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In this unit, students will learn the about innate and learned characteristics in animals and humans through a series of teacher- and student-led discussions, readings, reflections, learning activities, and demonstrations. They will learn that most animal behavior is directly related to survival needs, and that the environment influences what an animal learns. Students will consider how and why behaviors are learned and determine what kinds of animals are capable of learning. They will debate how we know whether a trait is inherited or learned, and they will learn that the fields of genetics and behavioral science still hold many mysteries for scientists today. Students will investigate these ideas further by reading case studies involving chimpanzees and the work of Jane Goodall, as well as articles focused on common house pets. The unit will conclude with the Survival Guide Project, during which students will describe inherited traits and learned behaviors that will help them survive in a natural environment of their choice. They will indicate how they acquired these survival traits and skills and choose additional inherited traits or learned characteristics that would increase their chances of survival. The final product will be presented in small groups and assessed using a rubric.
Morrow, Kathryn, "Inherited Traits Versus Learned Behaviors" (2008). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 65.
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