High School Science Reading: Cat Brain Parasites Cause Bad Driving? - Sub Plan

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Use this lesson to help teach science literacy reading strategies to high school students at their level! It can be also used as a sub plan. Students will analyze data from a study in Europe that examined the driving habits of people infected with the brain parasite Toxoplasma.

Good science reading at the high school level is difficult to find! Science teachers struggle to find lessons a substitute could help students do and here is a lesson they can!

In this lesson, students will read an actual open access research article that I have adapted to a high school reading level!

This lesson also comes in a bundle of 6 science readings! Click here to see the money-saving bundle!


They will read about Toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic protozoan that infects many warm-blooded vertebrate animals including humans. Scientists have made very intriguing discoveries that suggest that this parasite can affect behavior. This article will fascinate you and your students. In my class, this topic always brings up some great discussions about parasites, behavior, and the limits of science.

There is no specific vocabulary that your students need to understand first, but it might help if you explain what a protozoan is.

Good science reading at the high school level is difficult to find!
As more focus around the country is put on science literacy, I am working to improve my students’ science reading abilities by adapting literature articles, creating shorter articles at the high school reading level. This article is 3 pages long and is calculated by several online reading level calculators to be at the 9th/10th grade reading level. I purposely space the reading out onto 3 pages to give students room to underline, circle, and write in the margin.

I meant this reading to be challenging for my students. There are 11 text-dependent questions designed to engage and encourage deeper thinking about the topic.

When I work with my students on science literacy, I do the following in order:
First, I review some basic vocabulary words they have already seen and are necessary for the lesson. This lesson does not have any particular vocabulary required before reading.
Next, I read the passage out loud as students follow along.
Next, I ask them to read the passage silently to themselves and make marks in the margins, circling new words, underlining key ideas. (Each reading page has space on the right hand side for notes)
I then go through each question and encourage students to volunteer answers. I also have used techniques like think-pair-share to encourage more student participation.

I know as a science teacher, I often struggle to find a lesson a substitute can complete with them. This works as a great substitute lesson! Substitute teachers can read the article with the students and help them answer the questions. An answer key is also provided to help you (or your substitute).

Lesson Contents:
Pages 1-3: Reading Passage and Graph/Data Table
Pages 4-5: Close Reading Text-Dependent Questions (11)
Pages 6-7: Answer Key
Page 8: Teacher Instructions
Page 9: Terms of Use and Illustrations Credit

If you want more Science Literacy Readings, check out my other readings!
Are there Prions in our Milk?
H1N1 Virus on an Airplane!
How Identical are Identical Twins?
Zombie Ants and Fungal Parasites
Great White Shark Transcriptome

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Cat illustration by Anchor Art Man
Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour

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High School Science Reading: Cat Brain Parasites Cause Bad
High School Science Reading: Cat Brain Parasites Cause Bad
High School Science Reading: Cat Brain Parasites Cause Bad
High School Science Reading: Cat Brain Parasites Cause Bad
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