Reading Primary Sources: Darwin and Wallace
This activity supports concepts covered in the film The Making of a Theory. Students develop their nonfiction reading comprehension by analyzing excerpts from texts written by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
Students build an understanding of the revolutionary ideas of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace by reading the two naturalists’ scientific writings, journals, and letters. They examine Darwin’s and Wallace’s writings to identify the evidence that led the naturalists to develop their theories about the natural origin of species.
Student Learning Targets
Evaluate claims based on information and evidence presented in a film and in scientific texts.
Determine the central ideas and themes in historical and scientific texts.
Participate in a collaborative discussion about the interpretation of information presented in historical and scientific texts.
adaptation, common ancestor, competition, domestication, evolution, natural selection, population, reproductive success, species, variation
Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray, 1859.
Darwin, Charles. and Wallace, Alfred R. “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection.” Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 3, 9 (1858): 45–62. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.1858.tb02500.x.
Wallace, Alfred R. “The Origin of Species and Genera (S322: 1880).” Nineteenth Century 7, 35 (1880): 93–106. http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S322.htm.
Wallace, Alfred R. “Variation and Natural Selection.” Nature 44, 1144 (1891): 518–519. https://doi.org/10.1038/044518b0.
HS-LS4-1, HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-4; SEP6
AP Biology (2019)
EVO-1.C; SP1, SP6
IB Biology (2016)
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.H, SP3
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
ELA.RST.9–12.1, ELA.RST.9–12.2, ELA.RST.9–12.4, ELA.RST.9–12.6, ELA.RST.9–12.8, ELA.WHST.9–12.1
Vision and Change (2009)