Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Nucleic Acid Structure and Function : Working with Models (Day 2 of 5) - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Wrapping Up


One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is the balance between offering needed assistance and holding back that assistance so that students can uncover it for themselves or with each other.  As I rewatched video from this lesson series, I was very proud at how long I was able to hold out from jumping in with just the right word or needed nudge in a different direction, in large part because every single group was able to reach the correct theory or conclusion on their own if given enough time.  Even as I write this, I know how hard it can be in the moment to practice this concept of holding back and there is always a moment where I want to change my mind because this student driven process can take a long time and it isn't always clear if letting kids meander for extended periods is the best use of class time.  This experience of watching my students utilize the models to explore and confirm their understanding has convinced me that the answer to the question, "Is it worth the time?" is almost always "Yes!"  Here's why:

1.  Students told me repeatedly that the slow and questioning nature of the group model work really forced them to focus on what they knew, how they knew it, and just what exactly it meant in relation to what we had written on the board and the questions on the discussion prompt document.

2.  Students reported back to me that they felt confident that they could figure everything out with their team or by checking in with other groups.  They told me they liked seeing how long they could go without asking me a question and only checked in with me when they really, really needed it.

3.  When I asked students, "What helped you stick it out when things were challenging and you weren't getting to an answer you were convinced was right?" their answer was very clear.  They told me they were confident in their partners and that they knew that when/if they did ask me a question, I would help right away.  They also felt that the discussion prompts gave them clues about where to look again for more information on the model.

For myself as a teacher observing students throughout this lesson series and seeing this type of feedback, my takeaways include:

1.  Putting together effective student groups is a key part of positive collaborative group work. I'll talk more about my process for this in the next lesson reflection.

2.  Providing a supporting document of discussion prompts helps students to organize their conversation and stay focused on the main goals of the lesson.

3.  Hanging back as the teacher is essential, but so is immediate response when students express an explicit and urgent need.  

  The Essential Nature of Wait Time in Model Work
  Adjustments to Practice: The Essential Nature of Wait Time in Model Work
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Nucleic Acid Structure and Function : Working with Models (Day 2 of 5)

Unit 7: Unit 7: DNA & Protein Synthesis
Lesson 9 of 22

Objective: SWBAT identify the components of DNA and 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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