Learning about mitosis and meiosis in biology class can be challenging for students but I find it’s one of their favorites. Visual learners really thrive in this unit. Understanding how mitosis and meiosis work is essential for understanding independent assortment, genetics, and evolution so I spend a lot of time in this unit.
I use a few different methods for helping students understand and really grasp the material.
1. I show a lot of animations! Mitosis is dynamic. Chromosomes move! It’s really important for them to see the process in action.
There are loads of great animations online for teachers and here are a bunch that I like to use.
2. A teacher at a school I used to work at does a really cool project during this unit. She has student groups create stop motion animation videos of either mitosis or meiosis! Students are allowed to use any materials they want and the video has to have a minimum of 50 pictures (but more is way better!) When we co-taught a course, we required the regular level students create videos for mitosis and the honors level students created videos for meiosis. In each video, students had to have an identifying “token”, an item that they added into each picture/frame to show that they were the creators, to prevent video editing from stolen sources like Youtube or other online videos. Students really had fun with this and manipulating their materials to make the videos really helped them to cement the processes into memory. In this day and age, it’s actually quite easy for students with smart phones to create their own videos!
3. I use diagrams and coloring activities to help students identify the components and understand how chromosomes in cells move throughout the mitosis or meiosis timeline. I used to download pictures online, but now I create my own! You can see these in my store. I have coloring activities, cut and paste activities, and short simplified readings all in one package for mitosis, meiosis, spermatogenesis/oogenesis, and crossing over.
4. I also use a set of homework pages I created to help students review each topic as we go along in the unit.