Monday, 12 December 2011

Conceptualising Mitosis with Digital Microscopes

The introduction of laptops and digital microscopes into the IB Biology classroom, has offered rich opportunities for students to visualise and research cell structures. In this particular lesson, students were analyzing onion root cells and identifying cells at different stages of cell division or mitosis. The lesson was building and developing on previous understanding and is a transformative example of constructivist learning.

The video showcase below, explains the process and key learning outcomes.

Students were able to use the microscope to analyse the slide, and then capture images of cells at various stages of mitosis. These images were stored on their laptops for further analysis. The students all used simple annotation tools in Preview to highlight the chosen cell and then embedded these images into a table. (see example here) Later that tallied the number of cells they identified at each stage of divison. The process was part of a larger practical research assessment, as part of IB Biology curriculum.

The transformative aspect of this lesson was how the digital microscopes and the laptops enabled the teacher to give critical and timely feedback as students completed the practical. The teacher could look at the magnified image on the screen and help the student identify and classify cells. This is an important aspect of understanding Mitosis as many of the stages are blurry. This style of feedback is more difficult, if only one person can peer down the lens of the microscope at a time. The Motic Digital Microscopes still have the same traditional functionality, different lens etc so that student still acquire and practise the essential practical skills.

Thanks to Cathy Elliott and her lovely Grade 11 Biology class for being part of our showcase.