I am Mohamed Montasser from Cairo, Egypt. I am a pharmacy graduate and now I am pursuing my career as an educator. I started my career with the Professional Educator Diploma at AUC (American University in Cairo) for teaching Adolescent Learners and finished it in May 2017. In December 2016, I was privileged to experience an Active Deep Learner eXperience in SeGa Group and consequently, I started applying part of FIRST-ADLX Framework in my classroom. In July 2018, I had the chance to be a learner of the whole *FIRSTedu-ADLX journey.
Currently, I am the vice head of the science department at Dar El Tarbiah School American division. Recently, I became a member of the training committee responsible for professional development for the teachers.
I have started applying the 15 principles of FIRST-ADLX Framework as a chemistry teacher for grade 11 and 12 and a biology teacher for grade 12 for the American diploma. I am writing this case study documenting the impact of FIRST-ADLX Framework when applied in a biology class for grade 12. The topic was Macromolecules for 10 students.
In the very beginning, in order to increase the students’ readiness -R Domain: Readiness- to the topic I started the session with an opener to recall some concepts of organic chemistry as it was needed to comprehend the information of biochemistry science and to link the new information with prior knowledge. The second activity was an educational collaborative activity which was the jigsaw that increased the interaction between students implementing the I Domain: Social event principle. The students were divided into two groups and had five minutes to discuss and share the information that they had already prepared as a mission/assignment from the last class which is an example for T Domain: Continuity and follow up principle. I was moving around to make sure they are on track and to ask them a few guiding questions to direct and facilitate the discussion and asked them to take notes as they will need the information written afterwards.-R Domain: Activity facilitation-
After finishing the jigsaw activity, I re-grouped them so that each group had at least one student prepared one macromolecule. In the second grouping, I told them that each student will present the prepared information in the first group to the new members of the newly formed group. Hence, the main points of the four types of macromolecules will be presented in each group. I was moving to make sure they understand the instructions and assessing their learning by observing the students’ behaviors. – F Domain: Probing and Assessing – During the reviewing part, I used a linking and summarizing activity in which I stated one type of macromolecule and students said/answered with all the information related to this macromolecule. implementing the S Domain: Linking and Summarizing principle. The following activity was a small mini-lecture about two processes: from monomers to polymers and vice versa with more details and using the information they just discussed.
To let the students experience these two processes I asked them to stand in the middle of the room with spaces between them. Before facilitating the activity, I started telling them the instructions. I told them that I will say loudly a number, and they are supposed to cluster in groups of this number. For example, if I say 2 they will stand in pairs and if I say 1 they will stand individually.
Then I asked them to sit and reflect on the game by asking them how can you relate this game to the information in the previous mini-lecture? The answers of the students were very insightful and meaningful even more than I expected. They related different behaviors for them during the game to the macromolecules. For example, the students were the molecules and in the form of monomers when they stood alone, and in the form of polymers when they stood altogether. The process of standing together from standing individually was called polymerization and the process of standing alone from standing together was hydrolysis. They even resembled the bonds between the molecules to their hands when they were in a cluster. Furthermore, a student told me that my role in this activity resembled the role of water molecules in the two processes.
Instead of pushing information about the first macromolecule carbohydrates at once, I started asking questions they already knew their answers and then I started building upon their answers. For example, I asked what is the function of carbohydrates? A student said the answer and then I said as (his/her name) said the function of carbohydrates is to provide a short term of energy to the body. I built upon this answer by giving examples from daily life e.g: students who used to go to the gym, eat before working out (with 2-3 hours) a meal with the amount of carbohydrates to provide energy. Mentioning that, I started pulling by asking questions about this topic especially that there were two students who used to work out. Furthermore, most of them had a background or at least were interested in nutrition.
During the mini-lecture, I was explaining that carbohydrates contain suffix -ose for example, sucrose, glucose, lactose… etc. A student suggested using this suffix for the names of students. I used it as an energizer activity and promoted this activity for two minutes and then carried on with the mini-lecture as described above.
At the end of the class, I had assigned a mission to the students to draw a mind map about carbohydrates including all the information mentioned.
