The lesson I observed was on the subject of human anatomy. It was taught to a Grade 11 science class, where the specific topic of instruction was human body organ systems. The unit consisted of multiple lessons as well as a group project that required the students to team up in order to complete research and a presentation on a randomly chosen organ system.
The teacher integrated the use of research skills that involved reading books, writing up a descriptive report and using Internet technology for research purposes. The students were required to use three types of media to present their findings, such as audio, video, images, or text. The teacher incorporated technology into the lesson by encouraging students to use the computer lab in order to conduct Internet research. Furthermore, the students were expected to use Internet access at home in order to continue collaborating. The students were required to interpret different types of data gathered electronically.
The students were provided with computers, which were equipped with Internet capabilities as well as word processing and design programs such as Microsoft Office and Inspiration. The students also had access to textbooks covering biology and anatomy concepts as a referencing tool. Note: The students were not provided with direct online sources and were expected to find credible sources on their own, which resulted in some time wasted.
The teacher used science learning and instruction standards, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which is led by the National Governors Association Center and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards followed are categorized under the strand of “English Language Arts Standards > Science and Technical Subjects > Grades 11-12.
This strand of standards includes concepts related to ‘Key Ideas and Details’, ‘Craft and Structure’, and ‘Integration of Knowledge and Ideas’. Articles RST.11-12.1 to RST.11-12.10 have a strong resemblance to the expectations of the teacher of this class. Some standards, such as RST.11-12.7 (“Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media [e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia] in order to address a question or solve a problem.”), among others, such as RST.11-12.5, and RST.11-12.9 were emphasized more than others.
- Content. The content was assessed based on the presence of each organ in an organ system, the proper understanding of each of the organs functions, and the understanding of how these organs are interdependent and how they work together.
- Types of Media. The report/ presentation required three types of media to be present in the Microsoft Powerpoint/ Inspiration presentation.
- Communication. Assessment was largely based on the communication skills presented. This included internet/ email communication, speaking throughout the presentation, eye contact throughout the presentation, and the ability to answer the questions of the class.
- Grammar/ Spelling. The students were required to use proper spelling and grammar to achieve full marks.
6. DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION
There was not a diverse or evident application of differentiated instruction. However, there were some accommodations that were put into place. These accommodations accounted for the (un) availability of technology and resources for the students but not for different learning styles. Nevertheless, the versatility of the assignment allowed for students to differentiate the processes, activities and content at their own discretion. For example, those students who were more familiar with Internet search and email communication took the initiative to distribute the appropriate articles to their group members.
In aggregate, this unit successfully utilized resources, which resulted in the application of scientific processes such as communication and data interpretation. Nevertheless, there were a few visible issues that created struggles for the teacher. The struggles stemmed from the improper use of computers, where non-related websites would distract multiple students. This would create a spillover effect where the students’ group members would also participate in the non-educational activities.
I would not try this approach in the future if I was in control of the lesson creation. The reason being is that there is little possibility for controlling the situation when there are so many students working individually on different computers. This type of assignment is effective and would be suitable as a homework assignment. I would, however, take many positive elements from this unit such as the breakdown of the human anatomy into projects about specific organ systems. Furthermore, it was evident that the students who partnered up merely partnered up in order to socialize with each other, and not necessarily to perform research. This indicated that a more inclusive style would be beneficial during class. Nevertheless, the presentations served as a great class introduction to each of the organ systems.
In order to make this unit of study more engaging/ successful, I would change the way students chose their topics. In this unit, the teacher had the students choose the topics randomly out of a hat. It was evident that some students were disappointed with the topics they received and expressed interest to trade/ change topics with others, but unfortunately there was nothing done about this. I would also facilitate some type of parental control on the computer systems in order for the students not to get distracted by irrelevant websites during class. The students were only provided with one textbook from which to do research and therefore focused on Internet sources, neglecting the utilization of a more traditional approach, which uses libraries and books as sources.
It is evident that various science processes were used. By utilizing the Internet, students used communication processes to develop the concepts associated with their given organ system project. The students wee also using communication processes when they presented their research. The classification process was used when research began. Different organs were classified into organ systems according to their common purposes and responsibilities to the human body. The students were also expected to be able to interpret data that they found in order to present it concisely and comprehensively.
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