Using Interactive Dialogues in the Science Classroom

By Lori D. Hilliard



TYPE OF ACTIVITY:

  • Hands-on Activity
  • Inquiry Lab
  • Simulation

TARGET AUDIENCE:

  • Life Science
  • Biology
  • AP Biology
  • Integrated Science, levels 3 and 4
  • Gifted and Special Ed students

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

One class period per exercise.


LESSON

Summary:

The use of interactive dialogues in the science classroom has been a very successful venture for me. These interactive dialogues can be explained simply as being much like a play or script to be read by two students. These dialogues contain stage directions for the students to act out. In-depth background information on topics currently being covered in the classroom are also included in these activities. Most dialogues that I write also lead students through laboratory activities. I have also written dialogues that go along with most topics covered in our text book, including an Intro to the Course, and a Text Book Tour, as well as more difficult concepts from Probability to Polytene Chromosomes(used in the AP courses). The students love reading and interacting with each other. The main characters in the dialogues are Itsy and Bitsy-two Wolf Spiders who like to hang out in the Biology Lab.

I believe that the success of this activity can be attributed to the fact that students respond well to fun and creative programs, no matter how difficult the concepts are. Along with the highly motivated student, the slow learner and the Native American student has done well with this program. Students are allowed to work at their own pace and in a cooperative learning environment. Following is a brief sample from one of my courses. Feel free to try it in your own classroom. Better yet, create some characters, and start your own dialogues, it is fun and very rewarding.


ACTIVITY: Itsy and Bitsy Explore the Unknown

(Read all dialogue and follow indicated stage directions.)

Background- Itsy and Bitsy are looking through their Science books trying to choose a topic for their class assignment.

ITSY - (sighing in disgust) Bitsy, I just don't understand any of this stuff, it's all Greek to me.

BITSY - (with a smirk) Some of it is Greek, Biology goes back along way you know. Even Aristotle made some contributions to Biology.

ITSY - Okay, Bitz, enough with the history lesson. I get the picture, but that still doesn't help me with this assignment.

BITSY - Well you loose-brained Lycosa, it is SIMPLE really. Not all organisms are fortunate enough to be as intelligent as we are, or as advanced. Some of these poor saps are simply composed of one-cell.

ITSY - One Cell! What a bunch of losers. You mean those Kingdoms like Monera and Protista that we studied last week!

BITSY - Bingo kid! Now you're getting the picture. Our assignment is easy. We are supposed to do some research on simple organisms and write a short paper on what we think it would be like to be in their shoes for a day.

ITSY - (grinning sarcastically) Shoes, I thought they were to simple to have feet. ( Thump head as if to say "I could have had a V-8") Oh, I guess Ameba could qualify after all they those pseudopodia -"false feet" things huh!

BITSY - Yes, you knuckle head and look here on page _____ of our text book, it tells us all about Monerans and Protistans. Cool-did you know Monerans are the smallest living things on Earth.

ITSY - (with excitement in voice) Wow! Suddenly I'm feeling like King Kong. Look, it says there are two main groups of monerans, bacteria and cyanobacteria. (With puzzled look) Cyan, huh, I think I have that color in my new box of crayons.

BITSY - (Shrugs shoulders and sighs) Okay, Crayola King, back to what we were discussing if you please. These organisms are so small you can't see them with out a microscope. But you sure can see what they do.

ITSY - (with disbelief) Do, what could something that small do?

BITSY - Well, Einstein, keep reading, they help give flavor to butter, yogurt and sauerkraut and are useful in manufacturing medicines, cleansers, and adhesives.

ITSY - Yeah, well they also cause some illnesses like Strept throat and whooping cough. YUK! I hope I never run in to those guys.

BITSY - (leaning in closer and whispering) It is kind of scary that they could be right here in this room with us and we couldn't even see them.

ITSY - (jumping up and slapping at desk) Ugh! I think I see some Monerans and Protists on my desk. Oh no, help!! they're after me. I'm getting sick(fake cough) Grab the disinfectant Bitz!

BITSY - Calm down you Schizo-spider, it's only chalk dust.

ITSY - (wiping head with hand) Whew! I thought I was a goner there for a minute. Maybe we had better do some more research on these little guys.

Both Itsy and Bitsy now begin to read their books with interest.

Instructions to students- After reading and researching Monerans and Protists, you will try your hand at writing a story about the individuals in these Kingdoms.

Assignment - 1 page written story about a day in the life of a simple organism.

  1. Be creative
  2. Give facts about your chosen organism
  3. Discuss lifestyle of organism (ex- what do they eat, look like, reproduce etc.)


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