Mississippi Teacher Corps

Thursday, June 14, 2007

required blog: goals/objectives and inductive learning

In the two days of summer school I've taught so far, I did the normal first-day introductory business (pre-tests and going over rules and so forth) and then taught a series of lessons on the cell. Now, I've never been a teacher who's found written objectives to affect the content and delivery of my lesson at all, but since I've been forced to write and state objectives every time I teach, I noticed that I'm now teaching objectives that are at higher Webb's DOK (or Bloom's Verbs, if you prefer) levels than I was when I taught this material during the school year. This is encouraging to me; the one student in my class (yes, I only have one student) has very little background knowledge in science, most likely because of poor teaching, but has done a stellar job of performing to meet my expectations and objectives.
I started with a basic introduction to parts of the cell, and had a slightly higher level objective even for this first lesson; I required my student to, after learning the definitions of the different organelles, explain their functions in her own words and make analogies. She was able to do it! Since I modelled this process for her (we talked about how the Golgi apparatus is like the post office, and how if she wanted to send a Christmas gift to her best friend in Indianapolis, she couldn't just throw it on the highway and expect that it would make it to her friend, but would first have to send it to the post office so that it could be properly addressed and packaged, just as cell proteins must be packaged by the Golgi before being sent to the ER), she was engaged in the analogies, and I think it really helped her learn the material. Today, when I asked her about the organelles, she knew them cold, and even used the analogies to help her remember ("the nucleus is like the boss, so it directs all the other cell parts.").
In the lessons that followed, I taught her cell theory and had her apply it to answer true/false statements (e.g. "A scientist can make cells in the lab just by mixing chemicals"), and had her compare and contrast plant vs. animal cells, as well as prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cells. I think that having all of these lessons set at a higher level than knowledge improved my instruction; rather than falling into that unfortunate tendency I have to lecture for much of the period and give a lot of notes that contain the content that students are responsible for knowing, I had her doing a lot of quality independent practice activities, like concept mapping. This worked well because although I haven't spent enough time with my student to determine her learning style, odds are that she is a visual learner, and having a lot of diagrams and charts probably helped her remember the concepts. She commented to me that she likes the way I teach because I break things down so that she can understand them. Having her do a variety of practice activities seemed to help her retain the material very well; throughout my lessons, I frequently asked her questions that referred back to previous lessons, and without consulting her notes, she was usually able to answer me correctly. I feel very positive about this, given that she does not seem to have retained anything that she learned in her science classes over the past few years, but is quickly picking up the material and is able to recall as well as apply the different concepts I've taught her.
I used the concept forming inductive strategy several times today. It went much better than when I tried to use inductive strategies during the past school year; my students often did not seem to make the discoveries toward which I was trying to guide them, perhaps because the concepts I was using were too abstract for them to grasp. Today, after having my student think about things that humans can do that bacteria can't, I showed her unlabelled diagrams of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. She had to interpret the diagrams, label the organelles, and then make a concept map showing which organelles were in eukaryotes, prokaryotes, and both. She did beautifully with the assignment, and I think learning it this way made the information have more of an impact that having me just lecture on the information; she remarked with fascination how simple bacteria are compared to eukaryotes. Since prokaryotes lack a nucleus, we compared them to a school with no principal to keep everything in order, meaning that the school would have to be much smaller and would not be able to do as many things as a school with a principal (the eukaryotic cell). I taught the difference between plant and animal cells in a very similar manner, giving her diagrams and having her complete a concept map that we then discussed. She was fascinated by the fact that animal cells do not have any organelles that are not found in plant cells, and yet plant cells contain three organelles not found in animal cells. I think that teaching through this inductive strategy made the material more exciting and memorable to her, as she felt that she had discovered something rather than having me hand her the information. I definitely plan to use strategies like this in the future.

Now playing: Johnny Cash- Jackson


  • At 10:53 AM, Blogger Sci Teacher said…

    As a Middle-Level Science teacher, I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with the analogies and ideas you are giving your student. Cell theory and organization are often difficult concepts for students, and I applaud your efforts! I look forward to being able to use your concept mapping and analogies strategies in my own classroom.


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