Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Learning Human Anatomy Basics with Paper Dolls (Day 1 of 3) - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Student Brainstorming and Research


This project is one I piloted many years ago and at the time, felt that it might be taking too much time in terms of all the other standards we needed to address during the school year.  I have since shifted my thinking about art based projects within our science classroom.  Over the past three years since I have begun to do this project again, I have observed students using studio time in the classroom to discuss what they are doing with each other and delve more deeply into their questions and ideas about the human body during this project.  

In order to help make that happen, I have found that the following steps help:

1.  I don't allow headphones.  The work period is structured as quiet time, but still connected.  Headphones are isolating and although I know that music can sometimes help students think, for art related projects in our class, I find that the headphone wearing students zone out while the ones that are sitting with a seat partner working quietly side by side will talk to one another about content related themes.  Not only does this help the students clarify their ideas and gain confidence about their knowledge level and project requirements, but it also gives me a chance to overhear those conversations, take note of any class wide misconceptions that might come up for me to address collectively, and intervene on a private basis with students based upon their specific needs.

2.  I outline the goals and requirements for studio time throughout the year.  Over time, when I say the phrase "studio time," students know exactly what that class session will look like.  Here are the ideas that seem to work best to paint a picture for students about the expectations for a studio session in science class:

  • Our studio session is to give you an opportunity to work on your project brainstorming and creation with support.  It is not a homework session.
  • Studio session time is to be spent working on our project and asking for assistance whenever needed.
  • Studio time can involve working with a partner, using notes, slide presentations, textbooks, or online resources to support our understanding and progress on project goals.
  • Studio time is a great time to connect with your teacher and each other to make your project the best it can be!

I know time is always an issue as a classroom teacher and that we continually make tradeoffs and choices about time in reference to our priorities.  For me, assigning this type of work for homework means I lose the chance for feedback and formative assessment.  I also lose supervision over who exactly is completing the work and am less clear as to how focused in on the task at hand that students were when they did the work at home.  Investing the class time supports a slowing down of student thinking so that they have time to come up with substantive learning questions.  It also builds class cohesion as they see how much I respect their time outside of school by building in work time in the classroom together.  By showing them the value I place on the project through my investment of class time and personal attention, I support expectations of high quality student work and deeper learning outcomes.  

  Using Visual Art for Deeper Learning
  Adjustments to Practice: Using Visual Art for Deeper Learning
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Learning Human Anatomy Basics with Paper Dolls (Day 1 of 3)

Unit 10: Unit 10: Human Anatomy & Physiology
Lesson 1 of 9

Objective: SWBAT identify the major systems of the body: system name, components, and functions

Big Idea: Hook kids into the study of human anatomy and physiology using student created paper dolls!

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