Beacon Lesson Plan Library

How Unique Are You?

Suzan Smith
Marion County Schools


In this second lesson of the unit, Where We Come From, the students use traits that they each possess to gain further understanding of dominant and recessive traits. In groups, they survey the class for various dominant and recessive physical trait characteristics. Groups create bar/circle graphs, compile class data into a table, calculate percentages, and recognize characteristics of dominant and recessive traits.


The student knows that the variation in each species is due to the exchange and interaction of genetic information as it is passed from parent to offspring.

The student knows how dominant and recessive traits are inherited.


-Overhead copy (chart paper can be substituted) of the Group Data Table:
How Unique Are You? (associated file)
-Copies of the Group Data Table and Individual Questions for each student
-Overhead transparency of the Group Data Table
-Calculators (optional)
-Supplies for the students to create graphs with: construction paper, markers, rulers
-Teacher copy of the Individual Questions answer key


1. Be familiar with teacher background required for concepts such as dominance in traits, alleles, or gene pairs, heterozygous and homozygous alleles, geneotypes and phenotypes.
2. Create overhead copy of Group Data Table.
3. Make copies of Group Data Table and the Individual Questions for each student.
4. Make one copy of the answer key.


Note: Students should be familiar with creating graphs, including surveying, titles, and explaining.

Day one of this lesson plan:

1. Display your overhead copy of the data table “How Unique Are You?” to the class. Tell them that today they will be doing surveying and graphing with each other. Using the vocabulary sheets from lesson one, Wild Babies, review the words that will be needed for today's lesson plan: allele, dominant, recessive, trait, homozygous, heterozygous, genetic code, and any other words that your students may not be familiar with. (You may want to display these words and definitions on a word wall or tell students to keep their vocab sheets handy.)

2. Describe each trait that is listed on the chart and help the students identify which traits they possess. Ask the class to predict the odds of how many kids in the class will have the trait before they begin to survey the class. Record this information on the board or on a spare Group Data Table to use later in the lesson. (see associated file.)

3. Review cooperative worker expectations (see Extensions for the Cooperative Behaviors Checklist in the unit plan's attached files) and then divide the students into groups of 4 or 5. Explain: Students will be surveying their group to get numeric data as to how many students do possess each of the traits that were previously discussed. The groups will then display their data as either a circle or bar graph. Review graphing techniques desired, including type, labels, titles, etc. You may want to provide a model, depending on how familiar your students are with graphs.

4. Allow students to gather their data from their group on the Group Data Table and create their graphs. Circulate and offer guidance and feedback as students work. Suggest that students leave their data and any graph work somewhere in the room (file cabinet, etc.) so they will have it to use tomorrow.

Day two of this lesson plan:

1. Allow students to finish from yesterday. Using the Group Data Table transparency, allow students to share their data in order to have a survey that includes all class members. Guide the students and calculate the percents. Lead class discussion and analyze the patterns in the data. Make connections between the data and dominant and recessive traits. Compare the actual data to the class predictions that were made on Day 2. Note that in some cases the dominant trait may not be the trait that appears in the majority of your students. This discrepancy will be a part of discussion in the lesson plan, Pair 'Em Up!.

2. Teach the students about geneotype (the genetic combinations), phenotype (the physical characteristics), homozygous, or pure, (two of the same genes in the allele; RR or rr), and heterozygous, or hybrid, (two different genes in an allele; Rr). Allow time for them to come to the board or overhead and practice writing the code and deciphering its visible outcome.

The following is an example: In guinea pigs, black hair is the dominant trait, and white hair is the recessive trait. Let “B” stand for dominant black, and “b” stand for recessive white.
BB = homozygous = black-haired guinea pig
bb = homozygous = white-haired guinea pig
Bb = heterozygous = black-haired guinea pig
* Symbols for a dominant/recessive corresponding traits must be the same letter of the alphabet.
** genotypes = BB, bb, Bb
phenotypes = black and white hair

3. Allow time for students answer the Individual Questions worksheet.


- Formatively assess the Individual Questions worksheet completed by each individual student, including accuracy and thoughtful written responses. See the Answer Key (associated file). You will need to assess these questions prior to the next lesson so as to be able to correct any misconceptions at the beginning of the next lesson plan in this unit.

- Formatively assess for accurate completion of the group graphing activity based on accuracy of the data collected.

-Formatively assess groups on cooperative worker skills using the Cooperative Worker Checklist. (See extensions since it is an attached unit plan file.)


The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Attached Files

This file contains the Group Data Table and the Individual Questions.     File Extension: pdf

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