Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Missing Voices: Rosalin Franklin and the Discovery of DNA (Day 1 of 2) - Section 2: The Classroom Flow: Viewing the Documentary


I am betting that, like me, many of you rarely show full length movies during class sessions for some really great reasons like the fact that time together in class is limited and therefore precious and because there aren't necessarily a large variety of high quality films to show for content related reasons unless it is right before vacation or there is a substitute in the room.  

When I do show a longer movie, I try to make it about opening up the story of science so that the facts on the page or terms on the vocabulary list for our unit start to have a life of their own, a context that students can relate to in their own lives.  In this movie, the interactions between the different scientists are very human: competitive, complex, with many professiona and social expectations and prejudices and individual personalities in conflict and in teamwork.  Students can relate to this in a different way.  From the research I've read about learning and emotional connections, people store and retain emotional memories in a way that other memories are not.  In my mind, if I can get a student to attach to the inquity of Rosalin Franklin's professional situation or the competitive spirit of James Watson, they will be more likely to add in other more technical details to that story that they can recall and connect later.

When I choose a full length movie to show to the class, I do not show it while I am out of the classroom and a substitute instructor is present.  By being in the room when students watch the video, I am signifying that it matters.  I can also then hear their immediate responses, take notes, and revisit them with the class as a starter to a larger conversation about the scientific content and broader social and historical themes of the movie.  By giving myself more ways to present and connect information, I also build in learning breaks for students so that they can mentally connect the pieces in ways that are meaningful to them in a format that feels like a treat because we do it so rarely.  Teaching is often about that balance between a solid routine and novelty and allowing full length videos to be part of my tool kit gives me more flexibility in addressing those contrasting needs in the classroom.

  Using Full Length Movies in Class: Is it Worth It?
  Adjustments to Practice: Using Full Length Movies in Class: Is it Worth It?
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Missing Voices: Rosalin Franklin and the Discovery of DNA (Day 1 of 2)

Unit 7: Unit 7: DNA & Protein Synthesis
Lesson 5 of 22

Objective: SWBAT explain the discovery of DNA and the role of scientists such as Rosalin Franklin

Big Idea: Use an intriguing historical dilemma and drama techniques to get your students talking about and relating to the discovery of DNA's structure!

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