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Description of Changes in Your Plans

There were several changes that I made to my original plan. The first was that we
changed the do now that asked about Mars to something more relevant. Gail pointed out that it
didnt really fit the content of our lesson, so instead we had the students build an age structure
graph as more practice. Also, we added more time for our lesson. Originally we thought it would
only take about 2 or 3 days to complete. Instead, it took about four days to complete. This is
because we gave the students an entire day to research. Additionally, we gave them an entire day
to put their projects together. Also, I added in more detailed plans and directions to my plan. This
helped me to focus better on what I wanted the students to know, and made the lesson run
smoother for me. Additionally, we came up with a general idea for what the students posters
should look like so that they could see what we wanted exactly and not guess. Mrs. Newell drew
an example on the board that we pointed out to each class prior to having them make one.
The main change that Jess and I realized was the type of activity sequence we had
created. Originally we thought that it was an example of TOPE, with us showing the students how
to create an age structure, then having them make one on their own and figure out the pattern.
However, we believe that we set up a scaffolding activity sequence now. This is because on the
first day, we modeled for the students how to create an age structure graph by doing an example
of how to go through creating one together. Then, we discussed the different shapes that age
structure graphs look like. The next day, students worked in groups to make an age structure for a
certain country. While doing this, we helped them to draw and analyze the graphs correctly. Then,
before the activity where the students went to each groups poster, the students did an age
structure at home for homework. The entire lesson was based around the students practicing a
specific skill- creating and analyzing an age structure graph. This never changed. For these
reasons, we believe that our activity sequence is scaffolding.

B. Story of What Happened

The first day of our activity sequence involved the students taking notes on age structure
graphs, what they look like and what the shape means. After going through some of the notes, we
did an example together using the population of each grade at Renaissance. Although age
structure graphs are not used to determine population growth of schools, we used this example to
get the students attention, since they make up the population of Renaissance. This did seem to
get their attention, which was good. All of the students were shocked to find out that there are
many more female students than male students. This, of course, led the students into debating
why. I told them they could debate it later so that we could do the age structure.
First, I gave the students the different numbers of males and females in each grade, then
the total. Then, I asked them how they thought they would find the percentage of each gender in
the classes. Together, we determined the population percentage for the males and females in ninth
grade. Then, I had them do this on their own for the rest of the table. After about two minutes, the
students told me the rest of the information to fill in the graph. Next, we began creating the graph.
Again, I did the information for the ninth grade class, then had the students figure out the rest.

After several minutes, I had one of the students come up front to finish the graph and have her
peers compare.
This took slightly longer than I had anticipated. With her peers critiquing her about the
smallest of things, like her lines not being completely straight, the student I chose took several
minutes to finish when I thought it would take a matter of thirty seconds. After doing this, I
showed the students the different shapes that age structure graphs can take, and what these shapes
mean. We then went back and looked at the age structure graph of Renaissance that we had just
created, as well as the, age structure for Michigan that they had looked at for their Do Now. Then,
I got confused. The PowerPoint that we used for the notes was one of Mrs. Newells. On it was an
age structure that said the shape of it was stable, however, it looked like it was slow growth. This
threw me off and instead of going with my gut and telling the students it was slow, I told them it
was stable. Immediately after class ended, I knew I was wrong. So, I knew that the next day I was
going to have to correct my mistake and let them know that I was wrong.
Also, showing the students examples of age structure graphs and creating one together
took much longer than we had anticipated and there was no time for the students to start their
projects. I briefly explained to them their task, but there was only about five or ten minutes at the
end for the students to begin their research and calculations. Together, Jess, Mrs. Newell and I
determined at the end of Day One that we should re-explain the shape of each graph, what that
tells you and why. We felt as though it was important for their understanding.
So, Day Two began with the students first completing their do now. Since I wasnt going
to have time to go over it with the students, I made sure to look at each students graph when I
came around to sign their Do Now. Before allowing them to start their projects, I drew the three
general shapes of age structure graphs on the board. I told the students to do the same in their
notes. This seemed like a good idea because the pictures that were in the PowerPoint the day
before were slightly unclear and confusing. After reviewing the information, I re-explained the
project to the students. I also reminded them to give each person in their group a task either as the
facilitator, materials manager, researcher or recorder. This was to help them stay on task. Also, I
told the students that before they left, in order to get full points, they would have to get my initials
put next to the research questions that we wanted them to answer, the table and the age structure
graph. Both of these techniques appeared to work for the students because they all appeared to be
on task all hour.
Day Three, which should have been the day that the students were to look at each others
posters, turned into a workday. We had told them on day two to bring in any supplies that they
would need to create a poster and that they would get some time to work on them. When I
expected it to take a maximum of twenty minutes, it took all hour. However, some of the groups
finished early. To keep them on track, I decided to assign them one question to part of the followup questions I didnt plan on giving them until Monday. This question involved them creating an
age structure graph on their own and figuring out what the shape of the graph indicated about the
On Monday, I asked for the students to turn their homework in. About half of them turned
it in and of that half, about another half of them had actually completed it. I was very frustrated
with this because I explained it to them on Friday that it was due Monday and additionally wrote
it on the board, yet many people did not finish it. I still am not sure what else I could have done to
ensure that they would have done the homework. Other than this though, the last day of the

