For a quick set up of today's work, and to get students laughing a bit, I play the video "Photosynthesis - They Might Be Giants" created by Pascal Campion, as the students get their computers.
I tell students that as they continue the WISE activity from the day before, I expect them to complete all the steps in Topic 2: "How is energy transformed".
When the students start reaching step 2.9 (Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction), I ask them to put their computers to listening height (lower their screens), and give a brief explanation of chemical reactions with emphasis on how the energy is getting "trapped" by the bonds created when the the big glucose molecule is formed.
As students reach step 2.17 (Experiment 1), I hand them the experimental design sheet, and have them use the simulation to plan and carry out an investigation (SP3 Planning and Carrying Out Investigations), and analyze and interpret the data they obtain (SP4 Analyzing and Interpreting Data). I use this step to reinforce the idea that even when we are doing something simple, like gathering data from a visualization, it is important to think like scientists and practice scientific thinking skills. This pair of students is working towards formulating testable questions and defining variables (SP3).
As students continue to work, I am moving around the classroom checking in on student understanding through the conversations I overhear. Listen to this student conversation on the role of humans in this process.
I am also identifying pairs that may have started to lag behind, and sit with them to solve/explain things that may be causing them to stop learning.
Note: Students unfamiliar with the platform or topic might take more than one class period to complete all the steps in Topic 2. Since "quicker" students can proceed without waiting for the rest of the class, I allow the "slower" students to work at their own pace as long as they continue to be on-task. Careful observation is needed though, to ensure that the pace is not lagging because of a lack of understanding of the material, but rather due to the construction of student understandings, the discussions that are being held and/or the careful crafting of the answers to the questions posed.
Remember the chain-note from the day before? To bring the day's work to a close, I hand out the chain note they created the day before, and again have student pairs go over what was written. They must identify concepts that have been reinforced by starring them, look for ideas that might have changed and correct them, and add one more sentence to the chain note.
Note to teachers: This is not a graded deliverable. I look through them in search of misconceptions that need to be addressed.