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This lesson plan explores some of the risks and benefits of gene-based medicine. Students look at concerns related to genetic testing and personal genome sequencing. Through videos and discussions students learn about existing technologies for genetic testing and therapy. They also explore matters such as the emotional consequences of genetic testing, discrimination, and privacy issues. In small groups, students discuss scenarios and then share and analyze related opinions and concerns.
The lesson plans encourage student critical thinking, values clarification, and articulating and defending a position
The strength of the lesson
The lesson plans may be used
In most instances the lessons would be used as a concluding rather than introductory unit of study in the above instances.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Very Good|
A series of videos supported by background essays, introduce advances made in personal genomics and identify the questions and issues that these possibilities give rise to. The perspectives presented by the individuals, the parents, and the scientists involved outline the competing considerations and the accompanying lesson plans challenge the students to think about these and articulate and defend their position on the issues raised.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Good|
While not addressed directly, advances in personal genomics have economic considerations.Can the health system sustain the financial burden attached to the application of personal genomics? Are there significant savings in medical costs if we are able to reduce or eliminate certain medical conditions? Will the benefits be equally shared?
The lesson plans do point to the social implications - the possibility of genetic engineering and designer babies, the invasion of children's privacy, the option for sex selection, the possible discrimination against the disabled, the tendency to think of ourselves in genetic terms.
The environmental issues are somewhat more subtle but the implications of the genetic engineering of humans may be part of our larger discussion about the genetic engineering of plants and other animals and the impact on the larger environment.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
|Respects Complexity||Very Good|
The essential focus of the lesson plan is to make students aware of the complex issues involved with personal genomics. Many of the discussion questions begin with "why", or "do you think", or "would you", or "how could" as recognition that the answers her are not simple or easy. This recognition of complexity is further strengthened by the final segment of the lesson plan in which students are asked to respond to a number of scenarios.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Poor/Not considered|
One would not expect there to be an action component to this lesson plan. The aim is to raise student awareness of the advances being made in genomics and the implications of these advances. Students are asked to struggle with the ethical considerations and to try and sort out their own position on these issues and the values that underly their positon
In time, the student may wish to promoting a particular position on these issues but that is beyond the scope of this lesson plan.
|Acting on Learning: |
Learning moves from understanding issues to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community, or for the planet
|Values Education||Very Good|
In struggling with the questions raised by the lesson, students would be forced to think about how any position they might take reflects their value system.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Very Good|
The human condition is central to the lesson. The student is introduced to people, both individually and collectively who are faced with profound challenges. In giving thought to each of these cases, the student response is likely to be a mix of the visceral, the emotional and the rational but hopefully infused with empathy and respect for those faced with these challenges.The
|Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).|
|Personal Affinity with Earth||Poor/Not considered|
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
|Locally-Focused Learning||Very Good|
Students will recognize that the people and situations that are the focus of the lesson plan are representative of friends and family faced with the same challenges. The various scenarios outlined in the lesson are equally recognizable. These are real situations that raise real questions about how to respond.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Very Good|
The subtext here is suffering and technology. Our response to this suffering in the past was limited by our knowledge and technology. Current medical technology has enlarged our possible response and future technology offers greater possibilities. The question, however, is to what degree we want to go down that road.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
|Open-Ended Instruction||Very Good|
Background essays provide students with relevant information about advances in personal genomics. Videos introduce the ethical considerations arising from these advances. A series of case studies require students to evaluate the merits of particular ethical stances. Knowledge is provided and issues are raised but positions are not taken. A series of discussion papers asks students to reflect on the merits of possible answers.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
The focus of the lesson is on critical thinking, which is common to all subjects or disciplines. The topics explored touch upon a number of subjects -science (advances in genomics), health (combating genetic diseases), social studies (impact and evaluation of technology), ethics and religious studies (sex selection, "genetic engineering")
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
Students are provided with a series of intriguing questions related to the rightness or wrongness of the application of personal genomics. Materials (background essays, videos, case studies) are presented that allow students to better understand the complexity of the issues raised. A series of open questions requires students to sort out their own perspectives on these questions.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
The combination of videos, background readings, case scenarios and guided discussion may be expected to engage students who represent a variety of leaarning styles.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
The personal narratives that are included in the videos and the case studies outlined in the scenarios help students better understand the human dimensions of genetic advances and the ethical dilemmas attached thereto.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
The lesson plans assumes that the students will benefit from hearing the perspectives of others in the class and thefore the core of each lesson is the direction for class discussion on the issues raised by the material presented. Guided teacher discussion in this instance would appear to be preferable to small group discussion.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Good|
The evaluation as presented in the lesson plans is of the formative variety. The guided discussion following each lesson would allow the teacher to assess the student understanding of the complexity of the issues addressed and to challenge the student, where required, to examine the assumptions behind the views expressed and the implications of a given view.
|Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.|
If the class discussion serves to encourage student to examine and articulate their position on the implications of personal genomics, all students will benefit from hearing what their peers have to say. Such discussion helps students to clarify their positions and/or re-examine their perspective.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
|Case Studies||Very Good|
The final lesson presents students with a series of scenarios that serve to personalize the larger questions implicit in genetic research.
|Case Studies: |
Relevant case studies are included. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore concepts in an authentic context.
|Locus of Control||Poor/Not considered|
The locus of control is the teacher who is provided with the material and the direction to help students understand the questions raised by genetic research. This is both the limitation and strength of the lesson plans. Once completed, other opportunities may be exploited to have students pursue related topics of interest with an appropriate grounding in place.
|Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.|