Bacteria: The good, the bad, the ugly

High School Biology

General Info

Created ByBeverly Marrs
SchoolHigh School
LocationCarlsbad, NM

About the Lesson

Subject Area

Using the QFT

Place in the Unit/LessonBeginning
Brief description of the unitThis unit follows a unit on evolution and explores bacteria as the first life forms. It focuses on 1) the diversity of bacteria and their many roles in living systems and 2) debunking the myth that all bacteria are harmful.
Final QFocus"Gentlemen, it is the microbes who will have the last word."~Louis Pasteur

Student Work

Student Questions

Priority questions in bold

Group 1:

  • Is it saying that microbes will determine our fate?
  • Are microbes going to be the last existing things since they will have the last word?
  • What are microbes?
  • Are microbes going to be the last existing things since they will have the last word?
  • Is Pasteur predicting how evolution is going to play out?
  • If they (microbes) have the last word what will it be?

Group 2:

  • Why will the microbes have the last word?
  • What are microbes capable of?
  • Who was the speaker addressing?

Group 3:

  • Why is it (the statement) only directed towards gentlemen?
  • Where is the evidence for this?
  • What is the “last word”?

Group 4:

  • What would microbes say if they could speak?
  • How do microbes contribute to us,our earth,or our genetics?
  • What size/color are microbes?
How did Students Use their Questions

Student questions will be used to pique interest which will improve learning of the new material.

What were your prioritization instructions?

Students were instructed to prioritize questions based on those that would allow them to gain a deep understanding of the importance and function of bacteria.

Student Comments

Group 1:

  • We learned a new way to think, a new way to process thoughts. We learned how to build a foundation to start learning on. The value of this is that you start thinking about the questions you ask and start to answer the questions. We can get a head start on learning and processing thoughts completely and efficiently.

Group 2:

  • It let us see how other people think about things.

Teacher Reflections

This was the first time that I have used the QFT. I used it with my advanced biology classes that often feel they “don’t need” learning strategies. They often are resistant to new techniques because they feel like they are already expert level learners.

However they were overwhelmingly appreciative of the activity, with several students asking if we could do another one. I think they were surprised at how much they gained from the metacognitive aspect of the process. Keep in mind that I did not use that term “metacognition” with my students, yet if you look at their reflection statements it is clear that some students were in fact using this thinking ability.

It also identified to me those students that have difficulty honing in on the most pertinent questions. I was surprised to see that some of my students weren’t able to effectively prioritize questions. Rather than choosing questions that would give far reaching, deep answers they chose “factual recall” questions as their priority questions. When I saw this it shed some light on student test preparation and performance issues that some of my students have been having.

I was excited to try this strategy but after using it I can see that it is even more useful than I had originally thought it would be. It will definitely become a standard part of my teaching arsenal!