The task of this lesson is for students to demonstrate their knowledge of the evolutionary process by creating an animation in the Explain Everything App that shows how a specific organism has acquired a certain trait. This animation will serve as a summative assessment. I’m hoping that after students have created their animations, we can connect with a professional of some sort in the field of ecology / biology (maybe at the University of Iowa or some place similar), and have experts analyze the students’ animations and give them feedback. The animations would then be shared with the public through social media.
This lesson was designed to give students the opportunity to explore skills they will need to be successful in the 21st Century; including collaboration, research ability, content generation, experimentation, and play (Thomas & Brown, 2011). The lesson was built with Hobb’s core competencies in mind: access, analyze, create, reflect, and act (2011), and it is through these competencies that I will justify the structure of this lesson.
Access – In this lesson, students are tasked with researching a specific organism and the environment it lives in. Students will need to use their Chromebooks and internet access to retrieve information that is relevant to the task at hand.
Analyze – Students will have to sift through searches to locate appropriate information. They will need to analyze sources to decide if the information is credible, and if it applies to their task.
Create – Students will compose an animation with the purpose of demonstrating their understanding of the evolutionary process, as well as informing their audience of how a specific organism has obtained a specific trait. Students will be allowed a wide berth of freedom in this task, allowing them to be creative, and to express themselves and their understanding as they see appropriate. While creating their animation, they will need to keep in mind that they will not only be sharing their product with their peers, but also with an expert in the field of biology, and will have to construct their animation appropriately for those audiences.
Reflect – Students will have multiple opportunities to receive and apply feedback on their work. This will encourage students to reflect on their thinking, and their creative process, and help them to refine their skills so that they can produce the best possible animation that accurately reflects their knowledge of the evolutionary process. It will also help them reflect on what quality work looks like, and how they can ensure that they are producing work that their audience can comprehend.
Act – In the extension portion of the activity, students are encourage to think about how humans impact their organism, and also consider what environmental conditions could cause their organism to need to migrate, or even drive their organism to extinction. Whether students get to this portion of the activity or not, this well be a question that will be posed after the student has shared their animation, and will be a source of classroom discussion throughout the sharing. This will encourage students to consider how their actions and the actions of humanity can affect the ecosystems around us, and hopefully give to students insight into how we might lessen our impacts on the species we share the planet with.
As you can see, by utilizing tools of the 21st Century, we create lessons and assessments that give our students an incredible learning opportunity that will push them to grow in multiple areas, and help them to gain and refine skills that will allow them the flexibility to be successful; not only with their education moving forward, but in modern life.
Again, you can read the full lesson plan here.
Bransford, J.D., Brown , A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.). (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.