Tuesday, November 6, 2012

EDSS 521 Blog Post #3

When you think of doing classwork in a biology class, you imagine students doing experiments and learning complex concepts with difficult vocabulary.  The thought of creativity doesn't come to mind.  Instead, you think of science as dry facts and data.  However, there are many ways that creativity can be infused into the instructional content.  For example, if the students are learning about cell organelles and organelle function, instead of having them use rote memorization to learn about organelles, the teacher can have the students use art as a method for learning organelles.  Have the students get into groups and come up with an analogy to the cell.  For example, the cell is like a city.  City Hall is the nucleus because it is the control center and the post office is analogous to the Golgi apparatus because it is the packaging and shipping center of the cell.  The students can draw their analogy on poster paper with colored pencils and use their creativity.  When they have completed their works of art, they can share it with the rest of the class.

In our biology class, critical thinking and problem solving occurs when students are completing their lab write-ups.  Students are asked to answer pre-lab questions before conducting the lab exercise, then answer analysis and conclusion questions which require critical thinking and problem solving skills.  For each lab exercise, the students work in groups of 2-3. Therefore, communication and collaboration occurs while the students are participating in the lab.  They work as a team to set up and break down the experiment, gather data and answer the pre-lab and analysis/conclusion questions.

Blackboard is an example of how we promote information literacy in the biology class.  Students are able to visit Blackboard to get the notes on information presented in class. There are mastery assignments to help students to better understand the instructional content.  There are links to resources like a website with Youtube videos and interactive websites.  ELLs who want to preview the content before it is presented in the classroom can go to Blackboard to access the information.

We teach our students about media literacy by having our students cite sources using APA format when writing their formal lab write-ups.  For example, for one lab report, we had the students do research on glycerol and they were to include any resources that they used to get the information.

Our biology class uses technology often, including EXCEL for preparation of graphs and charts, the internet for research, Blackboard (to access notes, presentations, etc), Aeries (to access grades), email for students to communicate with teachers and teachers to communicate with parents.  

The independent portion of the lesson plan occurs during the lab exercise.  It is at this time that the students make discoveries on their own, based on the main ideas and principles of the lesson.  The lab exercise is also a time when the students can interact with each other since they conduct the lab in groups of 2-3.  The students also interact with each other during classroom activities such as Think-Pair-Share, Tea Parties and so forth.

The instructional strategies in the biology class include scaffolded instruction as well as variety to meet the needs of the students.  Students are asked to participate in manipulatives such as labs, create diagrams such as graphic organizers and posters, and they are encouraged to use problem solving and critical thinking skills.  We provide many opportunities to learn the content in a variety of ways including those that suit the kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners.  We also provide multiple exposures of the instructional content to increase the likelihood of mastering the content.

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