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Year: 2006 – Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient
School: Catholic Central High School
450 Dundas Street
Principal: Donna Hammond
School Telephone: 519-433-3471
School Fax: 519-433-1934
School Website: www.ldcsb.on.ca/schools/cch
Grades/Subjects Taught: Grades 11-12, Biology
- Reflective practitioner who continually questions the efficacy of his practice and strives to improve it.
- Learning by doing.
- Repetition and reinforcement: once Mr. MacLellan demonstrates a biology concept, students are given the opportunity at their own workstations to repeat, reinforce, refine and extend their knowledge using their own manipulatives.
- Videoclips and photographs are available on a Web Site for students for further repetition.
- Engages students and promotes cooperative learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, questioning and the active processing of ideas by students of all ability levels.
- Regular communication with students and parents on progress, attendance, problem-solving or motivation challenges.
- Promotes accountability on a daily basis: responsibility for one's actions, setting goals and time management.
- Development of both independent work skills and collaboration.
- The challenge for a discerning teacher is to develop strategies that allow students to conceptualize and understand the complex processes, biochemical reactions, and structures in a cell which are not only abstract, but dynamic. The static nature of written words and diagrams renders these living, dynamic processes lifeless. Many biology students have resorted to memorization of words, diagrams and explanations at the expense of understanding and visualizing these cellular processes because the pedagogical means to facilitate student's conceptualization is largely unavailable.
- Mr. MacLellan has developed material for his biology classroom which deviates from traditional teaching methods. These methods afford students not only the opportunity to visualize and conceptualize processes, but also to manipulate materials themselves to challenge and practice their understanding. He has developed a myriad of these strategies and materials in his career. Ropes, clothes pins, Styrofoam balls, and fishing line can be found strung across the ceiling of his biology classroom as he explains and demonstrates the intricacies of DNA replications, protein synthesis and mitosis. Each student is provided with a mini kit of these same models to practice the process themselves and then collaboratively with other students.
- Mr. MacLellan developed an innovative teaching strategy that involved the creation of magnetic model manipulatives of cellular structures, molecules, and ions that could move on magnetic chalk boards. As new contradictions appear, students can change small parts of the model while the rest stays intact. Students will argues among themselves whether they have included enough hydrogen ions and can move the models around in ways that much more realistically reflect the complexity of living cells. Colour codes, themes of shape, texture and size allow students to develop and see continuity of cellular processes. Blind and visually challenged students respond to the tactile nature of the manipulatives. By feeling the size, shape and movement of the models they come to understand the complex intricacies of cellular processes.
- Mr. MacLellan created over fifty editions of the "Biology Free Press" each of which contains biology or science related articles from national and local newspapers or science magazines. Class sets of each edition were produced and his student's begin each class by reading from the Biology Free Press. The aim is twofold: to help improve student literacy and to increase awareness of societal science issues. Ms. MacLellan also weaves topics such as the biochemistry of drug addiction and the development and growth of cancer cells into his lessons to allow students to develop discerning minds regarding issues of the day.
- Mr. MacLellan frequently offers extra tutorials after school and often has 25 students attending!
- Many former students have pursued biology in university. Some have traveled to the Galapagos Islands or the Costa Rican rainforest to see first hand these environments discussed in Mr. MacLellan's class.
"Teachers like John MacLellan are essential to a future where all students can learn about science in a dynamic way which will enable them to participate and succeed in an increasingly science dependent world." - Member of the Science Education Department and the University of Western Ontario
"There is no greater goal in teaching than to inspire another and make a positive influence on the future of our country and the world. I was inspired by John MacLellan and he definitely made a positive influence on the future of my life and many others." - Former student
"John's colleagues are amazed at the number of times they see John with individual students discussing how to set goals for themselves, complete their work, attend class, or apply for a university scholarship." - Nominator
"He taught us to believe in ourselves. He commanded commitment and respect and in return we received unconditional enthusiasm, patience and passion." - Former student