Reflection: Classroom Setup Modeling the Prokaryotic Cell (Part 2/2) - Section 3: Explaining the Exploratorium


Like many science classrooms, I do not have enough microscopes for all of my students to use individually. Nothing is more boring than standing around while your lab partner or other classmates are hogging the microscope. To solve this problem and make sure that students stay on task, many of my lessons are turned into exploratorium. Students are familiar with this type of station lab if they have visited a natural history museum or science center. They like them because they get to move around the room and experience some unique tasks.  

For an exploratorium to work best, tasks need to be highly interactive and able to be done in approximately ten minutes. I set a timer. When the timer sounds, students move to the next station. At the end of the first rotation, students can revisit any stations they did not complete. I keep the exploratorium up the entire day. If a student does not get a station complete, they can come to my class when they have a Learning Academy (our version of study hall) or Seminar. At the end of the day (after school), students also have time when they could come to the room and finish the exploratorium. It is their responsibility to make sure all stations are done by the next class period.  

Depending on class size, I assign students to groups no larger than four. Many times my classes are small enough that students can work with a partner. The bottleneck for this exploratorium is the gram staining because students need to be able to make a gram stain slide and then look at it under a microscope at the cell shape station. In large classrooms, it may be possible to set up more than one gram staining station to help keep everyone working.  

Effective class management in the lab is very important. While helping student groups, I try to stand in such a way so my back is not to the majority of the student groups. I walk about the room checking on student progress. If student groups are focused and working well independently, I stand in one of the four corners of the lab so that I can see all student groups.

  Organizing a Lesson When Lab Space (and Supplies) are Limited
  Classroom Setup: Organizing a Lesson When Lab Space (and Supplies) are Limited
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Modeling the Prokaryotic Cell (Part 2/2)

Unit 3: Bacteria
Lesson 2 of 4

Objective: The students will use several protocols to identify and classify unknown prokaryotic cells. Students will compare and contrast how a bacterial cell differs structurally from an eukaryotic cell.

Big Idea: What types of characteristics are used to divide bacteria into groups? Find out the tests that scientists use today.

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Biology / Life Science, Science, bacteria, Prokaryotic cells, Developing and Using Models, Systems and System Models, structure and function
  63 minutes
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