Fighting Nature Deficit Disorder with Summer Assignment

Honors biology students were assigned an insect collection project to complete over the summer. Fifty insects were to be collected, killed, identified and displayed in a display case. I assigned a reflection of the assignment to my classes and I was surprised at the negative comments made by the students. We had a discussion of the work, how it was assigned, presented, and supervised, and I will be making changes so that next year's students are better equipped for the project. Specific modifications:

  • Problem: Not all the sites and printed documents had complete pictures. Solution: Need to improve the quality control of the electronic and printed documents.

  • Problem: Instructions for building the display box were confusing. Solution: I will rewrite the box construction instructions.

  • Problem: The assignment was handed to them on the last day of school without explanation. Solution: High school teachers should go to the middle school to explain the assignment directly with the students.

  • Problem: Transferred to school over summer, or transferred to Honors class over summer, and did not know about the assignment. Solution: Clearer advertising on summer assignments webpage and make sure the guidance department is aware of the assignment.

  • Complaint: There is no teacher available over the summer for asking questions. Solution: Actually there were two teachers available through email, netvibes, and facebook groups. Their availability should be clarified to the students when they receive the assignment.

  • Complaint: I don't kill anything - it is against my religion. Solution: An alternative assignment can be given if notice is provided at the outset of the assignment.
I have a reflection to share but I think I will make that a separate post.

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