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Teaching the Biological Evolution Standards for Middle School

 Are you a teacher who needs to teach the Biological Evolution standards for Middle School Science and you are concerned about certain parents being upset? Biological evolution can be a surprisingly controversial topic.

Biological Evolution in Middle School addresses changes in species over time. Students will learn about natural selection and survival of the fittest according to Darwin’s theory. Students will also learn about patterns in the fossil record that show changes in species over time. They will learn about similarities in anatomy and embryology that support the idea of evolution. Students will also learn about artificial selection or selective breeding and the technologies that have enabled scientists to create GMOs, gene therapy, and breed for specific traits. 

Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest

 I like to provide direct information through informational text about natural selection and biological evolution. Then I like students to interact with the materials by asking questions, playing with drag and drop interactive slides, thinking critically, and more.

Interactive Slides for Natural Selection

By the end of elementary school, students should know that individual organisms of the same kind differ in their characteristics and that sometimes these variations give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing. In addition, students should be able to look for ways in which organisms in one habitat differ from those in another and to consider how some of those differences are helpful to their survival.

Natural Selection Simulation

This prerequisite knowledge should help middle-school students take this concept a step further by understanding that individual organisms of different kinds are more likely than others to survive and have offspring because of their particular traits. In addition, by the end of middle school, students should understand that small differences between parent organisms and offspring accumulate arise through genetic mutation. If these variations provide an advantage to the offspring, the offspring may live long enough to breed and pass on these same traits through reproduction. Specific traits that are beneficial may accumulate in a population, which could result in speciation, the separation of a population be characteristics into a separate species from the original population.

We want to also address misconceptions about natural selection. The mice do not turn black because the rocks are dark. Animals do not spontaneously develop a characteristic in response to their environment. The random mutation produces a characteristic purely by chance. It is then the process of natural selection or survival of the fittest that determines if that trait is advantageous to the organism. Many traits arise that make no difference to a species, so they do not get passed on through evolution.

The Biological Evolution Standards for Middle School

These standards are addressed in this resource:

NGSS MS-LS4-6. Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.  [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using mathematical models, probability statements, and proportional reasoning to support explanations of trends in changes to populations over time.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include Hardy Weinberg calculations.]

NGSS MS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using simple probability statements and proportional reasoning to construct explanations

Utah SEEd Standard 7.5.1

Construct an explanation that describes how the genetic variation of traits in a population can affect some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment. Over time, specific traits may increase or decrease in populations. Emphasize the use of proportional reasoning to support explanations of trends in changes to populations over time. Examples could include camouflage, a variation of body shape, speed and agility, or drought tolerance. (LS4.B, LS4.C)

Natural Selection Worksheet Biological Evolution Standards

Artificial Selection For Middle School

Another similar standard is teaching about artificial selection in all forms. Students will learn about technologies that have allowed humans to favor certain traits.  This includes selective breeding, creating hybrids, gene therapy, and genetically modified foods.  This is a fun topic to have students explore the ethical implications of creating hybrids and genetically modified crops.

Biological Evolution Standards

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The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!

 
Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2

Richard S

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:07:52-06:00

Richard S

The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!   Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2
As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.

 
Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4

Sharon M

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:24:44-06:00

Sharon M

As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.   Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4
Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.

 
Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning

Expedition Fourth

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
2020-11-03T20:44:55-07:00

Expedition Fourth

Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.   Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning
My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.

 
Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer

Heidi J

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
2020-11-03T20:45:49-07:00

Heidi J

My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.   Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer
I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!

 
Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit

Tina S

Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
5
2016-05-03T18:05:39-06:00

Tina S

I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!   Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit
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Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams