I have been using a version of this 4 day lesson series for the past few years and it has been a great way to end the year with students in charge of their learning at every level of the project, both as creators and as audience members. Our school has a wildly popular upper level Anatomy and Physiology course and in general, our general biology course doesn't include a significant amount of time in our curriculum framework to dig into the human body. This series of lessons is my way to honor our school and district norms for the introductory biology course focus while giving kids a taste of what they are going to be exploring in their next life science course.
On Day 1, we introduce the basic vocabulary of the human body systems and brainstorm student group project ideas. We also go through the basics of good oral and visual presentations using an informal rubric and past project examples for improvement analysis.
Day 2 gives student groups the opportunity to work together to plan and create their projects about one of the body systems
During Day 3, students explore each other's projects and summarize their learning about the basic concepts and terminology important to each body system.
And on Day 4, students participate in a whole group discussion of their overall learning and experiences with the project and complete a written formative assessment.
When we have had additional time in previous school year schedules, I have experimented with having each group present to the entire class but have since abandoned that model for my current gallery walk format. The individual presentations take a very long time at a timeframe during the school year where kids are pretty worn out. Additionally, without a significant amount of scaffolding and practice, student presentations can be pretty grueling for audience members simply because they aren't teachers or experts in their subject area yet. By adding in a whole class discussion and written formative assessment given after the initial project viewing session, I am able to bring in direct instruction in conjunction with the student driven projects. I can't wait to hear about your versions of this approach to introducing the human body systems!
1. Tell student groups that they will have ten minutes to set up their projects on their lab tables and return to their desks.
2. When students are all back at their desks, pass out the Body Systems Gallery Walk Peer Feedback document, one per project group. Ask students to take out their human body systems key information document. By the end of this lesson series, the student documents should match your master document.
3. Tell students they will have the next 40 minutes to explore each project with their lab partner and fill out their joint gallery walk document as well as to complete their key information document.
Note: If you haven't used the gallery walk format for peer feedback, check out my Gallery Walk protocol tips and tricks document for some ideas to make it a great learning session for students!
1. While student groups view, discuss, and evaluate projects, in their project groups of 3-4 you can use the time to grade the projects using the project rubric document.
2. Because students will have an engaging assignment to complete and limited time in which to complete it, you will most likely not need to redirect student groups as you grade exhibited work and they tour the poster gallery along with you. However, you may find it motivating for students to announce the end time at regular intervals in a friendly and calm tone. I find urgency does not necessarily result in better learning or feedback throughout the gallery walk. You can announce to the students if/when the classroom will be open for additional viewing time for groups that need this. I find that typically 1-2 groups per class will want additional time and that they are willing to come in together at lunch or at other designated times. For most student groups, however, they will be able to turn in their evaluation document by the time they leave the class session.
3. You can expect that student pairs will be engaged throughout this session. Students love to see each other's work and compare how each student team approached the project. The feedback form gives student groups direction so that they stay on task, and the length of the session is long enough to get the work done but still short enough to create a sense of movement and urgency so that students continue to direct their conversations toward the science content and presentation. As you look at each project, you can check in with student evaluator teams about their questions or to have them consider one specific concept from their form in more closely. Be sure to verbally appreciate student work and effort throughout the session as students are sincerely very proud of their individualized, creative work!
4. Check out a typical student work sample poster. Although each poster groups prepared was quite different, what they all had in common were the following:
And now on to Day 4!