activity sequence went well. However, the carousel stations took longer than I had anticipated.
We created a handout in which students had to find certain information from each of the countries
that they were going to visit so that we could help them focus on what we thought was the most
important. It took students about four minutes at each place to do this. So, instead of having about
ten minutes at the end of class to discuss with the students the different information they learned,
we had two. I didnt want to rush them, so I asked the students to put their posters on the side
table, then explained their homework for the night.
In order to get some sort of a discussion, the exit ticket that we planned to use on the final
day of the activity sequence became a Do Now before the new lesson the next day. We asked the
students to write what country they would like to move to, of the nine they visited the day
before based on the information they learned, and why. What I found interesting was the
discussion that followed. Instead of thinking about the growth of the population, population
density and certain regulations countries might have in place, students still answered the question
based on personal preference of the geography or local customs. So, I took those ideas into
account when talking about the do now, but then asked them to think about how living in India,
where the population density is very large, compared to areas like the US, with slower growth and
less people per square mile.

B. Making Sense of Focus Students Responses

1. Descriptions of focus students


Personal Description



Sophomore, girl, very focused on school and

likes to share her ideas with the class during



Sophomore, boy, member of JROTC, some

days is very focused, other days he likes to talk



Sophomore, boy, likes to talk with others, has

good ideas, but wont share them unless

2. Excellent Response or Rubric

Which countries have populations that are increasing in size? What effects might these increases
have on the environment?
India, Mexico and Nigeria have populations that are increasing in size rapidly. With
increasing size, more land has to be taken up, which takes away from the other organisms that

might live there. Additionally, more resources like food and lumber must be taken from the
surrounding environment.
**Noticed this after they submitted their answers, populations that have slow growth are still
increasing in size, so it is more than just the three listed above.
Mrs. Newells assessment question:

Using the information given to you about Detroit, create an age structure graph and
describe its growth pattern. (
The growth of Detroit is slow.

Gails assessment question:

As you have learned, an age structure graph shows the number of individuals in a population who
fall into a specific age range. Take a look at the graph below and answer the two questions:
1. This graph shows that the population of Germany at the time was experiencing a
a. Rapid population growth
b. Slow population growth
c. Stable population growth
2. Which of the following reasons most likely explains the pattern you observed?
a. The number of adults exceeds the number of older citizens who are ages 75 and
b. The number of adults is equal to the number of children between ages zero and four.
c. The number of children is equal to the number of older citizens who are ages 75 and

d. The number of older citizens who are ages 75 and up exceeds the number of children
between ages zero and four.

3. Finding and Explaining Patterns in Student Responses

Response to our question:
Mexicos population is increasing in size. These increases can cause the environment to
not have enough space.
Mrs. Newells question:
The population is slow growing because the middle is larger than the bottom meaning that the
birth rates are low.

