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.