So, I had applied F Domain: Trust the learner principle as the learners had their space to express and share their thoughts throughout the whole class and we build on their previous knowledge and experience. Also, I had applied I Domain: Social Event principle by making different groups in which learners interact together and add to each other’s knowledge. I Domain: Positive spirit principle was applied during the educational game.
Before starting the educational game, I said the instructions and made a trial as a demonstration to increase their readiness -R Domain- which is the first step in the RAR model.
R Domain: Reviewing actively principle was applied twice, during educational activity (jigsaw). The second level (so what?) was used in the form of quick summarizing (linking & summarizing activity). I said the type of macromolecule and the students in two groups state all the information for this type. As well as, reviewing the educational game, the second level was used when I asked the students to relate the game to the macromolecules as mentioned above.
During the second mini-lecture of carbohydrates, when I was explaining the function of carbohydrates as a short-term source of energy, we discussed the nutrition and what type of meals do sportsmen take before the gym workout depending on their goal applying the T Domain: reflection on reality- principle.
The educational game of using the numbers and clusters, let the students experience the formation of polymers and monomers and relate the information by using this game as a metaphor applying the T Domain: practising and experience principle of the transformation domain.
The mind map that was assigned to them as an assignment/mission achieved the T Domain: continuity and follow up principle to make sure the learning extends to outside the class.
As for S Domain: repetition without boredom, it was achieved by the jigsaw collaborative structure. The students prepared the information as an assignment/mission and then discussed it together in the first group, and afterwards presented the information to their peers in the second group. They then summarized in the reviewing actively part in the form of competition. As well as the educational game, the information was presented first during the previous mini-lecture then they had the chance to experience the two process during the game.
I recognized that the students were facilitating their own experience unconsciously by imitating the facilitator’s behaviors. For example, during the second group of the jigsaw, they were clapping for each presenter after finishing. Such behavior applied the motivation & attention principle including the I domain: Positive spirit by smiling and shouting out the names of the presenter which is also F domain: individualization. That said, the students demonstrate responsibility for the learning process aiding in the learner eXperience.
The students were engaged in a very positive safe environment. The students were appreciated, and their voices were heard through sharing their insights by giving them the space they need. Furthermore, their social needs were met by letting them discuss, share, and present to each other. Since they had the chance to feel present, they needn’t make troubles or disturb the learning process hence I did not need to use classroom management tools frequently as I used to before applying FIRST. Although such content is considered challenging since it is an introduction to biochemistry, which is a new science for them, the students were enjoying the class and this was apparent through their behaviors. They tended to participate in the learning activities as instructed with nearly no resistance.
Moreover, this is one of the best classes I have ever facilitated until the moment. After the class, I felt accomplished and achieved since the learners have achieved the learning outcomes of this class.
A Testimonial from a student:
“Teaching and fun never come together. The fact that classroom work never change is so tiring but the fact that we learned something new in a way that is both fun and easy is nice. During this class we were divided into two groups, my group had (lipids and proteins) and we had to discuss them together we had to explain what we know about each one and give examples. It was nice to talk to others and explain what we understood to each other while our class teacher would follow up to see if what we’re saying is right or wrong. The experience was nice and taught us a lot, not only about macromolecules but it also taught us how to explain something that you don’t know a lot about. For me, I learned how to be more confident, as the fact that I had to speak in front of others made me very confident while talking in front of people.”
And another student said, “I was surprised at how much easier it made it remember the details and retain all the information. I felt surprised at how much easier the lesson became when at first I couldn’t memorize it at all, the experience was fun and unique for me; it helped me to memorize easier”
In the end, I would like to thank my students who had the willingness to participate actively in the learning process and were responsible for their own learning. Furthermore, I would not have achieved this case study without the support of the school’s management that always supports the development and growth of teachers allowing them to apply new ideas to improve the learning methodologies.
My deepest gratitude to Dr Mona El-Degewi the owner of the school for her endless support and her continuous encouragement to develop.
*FIRSTedu-ADLX *FIRST-ADLX Framework version for teaching in schools.