Response to Gails question:

1. This graph shows that the population of Germany at the time was experiencing a:
a. Slow population growth

2. Which of the following reasons most likely explains the pattern you observed?
a. The number of adults exceeds the number of older citizens who are ages 75 and
Analysis of responses:
In Caras response to our assessment question, she lists only one of the three countries we
had in mind when writing the question about which countries are growing. This is interesting
because the question explicitly asks which countries are growing, not asking for just one.
However, she is correct in identifying that Mexicos population size is increasing. She also
identifies that a growing population can cause an environment to lose space, but she doesnt
completely describe what this means. Does this mean the country that the people are living in
wont have space for humans or for the organisms that originally lived in that environment? Cara
is not very explicit with her response, which makes me wonder how much she understands about
human impacts on the environment. Its important to note that we did not make this connection as
a class when the students were expected to turn in this homework, however we wanted to see if
the students could connect the two ideas of large human populations, and the affect they have on
the carrying capacity of the surrounding environment. Looking at her answer to this question, its
clear that we will have to draw clear connections to ensure her understanding that human
population growth can have certain impacts on the surrounding environment, and list what these
impacts actually are.
When looking at Caras response to Mrs. Newells assessment question, it is clear that she
understands how to construct an age structure graph appropriately, and also, she understands how
to use that graph to identify and explain the growth of the population. In the picture of her graph
above, you can clearly see that she has constructed an age structure graph with a slow growth
pattern, and has identified it as such. From this it is clear that Cara understands how to properly
calculate the percentages of each age group in a population, and then transfer these percentages to
create an age structure graph.
For Gails assessment question, Cara got both answers correct on her quiz. This indicates
to me that she understands how to read an age structure graph, and identify what the shape
indicates about its growth pattern. She did this by identifying that Germany is exhibiting a slow
growth pattern. Then, she chose the correct answer as to what made this true of the graph. By
selecting that the number of middle-aged people exceeded the number of people aged 75+ shows
that she could read the graph to see this pattern. Additionally, it also indicates that she can
identify that, in order for the population of Germany to exhibit slow growth, the number of
middle-aged people must exceed the number of older people in the population.
Overall, looking at Caras answers, it seems as though she definitely understands the
construction of an age structure graph, as well as, how to interpret one in order to identify the
growth pattern. However, I dont think that she truly understands how a growing population can
affect the environment. Although, I dont find this to be her fault. Jess and I used this question in
order to probe them to think about how a population, especially one exhibiting rapid growth,
might affect the surrounding environment and its resources. We did this because we were going to
be moving into a unit on conservation biology, so we wanted them to make a connection to large
human population sizes and the environment a little bit earlier, tying in their understanding of
carrying capacities. However, in hindsight, I dont think this was a good question to have asked,

or rather used as a fair assessment question. This is because the students didnt really have any
prior knowledge on the subject, or enough to get the answers that we wanted from them.
Response to our question:
He did not respond to this question
Response to Mrs. Newells question:
It seems as though the middle ages (25-54) have the highest percent. I would call this a
slow growth population because the middle ages have the highest percent. The low ages and the
highest ages are lower like 0-5%.
**Sam did not create an age structure graph

Response to Gails question:

1. This graph shows that the population of Germany at the time was experiencing a
a. Slow growth
2. 2. Which of the following reasons most likely explains the pattern you observed?
a. The number of children is equal to the number of citizens ages 75 and up
Analysis of Sams Responses
For our assessment question, Sam did not answer it. I dont think this is because he did
not know the answers, but that he forgot to do it completely. He normally gets all of his work in
on time, with all of it done. Instead, he turned in the homework assignment with only two of the
four questions completed. For this reason, I cannot analyze his response to our question.
However, he did answer Mrs. Newells question, as well as, Gails.
For Mrs. Newells question, Sam correctly identified the graph to be slow growth. He
describes that since the middle-aged group has the highest percentage of the population, and that
the lower and higher ages make up about 0-5%, then it is slow growth. Both of these descriptions
are true of the graph, and also true of populations exhibiting slow growth, so his statements
indicate to me that he understands how to read an age structure and identify if a population shows
slow growth. However, he did not create a graph, so I do not know if he is able to take the
calculated percentages (that he shows he knows how to find) and translate them to a graph of his
When looking at Gails assessment question, Sam correctly identifies that the growth of
the German population is slow, however, the explanation he chose is not the most correct. In a
slow growth population, the number of children and the number older citizens may be equal, and
their overall percentage of the entire population would be smaller than the population of middleaged people. However, this graph does not show that. It shows that the older and younger
populations are smaller than the middle-aged population, but the older and younger populations
are not equal. This indicates to me that Sam applied his knowledge of what a slow growth age
structure graph should look like, but that he did not interpret this new graph completely correctly.
Response to our question:
India, Mexico and Nigeria; bad effects
Response to Mrs. Newells question:
Joe did not write what type of growth the age structure showed, however he did create a graph.

