Thursday, 29 March 2012

What Did I Actually Teach?

I have sorted through some of the footage from the neurotransmitter 2.0 map, and I must say I am disappointed with myself. I had given the students a pre-test to determine what they already knew about some of the concepts and ideas I wanted to cover in the lesson, it contained 11 questions, and broadly about 8 concepts. After the game (a full day later) I asked the students the exact same questions. Today I spend some time sorting through and collating the responses into a format I could use.

What I am really disappointed about, having gone through the footage, is how many 'teachable moments' I missed the opportunity to grab a hold of an use. Of the 8 or so concepts I think I actually managed about 2 of them to a level I deem as successful.

Most of the students have proven to me that they know that neurotransmitters get broken down by enzymes, which is something they did not know before. They have also shown that they now know the the 'job' of a neurotransmitter is to send the message on, but they are not clear where the message has come from, or where it is going to.

So what did I miss? Where neurotransmitters are stored, I did not explain to them that the chamber they were in was a vesicle, and that this vesicle was in the axon terminals of a nerve cell. I thought I explained diffusion is enough detail, but after chatting to the students about it, they made the comment that I didn't use the 'word' enough to get it stuck in their heads. The real disappointment for me was the 'explore' area of the map. The concepts there were completely missed, I still think the models were valid, but perhaps needed explanation, and so did the students.

As I said in my previous post they students gave the lesson an overall 3 out of 5 for learning, but with further discussion they would have liked me to guide them through the models, explaining the concept. I also, after reading the post test answers, think that this would allow much more learning of the concepts and a much clearer understanding. If we walked around the game as a group, and I talked to the students about each model, what it was showing, explaining the concepts behind it and also get them to try and work out the limitations of the model. I think that if the students can explain the limitations of the model then they really have a good grasp of the concept.

So where do I stand with the 'let kids just play in a world of my creating with learning opportunities for them'? At this stage, I am thinking that it doesn't work for me, or my students YET. This was the first time that this class has used games in the class, so perhaps some of the 'novelty' might wear off after a few more times (Is that a good thing or bad thing?) and they would begin to explore the learning opportunities available to them instead of running around the world exploring.

I think I have ranted enough for today, still trying to get my thoughts in order and sort out a plan for next time. Perhaps I will steal a class off another teacher at school to teach them about neurotransmitters and improve my skills that way, then I could see some improvement of my own skills and grabbing those teachable moments and also see if this map can be as effective as I think it can. Keep an eye on my youtube channel (EduElfie) for the footage, it will go up progressively over the next couple of weeks, as will some other interesting footage from a solids, liquids and gases introduction in Minecraft.

Feel free to comment, and thanks for taking the time to read.

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