Teaching Mechanisms of Evolution Using Your Hand

If I am being honest, teaching mechanisms of evolution used to be my least favorite topic to cover. It seemed that no matter how I explained it, my students just couldn’t remember the five mechanisms of evolution, let alone recall that they are natural selection, gene flow, mutation, non-random mating, and genetic drift. Year after year of being less than thrilled with how my evolution unit was laid out, I stumbled upon a TedEd video that broke down the mechanisms of evolution into “The Five Fingers of Evolution“. This was a game-changer.

Stop now. Seriously. Stop reading and watch the video!

Okay. If you are like me then you understand that after watching the video for the first time, I was convinced I had to integrate into my unit on mechanisms of evolution. Here’s how I did it…

I began by simply asking my students to trace their hand on their paper. (If you’ve never asked high schoolers to trace their hand on paper, please do yourself a favor and do it! They were immediately engaged…even if they thought we were about to make hand turkey’s.)

The first year I did this activity, I played the video and then paused after each mechanism. We discussed together as a class and they filled in the information on their hand. This worked fine, but the next year I took it up level and created an interactive Pear Deck lesson that was teacher led. (If you are not using Pear Deck, you need to check it out!) I LOVED this so much more as it gave me instant feedback on how they were handling the new information.

We always watch the “The Five Fingers of Evolution” together as a class. Then, we began to break down each mechanisms using the interactive tools of Pear Deck. As we work through it together, students fill in the corresponding finger for each mechanism with the definition and example. By the end of the class, students can quickly recall the five mechanisms and have a tangible way to remember what each mechanism means.

This video inspired a lesson that truly transformed how I teach the mechanisms of evolution. It’s time to find your PowerPoint, upload it to Google Slides, and create an interactive Pear Deck lesson for this unit! You won’t believe how easy it is and how much it will make a difference in the level of your student’s comprehension.

Don’t want to reinvent the wheel? You don’t have to!

You can find my Mechanisms of Evolution Google Slides/Pear Deck Interactive Lesson on Teachers Pay Teachers along with all of my other resources that I use during this unit.

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