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?


  1. I really liked the sound of your lesson on pedigrees. What age level were you teaching? And how creative you were with the "Who done it?" lesson! I loved the idea and the Pittsburghlars? How wonderful! I imagine the students loved that. You probably had 100% participation, didn't you?
    As for the time management problem: It is almost impossible for even seasoned teachers to guess how long a lesson might take. And even more difficult to ascertain is the amount of time to allow for group work. As you get to know your students better, you'll be able to gage that better. But in the meantime, you might want to have a related backup activity for those (groups or individuals) who finish early. Make it extra credit or something that slower groups can finish for homework. I know, it's extra work for you, but you'll probably save yourself behavior problems by keeping them busy.
    Elaine, keep up the creative activities. I'm sure your students benefit greatly from your creativity. Pittsburghlars! I'll remember that one. Great reflection!

  2. I am in an 8th grade science class. I think the students really enjoyed the activity and got a lot out of it! I know I did. And it was fun to be creative, too! I'm glad you enjoyed the Pittsburghlars!

  3. That lesson sounded really fun for the students. You made it relevant and even more interesting by incorporating the Pittsburgh/WVU rivalry into the lesson to keep the students engaged and interested in the lesson. To keep students occupied and busy when they complete an assignment early, you could have an area set up or extra activities for them to do and ready all the time because with science, there are probably going to be many times when some students get finished faster than others. You don't want the fast students to feel punished by having to do an extra assignment, so if you could have an area where they could use computers, look through science related magazines, or do some type of extra fun science activity would work well for these fast students.


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