Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Learning Human Anatomy Basics with Paper Dolls (Day 2 of 3) - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Wrapping Up


For many years, I would not schedule class time for any work I felt could be done at home:  project collaborations, close reading activities, test corrections/follow up work, or individual project work and planning.  Alternatively, I would only assign these types of longer term, slow work creating visual projects or planning and brainstorming work as additional credit based assignments for struggling students or high achievers.  I was always too busy worrying about keeping a fast pace in order to discuss each of the many state standards in preparation for our intense school-wide testing schedule and expectations.  Now, I am convinced of the benefits of building in time for these activities.  Here is my short list of reasons for justifying this use of class time together.

1.  Student lives outside of school are incredibly busy.  Students now have multiple outside activities and additional commitments that impact their ability to dig deep into academic content.  By using class time together to tackle bigger projects, students feel like their time and lives are valued and are relieved to have scheduled time with no other competing urgent projects to choose from in which to learn and collaborate.

2.  Students under pressure are more likely to cheat or devalue the intended assignment in other ways.  Overscheduled students translate into panicked students and students in highly stressed out mindsets can make very poor choices when it comes to cramming, taking absences in order to complete work, or turning in work that they did not do themselves or work that is nowhere near their ability level. In general, students want to turn in work that shows their best work and when they feel that their schedules make that goal impossible, they can feel frustrated and disconnected.  Class time for class work and student learning eases the pressure on students and allows them the opportunity to see what they can do without other things getting in the way.

3.  When I can see each phase of a project from planning to fruition, I am a more knowledgeable and confident grader of the final products I receive.  Since I began this commitment of class time for class work, there are no longer those awkward due date surprises where student groups have nothing to turn in or the quality level is so low that I cannot accept it.  In addition, incidents of plagiarism have gone down.  

4.  When I am present for each phase of a project, I can guide students more effectively and differentiate my instruction more specifically geared to student needs.  This can translate to academic content gaps as well as issues involving group dynamics, problem solving, and long and short term project planning goals.

5.  A higher degree of interaction with my students leads to a more connected classroom with deeper, more trusting relationships with students.  All kinds of funny moments happen spontaneously as we work together!  I also get a better sense of that balance between offering and withholding direct support the more time I spend with individual students, talking and observing their thinking and behavior patterns, growing patience and maturity levels, and stress responses.

6.  Students feel safe in art spaces based upon typically happy childhood school memories as well as the loosening of typically stringent rubric constraints that naturally happens when creative work is the expectation/norm.  I love using these emotional responses to color and drawing to combat the daily academic pressure and stressors my students feel and to ease them into learning in a field that many of them feel uncomfortable about because they have heard that science is really challenging. 

7.  Students involved in slower, visual art work projects describe to me an experience of having time to actually think through what we have learned and ask questions that get to the heart of what they do or don't know.  They report to me that although visual work looks easy and fun, that there are a lot of choices they are having to make that require them to think and pay attention tow what they are doing and what they actually know in a more focused way.  

I hope my list inspires you and that you will share some of your own future list of reasons! 

  The Case for Using Class Time for Studio Work
  Adjustments to Practice: The Case for Using Class Time for Studio Work
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Learning Human Anatomy Basics with Paper Dolls (Day 2 of 3)

Unit 10: Unit 10: Human Anatomy & Physiology
Lesson 2 of 9

Objective: SWBAT identify the major systems of the body: system name, components, and functions.

Big Idea: Hook kids into the study of human anatomy and physiology using student created paper dolls!

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