Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Connecting Organic Chemistry to the Food We Eat (Day 4 of 5) - Section 3: The Classroom Flow: Time to Create!

 

The story behind the beehive student project sample I described above is a great reminder of the role student choice and voice can play in both the process and communication of student learning.

This particular group of students had a very different idea for their visual display.  However, over the course of our lesson series, they expressed an increasing level of frustration and disconnection to their topic.  I told them what I was observing and asked them what was going on.  The students said they still liked their topic but were unhappy with how the visual display was turning out.  I offered to look at it as a way of introducing a fresh perspective and perhaps some helpful editing suggestions.  

It became very clear that this wasn't about work quality--the display idea and work so far toward completion was great.  But the students just weren't happy.  When I asked them more about it, they said our work throughout the session made them see some 'way cooler' ideas they wanted to do instead but now they felt stuck with what they chose first and were weighed down by the deadline and a complete lack of motivation to do what they had said they were going to do.  When I realized this, I told that if they really felt they needed to go in a brand new direction, that I believed they should do that and if they needed some extra time to fulfill their vision for the display, we could arrange for that as well.

The students were thrilled with this idea and without hesitation, they all answered yes at the same time.  In the end they came up with this beautiful display and, because they wanted to unveil it along with the rest of the class on our presentation date, they organized their schedules so they could work on it together up until the deadline.  Their presentation won a class award for creativity and unique approaches to their content and I was very happy to see that our discussion had turned a negative experience into a positive one.

When students are the drivers of their educational and creative choices, great things can happen. For me as a teacher, this interaction has reminded me to always be observing so that I can ask the right questions to get to student needs and that I need to be open to work extension under the right circumstances.  The experience also confirmed for me the value of devoting class time for student group work that could theoretically be done at home.  If I had chosen to structure the lesson in that way, I would have missed this valuable learning opportunity with these students.

It was very clear to me from this experience that students want to turn in work that they feel represents them and if I can work to facilitate that process, all of my classroom learners, including myself, gain from the experience.

  The Power of Student Voice and Choice
  Adjustments to Practice: The Power of Student Voice and Choice
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Connecting Organic Chemistry to the Food We Eat (Day 4 of 5)

Unit 4: Unit 4: Molecules of Life: Organic Chemistry
Lesson 14 of 15

Objective: Students will be able to research, discuss, and present information about current food topics and connect them to our organic chemistry unit.

Big Idea: Dig into food science topics with this project to connect student experiences to organic chemistry and the world!

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Subject(s):
Science, food (Personal Health), Organic and Biochemistry, Life Science/Biology, calories, senses, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, GMOs, processed foods, molecule
  50 minutes
second iteration honeybee
 
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