Excursion 4

a. Start by describing the context of the learning. What school district and school? What subject(s)? What was the goal of this/these lessons?

I observed a science teacher in a district 30 school, called IS 230. The subject being taught was 6th Grade Science. The goal of this lesson was to peer check and peer edit completed lab reports by students and have a discussion of answers and the experiment.


All the students came to class prepared by having their lab reports done and completed. The lab report they were working with was called “The Penny Lab.” The main objective of this lab report, in terms of content, was to figure out how many drops of water can fit on a penny until any amount of water ran over the edge of the penny. They had four trails to do this and then they were to take the average of the trails also they had to repeat this experiment after dipping the pennies in soap water and then put drops of water on the penny as before, and record how many drops they can put on the pennies before the water ran over the edge of the pennies. This experiment is supposed to educate children about cohesion and surface tension. From this experiment, students are supposed to learn and conclude that soap reduces the cohesive forces of water, which in turn reduces its surface tension. This reduced surface tension results in requiring less number of drops of water on the pennies that were dipped in soap. The four trials were done using different kinds of soaps.


b. Next, describe(in as much detail as possible) the lesson(s) itself/themselves. What did the teacher do? Why did he/she do it? What do you think their intentions were? How well-orchestrated, or cohesive was/were the lessons?

When the children came into the class, the teacher made sure everyone had their lab reports completed and done, so that students could work in pairs to give each other feedback and peer edit (this was the lesson objective for the day as opposed to the content objective mentioned before). The teacher had the students sit in groups of four. The peer-edit was done in the form of a “Round Robin” style among groups of four. The students were given 6 minutes for every peer edit turn, signaled by the ring of a bell and a timer. This ensured that no time was wasted in the exchanging process of the lab reports. During those 6 minutes, each student was to have the lab report of another student, check for grammar, neatness, sentence completion and punctuation, and also using the lab report rubric, look for two positive things and two negative things about the lab report. The teacher made sure that students were leaving mostly positive comments and not being overly negative. In this way, an individual lab report is being checked three times. I think the intention of the teacher was to get the lab reports peer-checked by students rather than just herself. I think peer-checking builds confidence among students and motivates them to do better amongst their peers.


c. Next, describe what the students were doing and how this did it. Were they engaged? All of them or just some of them?

What did the teacher do to manage their engagement? Were these actions effective What or why not?


The students were very motivated to check each other’s work and leave comments. I thought, they also understood that positive comments mattered more than negative comments. They were all very engaged in this activity of peer review and editing.


The teacher made sure that all the lab reports were done and completed by all the students. This made sure that no student was left out of the activity because lab reports were incomplete, it also made sure that different students had their own perspective about the lab report shared among their peers. And that students were sitting in groups of four, and that no one was sitting alone. She managed time and the rounds, using a bell and a timer. Then she did one last round, where the students received their own lab reports back, and in pairs, they shared their conclusions and findings of this lab report. These techniques employed by the teacher were very effective. Very little time was wasted in the transition of rounds. Most importantly, all students having read three lab reports were getting a chance to strongly reinforce their concepts behind the experiment.





    • Hannah Treuer
      Hannah Treuer


      Everything about this lesson I love. To even add an artifact from it makes it that much easier to visualize! I specifically love and agree with the massive amounts fo feedback and peer review incorporated into this lesson. It is not only vital for teachers to give appropriate and effective feedback, but I think students take their peers feedback very seriously as well. Also, the balance of positive and negative comments is important for anyone to remember. I find it very helpful that whenever I do include negative comments I overly explain it and suggest ways of correcting it or resources students could use to correct it on their own. I would love to think of ways to incorporate more peer review into my social studies classes!

      • Gerald Ardito
        Gerald Ardito

        I really appreciated your kind and thoughtful responses to Syed's blog post.



        • Gerald Ardito
          Gerald Ardito


          I really enjoyed reading this post for Excursion 4. It also led me to experience a little deja vu. When I was still a 7th grade science teacher, I also used this lab to teach about observations and the scientific method.

          I was fascinated by what this teacher did in using peer feedback on these lab reports. Typically, I have done myself and have seen teachers use peer feedback to trigger a discussion about the results of the lab, but I do not think I have seen a teacher use this strategy to improve the quality of their writing and written expression. Kudos to them!

          It also seems that this teacher was masterful at managing this type of collaborative work. Again, kudos to them.

          I have a question for you: what might you have done with this lesson to add both depth and rigor to it (or to the lab itself). Please respond by clicking on "Leave comment" below. I look forward to reading your response to my question.

        ED 524 Spring 2020

        ED 524 Spring 2020

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