For our midterm reflection, Drew and I decided to teach a geography lesson called “World Religions Map Activity” because we are both doing our field internship in World History 1 classrooms, which integrate a lot of geography lessons. We decided to use world religions because it is a topic that not only affected the world in the past but also continues to affect the modern world. It is also a topic that affects economics, politics, and cultural influence. Our big question for the lesson plan was
Our objectives were
Obj. 1 Students will be able to locate geographical regions on a map.
Obj. 2 Students will be able to identifyareas in which a world religion is practiced by the majority.
Obj. 3 Students will be able to recognizepatterns among geographic regions and the migration of peoples.
Our lesson involved conducting an activity in which students had to use mapping resources including online maps, Google Earth, and atlases in order to color code regions in which different world religions and sub-sects of religions are prevalent. This would be used as the introduction to a unit on world religions because students would need to know the geography in order to reference the regions they are learning about. We thought that our topic was important and interesting and could be used for many different subjects within world history by just changing the actual subject (ie world religions could be changed to types of governments).
Some of the important aspects of our presentation that helped me in reflecting on our strengths and weaknesses included my own reaction to the lesson and execution, reaction to the video of Drew and I teaching, the tuning protocol in which our peers gave us feedback, and the evidence of student learning that I observed. These reflective steps helped me to think of ways to improve and make my own lessons better in the future.
Reactions to our lesson
Overall, I think that our lesson went very well. We came in prepared and had a very clear idea of how we were going to give directions, team teach, and address the NCSS themes and SOLs. One of things we did forget to do is post objectives or SWBATs on the power point and activity. I think it is very important to show students what exactly they will be doing for the day and is also an important component for administrative purposes. Cathy mentioned in her pushing feedback that a lot of administrators will require the objectives showing on the board when they walk in to the room, so that’s something we would need to include. We did include our NCSS theme #3- culture and the matching SOLS, but we made a mistake on the overhead and put different NCSS themes that we were debating using throughout. That is something that we recognized and had printed the correct theme on our worksheet, so it was fairly easy to fix and distinguish that the correct theme was on the activity worksheet.
We made sure to encourage student involvement by walking around during the activity and making sure to establish teacher presence as well as improvising when students were done earlier than others. Since we did not establish a clear color coding key, we encouraged students to create their own for organization. Drew also suggested that Mike walk to a different table that was having trouble when he was done a lot earlier than other people. The students were mostly engaged throughout the whole activity and used resources such as the online world map or Atlas in the classroom in order to find the countries or regions they were having trouble with.
We also were really happy with the Just Do It and Exit Slips that we created, as they were used pretty well. The just do it was open-ended and allowed students to brainstorm based on their prior knowledge of religions without establishing a “right” or “wrong” answer. We also referred back to the Just Do It throughout the discussion, analyzing how their knowledge differed from the actual map. The That’s a Wrap on the last slide of our power point was helpful because it checked for understanding and acted as an informal assessment of student knowledge. By collecting the exit slips, it would allow us as teachers to check and make sure the students understood the content before moving on with the unit.
Reaction to our Video
Tuning Protocol- Warming and Pushing Feedback
One of the most helpful aspects of conducting a lesson plan in front of our peers is hearing both warming and pushing feedback. A few of the main warming comments had to do with our Just Do It and the positive use of brainstorming, our helpful teacher presence, and satisfaction with the map we used during discussion. I’m glad that our presentation went smoothly and our transitions worked out well, but the warming feedback really helped me to think of ways to improve my lessons in the future. One problem that we had was finishing about 5 minutes early, which I have dealt with a lot in my field study. Timing is very hard to predict, so in the future I will try to have a backup plan always in place. One idea we received was to start going into the content for different regions and religions and maybe show a video clip on how religious wars have split regions over time. That seems like a cool idea.
Another pushing feedback comment was about sending students to help (ie Mike) because of the issues this may cause in terms of behavior and staying on track. While we were teaching grad students, in a real school setting the student may through the group off track or get into side conversation. Therefore, it may be a better idea to have a separate activity or additional mapping for students done before others. We also received some comments on sort of “dumbing down” the instructions for the activity and reading the instructions out loud to make sure all students know what they’re supposed to be doing. This goes along with suggestions about creating a color coding key for all students to use. This would not only help them by saving time and confusion for them but also could be helpful if we tell them to use the same key as the map we used in our power point. That way when we review where the actual religions would fall they can easily identify the differences in their own map with what was on the projector.
Another improvement I would make on the lesson would be to hand out the map that we used on the power point so that students could visualize and also use the map for their own studying purposes. Going along with that would be to provide the more similar maps between the map we gave in our handout, the map on the power point, and the map the students were told to reference online. This would make the activity easier to complete for those who struggle with geography in general or don’t have as much background knowledge about world geography.
Evidence of Student Learning and Understanding
Throughout the lesson, we were very pleased with student engagement overall. Students were very receptive to the Just Do It activity, participating and talking with other students about the different regions/countries they knew. During the activity, students in the back right corner worked in a group and tried to figure out the different countries they were not familiar with, while others in the front of the room completed the activity individually fairly fast. I was also very impressed with the student feedback during discussion. Discussion is always a little tricky, but students responded with new ideas and were pretty open to talking about what they learned or had trouble with. Overall, I think that we made good use of assessment techniques through discussion, the exit slips, and having students ask questions and work together in groups.
Conclusion and Improvement in the Future
Once again, I think we did a good job with our lesson and learned a lot from conducting it in front of the class. In the future, I would focus on the big question and the lesson objectives a little more so that the students have a very clear sense of what is expected of them. I also think that we could have done a better job with reading and clarifying the directions for the activity to aid student understanding. While this was a good opening to the unit, it might have also been nice to include a more complex theme such as migration patterns and religion or religious wars relating to the geography of world religions. It is helpful to hear these suggestions and brainstorm different ideas for the future.