Friday 30 March 2012

Hexagonal Learning

The spring term ended today, and unlike the end of the autumn term, where I may have slightly gone down the pub a bit, I came straight home to unwind. And yet, here I am, blogging about an awesome teaching moment today.

For a while I've been playing around with SOLO Taxonomy as an aid to learning. I'm trying it out with my AS Biology workshop, a one-hour class for extra support across both AS groups. They use sheets as devised by Tait Coles to get to grips with the hierarchy and identify targets for themselves. My main aim was to get them beyond multistructural thinking and into relational thinking.

For the final workshop of the term this morning, I decided to try the Hexagons. Some of the students were still struggling to consolidate their learning, so I asked them to pick the topic they were struggling with most. One group managed a little, and were able to put key events of mitosis into a sequence (though I may have pared down some of their text a bit):

Where it really worked, however, was with a small group of my high-fliers. They started off looking at cell membranes:

But it kept growing and growing. Periodically I came over, wrote another key term on a hexagon and threw it in to stretch them. By the end of the lesson it looked like this:

They had linked it through to protein synthesis, protein transport and the cell cycle, and at one point when they linked both CFTR and protein synthesis through to genetics I wondered if I should have got them to stick the hexagons on a ball to make all the links! They were thinking about where to put the hexagons and make the links, and one girl said she hadn't realised all the topics were so interlinked.

The next stage of this is for them to think about the nodes between the hexagons. They're showing relational thinking, but I need to get them to extended abstract if they are going to get the top grades at AS and A2. I should probably have tried to get them onto that today, but they were so enthusiastic that I wanted to let them continue for the full session!

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