Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Classification and Phylogeny: Creating our Biological Family Tree - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Checking In, Wrapping Up


I have done a few different variations of this project over the years in its book and chart form.  This year, I was envisioning a large scale class activity where we all researched and contributed to a classroom sized version of our biological tree of life.  Unfortunately, we didn't have the time or energy needed at the end of the third quarter to really dig into that idea substantively, so I set it up as an option for students to do instead of the original book or chart versions.

The student teams that chose to try this option were highly competent and I know they gained knowledge and understanding from the experience.  However, I feel like there was more I could have done to help scaffold and structure their project work so that multiple iterations were not needed as they were here for this project.  

Even though all students pairs worked on this project with very little class time support, the large scale groups tended to have an understanding of the connections, similarities, and differences between each classification group that was not as complete or enduring as student groups who worked on the book option.  As I spoke to students and reflected on what I was seeing and came to the conclusion that the size of the work led to a less organized approach to the content because students were thinking about the visual layout in ways that were connected to the content itself.  The book group did not have this same issue. Also, because of the size of the projects, students only brought them in for me to see when they felt they were ready for grading.  This was not the case for the book and chart groups who carried their work in progress with them to school and class for frequent check ins during the creation of their final product.

I think that because this was my first year working with the large scale option, I did not have the same careful planning documents and guidelines available for those groups to take advantage of while they worked on their bigger projects.  Next year, I will need to sit down and make some planning documents specific to those groups and give some smaller milestone deadlines for us to check in together to ensure they are on the right track before putting together their final product.  Overall, I was very happy with the work and learning of all of my students; at the same time, I can see that I have some work to do to make the different versions equal in quality and the learning experience comparable for all student group choices.   

  Supporting Students in Project Management and Quality
  Adjustments to Practice: Supporting Students in Project Management and Quality
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Classification and Phylogeny: Creating our Biological Family Tree

Unit 9: Unit 9: Energy, Ecology, & Classification
Lesson 7 of 7

Objective: SWBAT to identify the major classification groups and the main characteristics of each.

Big Idea: Support student learning through this engaging independent exploration activity that asks students to create their own visual aid to learn the classification of organisms. EDIT

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tree of life
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