Graduate student develops lesson plan for class project and plans to teach at local school

Before returning to Case Western Reserve University for graduate school, Maura Plocek, who is working towards her masters in biology, taught local high school students at the Albert Einstein Academy (AEA). Now, she is taking what she’s learned in Developments in Human Evolutionary Biology to teach an integrated lesson to those very same high school students.

When Plocek was asked to complete an “un-essay” project as a part of the course taught by Cynthia Beall, Distinguished University Professor and Sarah Idell Pyle Professor of Anthropology, it was natural for her to develop a lesson plan.

“I didn’t want to complete a project just to receive a grade for a course,” Plocek said. “I wanted to do something that had a substantial impact.”

The five-day lesson plan integrates high school biology with information from Beall’s course while also fulfilling some of the Ohio Department of Education’s science standards. It’s fully equipped with objectives, student learning activities, lecture materials, a brief schedule and even ideas to help accommodate students with various learning requirements and suggested homework assignments. To further assist the teachers, she provided additional educational resources. 

Beall was impressed by many of her students “un-essay” projects. 

“They [the projects] really represented exactly what I was hoping to do, which was give people a chance to use a medium that they like while engaging the subject matter,” she said.

While COVID-19 presents a barrier for Plocek to actually teach the course herself, details are still being discussed as to whether she or current AEA teachers will deliver the plan. Nonetheless, students studying biology at AEA in Lakewood will have the opportunity to learn new material thanks to Plocek.