Skip to main content

Meet Jill Sculerati : Interactive Online Learning in IB Biology using Punnett Squares

With 21 years of teaching experience, Jill Sculerati has planned her fair share of science lessons. Over her last seven years teaching IB Biology she's wrestled with how to help students critically think about one of the foundational elements of her course - the Punnett Square.  Filling them out was usually a fairly easy task for students to complete, but deeper applications such as predicting pedigree charts proved to be much more difficult.

Punnett Squares help predict genotypes.
Students can usually complete the Square without many problems. But it's hard for them to really analyze and see the applications of what these results might mean in more complex real-world cases to predict the probability of specific diseases or traits.  
- Jill Sculerati, IB Biology Teacher

While this problem has been a consistent challenge for Jill, it has grown within the current environment of COVID and online learning.  Jill has always strived to have her students 1) apply content and 2) learn from self/peer evaluations. And she knows that within the face-to-face environment, students benefitted so much from discussion, debate, and sharing ideas. Yet, she notes, "those interactions are just so difficult to replicate in online learning." In face-to-face learning, each of those interactions contributed to a collective whole that helped build everyone's understanding. But online, they seem like separate, distinct interactions. It's harder  to bring about a shared understanding.

Looking for a new way to help solve her problem, Jill turned to Huddle Up to increase student interaction by allowing them to share ideas and feedback with one another.  It has allowed Jill to re-arrange her typical unit (see below) into a blended learning model where the solutions and feedback are organized and structured to help each student improve.

In a traditional unit, Jill would give a few complex genotype scenarios to see if students could analyze the data correctly. If time in the unit permitted, students could peer evaluate one another and possibly engage in a class discussion about a few of the scenarios.

With Huddle Up, Jill had each student upload their analysis - allowing each student to see the solution of others. Additionally, Jill used Huddle Up to structure peer evaluations using a rubric she created within the platform so that each student could see a more detailed view of their strengths and weaknesses as determined by peers. In doing so, a natural learning loop is created allowing each student to improve their original work with data from many evaluators.

Given the last few years of virtual learning due to the pandemic, Jill, like many others, noticed that it's increasingly difficult to maintain the sense of community she had with face-to-face learning. Each student completes work, but it is largely done in isolation. And, attempts at group interaction seemed like increasing students' time online at a time when everyone is concerned about additional screen time.

One of the things that I missed in virtual learning is the connectivity, the feedback, and the real-time conversations because it just doesn't happen like you think it might when they are just looking at boxes on a screen (in isolation).

Knowing the future uncertainty regarding virtual learning, Jill continues to innovate and strive for better experiences for her students.

Having gone through a period of virtual learning, I know what's it like when we were doing IB Biology on [Microsoft] Teams. That [platform] just doesn't have the same interactive nature that Huddle Up has. I have a feeling we might be going back to virtual learning... and I think having the option to do all the things that I do in-class but on a virtual platform is going to really increase the understanding that my students get.

Jill is part of an upcoming case study using Huddle Up to compare the effectiveness of this unit to her previous methods. Her goals for the case study include:

  1. Increased engagement, as evidenced by contributions made within the platform and in-class discussions.
  2. Fewer missing / late assignments as compared to previous units, as documented in the platform.
  3. Increased student learning in the same (or fewer) class periods, as measured by formative and summative quizzes.
  4. Greater student satisfaction in the learning model, as measured by an end of unit survey.


Learn more about the unique interactive learning model within Huddle Up in the videos below.

Huddle Up Overview (0:40)

Navigating the Project Homepage (2:12)


Popular posts from this blog

When did collaboration and learning become separated?

I like to talk to people about what systems, structures, and platforms they use to help their teams collaborate, learn, and problem-solve.  It doesn't really matter if I'm talking with trainers, consultants, or educators. I usually hear something like this: "We have our (training) courses inside of  ( INSERT NAME OF LMS HERE) . And, then we collaborate every week on  ( INSERT ZOOM, SLACK, GOOGLE MEET, ETC) " When did we start thinking / saying this?  Was this a prevalent phrase pre-pandemic? I don't remember hearing it then. (Perhaps I wasn't listening.) It's certainly a common paradigm now. More importantly, what impact does its arrival have on the way we structure our team's environments? For starters, it brings up a few odd questions. Aren't we naturally better learners when we collaborate? Aren't we better collaborators when we're learning along the way? Don't we do one better when we incorporate the other? When we think of the syst

Huddle Up: A Getting Started Guide for Project Leaders

Welcome to Huddle Up! This guide is to help Huddle Up Project Leaders get started. If you don't find the information you want below, e mail us or schedule a meeting with our team. If you wish to learn more general information about Huddle Up, click here . If you wish to join a project as a Huddle Up participant, click here . Your Interactive Platform We transform the way cohorts collaborate and learn by focusing on shared ideas and feedback  to build a more connected online community. CONTENTS OF THE GUIDE Registering on Huddle Up Creating a Project Inviting Users to Join Your Project Setting Up and Running Your Project General Overview Adding / Adjusting Content to your Project   Add a Ready Add a Run Add a Huddle Communicating and Interacting within Huddle Up REGISTERING ON HUDDLE UP If you have a Google account, register in just one click. Otherwise, create an account with any email and password combination. You will receive a confirmation email, pl

Form follows function: Platforms can transform the way we learn

  We welcome feedback, questions, and insights on the piece below. We learn best when we learn together. Everyone is familiar with "form follows function".  When architects design a building, they begin that process by understanding the function - the purpose - of the building. So,it begs the question: What are the outcomes (the functions) we want from the learners who take part in the learning experiences we structure? We all know the typical answers to this question. "We want learners who..." take action by applying knowledge collaborate with others, sharing ideas and feedback feel part of a team who can learn from each other are accountable to themselves and others for learning and sharing Yet, it's ironic that we structure isolated learning in platforms that are largely content repositories, storing videos and PDFs mixed in with an occasional quiz. It's time we re-think how we deliver learning. We need to re-think our concept that learning and collabora