Dude, Scope This Out! (Day #2 of 2)

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Students will be able to develop the skills and knowledge to proficiently use the compound microscope.

Big Idea

The microscope is, perhaps, the most essential tool for biologists. Therefore, students must know how to effectively use it to investigate the microscopic world.

Learner Goals

Note: I recommend that you first check out this resource in order to get the most out of this lesson!

In high school I took several drafting classes and, for a while, I had hoped to become an architect. With respect to planning instruction and teaching, I feel that I can still live out the detailed approach to building something intricate and complex even though the product is a lesson rather than a certain "built environment".

The lesson-planning document that I uploaded to this section is a comprehensive overview of how I approach lesson planning. This template includes the "Big Three" aspects of the NGSS standards: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science Practices. Of course, there are many other worthy learning goals, skills, instructional strategies, and assessments that can be integrated into a class session. I don't feel compelled to check every box but, rather, use it as a guide to consider various options and tailor the lesson in light of these.

With regard to this particular lesson students will...

1. Identify and describe the key parts of the compound microscope.

2. Become proficient in the use of the compound microscope in order to investigate microscopic samples.

3. Develop a sense of confidence in order to independently use a technology to follow multi-step prodedure.

4. Develop a sense of curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration.

I hope you get some value from my work!

Anticipatory Set ("Hook")

Refer to Day #1 of 2...

Teaching Challenges (Reiterated from yesterday):

1. How can I develop a classroom culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity, and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration?

2. How do I develop routines and procedures to support students to work independently in the science classroom?

So, to answer these teaching challenges, at least in part, is to equip students:

-with the knowledge and skills required to become proficient in the use of the compound microscope.

-to leverage the technology with engaging and complex tasks.

-to support and encourage students in hands-on inquiry.

-to build confidence in students to feel like they taste success (many for the first time). 

Instructional Input/Student Activities

50 minutes

Microscope Skills Test:

1. Randomly call on four students at a time to four individual microscopes set up (and sufficiently set apart from each other) in the back of the classroom. Each student is directed to focus a given prepared microscope at low power (4x in my case). I use prepared slides featuring (really hairy) honeybee legs that are distinct enough to be easily seen and focused on by students. Students are either grossed out or very intrigued with the hymenopteran limbs!

I use the Microscope Preassessment Form form (that students completed on Day #1) to guide the knowledge questions and/or skill-related prompts I pose to students. I evenly mix skill and knowledge items. Students ought to correctly respond to at least 4 of 5 questions to pass. For example, I typically have students focus a slide at low power, then indicate to me the individual and total magnification at that level, then identify the location of the (iris) diaphragm and explain its purpose (decrease light pollution and increase the level of contrast in the image produced). I then will have them point to the coarse and fine adjustment knobs or move the slide across the stage (L-R or vice vera).

For the purposes of keeping things challenging for students and a little uniform for me, I tend to follow this format: interleave procedural and knowledge questions as students progress through the test. The procedural questions are done sequentially while the knowledge questions are randomized among the four students testing to keep things fresh.

(Procedural questions) place slide on stage, center and focus on (low, medium, high) power in turn

(Knowledge question) state the total magnification power at ____ power, identify the coarse and/or fine adjustment knobs, identify the stage/stage clips, identify the iris diaphragm, explain the purpose of the iris diaphragm

This is a busy class period because with 32 students, there are 8 rotations of four students. That being said, each round should take no more than about six minutes for all to go through testing in a 55 minute period!

You might be wondering what the "non-testers" are doing during this time period? Great question!

Students are reviewing for their tests until their name is called for testing and/or completing the Scales of Universe assignment. I have them e-mail their responses to me and their observations and wonderings never cease to amaze me!

Closure: What did we learn? Where do we go from here?

5 minutes

In my experience, this lesson is a bell-to-bell activity with little spare time. If there is spare time I close up the lesson by randomly calling on students to fill in one of the following phrases:

1. "Today was ______ because _______." For example, a student might answer with "Today was interesting because we saw things on a microscopic level."

2. "Two things I learned today were _________." For example, a student might answer with "I learned 1) how to focus a slide at low, medium, and high powers and 2) honey bee legs are really hairy!"

By the way... every single student passed their skills test on the first try and had a huge boost of confidence as a result!

Bring on all things microscopic!