Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

She Sells Seashells by the Seashore


Brittany Bowens | Published: May 27th, 2022 by K20 Center


In this lesson, students will learn about paleontologists who have helped shape our understanding of organisms’ evolutionary history. They will research and evaluate evidence that scientists have used to construct and continually use to reconstruct evolutionary history and environmental pressures that cause evolutionary shifts. This lesson is part two of a three-part series. Lesson 1, Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes, is intended to help students define evolution. 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)

Which principles help provide evidence of evolution among organisms?



Students answer guiding questions while watching a video about the life of paleontologist Mary Anning, and then create an advertisement that celebrates her work.


Students view scientific evidence of a prehistoric whale.


Students research and present an evolutionary principle or type of selection and take notes as other students present.


Students play a game to assess their knowledge of the principles of evolution and types of selection.


Students identify and reflect on their own learning related to evolutionary principles.

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.



  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Evolution Card Sort (attached, one per group of 3-4 students)

  • Ancient Whale Bones Questions handout (attached, one per student)

  • Evolution Presentation Instructions (attached, one per group of three students)

  • Evolution Research Draft handout (attached, one per group of three students)

  • Evolution Presentation Rubric (attached, one per student)

  • Evolution Cornell Notes handout (attached, one per student)

  • Paper clips or envelopes (for organizing the Card Sort cards)

  • Student devices with Internet access



20 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to follow along with the lesson. Begin with slide 3. Read aloud the essential question, and then move to slide 4 and share the objectives.

Go to slide 5. Inform students that they will be watching a video about paleontologist Mary Anning from BBC Ideas. As they watch the video, students should note any words that come to mind that help describe Anning’s life and work.

After the end of the video, go to slide 6. Provide students with the following prompt:

Imagine that you work at a museum and want to let people know about your new Mary Anning exhibit. Compose a Six-Word Memoir about Anning and her contribution to evolution that will help attract visitors to this exhibit.

After students are done writing, inform them that they will be voting on which memoir they believe is the most intriguing and would best attract people to the exhibit. Divide students into groups of four to read their memoirs and vote on the one they like the best. Have those with the most votes read their memoirs to the whole class and have the class vote on the best memoir for the Mary Anning exhibit.



15 Minute(s)

Procedure 1: Pass out copies of the Ancient Whale Video Questions handout. Go to slide 7 and let students know that they will watch another paleontologist, Professor Philip Gingerich, report his findings about an ancient whale. Students should consider the questions as they watch the Ancient Whale Bones video.

After playing the video, give students time to complete their responses.

When they’re finished, create a Driving Question Board by having students share out the questions that they identified for item 6 in their handouts. Document the questions on butcher paper, on a giant sticky note, in a Google Doc, or on a Jamboard. Save these questions and inform students that you will revisit them later (during the Extend portion of the lesson).

Procedure 2: Organize students into groups of 3-4 and pass out the Evolution Card Sort cards. Instruct students not to open their cards until after you’ve finished giving the instructions. Go to slide 8. Tell students that they will complete a Card Sort related to the principles of evolution and the types of evolutionary shifts that take place over time. They should take a few minutes to match each definition with the image or graph they believe it is best associated with. When they are finished, instruct them to put the matching cards to the side. They will return to them later in the lesson.



90 Minute(s)

Go to slide 9. Review the seven principles that have helped scientists reconstruct an organism's evolutionary history and three types of evolutionary selection, which represent the different ways that scientists graphically depict evolutionary change over time.

Inform students that they will be creating a slide related to one of the seven principles or three types of selection. On their slide, they should explain how the principle has reconstructed evolutionary history and provide examples. Students will add their slide to a class slideshow and present it to the class.

Split students into groups of three. Pass out the Evolution Presentation Instructions, Evolution Research Draft, and Evolution Presentation Rubric handouts. Go to slide 10 and inform students that they will start by compiling and constructing a rough draft of their assigned topic on the Evolution Research Draft handout. Have students review the instructions and the specific requirements detailed on the rubric and spend the class period researching the information for their slide for you to review. After you approve the content, groups should create and submit their slides. Remind students to double-check the rubric again before they finish.

Set a presentation date for students. Make sure to emphasize that each group member must present their own portion of the slide content. On presentation day, pass out copies of the Evolution Cornell Notes sheet and have students take notes as their peers are presenting. They should also write a short synopsis of their own topic on their note sheet. Consider using the Parking Lot strategy for students to compile any lingering questions they might have after each group’s presentation. You can use this strategy by sharing the slideshow file with students and asking them to add comments to the slides, creating a Google Doc for them to add questions to, or creating a Jamboard or Padlet for questions.



40 Minute(s)

Procedure 1: Create a free Blooket account. Students will use Blooket to assess their knowledge of the evolutionary principles and types of evolutionary selection by playing the She Sells Seashells by the Seashore game.

Log in to the Blooket account that you created, select the teacher option, and search for the She Sells Seashells by the Seashore game. Click the Host button to select the game mode.

Go to slide 11. Have students go to or use the QR code provided on the slide and enter the game code and name. Tell students that their goal is to get as many questions correct as quickly as they can to outscore their peers and win the race.

Procedure 2: Go to slide 12. After completing the game, students will engage in a Spend A Buck activity. Students should access Mentimeter using the code you provide. Tell them that they have 100 points that they can distribute across the 10 concepts from the Explain activity based on where they believe the evolution of the whale from the Ancient Whale video falls in accordance with the principles of evolution and the types of selection.

After students are finished making their selections, share the class results.



20 Minute(s)

Revisit the Driving Questions Board that you compiled from question 6 of the Ancient Whale video. Share the questions again and ask students to choose one question from the list.

Go to slide 13. On a piece of paper, have students indicate which one of the questions they chose and provide a 2-3 sentence answer based on what they have learned about the principles of evolution and the types of selection.

When they are finished writing their answers, have students discuss what they wrote with a small group and come up with a group summary. Have one student from each group share the summary with the class.


Research Rationale

Learners learn best when they can contextualize what they learn for immediate application, and they acquire personal meaning by reflecting on experiences while participating in a social-dialogical process (Piaget, 1950).

Approach to learning with technology: The aim of learning with technology is "knowledge construction, not reproduction, conversation, not reception; articulation, not repetition, collaboration, not competition; and reflection, not prescription" (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003).