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 K-2
  1. Life has been on Earth a long time.
    1. Life forms have changed over time.

  2. Many life forms have gone extinct.

    Evidence of Evolution concepts for K-2
    1. Today there are many diverse forms of life. LS4.D
      1. Plants and animals have features that allow them to live in various environments. LS4.C
        1. Form is linked to function.

      2. Fossils provide evidence of past life.
        1. Living things are alike in some ways and different in other ways.

          Mechanisms of Evolution concepts for K-2
          1. There is variation within a population. LS3.A, LS3.B
            1. Living things have offspring. LS3.A
              1. Offspring inherit many traits from their parents, but are not exactly the same as their parents. LS3.A
              2. Siblings are similar to, but not identical to, one another.

            Nature of Science concepts for K-2
            1. Scientific ideas may change based on what we observe and experience. NOS3
              1. We learn about the natural world using our senses and extensions of our senses. P3, P4, P6
                1. Science is a human endeavor. NOS7

                  Studying Evolution concepts for K-2
                  1. Scientists study living things.
                    1. Scientists study fossils.
                    2. Scientists study rocks.