It’s nice to celebrate the small successes, it keeps us sane. 🙂 In my post about microorganisms I shared some of, what I thought, were wonderful critters. A bunch of students in both of my 8th grade classes were right there with me, finding great critters, identifying them and drawing them. Maybe it was because I have ten microscopes and while one student was looking the other one or two lost patience. I had envisioned each team taking turns searching, finding, looking at, identifying and drawing all the microorganisms they could find. Alas, that was far from the reality. While the few who were on the scopes worked the rest of their peers, a majority of students, were wandering the room socializing and learning nothing about the diversity of life.
I would wander, gently redirecting students. It was hard to remain pleasant because few did as I asked and it was non-stop. I would have much rather wander to see what they were finding and talk about all the different living things in our creek. I did do some of that and it was so much more enjoyable than redirecting students to work!
I was contemplating just cutting our study of cells short due to the majority not being interested. So I looked for an assessment probe to see what students were getting from the “work” they were “doing.” I found the perfect probe in the first volume of Page Keeley’s formative assessment called Is it Made of Cells?
Students had to choose from a list of items those that were made of or were once made of cells, then they had to explain why they chose the ones they chose. Students worked on the probe for a while, then I had them share their thoughts with each other. After each table shared and edited their individual responses I tallied their votes to see which of the items they chose as cellular. The numbers were all over the place and what ensued from that was a great whole class discussion. This off the cuff discussion was more exciting for more students than looking through the microscopes! Who would have known? lol We discussed cells for two days as students feverishly looked up different items from the list to see if they were made od cells or not. We learned quite a bit about atoms, elements, molecules, DNA, chromosomes, and protein among a bunch of other cool things! I really enjoyed that.