Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Nucleic Acid Structure and Function: Working with Models (Day 1 of 5) - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Clarifying Questions and Wrapping Up


This is my second year working with West Ed to develop effective lessons using models and I am very excited about the progress we have made in engaging students to examine the models closely compare them to other images and models depicting DNA in order to get a broader understanding of what DNA looks like and how models can help to reveal characteristics of any subject of study.  

I have found that utilizing the biggest number of models I can with students throughout the unit depends their retention and understanding of the basic parts of DNA.  Students are more likely to ask each other questions that I can then track, ask me things they are curious about either related to the lesson or jumping ahead to natural extensions of their knowledge in that moment.  Models allow us to talk more generally about what models can and can't do in science--by using more than one version of DNA model, I can ask students to notice what one model tells them that another one doesn't.  

What is even more interesting to me is that using models allows students to really challenge themselves about what they do or don't understand.  More than a few students told me that although they had already memorized the three major parts of a DNA nucleotide, that it was only through repeated interactions with the models that they truly understood how they fit together as a group and why the types of bonds between them made sense in the broader conversation about replication.  More than one student told me that until we worked with the models, they assumed that all DNA looked exactly like the book diagram where there are four bases in this order:  A, T, C, then G.   The models made them question this assumption, discuss it with each other, and confirm their change in thinking with me.  This process gave me insights into ways I can prompt that conversation intentionally next year now that I know this is a typical student misunderstanding for all textbook diagrams or video clips they use for additional content support. By using multiple models, our class was forced to reexamine underlying assumptions and confirm or refute their validity. 

  Using Models
  Adjustments to Practice: Using Models Effectively
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Nucleic Acid Structure and Function: Working with Models (Day 1 of 5)

Unit 7: Unit 7: DNA & Protein Synthesis
Lesson 8 of 22

Objective: SWBAT identify the components of DNA and investigate the process of DNA replication using paper, puzzle piece, and 3-D DNA models

Big Idea: Get your students communicating their knowledge of DNA structure and function through their analysis of a variety of DNA models!

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