Group Activities in the ClassroomOn August 19, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
One of the big challenges of teaching science, it in general is you have really cool and exciting things that you want to talk about. And you’re stuck in a classroom and you’re using the tools of science. And those tools of science are things like equations and math and dry sorts of things, so how do you bring the excitement of understanding how a tiger deals with the temperature and environment its in and it lives in a hot place, how does it maintain its body temperature without it being a chalkboard filled with math equations. Because, that’s a big leap for someone. They would much rather watch David Attenborough talking about a tiger with the beautiful pictures than sitting in my class. And one way you can do that is through a group activity. There is usually in my class 40 to 50 students so there’s five or six or seven groups, so there’s seven iterations of peer teaching, where they’re teaching using the equations how this interaction works. And so, over one classroom period they get the dry me giving them everything, the group activity of working together to make it work out so that they’re happy to present it, and then they get to teach it to each other seven times on the receiving and the giving end. And at the end of it, sort of comprehension in that between the original dry lecture and the end point of doing that for semesters. My exam questions in the way I evaluated, it’s gone up by about fifty percent so, it it works. People remember a lot more when they’re engaged in those processes through the to the class period then by just having a traditional lecture. And so when I go through the process of here’s how we’re going to describe how energy is exchanged between that tiger’s body and the environment, we’re going to describe it with an equation. And I go through what those equations are and all the different ways that energy can be transferred between the tiger and its environment. And then I divide them into groups and they’re – what they are told to do in that group is now you need to design an organism and an environment. So, your environment can be someplace very cold. For this temperature of this organism has to maintain its temperature in spite of that cold environment. And you need to build that organism and it can be anything. It can be from Star Wars, I really don’t care. All you have to make it do is have some physiological or anatomical characteristic that is affecting how it interacts with that environment. And then I want you to take those equations and attach it to your organism. So, you’re going to say this organism has white fur, because that helps it maintain its temperature balance in this way in this equation. So, they can take a piece out of the equation and say ok this is why that organism is that color or this is why this ornament has this physiological characteristic. And I give them five or ten minutes to sort of design that. And then they come and draw the organism on the board and go through the process of describing it in terms of the equations to the other class.