Identify your learning goals

At the end of the school year, there are certain conceptual understandings that we want our students to have. Achieving these learning goals lays the groundwork for more sophisticated understandings as students proceed through their learning experiences. The Understanding Evolution Conceptual Framework is an effective tool for identifying a sequence of age-appropriate conceptual understandings (K-16) to guide your teaching.

The conceptual framework is aligned with the 2012 Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In the concepts below, conceptual alignment is indicated by a code that follows each aligned concept. For example, LS4.A indicates correspondence to the Life Sciences core idea "Evidence of common ancestry and diversity" from both the NGSS and the Framework for grades 3-5, P3 indicates correspondence to "Planning and carrying out investigations," the third of eight Science and Engineering Practices listed in those documents, and NOS2 indicates correspondence to the second concept outlined in NGSS's appendix on the nature of science, "Scientific knowledge is based on empirical evidence."

The Understanding Evolution Framework is divided into five strands, and a selection of teaching resources (i.e., lessons, activities, readers, and interactive online modules) targeting most concepts has been identified.


History of Life concepts for 3-5
  1. Life has been on Earth for billions of years.
    1. Life forms have changed over time. LS4.A
    2. Many forms of life in the past were different from living things today. LS4.A
    3. Many forms of life in the past were similar to present-day living things. LS4.A

  2. Present-day life forms are related to past life forms. LS4.A
    1. Most species that once lived on Earth have gone extinct. LS4.A

      Evidence of Evolution concepts for 3-5
      1. Life is very diverse. LS4.D
        1. There is a fit between organisms and their environments, though not always a perfect fit. LS4.C
          1. Form is linked to function.

        2. Fossils provide evidence of past life. LS4.A
          1. There are similarities and differences among fossils and living organisms. LS4.A
            1. Selective breeding can produce offspring with new traits.

              Mechanisms of Evolution concepts for 3-5
              1. There is variation within a population. LS3.A, LS3.B
                1. Offspring inherit many traits from their parents, but are not exactly identical to their parents. LS3.A, LS3.B
                  1. Advantageous features help living things survive. LS4.B, LS4.C
                    1. Depending upon the environment, some living things will survive better than others. LS4.B, LS4.C
                    2. Environmental changes may affect an organism's ability to survive. LS4.B, LS4.C, LS4.D

                  Nature of Science concepts for 3-5
                  1. Science deals with the natural world and natural explanations. NOS8
                    1. Scientific ideas may change with new evidence. NOS3
                      1. Scientists base their ideas on evidence from the natural world. P3, P6, P7, NOS8
                        1. The real process of science is complex, iterative, and can take many different paths.
                          1. Science is a human endeavor. NOS7

                            Studying Evolution concepts for 3-5
                            1. Scientists study living things and how they are related.
                              1. Scientists study fossils and how and when they were formed. LS4.A
                              2. Scientists study rocks and how and when they were formed.