Reflection: Gradual Release Using Technology to Deepen Student Learning of Ecology Themes - Section 4: The Classroom Flow: Wrapping Up


Throughout our year together, my students and I have engaged on many extended research question investigations. Howver, it is only now as the year comes to a close that I begin to release that process entirely over to the students.  As you can see from our activity document, there are still reminders in writing to help support student project planning, but overall, the expectation is that students are initiating each step of the research process and asking for the support they need in order to complete their project in the manner that they envision.  The steps of the research process that we have explored throughout our year together include:

Defining a Research Topic

Sources: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary

Using Online Library Catalogs and Library Databases

Using the Web

Evaluating Websites

Writing/Creating with the Viewer in Mind

Academic Honesty & Proper Citation Format 

Because of the work we have done in these areas throughout the year, specifically evaluating websites, using databases, concept mapping for understanding, and storyboarding/sketching for visual impact, students were able to put all of those pieces together in a collaborative way that resulted in projects that were consistently strong in their content material, visual impact, and writing flow/voice.  I feel that the one area that did not get progressively stronger for students throughout the year involved the use of proper MLA citation format.  Although we went over it multiple times at the start of the year, I continued to get less than accurate work, which I would return so that students could redo for credit, but still students did not complete it correctly or did so with a lot of uncharacteristic grumbling. Later on, when I made this section worth more points with no partial credit available, students were willing to take a zero point assignment for that section than redo it!  I am thinking that what I need to do is not simply address the skill and practice of using MLA formatting requirements, but to make it clear why I am stressing formatting norms as something to attend to with care.  In addition to talking about it in the professional world of academic writing, I believe I can also potentially reach students with a focus on their future college careers and the priority professors put on this type of detail in assessing the overall credibility of a student's work product.  

Overall, I feel this year has been the most successful one in terms of research skills and I can trace the success of these student driven research practices to our earlier detailed and intensive scaffolded activities centered on specific aspects of the research process.

  Moving From Structured to Independent Student Collaborative Research
  Gradual Release: Moving From Structured to Independent Student Collaborative Research
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Using Technology to Deepen Student Learning of Ecology Themes

Unit 9: Unit 9: Energy, Ecology, & Classification
Lesson 4 of 7

Objective: SWBAT to investigate the biotic and abiotic ecological factors in each of the major biomes.

Big Idea: Have students use a great tech tool to create interactive webpages about the ecology of each biome!

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