Another week down. I did the second half of my microteaching on Monday, and then went in the next day for the anatomy sections’ eye dissections, which was a lot of fun. My microteaching went fairly well, but even after the second run through there were some changes I would still want to make. The first time through, I started by putting up some optical illusions on the board and had the students stand up based on what they saw in the optical illusion (as my engagement). Then, for the exploration, I had the students stand up all in the middle row and had them raise their hand when they could see me out of the corner of their eyes (I walked from side to side). Then, I had them raise both hands when they could not only see me, but they could actually tell that it was me. This didn’t work out too well, since most of the students cheated and didn’t keep their heads perfectly straight. Next I went into the explanation and went over notes on vision. On day 1, I really liked my notes and thought that they went well, but I put a little too much into them, so they took a little longer than I thought they would. Furthermore, I always forget that high schoolers do not enjoy just “summarizing” the notes and always right everything verbatim off the the board, so slides that I thought would just take 30 seconds actually took 2-3 minutes. This killed my activity, being a “science circus” on vision.
My activity consisted of 5 stations. One station was my “technology” aspect of the lesson in which I had students on the laptops doing a digital dissection of a cow’s eye. This served a great relative purpose because the next day they would be dissecting their own eyes, and this video showed step-by-step on how to do that. The last dissection they did was a heart, and the students simply cut it open and then wanted to be done since they had no idea what to do with it. By showing them the video and having them summarize the dissection, the students learned that dissections are more than just taking a scalpel and cutting. There is a point to every cut. After finishing the video, there were 2 other “technology” parts to the station. One of them was the Pearson Anatomy Lab that I did my technology presentation on, which allowed them to look at the eye and then take a quiz on the certain parts, and then the other part was a PHET simulation on “color vision,” showing how different wavelengths of light combine to make different colors in our brain.
I had half of the class on computers, and the other half was switching between the 4 other stations I had set up. Station 1 dealt with the focal length of the eye. The lens in your eye is simply a biconvex lens, just like any magnifying glass you can find at the dollar store. It works by converging the light rays that enter your eye so that they focus on the retina. I had the students take a few magnifying glasses, and given some information (like the thin lens equation) along with instructions, they were to find the focal length of the magnifying glass. The next station I had a Snellen Chart set up (the chart with the big E at the top used to test vision) and I had the students test their own vision. Also at that station, I had made some “disease glasses” (sunglasses with white out on them) to simulate what people would see if they had cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. They were then to find how their vision changed with the glasses on. Then next station tested peripheral vision using a “vision hat”. One of the students was to put on the hat which was marked along the brim, and had an arrow attached that rotated with the brim. Another student then took an index card with a letter written on it and rotated it around the students’ head. The student spoke up when he or she could first see that there was a letter on it, and then again when he or she could read the letter. The students then measured where they could see it via the numbers on the vision hat and marked it down. The last station had some more optical illusions, which the students were to see how many they could figure out. Each station also had discussion questions regarding the activity.
Not only was this my technology-enhanced lesson, it was also my differentiated lesson. I had met with my CT ahead of time and she gave me rankings of all the students in these classes. On the first day, I made the groups homogenously, putting all the smartest kids together in groups, and the next day I split them up and mixed the groups. What I found is that the students who may have been the smartest academically were not necessarily the best at unpacking the station. For instance, the focal length station required the students to play around with the light and the lens, but the smartest groups simply stood there and read the hand-out over and over trying to figure out what was going on. The “weaker” groups picked up and materials and started to mess around with them, which ultimately led to more success. The “mixed” groups didn’t have this problem and worked out better since they had the smarter kids to try and figure out the worksheet plus the “weaker” students to mess with the materials.
The first day through, I spent too much time on the notes, so the students didn’t get to all of the stations. Furthermore, I did not take into account the time it would take to get the laptops up and running. The second day, I went through the notes much faster, and made a few cut back on them, but that just frustrated the students who didn’t have time to write every little thing down (even though I told them the notes would be on edline, apparently they don’t like to have to check online). Also on the second day, I got my CT to start the laptops while I was going over notes, so that they would already be up and running. This allowed me to have every student get through every station. However, the students still wanted more time at each station, and they did feel rushed. If I were to teach this lesson again, I would definitely split it up over 2 days.