Understanding mitosis requires knowledge of both the process and the terminology, like most every subject in biology. Students usually have problems with both. I have experienced many challenges in teaching mitosis. When students remember the process, they don’t always remember the terminology. Or, students remember the terminology involved, but forget that mitosis is a process, and do not understand the importance of that process.
To address the process, I have used a group project. Like most great ideas, I adapted this project from a lesson that another teacher shared with me. I divide students into groups of two to four individuals, and give them a variety of art supplies, such as clay, pipe cleaners, and construction paper. I instruct them to create a picture of each stage of mitosis, with several transitions between each stage. I borrow digital cameras from the media center, and use my own to have the students take pictures of each stage they create. This requires the teacher to be a guide, reminding students to make incremental transitions between stages and to take the pictures from the same height and zoom setting. Depending on the number of cameras you are able to obtain, groups may need to share cameras. I recommend at least one camera for every two or three groups at minimum. Have each group use a different color poster board for their background so that you can easily determine who the pictures belong to. If they finish their pictures on time, I also allow students to take a few pictures of their choice to add to the final project.
When it comes to learning terminology, I use the second part of the project. I upload the pictures to the common drive at school and reserve time in the computer lab or media center. Then, groups import their pictures into Windows Movie Maker. In Movie Maker, students can add visual effects and transitions as well as captions and narrations or songs. I have students add the terminology and descriptions of mitosis that I want them to know. Remind students to save all of their work to the same folder until they complete their movie. You could also do a similar project with Power Point. When everyone is finished with their project, you can have a movie day so that students can show the class their completed work.
This project is a challenging one that teaches students many concepts in addition to mitosis. Students learn how to work together, practice visual arts skills, and learn a computer program that they may not have tried previously. I have also used other methods to teach mitosis that do not require extensive use of computers. A mitosis flipbook is very similar to the movie project. You can have students draw the various stages and transitions of mitosis onto index cards and staple them together to create an old-school animation. Here are some more ways to teach mitosis lessons.
In this lesson students learn about the process of mitosis, and identify the different stages. They look at onion root tips under a microscope to illustrate this process.
In this lesson students go over the process of cell division. They create a book to show the stages of cell development.
In this lesson students delve into the reasons why mitosis occurs. They discuss what happens in each stage of mitosis, and identify the sequential stages. They then discuss what happens if a cell stops growing.