Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Private Universe Project in Science

Workshop 2. Biology: Why Are Some Ideas So Difficult? (90 min.)

Whom do we see in the videotape?
Jon, a 7th grade student, is interviewed before and after a traditional lesson on photosynthesis. Bob Holden, Jon's teacher, watches the video of Jon's interviews, discovering that Jon's problems in biology concern his confusion about the physics and chemistry of matter and energy. Jon also has no concept of energy and the relationship of energy to chemical changes. He seems to be missing the concept that chemical changes may either require an input of energy or may release energy.

What happens in the videotape?
Interviews with Jon suggest that teaching can be more effective when the full scope of a student's ideas are considered.

What problem does this session address?
Photosynthesis is among the most widely taught of all concepts in biology. Why, then, do many people have difficulty grasping the central idea of photosynthesis, that most of the substance of plants comes from the air?

What teaching strategy does this session offer?
Among many possibilities to help students reflect on their own thinking, we offer such techniques as concept mapping; and journal keeping.

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