This zip files include 5 common core activities grounded in current life science current events; articles are included for your convenience. The activities use current science research articles (all from 2015 or 2016) to allow students to determine the meaning of scientific texts and apply that knowledge to solve critical thinking problems. Some articles serve as a spring board for class debates, further research, or further critical thinking about the topics. All activities include a full answer key. Topics include genetics, environmental issues and ecology, immune system and HIV, cancer and cell biology, and evolution/natural selection. See individual activity descriptions below. Each lesson could take a short as 45 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Activity 1 is a genetics lesson extension about advances in embryonic gene editing. Students read about how the genetics of embryos can be changed by scientists. After answering some comprehension questions, they read a science opinion article on the ethics of this advance. This leads into a class debate prompt on the ethics of altering human embryo genetics.
Activity 2 is an environmental issues/ecology extension about the increasing rate of deforestation, especially in the Amazon rainforest. Students synthesize information from two articles and answer comprehension questions. This activity culminates with a class debate on interfering with government regulations to reduce global warming/global climate change.
Activity 3 is a short immune system/human body system extension about new therapies for HIV treatment. Students read and use higher order thinking skills to answer analysis questions, culminating in a research activity where students investigate individuals with natural immunity to HIV.
Activity 4 is a cancer/cell biology extension about the dangers of tanning beds (preview file). The activity is based around a science opinion article detailing why indoor tanning beds are more dangerous than UV light from the sun. The culminating activity has students debate on government action based on the facts in the article.
Activity 5 is a short evolution extension about a specific adaptation in moon fish. The activity has students analyze the article and finally do some additional research on how the adaptation allows moon fish to escape from predators.
I use this in a high school biology classroom, but all articles are appropriate for advanced 6th graders and up.