Saturday, March 22, 2014

Evidence of Understanding - Punnett Squares

A large part of the Understanding by Design process, is placing importance on understanding vs. knowledge.
When students truly understand a concept, they can transfer their thinking to a new scenario. Recently during our 7th grade heredity unit, students have been studying patterns of heredity and were given new scenarios to show their understanding of using Punnett Squares to determine the probability of offspring expressing certain traits passed down from parents to offspring.  Although not a formal "Making Thinking Visible" routine, I let students use dry erase markers on the windows as a way to graffiti their school academically.  Students work in heterogeneous groups to solve the problems. Engagement and collaboration is high and it provided a great way for me to informally assess a groups understanding.


  1. Jon,
    What a great activity for 7th graders and above. I can't image how anyone wouldn't have been very engaged in this learning activity, it is so personal. I was wondering if all your 7th graders were able to do this activity or if you found that you needed to scaffold the learning in some way? The topic is specific to individuals so I'm assuming that this wasn't group work, correct? Once they finished their Punnett Squares was anyone surprised or pleased with the results?
    I've done Venn diagrams on the windows and the kids love this way of showing their work. It does make them feel like they are doing a little graffiti, it makes it fun.

  2. Jon,
    I have loved seeing this work upstairs on the windows. It has caused my 5th graders to think and ask questions around the work they see. It has also made me use my background knowledge to figure out what the "graffiti" was and how I could best explain it. Did you have to build a lot of schema for the 7th graders or did they understand these patterns of heredity pretty easily? Did most students gain a deep understanding of the way the squares work?

  3. Jon,

    I would be interested to know the results of their understanding. I like the idea of taking what they are learning from you and transferring that to their own families and heredity. Were they able to explain their understanding? What were their misconceptions?