Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning



Brittany Bowens | Published: May 18th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th
  • Subject Subject Science
  • Course Course Biology I
  • Time Frame Time Frame 212 minutes
  • Duration More 4-5 periods


In this lesson, students will examine the facts associated with evolution, infer what fossilized remains can inform us about an organism, explore how evolution is influenced by an ever-changing environment, and construct a timeline of an organism change resulting from environmental factors or human impact over time. This is a multimodality lesson, which means it includes face-to-face, online, and hybrid versions of the lesson. The attachments also include a downloadable Common Cartridge file, which can be imported into a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Canvas or eKadence. The cartridge includes interactive student activities and teacher's notes.

Essential Question(s)

How does environmental change impact evolutionary shift(s) on an organism’s genetic makeup?



Students answer guiding questions throughout the video about how mutations lead to the evolution of an organism.


Students determine an organism’s lifestyle based on its fossil remains.


Students analyze how evolutionary selection occurs.


Students analyze the environmental causes of an organism's evolutionary shift.


Students share their understanding of evolution by creating an evolutionary timeline of an organism.

Instructional Formats

The term "Multimodality" refers to the ability of a lesson to be offered in more than one modality (i.e. face-to-face, online, blended). This lesson has been designed to be offered in multiple formats, while still meeting the same standards and learning objectives. Though fundamentally the same lesson, you will notice that the different modalities may require the lesson to be approached differently. Select the modality that you are interested in to be taken to the section of the course designed for that form of instruction.



  • Set-up that allows videos and slide decks to be presented for everyone to view

  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Addie’s Story Video Questions handout (attached; one per student)

  • Addie’s Story S-I-T Activity handout (attached; one per student)

  • Sticky notes (one per student)

  • Extend Rubric (attached; one per student)



75 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to follow along with the lesson. Begin with slide 5. Share the guidelines for the game "Telephone" with students.

  • Pull the first student aside (if possible, into a hallway or other space where a conversation can be had at a normal level without being heard) and tell them the following phrase: "The dodo bird was a flightless bird that laid one egg until humans arrived" to the first student.

  • Instruct the first student to whisper the same phrase to the student next to them. They can only say the phrase once.

  • Have students continue whispering the message student-to-student until it reaches the last student.

  • Have the last student in the chain announce to the whole class what they heard.

  • Have students discuss changes in the phrase as a result of its being passed from person to person.

Pass out the attached Addie’s Story Video Questions handout for PBS’s Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria. Go to slide 6, and have students answer the questions as they follow along with the video. You may want to preview the handout before starting the video.

After viewing the video, pass out the attached Addie’s Story S-I-T Activity handout. Go to slide 7 and have students complete the handout using the S-I-T (Surprising, Interesting, Troubling) strategy. This task includes aspects of the Chain Notes Strategy as well. Instruct students to individually identify one surprising fact or idea, one interesting fact or idea, and one troubling fact or idea from the video.

Once each student has identified their S-I-T facts or ideas, have them pass their papers clockwise. Each student will add to their group members’ list. When the paper gets back to its original writer, have groups draft a summary of the main lessons regarding evolution they gleaned from the video. Select one student to share their group’s summary.



30 Minute(s)

Go to slide 8. Announce to the students that they will use a photo deconstruction strategy to learn about an organism based on close observation and analysis.

Give each student a sticky note and instruct them to write down what they infer about the characteristics of the organism on the following slide:

  • What do you think this organism might have eaten? Why?

  • Where do you think this organism might have lived? Why?

  • What animal do you think this organism is related to? Why?

Show slide 9, which contains the fossil photograph. After students have analyzed the photograph, have them place their sticky notes on the projector screen, smartboard, or whiteboard around the picture. Share what each student has written.

After students have shared their inferences, share with them the scientific information about the organism on the slide: "Fossilized ancient lizard shows how dinos evolved to live in the oceans." This link is also found in slide 9’s footnote.



15 Minute(s)

Go to slide 10 and introduce students to the Nova Labs video "Evolution 101." Open this video from a browser—the PBS link cannot be posted in the slide deck.

This video lasts 4:47 minutes. Stop at the 4:23 mark, where the substance of the video ends.

After watching the video, go to slide 11. Explain the concept of Collaborative Word Clouds to the students. You may direct them to Mentimeter, where the class can collaboratively create a word cloud.

Guide the students in choosing one or two words that communicate the overall concept or theme about evolution from the Evolution 101 video.

Key in and elaborate on the main points the groups make. Ask them to comment on what words are used most frequently. Elaborate on the major points made by each group.



60 Minute(s)

Go to slide 12. Explain to your students what a timeline is and what it can show about an organism or a species. Assign them to develop a timeline of an organism (plant, animal, fungi, bacteria, protist) of their choice using a program such as Adobe Spark or any other program of their choosing. Your students will need to show the following:

  • How the organism has evolved over time in at least three different periods.

  • The environmental conditions and factors that may have caused an evolutionary shift during each time period.

Go over the instructions and Extend Rubric to make sure students know what is expected of them.



2 Minute(s)

Go to slide 13. Instruct students to complete the I Used to Think... But Now I Know activity. Have them create a response using Flip, ranging from 30 seconds to one minute in length, comparing what they used to think about evolution with what they now know.

Before having students share their videos with one another, check your district policy. If you opt to share through Flip, assign students to make comments on each other’s presentations.

Have students submit their Flip link to you for confirmation of completion.


  • Hudson Institute of Mineralogy. (1993). Vadasaurus herzogi.

  • John Hopkins University Staff. (2017, December 07). Meet Vadasaurus, a foot-long, ancient

    swimming reptile.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). S-I-T. Strategies.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Chain notes. Strategies. 52

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Edpuzzle. Tech tools.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Flipgrid. External apps tutorials.

  • K20 Center. (n.d.). Flip. Tech tools.

  • Micu, A. (2017, November 08). Fossilized ancient lizard shows how dinos evolved to live in the


  • PBS Online: Nova Labs. (2020). Evolution 101.|WBGH Educational Foundation.

  • Young, R. (2013, October 23). Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria.|PBS.