Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Create a Creature: Exploring Adaptations - Section 3: The Classroom Flow: Time to Brainstorm and Create


As hard as it is as a teacher, learning to hold back on help has been critical to my students' achievement this past school year.  

When we are talking about day to day activities in the context of a one day lesson, I scaffold this process from the beginning of the year by announcing when I will be taking questions and posting that time on the board.  At the start of the year, it may be after only five minutes of student collaboration and thinking time.  By the middle of the school year, it can vary from 20-40 minutes.  By announcing the time frame, I can help reduce student anxiety about getting their question answered while encouraging them to think through things on their own and with their student collaboration partners.  

For longer projects like this one where there is a gap in time between the introduction of the activity and the due date of more than a few days, I extend out the time frame.  I will ask for clarification questions at the end of the first session as a whole group, focusing on turn in/due dates and other procedural matters.  However, if students have big questions pertaining to their project big picture, I tell them that I'd like them to take a night or two to think though and talk out their ideas and that we can discuss their more fully formed ideas at that time.  In order to reduce stress, I set an appointment day and time and put it on my calendar/in my attendance book/on a sticky note/in my planner…anything that lets them know this is going to happen and that I have set aside time just for them.

Student tolerance for wait time is greatly enhanced by these two techniques and they work together to help students engage and focus, to talk out and think about their concerns and ideas, to prioritize what needs to be discussed right away versus what can wait, and finally, to work independently while advocating for their needs with their teacher in a way that builds their skills and confidence.  

I'll look forward to hearing some of your great techniques for helping kids direct their own learning and problem solve on their own! 

  Holding Back on Help
  Adjustments to Practice: Holding Back on Help
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Create a Creature: Exploring Adaptations

Unit 8: Unit 8: Evolution & Biological Diversity
Lesson 5 of 11

Objective: SWBAT analyze traits to identify adaptations within a population and how they relate to an organism's environment.

Big Idea: Give your students the opportunity to explore adaptations as they create their own fictional organism and describe their rationale for each feature they imagine!

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