Better Biology Week 2

If you’re new to the Better Biology series, read this post first. 

Tuesday was the first day where students had truly independent learning opportunity time as dictated by the new unit plan. Let me just say – wow – this program is has a HUGE learning curve for all of us! Overall things went fairly smoothly except for a few glitches.

1) The wireless network was slow for some students. This was especially annoying for those who were patiently trying to do the MOODLE quiz. For some a 5 minute activity ended up taking 20 and that is frustrating for them. I don’t want these silly technology problems I wrote about in my last blog post to be what ends up crucifying my whole program. I think in future classes this won’t be as big of a problem as not all students will be trying to access the quizzes on the same days. Also I will make sure to keep some print versions for desperate times. Finally, I will allow students to use alternative work spaces. There is no reason they must be confined to the classroom. They are welcome to use the lounge on the 3rd floor as well. As long as they are still connected to our virtual room on TodaysMeet, I can still come check on them as needed.

classwork cropped2) MOODLE quizzes need to be monitored better. I forgot to change the settings so that the quiz can only be accessed every 2 days. Therefore, some students took the quiz, did not pass and then quickly took it again without me noticing and then went on to the next activity. Now this was despite the fact that if the quiz is not passed, a message appears asking them to come see me. This clearly needs better monitoring. Therefore I am going to do 2 things because there are 22 students in my class!

a) Fix the settings so they do not have access to the quiz until the next class

b) Set up quiz taking space in the class so it is more private and they cannot talk to each other or “cheat” during the quiz. I will use the lab benches as the quiz taking area.

c) No more short answer questions on the quizzes. If they make ONE spelling error, they get the whole question wrong. That is annoying.

3) There needs to be a better way to organize and display unit work. I thought I could to it via MOODLE, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I really wanted the students to have digital portfolios this year, but I haven’t had a chance to explore this option yet. Our school used to use a program called Mahara, but for reasons unknown to me, it is no longer available. Thus I have decided that e-portfolios will be a future venture – something to explore over the next holiday. After seeing some posts on Twitter today, Google sites seems like a possible option. For this unit I will have all students submit a folder with hard copies of their work on the day of the test that will be graded based on quality of the content as well as organization.

Despite these minor glitches I think that so far the students are appreciating and enjoying their independence. My evidence comes from overhearing their conversations to each other where comments have been made such as “I like how you can choose which activity works for you” and “I wish we had more learning time today!” And I was also encouraged by the amount of students who had moved ahead in the unit on their own time without any guidance or recommendation from me. I think despite my initial trepidation and the slight hiccups of the first class, the outlook is good.

More to come next week….

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