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Online Course for Teachers: Teaching Evolution

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SESSION 7: How Can You Use Active Learning to Teach Evolution?

Elaborate Part A: Using the Unexpected

Teaching itself is complex, requiring constant learning and continual reflection.

-- National Science Education Standards, 1996

Image from Bonnie Chen's class.

In Ms. Chen's class, the results of the bird beak simulation didn't turn out as she expected. The dilemma Ms. Chen faces is one that challenges teachers every day -- having to take things as they come in any given moment, even if they are different from what was expected. Watch the Evolution Case Study video segment "Ms. Chen's Dilemma" from Ms. Chen's class.

Ms. Chen's Dilemma
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After watching the video, consider these questions:


What happened in Ms. Chen's class when students examined the data results?


How did Ms. Chen handle the situation?


How might she have addressed the environmental variables that could have influenced the simulation results (e.g., students' aggressive feeding behavior, differences in the shape of aquaria, beak design, timed feeding)?


What would you do in a similar situation?


What questions could you pose to have students describe their predictions, data, and explanations for the results?


How could you extend this lesson to include a real-world connection?


How can teachers use the "unexpected" as a learning/teaching opportunity?


What can be done in planning a lesson like this to prepare for the unexpected?

Record your analysis of what happened in this lesson.



Facilitator Note 6


Next: Elaborate Part B: Comparing Classroom Climates

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