Sometimes students need more than just rote memorization and testing over those facts in order to truly understand a subject. Evolution is no different. There are many parts to the Theory of Evolution and all that goes with it. By breaking it down into parts and having students really research and examine them in meaningful ways could increase understanding.
Students have different learning styles and talents. One way to incorporate those interests is to assign projects. However, a "one-size-fits-all" approach does little more for these students than a test would. Sometimes, it is appropriate to give the students choices in how they approach a topic.
This is where a "Think-Tac-Toe" project comes in to play. A Think-Tac-Toe project allows students to pick from one of three choices that will all help them understand and learn the material, but in different ways. Some students thrive through research papers or presentations, others are more comfortable with drawing or another art form. Using a Think-Tac-Toe grid will help all students succeed by finding a project that is right for them.
Creating a Think-Tac-Toe Grid:
I create my grids using a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel. Manipulate the boxes to the size you need. I usually start with combining cells at the top for the title and a few underneath for instructions. Down the side, you can add headings for what each of the projects in the row pertain to. Fill in details of the available topics in each row, and add any other important information at the bottom. See the attached picture for an idea of what it should look like. It is possible to make similar tables using word processing software as well.
Ideas for Projects
1. Trace the history of the Theory of Evolution from pre-Darwin thought to Darwin's ideas to what evolution encompasses today. Write a 2 page, typed double spaced paper (12 pt. Normal Times New Roman Font) including sources.
2. Summarize Darwin's life and work in an electronic presentation to be given to the class. You must have a minimum of 7 slides not including the title slide and sources slide.
3. Draw an illustrated guide to the Theory of Evolution, including all of the different evidences for Evolution we use today and Darwin's ideas. The guide must be aimed at an audience of general Biology students and have at least 10 pages, not including sources or title page.
1. Using 10 common objects found at home or in the classroom, create a dichotomous key. Have a classmate try out your key to classify one of the objects and write a 1 page double spaced, typed (12 pt. Normal Times New Roman Font) reflection on how you created your key and how it worked when your classmate tried it, including any improvements you would make.
2. Create a diagram to classify an organism using the Linnaeus classification system of taxonomy, starting with "Domain" and ending with "Species". Each level should include other species that fall within that grouping. You may choose any animal or plant to classify, but you may NOT use any of the examples given in your book. Attach a 1 page, typed (12 pt. Normal Times New Roman Font) paper, with sources describing key features of the named group at each level, and how that is reflected in your chosen species.
Draw a poster of a cladogram of the following organisms: iguana, human, baboon, turkey, bullfrog, and a stegosaurus. Summarize your poster in a 1 page, typed (12 pt. Normal Times New Roman Font) paper, with sources. Describe the traits you used to make your cladogram and how you decided which species would go where.
History of Life
1. Draw, to scale, a geologic timeline of the history of life on Earth. Each time period needs to have at least 3 life forms that characterized it in the correct area. Attach a 1 page, typed (12 pt. Normal Times New Roman Font) paper, with sources, describing how life changed over time.
2. Summarize, in a 2 page double spaced/typed (12 pt. Normal Times New Roman Font) research paper with sources, two different theories of how early life on Earth evolved.
3. Pretend you are a cartoon strip creator for a newspaper. Draw a week's worth of cartoon strips all about the KT Extinction. Your cartoons must include accurate information about the KT Extinction and be at least 4 panels long per day (for 7 days). Include a page with sources in your final project.