Monday, August 8, 2011

Lesson Reflection

Thinking about a concept that my students usually have trouble understanding, continents immediately came to mind. Although it doesn’t affect the whole class, the students who do not understand the difference between a country and a continent are far behind their classmates. To solve this, I created a unit that guided students into understanding. The unit started off as a class discussion regarding different continents and countries, and the countries that make up continents. After that the students took notes on the definitions of each. Students then played a memory game online learning the locations of different continents and countries. Finally, the student created a word cloud to use as a study tool. This of course was followed by a variety of formal and informal assessments.

I did make some changes after writing my original lesson plan. The discussion on metacognition made me think about changes that I wanted to implement. Parts of my lesson already included memory, and attention, although I think there can never be too much focus on attention in a classroom. What I was concerned with was development. I wanted to see how the students developed their skills by using the map quiz game. I then implemented a score sheet that the students had to fill out each time they played the map quiz game. The students just had to jot down their score so I could see how they improved throughout the class period. I also would be able to better identify how students were progressing, and those who needed additional resources.

I implemented the lesson plan over the weekend with my cousin Eleni. She’ll be going into 8th grade next year. Although I’ll be giving this lesson to 7th graders, she was a pretty close match. Delivering the lesson to a class of one was a little bit different than instructing an entire class, but I did understand a few things that worked and what needs to be improved. I started by discussing a little about continents and countries. Only having one person in the discussion, there wasn’t much chatter back and forth. We discussed North America , and Africa and what we knew about the world. After that, I lectured, and Eleni took notes. I then stopped to check what she had learned. She seems to be understanding all of the information, and had no questions over what I had explained. We then went on the computer to the sheppardsoft site where she played the continents game. I had her keep track of here score. In the level that we chose, a continent was highlighted and she had to type the first three letters of it. She ended up taking the quiz four times, the last two times she reviewed a perfect score. On the first quiz, she mixed up Africa and Asia and the Arctic Ocean and Antartica. On the second quiz, everything was correct except she labeled the Atlantic Ocean as the Pacific. We then summarized what we learned. Though that informal assessment, I think the lesson was a success.

Technology played a large role in this lesson. Being able to play an interactive game that corrects student mistakes, has a score and instant feedback is exciting. There is no way that I would be able to quickly grade and give feedback to a class of thirty students the way a computer can. A disadvantage would be that some students might be lost when they take the test on paper, with a blank black and white map. The technology is much more user friendly and entertaining for the students.

My student seemed very excited to use the website. Even before we were finished she mentioned how much she wanted to play other games, and see what she could do. It turned into a competition, which made the lesson very interesting. Already understanding how to use this technology, she didn’t have any questions, other than thinking aloud to her herself about which ocean went where.

I think this technology helped students understand the content better because it made them an active participant in the lesson. I have taught lessons before that have explained the same concepts, but they haven’t been interesting. By creating an interesting lesson that students enjoy, it allowed them to put more effort into learning, and increased their achievement. I am very excited to present this lesson in the fall to my seventh grade class!

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