Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding The Orange Circle Theory (Day #2 of 3) - Section 4: Closure: What did we learn? Where do we go from here?


Sometimes I employ an instructional strategy or resource that I feel represents good practice and sometimes, when reflecting further or coming across some good quality PD, I come to realize that there is definitely room for improvement.

The concluding check for understanding in this lesson features three true/false questions linked back to the learning goals.

1. “True or False-Humans evolved directly from chimpanzees.” (False)

2. “True or False-Populations, not individual organisms, evolve over time as their gene pools change due to selection factors.” (True)

3. “True or False-A given adaptation that an organism is born with is the result, in part, of random genetic changes that occur during meiosis.” (True)

Having read more of the book Teach Like a Champion 2.0, I have come to rethink the merits of "targeted questioning" in general and choosing to ask true/false questions in particular.

Author Doug Lemov writes, "One of the simplest and most valuable (techniques to employ) is Targeted Questioning-a quick series of carefully chosen, open-ended questions directed at a strategic sample of the class and executed in a short period of time, often a minute or less." (p. 34)

I chose to underline the key criteria to evaluate my own practice of targeted questioning (what I have called a check for understanding). The questions I posed (above) were quick and carefully chosen (relative to the goals for the lesson).

Another component of the Targeted Questioning is reliability. In terms of question design, "...the biggest danger in assessment is a false positive. You ask a student a question, and he gets the right answer. It appears to suggest mastery, but could it be an illusion? Your student might have gotten lucky and guessed correctly. Or maybe he got one right, but isn't likely to get most right." "One of the best ways to show (reliability) is to ask "why" and "how" questions to give evidence of the quality of thinking behind the answer." (p. 37)

In my question design, I erred on account of the format (true/false) which essentially accounts for a 50/50 coin toss. Moreover, I did not select students strategically but rather chose them at random mainly for the purpose of removing selection bias (on my part) which is defensible in some cases so I am not too concerned.

As an aside, all students questioned answered appropriately but it does leave a crack in the door of doubt as to how thoroughly students really knew the material.

Chalk it up to continuous and continual improvement! A teacher's job is never done...

  Targeted Questioning
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Targeted Questioning
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The Orange Circle Theory (Day #2 of 3)

Unit 6: 6) Exploring Change ("The Theory of Natural Selection")
Lesson 11 of 15

Objective: 1. Construct an explanation based on the evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors, including reproductive potential, heritable variation, scarcity of resources, and survival of the fittest. (HS-LS4-2) 2. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations. (HS-LS4-4)

Big Idea: The Theory of Natural Selection can be thought of an on-going cycle whereby generations of populations encounter an ever changing environment that selects winners and losers. To the winners go the spoils!

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Science, natural selection (Evolution), variation (Evolution), reproductive potential, Speciation, theory (Scientific Method), case study, mental model, adaptation, reproduction, selection, Charles Darwin, finches, generations, species, Survival of the Fittest
  55 minutes
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