Reflection: Adjustments to Practice CancerQuest: Cell Division Gone Wrong (Day 2 of 3) - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Wrapping up


When I first came across the Cancerquest website and realize its potential to grow our collective knowledge about cancer research in connection to the rather dry concept of cell division, I was excited but also worried.  The level of academic literacy needed to unpack the science content on the site was clearly not intended for younger readers or novice scientists at first glance.  However, as I delved into the site, I noticed many background information supports:  short tutorial video clips and hyperlinks of major terminology to definitions.  I still had reservations about expecting students to be able to push through all of the layers of complexity in order to get to the heart of their chosen topic independently.  At the same time, I knew I couldn't individually mentor 150 students through the process and yet I was convinced this type of project could be a potentially significant and long lasting science learning experience and memory for my kids.

I decided to use paired project work in order to balance these competing realities within the context of my learning goals, our academic standards, and my student population.  My idea was that students would each pick their own area of interest to research and each student would create their own product, all while working in pairs.  In my vision of this collaborative grouping, although students do not share a topic or responsibilities for joint writing or creation, they could confer with each other to problem solve and brainstorm specific aspects of the project or issue that could come up as they researched and wrote their individual piece.  

This type of pairing has revealed many benefits to this type of process-partnering with individualized product scenarios:

  • Students support each other on their individual tasks by lending a new perspective to student writing and answering the question, "Did your message come across to me the reader when written this way?"
  • Students help their partners choose diagrams critically by asking the question, "How does your choice help the reader to understand the topic?  How does the diagram fit into the flow of your writing?"
  • Students serve as proof-readers by looking over student created bibliographic information searching for MLA formatting errors in indents, italics, and headings.
  • Students help to troubleshoot technology issues like where to look for things on the website and how to format a Word document.
  • Students support each other in asking me, the teacher, questions by coming up as a team to assertively and proactively address their concerns or to get 'unstuck' when they hit a creative wall.  The confidence this team approach provides to each team member is dramatic.
  • Students talk out challenging vocabulary together using the website resources, other web resources, diagrams, their textbook, hand gestures, and broader student collaborative groups.  
  • Students hold each other accountable for project and time management because they are turning in the work as a pair and are responsible to each other.

Going forward, my only concern is how to handle the grading aspect of this pair yet at the same time individual work.  Grading the work individually takes away the accountability aspect and at the same time, assigning a group grade can also be problematic, even with a clear rubric.  I am curious to hear from you for ideas as to how to handle to assessment piece!


  Using Asynchronous Groups
  Adjustments to Practice: Using Asynchronous Groups
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CancerQuest: Cell Division Gone Wrong (Day 2 of 3)

Unit 6: Unit 6: The Cellular Basis of Inheritance: Mitosis & Meiosis
Lesson 5 of 8

Objective: SWBAT compare and contrast the cell cycles of normal and cancerous cells.

Big Idea: Get your students connecting the cell cycle to their daily lives through the use of medical treatments and explanations of cancer.

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7 teachers like this lesson
Science, Cells and Cellular Processes, cancer, cell cycle, cell division, Chromosomes, Life Science/Biology, mitosis and meiosis, benign, malignant, metastasis, angiogenesis, tumor, density dependent inhibition, anchorage dependence, growth factors, oncogenes, tumor supressor gene
  50 minutes
hela cells cover image
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