Our high school is in a formerly rural community just outside of Austin, TX. The area has seen a lot of growth in recent years which has led to some growing pains. We have a very diverse student population and are designated as Title 1, which means we have a large percentage of students from low-income homes as well as many that are learning English.
This often means the students have not had enough access to the natural world to be able to tie it into their learning.
Often, people need a hands-on, or at least eyes-on, experience to relate their learning to their lives. Many of these students have had limited opportunities to visit zoos, parks, and museums. Field trips are expensive and can take time away from their other courses.
I have requested a flower model (much larger than life size!) and two lab activities. The model will allow me to show flower structure clearly in a 3D model. This will remain on display all year so the students can become familiar with it over time as well. I have also requested two manipulatives for hands-on manipulation in class, one on classifying leaves and one with chromosomes, which are difficult to visualize for many.
Many of my students have language and learning challenges, so a tactile and visual method of learning can make a big difference!
The ability to manipulate the cards with the leaves and especially the parts of the chromosome will help all of the kids make the connections necessary for a full understanding of the subject.
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