I recently stumbled across this podcast between Tim Ferris and Seth Godin. About midway through the episode Tim begins to grill Seth about the concept of Pedagogy, and how he goes about thinking about learning and instruction through a lens of. cognition and motivation.
To quote Seth:
"We learn things by becoming momentarily incompetent"
This one quote summarizes so beautifully everything I tried to say here, and on my best days, what I try and do in the classroom (pandemic or not). That is, to carefully walk the line between the delivery, and the withholding of information. To have faith in the empty spaces. To honor the mystery box.
I encourage you all to listen to Tim and Seth's thoughtful conversation.
Class: Freshman Biology
Topic: The Cell Cycle
1. Engage (Hero is Called to Adventure)
While entering the Zoom room this video was played on loop. Students then worked to solve this medical case study in randomized Zoom breakout rooms. (correct diagnosis = pancreatic cancer). The goal if this phase was to engage students in the process of cell division and create an information gap about cell division specifics that could be closed later in the learning cycle.
2. Explore (Hero is Challenged)
Solution to case study was revealed using this video. Working individually, with Zoom room open for individual help as needed, students then worked through this POGIL activity on the Cell Cycle recording answers here. The goal of this phase was to provide specifics about cell division to add content and context to the case study. Slowly filling in the information gap.
3. Explain (Hero Meets the Mentor)
Solutions to POGIL activity are provided here. Students engage in informal discussion in randomized Zoom breakout rooms followed by responsive classroom discussion about correct and incorrect answers are provided via whole-class Zoom. The goal of this phase is to "trick" students into engaging in direct instruction guided by their desire to fill the information gap.
4. Extend (Hero is Transformed)
Students are placed into randomized Zoom breakout rooms and instructed to have a conversation based on this prompt without looking online for solutions: "Cancer of the heart tissue is very rare. Why do you think this is?" After returning to whole-class Zoom, this video is pushed out to students in chat to close the new information gap.
5. Evaluate (Hero Returns Home to be Judged)
Students are challenged to create a presentation about a cancer of their choice. The presentation must include reference to, and diagrams of the cell cycle, specifically tumor suppressor and/or oncogene mutations that contribute. Students are also challenged to identify gaps in current treatment and propose their own innovative treatment. The goal of this phase is to force reflection on the content revealed in the learning cycle and promote inductive reasoning about cancer treatment.
Revisiting this post today while working with colleagues on inquiry lesson planning in the context of Blooms Taxonomy. Because I am finding this particular reflection and model useful, I felt it as worth sharing again. Enjoy!
The below images show the difference between the standard inquiry cycle I do during our face-to-face classroom time and how that cycle is being translated into 2 hour inquiry cycles during the online instruction. Additionally, below are active links from yesterday's lesson in my chemistry class for reference with respect to how the technology integrates into the process. I prefer using works like "Check In", etc., rather than "Explore" to keep students AWAY from the pedagogical. thought process in my head, and simply INTO the task in theirs.
About three months ago I did something I often do but I am embarrassed to admit:
I assigned a "sub lesson" when absent, asked students to submit evidence of completion, and then...
...wait for it...
DIDN'T EVER LOOK at the document!
Yes, I suppose it's a combination of my confidence in the accountability created by having students submit images via a collaborative google doc, and the pure hecticness during the school year. More of the later.
Anyhow, here I am, sitting at some random cafe enjoying my summer and cleaning up my Google Drive, and I stumbled upon a Google Doc that contained a sub assignment I had asked my students to do when learning about balancing ionic compounds.
I have been striving to incorporate more inquiry into my sub assignments, and this was my first stab at it.
A little bit about the lesson:
My 4-year-old twin boys were gifted a set of HUGE, generic legos, and I had a thought! See image below:
While my kids quickly realized that they were not "real" Legos and went on to doing whatever 4-year-old twin boys do, I saw a potential sub lesson!
In my chemistry class we had just got done learning about the Periodic Table of Elements and how positive and negative ions form. I had yet to introduce the idea of ions transferring electrons to form balanced ionic compounds. Hence, the entry point for inquiry!
I was to be gone the next day of class, and I decided to cut all the legos into blocks of 1, 2, or 3, bumps (not sure what the correct term is?), that, in my mind, represented the +1/-1, +2/-2, and +3/-3 ions. It is a common activity to have students form ionic compounds by fitting them together correctly.
But, my students did not know this. Hence, the entry point for inquiry!
After placing all the pieces in the center of the room, I emailed my sub the following prompt:
Ask students to model the formation of Ionic Compounds using this document. Ask them to insert images of their models into the document.
To be honest, I had know idea what they would produce, as the prompt was very open-ended in general, let alone for a sub assignment.
Back to the point of this post. When I looked at their responses...today...I was blown away. They completely nailed the activity. Shame on me for not even following up with them the next day in class...It is so easy to lose track of the most important things as a teacher at times.. Embarrassing, but true.
Below is screenshot from the shared google doc where they uploaded their responses: