Slowly but surely, my Biology class has transitioned from a typical high school class with a focus on the "Double Helix" and mechanics of "Mitosis" to a class that leverages such structures and processes to tackle human disease and illness. Essentially, a Medial Biology class. I am blessed to teach at a school that allows me this freedom. A huge focus of the course has been leveraging student diagnosis of medical case studies as entries into inquiry cycles. For example, our unite on Cellular Respiration began with students diagnosing a patient with Type II Diabetes. Click here for our class website which contains templates for all case studies.
Given this approach, it is natural that our typical class text book does not serve my/our needs anymore. Although images and vocabulary related to such things as Cellular Respiration and DNA are nicely represented in the text, my current pedagogy catalyzed more questions about the current state of diagnosis, research and disease pathology. To this end, I found myself curating journal articles for students to read rather than assigning reading fro the text. Although the literacy skills of 9th graders makes this process challenging, feedback from them has indicated that they enjoy the challenge and actual scenarios so long as the reading is not "too long". I love 9th graders!
Next year I plan to structure and pre-curate articles for them to read. I have played around with many different ways of doing this, and have decided that including them in one spreadsheet would be best. This way, students can make a copy of the sheet, share it with me, and then in ONE PLACE they can have the article link, a place to summarize their reading, and a place for me to offer feedback. Although a google form submission, or a website with embedded pdfs for example, sounds nice, the accountability and simplicity associated with all work being in one place, in my mind, will decrease Extraneous Cognitive Load while also creating a single, easily visible resource. Click here for the current template. Note, it's a work in progress and the plan is to stock this sheet with all the readings. See a screenshot below.
Not a new idea at all, but I am always blown away by how productive class is when I assign a writing assignment and spend the class editing and providing feedback to all docs simultaneously. Today I pushed out this template, and groups of students relocated to a myriad of places on campus to complete their formal research article according to the template. I sat at my desk and provided feedback. Super fun. Super simple. Super meaningful. Below is a short video of the process. #embracethemess
Inserting a picture directly from the webcam of your computer into a Google Document is a, IMO, freaking powerfully simple strategy in the classroom. It was gone, but NOW IT'S BACK! YES! This feature embodies the kind of classroom technology I love: simple, efficient, and purposeful. Below are just a few of the many ways I have used this technique in my classroom:
Because I am completely obsessed with the revising my curriculum each year, I have always struggled with meaningfully integrated a textbook. Past integration efforts (homework, reading, classroom sets, etc.) represents moves I am ashamed of and weak spots in my pedagogy. My efforts weren't wrong per se, but I never invested the time, until now (I hope) over the past 17 years of teaching to critically think about how to integrate a text in meaningful, thoughtful ways. All attempts, to be completely honest, have been out of a fear of not being taken seriously by parents or students. Or, since we are on that topic, take seriously by myself (#impostercomplex). Below is what I plan on doing this year:
Click here to access the template.
Yes. I know what you are thinking. This entire post is mute given the functionality of Google Classroom or the myriad of other scripts. However when I want to quickly share a Google Doc template with students or teachers whom I am working with for a short period of time (workshop, science camp, etc.), this process works great. Below is the logic and video tutorial.
Creating a template from a Google Doc is extremely useful when you want to streamline the way students gather data, or engage in a unified activity. When the ridiculously long Google Doc URL template is created (see below video for method), writing a short version, customized URL on the board is very efficient. By customizing the link students do not confused "1" for an "l" an "O" for an "0", etc.