Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Using a Simulation Activity to Explore and Compare Meiosis and Mitosis - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Reviewing Concepts


Using models has been a powerful learning experience for students in my classroom this year-and for me as well.  Although younger children are used to manipulating objects to learn, we don't tend to emphasize that in the older grades, in part because models are expensive and often broken or destroyed through use and because they require maintenance, which translates to time teachers simply don't have to devote to sorting or searching for pieces.

Here are some of the benefits I have seen since I began to work with models in substantive way. 

  • Students love working with models.  They are curious, which enhances their engagement in our modeling activities.  Models are associated with toys and the that playful investigation aspect of the work is a solid emotional backdrop that keeps kids open to learning about and working through complex conceptual processes.
  •  Models lend themselves to collaborative work.  You can point to a model in a way you can't point to a thought, making discussions about and through models productive for students across spectrum of academic ability.
  • Models support our English language learners by emphasizing the visual experience of processes and phenomena first.  From there, it is easier to scaffold academic language around their understanding based upon the models.
  • Models are often a great tool for students to self-correct, meaning that students can prove to themselves the validity of their idea with the model.  They don't need to consult an expert or have someone tell them, they can see if for themselves.
  • Working with models is slow work.  It takes time to build or connect pieces, to deconstruct them, to search for pieces and sort them by essential characteristics.  This provides an opportunity for students to think longer and harder about what they think they know and what they actually understand (surface recognition vs. conceptual understanding).
  • Model work is both linear and non-linear.  There are steps to follow, but they can be rearranged and repeated based upon the learner's needs or curiosity at the time.  They can prompt a wide range of questions that may not be linked in any causal way but in fact contribute to a student's broader understanding of the concept we are studying together. 
  • Models provide a concrete reason for a teacher to tell a student to go back and revisit their question or process.  When we are working on wait time with kids, it can be hard because students sometimes see it as being mean or withholding information.  Being able to say, "Well that is a great question, let's go back to the model and see what we can find out." is a great way to encourage student self-directed study without alienating them.  Model work encourages students to be independent and teachers to be coaches in ways that are beneficial to all of the learners in the classroom.

 I'd love to hear about your experiences and add to this list this coming school year!

  The Power of Manipulating Objects for Learning
  Adjustments to Practice: The Power of Manipulating Objects for Learning
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Using a Simulation Activity to Explore and Compare Meiosis and Mitosis

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

Objective: SWBAT go through the process of meiosis and compare/contrast this process with mitosis in cells.

Big Idea: Use colored beads to simulate meiosis and compare it to the process of mitosis!

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