students this brief from ABC News titled "Genetically Modified Mosquito Study in Florida to Half Spread of Viruses Sparks Eco Debate" (this text supports the video they watched during the teaching phase portion of the lesson).
- Then, have students answer the following question: If you had to decide right now if it was o.k. to release GM mosquitoes in your neighborhood, would you say yes or no? Students must give a reason to support their answer.
- Teachers can also ask students to include questions they still have about the use of GMOs.
- 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 can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
- 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.
- Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address:
- The Zika virus has made it to Florida. The government would like to release GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes into south Florida ecosystems to reduce the transmission of the Zika virus. Using evidence from the text, explain why you agree with the release and explain why it is beneficial for the health of our society.
- 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."
Accommodations & Recommendations
- The "Brazil Uses Genetically-Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue Fever,"uploadedbyCCTV America, offers a great introduction to the article.
- As another resource, this Al Jazeera article "How to Make Genetically Modified Mosquitoes," explains how the GM mosquito Aedes aegypti was developed and how the genetic changes affects the offspring.
- For struggling readers: It might benefit students to have them independently read several paragraphs of the article and then have several strong readers read those paragraphs aloud. Continue this process until the entire text is read.
- Students could then work on the vocabulary section of the note-taking guide. Students should work to define on their own paper any words they put in column one. Teachers may wish to pre-select one or two subject-specific vocabulary words and one or two academic vocabulary words to serve as models to practice ways to determine the meaning of the words. Then students could select unknown words of their own from the text and work to define them using context clues, word parts, and dictionaries. Students could share out their definitions and receive feedback on their work.
- Then students can read through the text a second time filling in the remaining columns on the note-taking guide. Students could share out their responses and receive feedback on their work.
- For struggling writers: It might help struggling writers to provide them with an outline to help them structure their response for the summative assessment. The outline might include places for them to record:
- Ideas on how to introduce the topic
- A few specifics from the text they might want to use to support or explain the topic
- A place to write down their main point(s)
- Topic sentence (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)
- Teachers could use the "Efforts to Control Mosquitoes Take on New Urgency," by ScienceNews, as an extension to the lesson.
- Have students research the progress of releasing GM mosquitoes into Florida. In this research they should also find current numbers of Zika and dengue cases in Florida.
- Students could conduct more research on why some groups are opposed to the release of GM mosquitoes in Florida. Then, students could create posters advertising for or against the GM mosquito release. Students that have access to computer/video equipment could have the option of making an actual commercial.
- Place students in groups of two. Have them research the other side of GMOs by searching for GMOs that have caused environmental problems.
- Students could also conduct research on any unanswered questions from column three on the note-taking guide or from questions they put on their exit ticket for the close of the lesson. Students could then report out what they learned.
Suggested Technology: Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Computers for Students, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones
- 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."
- This is produced by Oxitec and provides some additional information that supports the main article for this lesson, "GM Mosquitoes Succeed at Reducing Dengue, Company Says."
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the Florida 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.