Keep in mind that the presentation I have made was for the entire chapter. I only used a little piece of it for the lesson being discussed and shared here. Below is the PDF link to the worksheet the kids used in the lesson.
So how did it go? I will start with my use of the TPACK framework lesson plan. I think the lesson plan was good because it forces the thought process in planning. It helps build the framework by making sure each section was filled in and thought about. Everything educators plan should have a reason and using this lesson plan puts that at the forefront of the planning stage.
Armed with a good lesson idea and plan I was confident it would go well in the classroom, but you never know how it will go for sure until you do it. The lesson went fairly smoothly at first. The kids liked the Prezi presentation and were mostly paying attention. Several students seemed to actually look forward to the presentations because they like the visual learning I have been implementing previously and they know there will be pictures and video coming soon. It is good to see the technology piquing their interest in learning in the classroom.
I managed to get through two of the four vocabulary words when a flood of questions began to spring from the mouths of the curious class. It was a bit of a pickle for me because I had a plan on time and needed to give them a decent amount of time to write out their ideas on the worksheet, but I didn't want to stifle the curiosity of the kids or pass up a teachable moment when the kids were actually really interested in a certain subject. The class began a small discussion of animals and survival. This was great because I know that "students generally appreciate having casual conversations with their teachers (Goodwin & Hubbell, 2013)." We talked about camouflage and why it helped prey animals survive, but also how camouflage helped predators. We talked about variation in human genes as well as other animals and what it looks like. The brown-eyed Korean children always enjoy pointing out my blue eyes, but they were also delighted to know that my hair was much lighter, almost white, when I was a child. The kids were shocked to learn about the terrible fate of the Western Black Rhino and I didn't want to gloss over the very important lesson of protecting wildlife. Extinction is a very real possibility in our lives, it wasn't just the dinosaurs a long time ago. After many other questions we managed to finish our vocabulary introduction and watched a short video on one particularly interesting adaptation in the sea - the cuttlefish. One of the greatest living adaptors on Earth (see prezi for video).
After watching a few minutes of the video, I explained the worksheet and got the kids started on creating their own animal with an adaptation that would help it survive.
What I thought went well was engagement. The kids seemed to be engaged and interested in the content and the technology used to relay that content, evidenced by their eagerness to ask questions and engage in a discussion about the topic. They were conversing knowledgeably and thoughtfully on-topic. I think the visuals were making the vocabulary easier to understand and conceptualize. For example, we were able to see an animal's camouflage and discuss how the animal uses it, rather than spend the time trying to explain what camouflage means. They moved quickly from acquiring the vocabulary to applying it in discussion very swiftly moving up Bloom's digital taxonomy from understanding to applying and analyzing (Crocket, Jukes, & Churches, 2011, p. 91).
What I thought did not go well was the timing of the lesson. I would have liked to have more time to implement this lesson more in-depth. It felt a little rushed, partly because I wasn't expecting so many actively engaged students asking so many questions. This is the kind of time problem I like to have though. However, those questions made it difficult for the students to have enough time to really get into the animal worksheet and apply their new content knowledge. I may even have to revisit this assignment to get the ideas fully formed on paper. They were trying their best to get the ideas out and we ran out of time. My planning was a little too time rigid or perhaps I was bitting off more than we could chew. Either way, next time I would allow for more time to teach this lesson.
I would definitely teach this lesson again, however. It was engaging and the students liked it while at the same time being pushed to think outside of the box and be more creative than they are usually expected to. As I mentioned before, I would allow for more time, though, for the writing. This would be better implemented on a day I have a double block class of science and I can use the break between classes for the kids to let the ideas sink in. They can come back after break and be ready for designing and have plenty of time to flush out their ideas. We would even have time to share our ideas and let the kids hear what their classmates came up with.
The technology used in this lesson was nice and easy to use. I have been implementing Prezi into my lesson a lot more lately and it has, as I alluded to previously, a response in expectations from the students. They have begun to get accustomed to it and enjoy the use of it in class. I also like Prezi because I can keep all the visual material in one location. All the photos and videos I want to use for a lesson is in one place so I don't have to be searching the web or opening more than one window. It makes the visuals cleaner, the lesson go smoother, and helps eliminate any slow internet connection breaks in the middle of class when opening a new window can kill the flow of the class.
The students, for the most part, responded well to the lesson. They were actively engaged and offering up their ideas and insights almost from the beginning of class. As I mentioned before, we made it through two vocabulary words then the questions came tumbling out. The questions were not the type of questions kids can offer up in order to stall, but were actually very interesting questions. For example, one student asked what might happen if an animal was born without their camouflage and the student sighted an example of a shrimp not being the correct color for blending into their surroundings. I think the students enjoyed the content of the lesson overall.
This is an improvement in the engagement with the content that I have witnessed thus far. I have a few students who seem engaged most classes, there are a few that seem to never be engaged, and many in the middle who are engaged sometimes and not engaged other times - a bell curve of engagement. This lesson brought out the middle group more and even the group that usually doesn't seem engaged was more interested. I believe the rest of this chapter, using this technology, will really be the test to see how engaged they are, but as of now, their interest has been piqued.