Involving every student in the class
I teach in the Zoology department at IIS University in Jaipur, where I have taught for the last 12 years. My guiding principle is that teachers should encourage students, stoke their curiosity. To that end, we ought to implement those teaching strategies that draw their attention on underlying concepts while also giving room for students to interact during lectures.
One such example that I recently implemented in one of my classes, was to teach a lab exercise on “studying of giant chromosome from live Chironomus larvae”. The experiment was performed by postgraduate students. Students have a preliminary idea about chromosome structure, from having seen diagrams in textbooks.
Usually this practical is conducted using permanent slides. But instead, I motivated the students to collect live larvae for the lab. During the class, I gave them instructions on the habitat and ecological conditions of the larvae, and how students could identify them. These larvae are bright red in colour and show characteristic undulating movements.
They enthusiastically collected the larvae and brought to the lab. I demonstrated the dissection from the salivary gland of the larva for separating the chromosome. Students counted the arms of the chromosome and were asked to stain them. Each student then performed the experiment. The larva is big and readily available, and can also be used as an alternative to study polytene chromosomes other than Drosophila sp.
My primary objective through this exercise was to involve every student, while also improving my own teaching efficiency. It was very rewarding to witness their enthusiastic participation in the class. I realised that “completing syllabus” doesn’t have to be a drag, that inculcating enthusiasm in students can be achieved along with it.