Mitosis can be a challenging topic for introductory level biology students. In the past, students only had pictures in a textbook (or copies) to memorize the stages. There seemed to be a disconnect between the memorizing of the stages and understanding the big picture – what is the point of mitosis?
It is a way for the cell to divide and ensure that each new cell has the exact same genetic information. Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Telophase, and Cytokinesis are all just steps in this process.
I write the letters on the board: I P M A T – this helps students remember the sequence.
Students can view animations to help them understand the steps. This worksheet takes them to different sites which show the steps and structures involved.
Students can then practice what they have learned with the Mitosis quiz.
Another trick I use to help students learn the phases is to use plastic models. I happened to have a set of mitosis models that were left by a previous teacher, but you can probably make your own if you are creative.
The key to using the models is to get students more physically involved. I’ll scramble the models and pick a student to come up and put them in the right order. Sometimes the class can help him out or sometimes I’ll ask the class to see if he can do it on his own first. After getting them in order, the student then names each of the phases. I’m sure you can use this same technique with magnets or just pictures that students can manipulate. Models like the ones above can be bought from supply companies, but they can be expensive.