Teaching, its never quite what you expect.
June 12th, 2019 marked our transition from learners to teachers. It also proved that as educators we are never done learning. Especially at the start of our educational careers there will be a rapid period of learning even though we are teaching.
The Run Down
Our team; Julian, Ryan, and I had been working diligently on our investigation into , what makes the perfect apple for Sodus? Then even more importantly as we planned our lesson, how can we make selective breeding interesting and comprehendible for students? We complied the results of our investigation, its successes and its failures. The results of our investigation were not particularly tantalizing, but they were indicative of the powerful effects of selective breeding. We presented this information in the form of a colorful and visually engaging infographic.
However, that information was not the focus of our lesson plan. Instead we looked to New Generation Science Standards for guidance, as we planned an engaging and inquiry driven session. We included a dilemma that we needed the students to help us solve. We asked the students about their pets, to draw a picture of them or write about them. In doing so we invited the student’s to share their world, their experiences, and acknowledge their value in the science classroom. Next we took the collaborative knowledge from our activity of making the perfect dog for Ryan’s apartment and extended it to how we can make the perfect apple. We preformed a taste test of a variety of apples, had the students describe the differences they noticed, write characteristics of each on a sticky note, and then post them on the class white board. We then reviewed how we each prefer different characteristics and we can take the most desired traits to make the perfect apple.
From there we discussed the investigations we preformed to test our premise that apples and apple trees, just like pets, are the result of humans selecting for desired traits. Finally, we discussed how we hope to further our investigations at camp.
Our lesson plan had several changes to it even before we got to Sodus. There were multiple adjustments to the time we would have with our groups of students which caused to revise our lesson plans multiple times. Then once we arrived at Sodus, the classroom we would be in changed multiple times. Once we were all set up and ready to go we ran into some more unanticipated hiccups. The first group of students arrived late and continuously trickled in making the flow of the lesson plan choppy with several restarts. Ten there was the issue of the biological methods that make selective breeding possible, we were able to dance around the awkward conversation and loop back to our core ideas with out needing to explain it anymore. These hiccups were aspects of our interaction with the students that we did not prepare for which signified the importance of having a backup plan, of expecting the unexpected, and being intentional with all of our inquiries and conversations with students. One other area we need to improve in is our use of wait time after posing questions, providing scaffolds for student thinking, and incorporating more “Think, Pair, Share” activities. I believe incorporating these aspects into our lessons will take our teaching skills and our connection to our students to a higher level.
The students were able to become comfortable with Julian and I a few minutes into our lesson. We developed a nice rapport that allowed them to have confidence in themselves and participate meaningful in our discussion. We emphasized that there were “No, wrong answers” and they heard us. We affirmed their contributions to that discussion, experiences from their lives, and their ways of knowing. The students were engaged in our activities, interested in our investigation, and even asked us if we had flyers for camp! It was amazing to have the students so invested in our research and camp idea. These areas are ones in which we can continue to capitalize on and build upon our skill set.
As we move towards camp we have some revamping to do to our lesson plans. We have scaffolding techniques to develop and implement. There are mini lessons to plan, questions to purpose, language use to consider, a field trip to finalize, and discovering how to effectively collaborate with colleagues. There is so much to do and so little time, but isn’t that always the plight of the teacher? Thus one of our main focuses will be how to most effectively use our time with the students, and how we can learn from our students while teaching them.