After teaching middle school for 5 years, I switched to a high school near my house. When we got to the cells unit one of my colleagues suggested only teaching mitosis, and waiting to teach meiosis until we got to the genetics unit. Light bulbs kept going off in my head. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made.
So I tried it. At the end of my cells unit (after teaching organelles, membranes, and cellular energy) I would teach mitosis. When I would test them just on mitosis they would score well, because they didn’t have both processes in their head to get confused. Then, after Christmas break when we got to genetics, I would teach meiosis. It made so much sense because:
- Teaching what gametes are is a great way to introduce genetics.
- Students will better understand Mendel’s laws of segregation and independent assortment when you pair it with meiosis.
- Teaching crossing over with genetics helps students understand alleles and why they look similar to their siblings, but not identical.
- Students will better understand chromosomal mutations (such as Downs syndrome) when you pair it with meiosis.
By the time I quizzed the students on meiosis they were experts on cell division. If your school gives you some freedom with the order of your curriculum, try teaching it this way! You won’t regret it.
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