Reflection: Checks for Understanding Scale and Powers of Ten - Section 5: Debrief


I came away from teaching this lesson with a number of reminders about what good teaching looks like:

1) Interacting with all students is important. Students looking at red newsprint under the microscope had really different experiences. Some saw what I wanted them to--that "red" is actually made of many different colors at the microscopic level. However, other students did not initially know what they were looking at, or did not have proper focus, and therefore they not only did not share in the experience, but they also did not get the "aha!" moment I would have wanted them to get--namely that microscopic characteristics are often quite different from macroscopic ones. The microscope observations from Student 1 and the microscope observations from Student 2 show that with guidance students will discover things that they find meaningful.

2) Quality control for note-taking is important. Somehow, this student's Power of Ten notes show that he did not pick up on the fact that negative exponents indicate numbers between 0 and 1. Having a section in this lesson where students get a 3-5 minute "notes mop-up", in which students compare notes to a master set of notes and to each others' notes will increase the likelihood that students record the correct information.

3)  Exit tickets are important! The first scale and power of ten exit ticket from Student 1 showed an understanding of the relationship between the powers of ten and the prefixes that we use to indicate them. However, the scale and power of ten exit from Student 2 is more indicative of what students came away from the lesson with. Clearly, students need an activity to wrestle with these ideas besides just taking notes. The activity could be something simple, like matching exponent cards to prefix cards, but in some way they need to interact with the material in a way that is more interactive than note-taking. This card activity is something I will plan with students as part of their review before we test on this unit.

In short, learning happens gradually and at different paces for different students. there are myriad ways that learning can break down, but to the extent that teachers are in tune with what their students are hearing, recording, and doing, the learning process is greatly enhanced.

  Checks for Understanding: Lessons I learned from looking at student work
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Scale and Powers of Ten

Unit 1: Chemical and Physical Properties
Lesson 1 of 11

Objective: Students will be able to relate scale to metric prefixes and the power of ten.

Big Idea: Scientists use instruments and metric units to quantify and understand the size of objects from huge to tiny.

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