View Lessons by Subject > Science > Clarity
(Biology): This year in Honors Biology, my teacher told my class that the unit we were about to start, Chapter 7 Photosynthesis, was going to be one of the hardest chapters of the year. Going into it, I only knew a little information about the topic that I had learned in 6th grade. The class is already challenging, so knowing that even my teacher said it was going to be difficult that I would have to work extra hard to do well. My teacher opened the lesson using a picture her daughter had made in her 4th grade class to show basic photosynthesis. Opening up the unit like this was very helpful, because I could relate to it because it was all I knew about photosynthesis at the time. As the unit became more complex, so did the pictures on the Smart Board. My teacher went into detail about each aspect of the picture, highlighting certain areas. Even for girls who are not visual learners, actually seeing what my teacher was describing was helpful for a topic that was on a microscopic level. We had 10 question quizzes throughout the unit, as we do with every unit that highlighted key information from the notes and pictures. These quizzes were a great way to sum up the important details and key elements of Chapter 7. Near the end of the unit as the material had become progressively harder, I walked into class and all the desks were faced toward the white board on the opposite side of the room. My teacher introduced the day by saying, "We are going to draw today!" Skeptical, I pulled out my colored pencils to match the Expo markers my teacher was using. My teacher gave us a blank sheet of paper. My teacher began to draw the photosynthesis process happening inside the thylakoid membranes. As she drew, she explained what was happening. She went into detail about each and every step as she drew it, and then we would. At the end of the class, I had a previously blank sheet of paper that was now covered in the detailed drawing of a thylakoid membrane and thylakoid space. Having this reference sheet when studying was perfect. The picture showed nearly everything we had talked about in the unit, in a picture. By having it in a picture, it helped me to study because when I was studying, I wrote out every step in words which enabled me to grasp the concept more fully. This unit was significantly more difficult than others, but the primitive and complex visuals my teacher used to explain the lesson made Chapter 7 photosynthesis much easier to understand.
(Physics): I think our physics teacher effectively executes his lessons daily. He first presents the topic in a very clear and direct lecture, then follows it with a sample problem for us to work. Depending on if we the students answered the question correctly, he will either stay on the topic until we understand it or will move on to the next. This ensures that his students understand the material before serious misunderstandings occur. Furthermore, we practice problems together in class as well as work on problems in groups.
(Biology): During my junior year, I took Anatomy and Physiology as one of my electives. I took this class expecting to know more about the body of different living organisms, all of its systems, and the way they worked. The main example our teacher used to help us understand these concepts was by dissecting a cat. This dissection was hands-on, thus allowing for a more engaging and motivating learning experience. For once during this course, my fellow students and I were allowed to lift the words off the text and put them to practical use. Before the cat dissection we learned all about the different systems of the body: skeletal, cardiovascular, immune, and etc. Because learning from a textbook, a single secondary source, was mundane, we were not able to experience and grasp the concepts as well. However, by taking a different approach to learning with the hands-on dissection of a cat, connections between different systems and processes could be made. With several different cats for use, we were able to contrast and compare the condition of their bodies and their organs. In addition, learning the physical anatomy of the cat laid the foundation for better grasping of the body of other organisms. To aid the dissection of the cat, we were given a packet that guided us throughout the entire body. This packet contained questions that made us think in depth of the section that was dissected. After the packets were finished and the cats dissected, my teacher tested our knowledge of the lab project by labeling parts for us to identify. This simple project laid the foundation for the concepts of my future science classes to be easily grasped.
What I liked about my teacher was that we had the same routine, of which we did activities, every day. I liked how first we wrote down the lesson plans for the day in our notebooks and we had one question to answer as a review from the previous class. I liked having a quick review before we plunged into the next topic. Then we would have lecture and take notes....After note taking and lecture we would do some type of art project to show what we had learned in that lesson. I found being able to show my knowledge in that form was fun, because I am a very artistic person, but also those projects made it stick more in my head having time to practice. I also liked how she gave us homework every night. I liked how the homework wasn’t “busy work” but it was more like drawing and labeling a cell, or drawing the digestive system that really made the topic stay in my head so I would be ready for the next class.
The most effective practice is to actively engage the students in the learning experience. This is a task that I take seriously in my 7th-grade classes. I find it to be quite effective in the learning of both the subject content and skill sets necessary for success in a science class. I always start off my lessons with a few memory jogger questions and this typically starts the class on a positive note with students recalling previously learned information typically incorporating some kind of analogy. I then continue with a Power Point presentation and tie in the previous lesson to the current one. Prior to this I prepare ‘fill-in-notes’ for the girls and email those to them. They use this as a shell to complete as we go through the lesson. This way they are engaged in the lesson, typing in important bits and not bogged down by the notes and worrying that they will not ‘get everything copied.’ Students seem to like this system as it allows them the processing time necessary to follow along. Following this we have a question period and reflection. Sometimes we incorporate hands-on laboratory work which highlights the task at hand. Students seem to be very comfortable with the unfolding of the lesson. To me, that is the most important element. When the students are comfortable they are open to learn and to be involved in their learning experiences and this, to me, is the whole point.