Innovative Classroom Learning Activities

 Course - Topic Description of Learning Activity  Digital Tools Used Resources 
SNC1D - Ecosystems

Blogging an Environmental Issue
Overarching Context for Guided Work - deforestation in Borneo and the Earthwatchers project.

Note; we did a few other activities in the unit including lessons about ecosystem concepts, inquiry labs looking at water and soil quality, etc. 

Beginning of unit - watch HOME Video as a class with a backchannel (todays meet, or D2L chat worked well for us). We posed "environmental issues" and discussed the issues presented. 

Action of unit - students choose an environmental issue and work through a series of blog post promtps to share their environmental issue with classmates and others. Blog posts could consists of any type of media (audio recordings, video, images, etc.).  Examples of topics include: coal mining in South Africa and declining habitat for polar bears in the arctic. They also designed labs to study one aspect of their environmental issue. For example: the group investigating the issue of coal mining in South Africa burned some coal in a fume hood and trapped the smoke released. They completed the gas tests on it to see what it consisted of. One other group was interested in the impact of ash on plant growth and so grew seedlings with and without ash in the soil. 

Wrap-up - groups presented their learning to classmates in a variety of formats. 

Earthwatchers (TIGed program)
Desire2Learn (could post resources in Edmodo, Google Classroom or any other location)
Student blog prompts and rubrics 
HOME video 

Other Resources:

-       The Borneo Project 

-       National Geographic Borneo’sRainforest 

-       The Borneo Orangutan SurvivalFoundation

-       "Borneo: Treasure Island at Risk." WWF Germany, 2005. (Great PDF overview of Borneo)

-       Contanimants in Arctic Populations

-        Threats to Borneos Forests 

-       operation cat drop  

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SNC2D - Biology

Case Studies
Problem-based Learning project where students choose cases for context, determine the problem, research and share/present their learning to class. 

  • cell specialization
  • student-designed microscope specialized cell comparison
  • student-designed dissection inquiry
  • ethics component 
  • medical technology connections 
In addition to this project, we did a few lessons on cell structure, specialization and mitosis. We completed interactive activities and demos in class. 

Before we started the unit we read this article on problem-based learning and collaboratively created a list of questions to ask a med student from McMaster Univeristy Medical School. My students also answered these questions. The questions students formulated were answered when our class Skyped a med student from McMaster (we simply emailed the med school to get in contact with someone willing to do this). This helped students make connections between problem-based learning in and out of high school. 

At the end of the unit, students created review notes on the major concepts and used this to study from as needed. 


Presentation and Sharing
Student Handouts

I purchased access to the PDF version of this book for a set amount of time:
Link to resource containing case studies.

Some Student Products Included:
During Dissections and Microscope Activities:
Groups were each dissecting different things, looking at different systems or comparing different cells. Each group quickly shared with the class what they learned and also documented the procedure with camera (phone or tablet).  
SBI3U - Biology in Fiji 

Blogging Learning Portfolios

Biology course taught in Fiji. Work was completed mostly on student blogs.     Blogging
Video Creation
 Overview of Project