Well I have just finished the first stage of the Animal Cell map. Students have completed their booklet and we have had our discussions about some of the questions and why I asked them. They have requested that next week I wander through the cell on my computer projecting it on the whiteboard talking about the organelles, their roles and why I made them the way I did.
There were some amazing discussions around which organelle uses the most energy, and which uses the least that I will be uploading to youtube in the next couple of days, but the brief summary is that the students were connecting the energy requirements with the importance of the role, to the point where one student said "each organelle would use the same amount of energy, as they are all equally important for the functioning of the cell"
The further discussion about the issue with linking 'importance' with energy requirements was actually brought up by a student, she said "it doesn't make sense for the mitochondria to use the most energy, as it is creating energy for other parts of the cell to use, it seems a bit silly if it uses a heap of energy to do that." Amazing insight there that lead to a real teachable moment about what requires more energy, creating or destroying, something that I think the students understand better now is that building things up takes more energy then breaking them down, at least in relation to breaking down glucose vs creating proteins.
The feedback discussion at the end was very positive. The students thought that this lesson was much better than the neurotransmitter lesson when prompted for reasons the first thing mentioned was the visual was much better. Which is the same thing I was thinking about immersion in a virtual space, rather than immersion in the game of Minecraft. Another key thing that made this lesson better for them was the booklet, having to fill it out made them think about things more, so they felt that more learning had occurred. They also preferred the 'scripted/restricted' approach to the task, they couldn't just wander, they were restricted to the areas I chose.
Another interesting interaction occurred when students we finishing off their booklets, they were 'fighting' in the game and one student teleported away from the other using the teleport block, and the student left behind said "Yeah, you better run, I was about to pick you up and throw you into the lysosome to recyle you." I can tell you I have never heard that in any of my classes before, but it shows that he knew exactly what the role of the lysosome was, and he was going to use that to his advantage in the fight (even if it was not possible for him to do so).
There is a brief summary of todays Biology lesson, they students are very happy to continue onto the next stage of this map, which I am yet to build completely, about energy transfer in the cell. Where energy is used and also cementing the roles of the organelles as they go. Very excited to continue, and I have about 3-4 weeks to finish the building of Stage 2.
As always thanks for taking the time to read, and your comments or feedback are welcomed below.