Reflection: Connection to Prior Knowledge Evolution, part 1 - Section 2: Introduce New Material


The philosophical chairs activity is a great way for students to connect to prior knowledge.  This activity in this lesson is a modified philosophical chairs because students do not write in this activity. They simply move physically from one side of the room to the other as a way to communicate their beliefs about a series of statement related to evolution, using Agree or Disagree as the two opposing opinions.

I like this activity as a formative assessment because it quickly and easily affords me a clear picture of my students' beliefs about a topic.  I feel that students also acquire a greater sense about their beliefs using this activity, as well.  It's interesting to observe students during this type of activity.  Some will not be swayed by the majority opinion as demonstrated by the numbers who move to one side of the room or the other.  Whereas,  some students will always question where they've chosen to stand based upon the numbers of students standing with them.

When I conduct a philosophical chairs at the start of a lesson, I always will return to the activity as part of the lesson close.  If my learning targets have been met, I should see students moving to the correct side of the room that reflects the correct position, Agree or Disagree.  Another benefit of this activity is that it allows student movement.  The simple act of getting up from their seats and moving is an effective way to build student engagement.

  Philosophical Chairs
  Connection to Prior Knowledge: Philosophical Chairs
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Evolution, part 1

Unit 3: Unit 4-Organisms and Evolution
Lesson 4 of 7

Objective: Students will evaluate the role of natural selection in the development of the theory of evolution.

Big Idea: The great diversity of organisms is the result of more than 3.5 billion years of evolution.

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