Response to Gails question:

1. This graph shows that the population of Germany at the time was experiencing a
a. Slow growth
2. 2. Which of the following reasons most likely explains the pattern you observed?

a. The number of adults exceeds the number of older citizens ages 75 and up
In the response to our question, Joe accurately identifies the three countries that we aimed
for the students to list as the countries that were growing in size. However, as indicated
above, the wording of this question was poor, and we would have accepted more answers. We
should have asked, Which of the nine countries are growing at a rapid rate? What are some
impacts this fast growth might have on the surrounding environment? Although, Joe
correctly identified which countries are growing, he does not give any specifics on how this
growth will affect the surrounding environment. He does state that it will have a bad affect,
but gives no further explanation. Again, as I wrote when analyzing Caras work, part of the
issue in the students answers to this question is due to poor selection of the content that we
decided we wanted the students to take away. This I will write more about in my
improvements section because I now think that this question and our focus objective should
be changed based upon the analysis of student work.
For Joes response to Mrs. Newells question, he does not analyze what the structure of
the graph indicates, but he does create a graph (albeit without labels). Joe accurately
calculates the percentages of each age group in the population, and then he correctly
translates this information to a graph to show the structure. Although the axes arent labeled,
he drew the bars in the correct areas, and labels the numbers on the x-axis that corresponds to
each bar. This shows me that he can create a graph using given numbers, but Im not sure he
can then interpret the graph to describe population growth.
However, when looking at Joes response to Gails question, it appears that he knows
how to analyze a graph. He correctly describes the graph of Germany to show a population
with slow growth. Joe also selects the best answer that describes the shape of the graph the
number of adults exceeds the number of older citizens ages 75 and up. Since Joe chooses the
correct response to both questions, I believe that he does understand how to analyze and
explain an age structure graph. Perhaps when answering Mrs. Newells question he did not
complete his homework in time, which would make a lot of sense with Joe. He doesnt
always turn his homework in on time, or will turn it in partially completed.

C. Improvements Parts I-IV

1. The first thing I would change about this lesson before teaching it again would be the
PowerPoint that we used. This PowerPoint is attached, if you would like to look at it. There was a
lot of great information in the PowerPoint that we used, and much of it was pictures instead of
words, which always helps when teaching lessons. However, several of the figures in it were
unclear. Theres one slide that shows three different countrys age structures. The rapid growth is
easy to identify, but stable and slow look extremely similar, almost so you cant tell the difference
between the two unless you know exactly what to look for. Teaching this lesson, I realized how
important it is to make sure everything you show and say are clear so that students understand it
without a shadow of a doubt. If its not, then they walk away with misconceptions, which is what

I learned the first day when one of the images shown in the PowerPoint confused me, and I
misspoke to the students, confusing them.
2. So, this activity sequence took much longer than we had originally anticipated. Instead
of only being two days, it extended to five days. This worked out okay, but I think that this
activity sequence would have been better suited to being shorter so that we could get to other
material. For instance, the students didnt need to have an entire hour to work on their posters in
class. Instead, I would have them do this at home, and maybe give them a couple of days to work
on it at home before bringing it in to do the carousel activity.
3. The third thing that I would change in this activity sequence was our focus objective
and question. When originally planning this, Jess and I didnt think that this was a super
important skill for the students to master, but it was important to Mrs. Newell. So, we decided
that we would then try to make a connection of age structure graphs to how this would impact the
environment. We thought that this would tie in nicely because in the lessons previously, we had
discussed carrying capacity and how an environment can only hold so much of one organism.
After this lesson, we led into conservation biology. So, we thought that by having our focus
question hone in more on the impacts that large human populations have on nature, we would be
able to lead into the next few lessons and tie in the previous lessons. However, after teaching and
doing this activity sequence, I feel as though I would change our focus objective and question to
being more specific about age structures, such as having the students create a graph on their own
and then explain possible reasons for a country to exhibit certain patterns. The original question
we used could still be used, but I think it would serve better as a probing question that would then
lead them into the next topic.