I consider the process of cellular respiration to be very esoteric. The Next Generation Science Standards have scaled it back considerably from the rote memorization of glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, and the electron transport chain that it was even last year under our old standards. I appreciate inquiry-based learning, but how could I make this particular required knowledge (for a Pre-AP Biology group) a little more inquiry-based and a little less teacher-centred? I took a quick read through “10 Tips for Launching An Inquiry-based Classroom” this morning, and by the time my Pre-AP Biology group was walking through the door I had an interesting idea to try out.

They are a small group so they all worked together to solve the following “Driving Questions,” which were posted on the board:

When you eat pasta, what happens to the starch? How does it become glycogen?

I asked for a list of basic steps, and a sketch diagram for each major step. I said that everybody must research, and everybody must write, and they must have a collective answer for me upon my return. I left the room for a few minutes to give them space without the feeling of me lurking.

I then proposed that we try A Web White Board to collaborate on a collective diagram and we played with this program for a few minutes after I invited them to my board. Then I suggested that we use Screencast-O-Matic to record them drawing and talking through the process. They quickly discussed who would say what, and away they went.

This video is the results of their efforts. I asked them how they liked it and they said they liked it a lot. I asked them if they thought they had learned what I wanted them to learn better than if I had talked them through, and they said, “Yes!” I hope they have. I sketched a framework on the board upon which to build their researched metabolic pathway. I am hoping we are able to get through the process in this way by the end of Week 7.

Metabolic pathways of cellular respiration, a rough framework, September 2015
Metabolic pathways of cellular respiration, a rough framework, September 2015