Sunday, 2 October 2016

Multiple Ways to Demonstrate Understanding in Senior Biology

Scott Harkness teaches senior biology at Penticton Secondary.  Last week he did a number of things to teach and assess in different ways.  Using alternate ways to teach and assess opens the doors to a wider range of students being successful in their learning.  It also gives the teacher multiple ways to see what the students understand.  In these examples you will see evidence of both critical and creative thinking.  

1.  The students were introduced to the idea of replicating DNA. There are quite of few steps and it's not easy to know if they know the process. The next day we check in to see what the learned the day before. Rather than doing the standard paper quiz I had students go outside to draw and explain the steps of replication.

When they draw it out and explain it to partners they know pretty quickly where they are lacking in their understanding.  Going outside is also a nice change as it was a beautiful, sunny, fall day. The students had no limitations on space so they can show their understanding,  or lack of, without having to fit it on a piece of paper.

Students always seem to enjoy getting out of the classroom and I love being able to pin point trouble areas. When we return to the classroom we go through the concepts that the students struggled with.

2.  The second example is of students making a protein.  Here they are showing their understanding using whiteboards, play-doh and iPads.  It only took 40 minutes and I was really happy with their understanding after this activity.

Submitted by:  Scott Harkness

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