Science 9 – The above picture is a snapshot of my reproduction unit plan. As the science 9 classes worked their way through reproduction, I sort of got bogged down in details again. I managed to avoid the small bits of meirosis and focused on how it results in genetic diversity. However, I don’t think the students had enough meaningful tasks by which they could really assimilate these new ideas. What I should have done is got them started on a transfer task or some intermediate project that focuses on the Understandings and Essential Questions. Passively reading through some material isn’t much of a learning experience for them. Next year?….?
Science 9 – The classes today did a lot of seatwork / textbook questions. I looked around for different activities for modeling meiosis, and found a few. And wow! where the models difficult to follow. They made sense, but they also typically took about 20 steps of cutting, joining and mixing various pieces of strings and pipe cleaners. So I had my classes use the textbook to compare meiosis with mitosis, and even this got confusing for the students.
Leading up to this lesson I spoke with teachers that do Science 10 and Biology 11/12. It became very clear and evident that whatever processes that are memorized in grade 9 science, they are long forgotten by the following year. This revelation emphasized to me the importance of focusing on the Big Ideas in meiosis: meiosis allows for genetic variation, and the resulting chromosomal differences between meiosis and mitosis.
While the seatwork would have been somewhat boring, it did give me a chance to go to almost every student and ask them to tell me about the first two Big Ideas. In my mind, this was a fantastic way to implement formative assessment. The desired outcome is clear, and each student is given a chance to demonstrate what they know and get timely feedback. It wasn’t a perfect process, as I didn’t get to speak with every student.
Science 9 – Today was one of those really productive and useful lessons, almost insidious in fact. Instead of doing an individual KWL sheet, I put students into random groups and had them whiteboard their work. It was a significant improvement over any other KWL activity I have done. Not only were students able to summarize a fair bit of detail of previous knowledge, the real winner was in the great questions they wondered about and asked about.
I started off this unit with one primary Essential Question: “Why are both meiosis and mitosis required?” A more thorough inquiry is based on the idea of finding out what meiosis and mitosis are, and what roles organelles, DNA, genes and proteins play. I’m don’t think I’ve been transparent enough with them about these underlying questions (and they don’t ask), but next day I’ll try to get them to tie these ideas together.
Some of the questions the KWL generated include:
- What are all the organelles?
- What do genes do?
- Why am I different from my parents?
There were many others but I forgot to take pictures of the whiteboard!