Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who done it?

I taught a lesson last Wednesday on pedigrees. (A pedigree is similar to a family tree but shows what and how physical traits are being passed from generation to generation.) I typed up my lesson plan and made worksheets for this pedigree lesson. I thought I had everything figured out. Well, for the most part, the lesson went smoothly. I went over what a pedigree was, what shaded and unshaded circles or boxes represented, and how the lines between these shapes either meant that these people were the parents or the offspring. I showed them the difference between a phenotype and a genotype, just in case they forgot. The students responded well to the review and even helped me use the whiteboard.

Next the students numbered off into groups of about 3 students and worked on the "Who done it?" worksheet. The assignment was titled, "Who stole the Big East Championship trophy?" I typed up a short story about a family named the "Pittsburghlars" who have always sent their children to Pitt and have always been jealous of WVU sports. One of the Pittsburghlars stole the trophy and my students had to use the clues about the burglar from the story and the pedigrees to figure out who stole the trophy.

There was just one problem with this lesson. Time. Some students got the burglar right away, while some students struggled with the pedigrees. I am now concerned about how to manage my time in the classroom when some students get done so quickly wile others may take all period.

How do I write lessons that accommodate for student differences in the length of time it takes them to complete assignments?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Individual Lesson Plan

I've been spending a great deal of my tutor hours observing the students to see what activities really keep them engaged. They seem to respond most to technology and things that have to do with their lives outside of school. For my individual lesson, I plan to begin an with an activity that will grab the students and keep them interested throughout the lesson.

I am doing a genetics lesson on heredity, the passing of traits. I will have students look at images of physical traits that are passed from parent to child. I will have students inspect their own traits and the traits of other students in the classroom. They will compare and contrast traits to see who has traits in common and who has a unique set of traits.

I believe this introductory activity will engage the students because it physically involves them. They all have certain sets of traits that may or may not be the same as other students. I believe students will maintain their interest in this heredity lesson because they are learning about a topic that defines why they possess certain physical features.

Following this trait comparison activity, the students will be given a brief overview of pedigrees and punnett squares. Students will then work in groups to figure out what traits in the pedigree are dominant or recessive and how punnett squares can be used to explain why traits are passed in a particular manner. Students will write their explanations on the whiteboard towards the end of the period. Finally, students will have to create their own pedigree and corresponding punnett square.

I believe students will enjoy this activity, because I made it authentic for them. But I do wonder how I will maintain engagement in the future for activities that do not deal with biology. For example, activities that involve chemistry or physics.

Is it truly possible to make every science activity authentic or relevant?