Reflection: Shared Expectations Time to Get Started: Exploring Common Themes in the Study of Living Things (Day 1 of 2) - Section 5: The Classroom Flow: Class Discussion


During this lesson, the students go through quite a few transitions from desk work to lab group seating, from solo reflections to small and then large group discussions.  I have found that being patient and allowing this to take the time students need as they familiarize themselves with our norms is the best way for students to get from this lesson what I want them to see about classroom life together this year:

this is a safe place for them to share their thoughts as they learn and form opinions
that our class will be an interesting, active space and
that they should expect the unexpected when it comes to our day to day flow of activities


I have found a group classroom discussion method that I have had a lot of success with and here it is:

1.  For any large group discussion, I ask lab groups (8 lab groups, 3-4 students each) to briefly discuss the discussion prompt together for 1-2 minutes.

2.  Each group chooses a spokesperson who will share out the major takeaways of their group conversation.

3.  Each time we repeat this process, the rule is that the group must choose a new spokesperson.


There are many reasons why I love this new way of encouraging large group contributions!  Here are just a few:

1.  Students who may feel hesitant to speak within the large group setting feel supported by their role as spokesperson sharing out agreed-upon group points rather than just their own thoughts

2.  Students who feel worried about speaking in front of a large group have the autonomy to choose when they speak and what they speak about

3.  Groups are very diligent in self-monitoring their compliance with our rule of a new spokesperson for each cycle of questions, cutting down my need to intervene or keep tedious records, allowing me to listen and respond to content related misconceptions and student interests in a more substantive way

4.  Having 8 'experts' ready to contribute at any given time cuts down on wait time, decreases the chance of having one person take over the conversation, and creates a culture of equity.

I am excited to hear about your experiences with your students using art to discuss science!

  Classroom Norms
  Shared Expectations: Classroom Norms
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Time to Get Started: Exploring Common Themes in the Study of Living Things (Day 1 of 2)

Unit 1: Unit 1: Introduction to our Classroom and The Scope of Biology
Lesson 5 of 7

Objective: Students will be able to practice large group discussion norms and identify the major themes in biology.

Big Idea: Use a large scale environmental modern art installation to explore themes in biology and get your students talking!

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