To increase student engagement, learning and critical thinking in the Tissues, Organs and Systems of Living Things unit in SNC2D, an inquiry-based approach was used to redesign the unit.
Students engaged in a number of inquiry-based activities to interact with the material in addition to formal teacher-directed lessons. The activities were supported by short lessons, class discussions, videos and multiple assessments to assist student learning.
Inquiry-based activities included: labs (microscope, dissection), 4 corners debate activity, online simulations (Gizmos) and modelling mitosis using pipe-cleaners.
Assessments ranged from informal conversations to observations on their engagement in the activities at hand, to more formal products like exit cards (both on paper and via Google Forms), formative and summative quizzes, a research project and a unit test.
Exit cards proved to be one of the most valuable tools to check in with students. I have attached a pdf of the answers of my Google Forms exit card on digestion below. In that exit card, I invited students to ask questions (of the few who did, I answered their question and discussed further questions by the next class) or to state what they had learned about digestion. From those responses, I could see at a glance whether students understood the concepts and which concepts I needed to go over in more detail. This also gave me a good idea which students understood the inquiry activity(the Gizmo) and who needed further resources and more direct instruction.
The Unit Test included questions directly related to the inquiry-based activities. From previous semesters, when the same types of questions were posed on the test (ie thinking or application), student answers were vague and many students could not demonstrate their understanding of how to make connections between concepts. I found student answers to the same types of questions were more in depth and more students were able to show they understood connections between concepts learned in class and "new" situations.
The files and links to resources below include the following:
Files: Unit Plan, Lesson Order, 4 Corners Activity Statements, Microscope Activity (Stations and student handout), Microscope Lab, Mitosis Pipe-Cleaner Activity, Frog Dissection, Unit Summative Project, PDF of the Digestive System Exit Ticket and a PDF of the student responses.
Links: All videos used in the unit to complement the learning, Animations, Gizmos, O2/CO2 skit, and articles
Not included in the links below was the Flower Dissection Lab, which was used directly from Investigating Science 9 (Pearson), page 62.
*I have attempted to ascribe authorship for all resources I did not produce. If I have missed an acknowledgement, please let me know*