Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Wiggle, Peak, and Roll

Carolyn Garner
Bay District Schools


This is the second lesson of the fourth day of the Unit Plan: What Makes Me Who I Am? In this lesson, students learn that characteristics are inherited.


The student chooses reasonable titles, labels, scales and intervals for organizing data on graphs.

The student knows that many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the genetic ancestors of the organism (for example, eye color, flower color).

The student understands that scientists use different kinds of investigations (for example, observations of events in nature, controlled experiments) depending on the questions they are trying to answer.

The student selects appropriate graphical representations (for example, graphs, charts, diagrams) to collect, record, and report data.


-Student handouts: (Available in the Associated File)
Wiggle, Peak, and Roll
Graph Paper (Use attached or purchase)
Student Data Collection Sheet
Homework (all three pages)

Cartoon (available in the Associated File)
Wiggle, Peak, and Roll (Optional)
Student Data Collection Sheet (Optional)
Graph Paper (Use attached or purchase)

-Student notebooks


1. Copy worksheet.
2. Copy graph paper for class work.
3. Give handout and graph paper for homework.
4. Make transparencies.
5. Obtain an overhead projector.
6. Update the table of contents as necessary.


Students should have previous knowledge of probability and how to graph correctly. An opportunity for a brief review is provided in the lesson, but time has not been afforded in order to teach those standards.

1. Bridge to the previous lesson, Decidedly Different, by reviewing the student journals which cover the questions: Why do scientists need to observe detailed characteristics of the things they study? Why do scientists need to organize the data they found? What can scientists learn by studying observable characteristics? For this last question, guide students to statements that scientists want to discover how things are UNIQUE. Once this is accomplished, ask if anyone would like to share from the journal the paragraph which explains: I Am Unique.

2. Once students begin to explore ways they are unique, guide them into today's lessons by showing students the transparency of the cartoon figures. Then, ask if there is anyone who can roll or fold up their tongue. Let them all try, and then choose one student who does it correctly to demonstrate.

Ask if any student can wiggle his ears. This is not a common trait so you may not have any student who can do this. If you do have a student who can wiggle his ears, then let him demonstrate how this is done.

Continue until the student knows how to recognize each trait analyzed on the worksheet: ( a widow’s peak, a cleft chin, attached ear lobe, unattached ear lobe, freckles).

3. Discuss with the students why some students possess these traits and others don't. Why are some ear lobes attached and some have a loose flap? Lead the students to the words inherited characteristics and what the words mean.

4. Before distributing the handout, review the question, Why do scientists use different kinds of investigations? Remember to guide students to the answer that scientists use different investigations depending on the type of answer they want, the type of object with which they are dealing and to check the consistency of their answers. Next, question students as to one way they have learned to investigate. (Possible answer: By studying observable characteristics.)

5. Tell students that they will now be doing an experiment to obtain an answer about inherited characteristics. Explain that when scientists do an experiment, they first form a QUESTION. Next, they pose a HYPOTHESIS. Finally, they do the experiment which tests their hypothesis. Distribute the worksheets and point out the QUESTION AND HYPOTHESIS. Then, let them answer questions 1 and 2 and bridge by stating: Let's study some characteristics that can be inherited.

6. Question number 3 has two parts. First, students will estimate or guess the number in the class that possess each trait. They do this before they collect the actual number. They don't change their estimates or guesses.

7. Next, students collect the data for the actual number of students who possess each trait. Demonstrate how to use tally marks to collect the data. By using tally marks, students are less likely to make a mistake.

8. Before letting students begin their experiment, review the cooperative worker expectations (found in Decidedly Different Associated Files) and make sure students understand that even though they are in one large group, the expectations are still the same.

9. After the students have collected the data, check their data as a total group. Ask the students who possess each trait to raise their hands. Count them and record on the overhead transparency, Student Data which is located in the attached file. Students can double check their actual numbers making any necessary corrections.

10. Students use the information chart to graph the data. Use the graphing paper provided in the associated file as an overhead and display how to graph. It is suggested that a review of labeling, scale, and titles of graphs be done here.

11. As students are working, walk around and formatively assess student work. Individual reteaching should occur for those who are still having problems.

12. Once students have completed the project, ask them to turn in their work and finish the lesson with a discussion on the following: Why do some students and my dad can roll their tongues. Someone may say my mom has a widow’s peak.

13. Introduce the homework worksheet. Students will be checking to see if other family members possess any of the traits. Go over the homework sheet with students and clarify any misconceptions or questions. Note: Some possible OTHER inherited characteristics are shape of fingers and toes. (Hold your two pointer fingers together, knuckle to knuckle. Some people's are straight and some curve outward.) Shape of eyes, body type or shape, consistency of hair (thick, wavy, curly, straight, thin, etc). Some students will want to start with maybe their grandparents, then aunts and uncles, then cousins, etc., or if they have a large immediate family, they could start with their mom and dad, then brothers and sisters, then nieces and nephews. Give ideas on whom to do their research. It may be necessary to give a couple of days before they turn this in. Use your best judgment.


The data collection worksheet should be used as a formative assessment. See how well the students use the skill of observation during the lesson. Use the graph of the class data as a formative assessment. Be sure to use the FCAT standard for assessing the graph ( title, labeling the axis, etc.).

The homework assignment should be used as a formative assessment. How well can the students collect, record, and report their data?


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link listed in the Weblinks.

2. If a student is adopted or lives with someone other than their natural parents, they could check to see if their guardians have any characteristics similar to theirs. They could graph their findings and then write a brief statement about the similarities and differences.

Web Links

This is the link to the unit plan. Scroll to the associated files to find the diagnostic and summative assessments, Unit Plan Overview, and other files.
What Makes Me Who I Am?

Attached Files

This file contains a lesson worksheet and graph paper.     File Extension: pdf

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