Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Does McDonalds Have a Farm? (2 of 2) - Section 2: EXPLAIN: Ag symposium


This activity requires precise timing.  The weak link in my design for all of my classes was the requirement of a visual aid.  Almost all students ended up creating text-based posters or pulling graphs from Google searches.  The problem with both of these approaches is that they do not solve the problem that the visual aid is intended to solve: How might we supplement our presentation with a visual that aids students' understanding in a way that is not possible through verbal explanation?  Going further, I began to realize that this year I have not done consistently incorporated the development of quality visual aids.  This was a major emphasis a few years ago when I was teaching a neurobiology course, but this year it was admittedly underdeveloped.  

For a fuller treatment of some of my ideas for supporting students, see this short video that I created through my participation as a Teacher Fellow with a design-thinking, democratic pedagogy focused science educator professional development group.  Additionally, this article from the NSTA has some great ideas for teachers interested in incorporating data visualization in the classroom (though it is not free).  Finally, this New York Times piece also provides an excellent overview of infographics and their use in classrooms.

The attached resources exemplifies the kind of visual aid most student groups produced.  This a visual aid for a group presenting about soil quality. Feedback for this group consisted of a short discussion of one question: How does this visual aid help students understand your content better? We decided together that this kind of text heavy visual did little more than provide speaking notes for the presenting groups. A visual of the various forces that can degrade the various soil horizons would have been far more effective.

  Adjustments to Practice: High quality visuals take time
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Does McDonalds Have a Farm? (2 of 2)

Unit 5: Food (biosphere and geosphere)
Lesson 12 of 24

Objective: Students will be able to 1) publicly communicate key ideas of industrial agriculture's impact on the health of the environment; 2) demonstrate proficient understanding of concepts related to industrial agricultural and environmental health through a problem set style assessment

Big Idea: Much of what we eat comes from a “food industrial complex.” How might we define the costs and benefits of this system through comparison of agricultural techniques?

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