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Recount of the Activity

What follows is a mix of refined field notes and personal recounts of the Life Sciences Activity. This information is provided in order to remember and reflect on what happened during the activity and why it happened. Additionally, by publishing this information, people who were not at the activity while it was happening can include interpretations of why certain things happened during the activity based on the notes provided.

Before the Activity

The PDI students got to Troy Middle School at 9:15am. At 9:20, they signed in at the front desk and got escorted to Mr Carminati’s classroom on the second floor. They walked into the classroom and then started setting up. Mr. Carminati started bringing supplies up to us. Everying seemed to work as planned.

Session 1: Class Period 2

Attendance for session 1 was 12 out of 15 students. At 9:28 session 1 ended and children from session 2 started trickling in. We talked about how their alarm sounded similar to our middle school’s. They didnt seem to have assigned seats. They started filling the room from the back row seats. They did not look surprised to see us here. Mr. Carminati started taking attendance as they came in.

Brooke’s Notes: For the first session a few kids recognized us from the animal grips activity before we started or introduced ourselves. Mr. Carminatti split the class into 4 groups and then we went to the front to introduce ourselves. It was hard to get the kids to quiet down for us to speak, but eventually Sara was able to get their attention to start the introduction. From there we introduced the activity and each of us went to a group of students to give them materials and help them start the activity. My group consisted of 4 boys in the back left corner of the classroom. As I worked with them I saw how each student engaged with the activity. One boy, boy 1 was very vocal and  excited to make things, but he did not want to stick exactly to making parts of the cell. Boy 2 was sitting next to boy 1, and he was much more quiet. Boy 2 did not offer as many ideas, but he liked playing with the materials. Boy 3 was directly across from boy 2 on the other side of the table. Boy 3 was the quietest of the group, but when you prompted him he knew the parts of the cell and thought of examples of functions-like comparisons for the parts of cells. Boy 4 sat next to boy 3 and he was the least involved out of all 4 boys. He and boy 2 did not offer many ideas for the parts of cells, but at one point I worked with him to figure out the Ribosomes, but it took a little encouragement to make the model. Overall, the boys worked well, but needed instruction to get going.

Afterwards we presented each group’s cell to the rest of the class, but it was extremely difficult to get all their attention and bring them to all the groups. Once we got through all the models we showed the class our cells that we had made ahead of time and we realized we probably should have shown them our first for inspiration. We had held off on showing them before because we did not want to influence their ideas, but in reality I think it would have helped them figure out what to do.

Zining thought that she would have time to take notes as the others ran the activity, but it turned out that each group needed a person to be there with them. The groups all needed guidances and enjoyed having the PDI students with them working. For some groups, they struggled to stay focused and generate ideas which was a bit unexpected since they were very enthusiastic and engaged during the animal grip activity. 

Session 2: Class Period 3

Attendance for session 2 was 18 out of 21 students. During the next session, we had a quick debrief in order to determine what changes to make for the next period. This included some input from Mr. Carminati. We concluded to show the class our models first in order to generate some ideas in addition to instilling more structures to the class.

Brooke’s notes: As the second class came in they seemed a bit more well behaved. Once again Mr. Carminatti split the class into 4 groups and then we began our introductions. This time we showed the class our models before we all went and worked with our groups. This seemed to get the students interested in the activity. I worked with the group in the front of the class, which consisted of girl 1, boy 1, and girl 2. When I began working with them I found out that girl 1 had just transferred into the class and did not know anything about cells. In a little bit Mr. Carminatti allowed girl 1 to go to the nurse. After that I worked with boy 1 and girl 2 for the majority of the rest of the class period. Boy 1 was more hesitant to make things and draw, but when I worked with him to figure out the parts of the cell he seemed to understand and think of ideas with my help. Girl 2 was very similar, but she was more interested in making things and overall was more independent with the activity. All the groups in this session worked quietly and seemed to participate much more than the previous session. Towards the end of the session girl 1 came back and I explained to her the function of the lysosomes and helped her come up with a trash can to make. She seemed happy to be involved. My group got one more girl, girl 3, with a few minutes left in the class period. My students had many a lot of the parts of the cell, so there was not much for her to make. I told girl 3 to help me label and she seemed to enjoy that.

When we had 10 minutes left in the class I spoke with Sara and Casey about how we could present our group’s work to each other and I believed they were well behaved enough to try going over to each group again. This time the students were much more cooperative and came over and listened to each other. Mr. Carminatti had made a little model during the session and he shared this with the class. They seemed to enjoy that he had made a model as well.