Reflection: Adjustments to Practice DNA Discoveries: How Did We Get From Then to Now? (Day 3 of 4) - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Jigsaw Time!


When I first began to use jigsaw activities, it was very clear to me I was doing something wrong! Students weren't able to turn in clearly written work that showed attention to detail, sequencing, or terminology.  Even after I offered significant expert group support, things weren't changing no matter what the topic of study was at that time.

And then I began observing the lab group share out work much more closely and I noticed what was happening: students were simply handing each other their expert notes and copying them without any communication with the writer expect to say "Wait, what does that say?  Your handwriting is awful!"

That is when I realized I needed to scaffold every single aspect of this process until it became clear to students what my goals were for the activity and they were able to intuitively go through the process as I had originally envisioned.  By requiring expert groups to rehearse what they would actually say to their lab table team confirmed for me and for students that they actually understood the information well enough to present it on their own.  And by setting the explicit expectation that students had to interact with the speaker and that it was unacceptable to pass around notepages, the share out portion of the lesson began to take longer (beacause students were actually talking to each other!) and students were asking deeper questions for clarification and understanding.  At that point, the work quality shifted dramatically.

One of the hardest pieces of being an adult learner within a classroom of students is that it is easy to overlook this scaffolding piece:  there is a technique to everything and it is my job to set it up as clearly and consistently as possible early on so that as the year progresses, my expectations can become simply written reminders until they are downgraded to a verbal check in each time.  

What was even better about this shift in my teaching is that students were able to see more clearly the benefits of collaborative conversations and as a result every learning group activity transformed in small ways that produced better written work and summative assessment scores.  In general, I am finding that the more I work on my process in class, results follow,  The shifts may be small, but they are powerful

  Setting Up Effective Guidelines for Student Sharing
  Adjustments to Practice: Setting Up Effective Guidelines for Student Sharing
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DNA Discoveries: How Did We Get From Then to Now? (Day 3 of 4)

Unit 7: Unit 7: DNA & Protein Synthesis
Lesson 3 of 22

Objective: SWBAT trace the evolution of scientific thought and research into the structure of DNA.

Big Idea: Use an engaging jigsaw activity and drama strategy to give students the chance to trace the history of DNA!

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