Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Connections Across the Disciplines

Today I am going to talk about the Connections Across the Disciplines lesson plan of my classmates Sarah, Jesse, Wilbur, and Sara which they titled "BYOD-to-Discover-Tree-Species." After reading this lesson plan the first thing that stood out to me was the physical activity involved in the lesson. I commend this because, like my classmates said, it moves away from the traditional way that students would learn about biology. I don't remember doing anything like this in any of my science classes while I was in high school, and I think this caused me to be less interested in science then I could have been at the time. The only reservation I would have about going outside to observe different species in nature would be the access the school has to green spaces. During the summer at Scarlett Middle School we were fortunate enough to be very close to a forest, but an urban school would have a much harder time in finding an accessible green space. However, this could be remedied by setting up a field trip or by the teacher bringing in samples of species to class.

Another thing I thought was good about this lesson plan was the way that technology was implemented. First off, groups of students only need to use one phone with a built in camera which keeps in mind that some students my not have one. They also suggest an app that can be used to identify species. This is good because not only are the student learning about different species in nature but they are also learning how to use technology both for learning and in general. Learning how to use technology is important because moving forward society will most likely continue to use technology more and more, thus students will need to know how to use technology to optimally function in society.

As far as the progression of the lesson, I like how it starts with bellwork that puts students in the right frame of mind for what they will be doing in class. Furthermore, I think the mini-lesson starting with the broad question of what a species is is beneficial as well because it is a large open-ended question. However, the mini-lesson does not stray from what the point of the lesson is, to learn and identify tree species, because the next step focuses specifically on the parts of a tree.

Overall, I think this would be a good lesson. It made me think about ways that I could take a history class outside, or at least connect their surroundings to history. For example, I could take students on a field trip to a historical site so that they could interact with it. If this is not an option I could tell students of places that holds historical significance around town and have them visit it for homework and then research it further. The possibilities are nearly endless when you take learning outside of the classroom.


  1. Mr. D!

    I really liked how you mentioned how physical this lesson was. While I found many parts of the lesson to be both effective and fun, this was an element that I did not think about when reading it. I know for myself that not getting adequate physical activity decreases my ability to focus on cognitive tasks. In order to learn in a class, I have to pay attention; and in order to pay attention I have to move around. By having a lesson that is structured to let the students learn by moving, this lesson strikes a balance between physicality and content that often is missed in the current state of many classrooms. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Carl,

    I enjoyed the BYOD LP as well! Their inclusion of nature and of using non-traditional ways of teaching in the classroom was very impressive and made me think of ways to do this best when teaching a World Language. I feel that one of the perks of teaching is being able to experiment with the best ways to teach children (once we're certified of course). Giving students the opportunity to explore non-traditional ways of learning can form connections that were not there before and can give students an experience they never had. I saw this, this summer while working at Scarlett. My students were so happy to explore the forest because some of them have never seen a forest before, imagine getting that AHA! moment from every student? What a great feeling that would be.