Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Life Science: About the Course

Teacher-Talk Life

[Channel-talklife] Channel Posting assignment for 3

From: Kimberly Kristine Minton (kim.mint@sbcglobal.net)
Date: Thu Apr 15 2004 - 13:08:47 EDT


I think it is possible to teach 4th graders about DNA and reproduction in a simpler fashion using good literature and careful wording. I think it is important to begin clearing up misconceptions starting at this age where children are beginning to have an awareness about sexuality and how babies grow and develop. I think teaching them using animals is a more sensitive way of going about it. In my classroom for our Bottle biology we are studying the role of decomposers in the environment. We have added earthworms to our terrestrial habitat. I found a wonderful book called An Earthworm's Life, by, John Himmelman. It talks about how the earthworm sneaks away to find a suitable mate. This opened up a great discussion about like and like. In the front it tells the reader that earthworms are neither male or female, saying that sometimes it acts as a male or sometimes it acts as a female (a hermafrodyt). All worms lay eggs. We made some comparisons with other animals and found this
 not to be true with all animals. I like the fact that in fourth grade, children are more willing to accept that there are differences among animals and they can think a little farther outside of their experiences as humans. We talked about the fact that in order to reproduce the worm needs to combine its cells with the opposite cells of another worm in order to have the right gene combinations. We discussed the fact that in order for the infant animal to look like its parents, it has to get half of its genes from each parent. We did a little homework assignment involving hair and eye color and genetic traits. We never discussed sex or the acts of reproduction. Children are not as exposed to the wonders of nature as they used to be, and teaching them about it is difficult without having concrete experiences to help.
I am hoping to hear other ideas!

Kimberly Minton

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