May 29, 2012

May 29, 2012

May 29, 2012

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day Weekend.  We had a fun weekend at our house with baseball, family, and friends, none of which could have been enjoyed as much as they were without the sacrifices of our military personnel, past and present. 

Events of the Past Week

Last week we stuck to the script exactly as planned.  The kids are doing a great job continuing to work hard as we near the end here.  It's getting especially difficult to stay focused for everyone with the great weather outside and the end of the school year looming, but I have been impressed so far.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday - We will first review the homework on symbiotic relationships which the students completed over the weekend.  Then, we will finish our biomagnification case study that we began on Friday.  We will spend about 15-20 minutes reviewing some biogeochemical cycles after finishing the biomagnification (i.e. the water cycle, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle), and then begin our study of populations with two population density worksheets that will be finished for homework.

Wednesday - After we go over the homework together, we will continue our study of populations by looking at factors that influence the growth of populations.  We will look at how the population size of predators affects the population size of their prey, and vice versa, by analyzing real-life data on the deer populations in the Kaibab plateau in Arizona, and also the population of moose of Isle Royale in Michigan.  Homework will be to complete the activity.

Thursday - I will collect the students' homework, and then we will move on to look at how to create and interpret an age structure graph.  This should take about 30 minutes for the students to complete.  When they finish, we will learn about survivorship curves.

Friday - Friday is a half day.  We will spend Friday learning about ecological succession, gross primary productivity, and net primary productivity.  There will be a short quiz on ecology on Monday.

Graba Geek of the Week

This week's Geek of the Week is John Parzynski, who has been a wonderful student to have in class all year long.  He has been very personable and engaging while also being respectful, and is also not afraid to ask questions.  Congratulations, John!

May 20, 2012

May 17, 2012

May 20, 2012

Sorry for the lack of an update this past week.  With Mother's Day on Sunday, and also two baseball practices to run, a t-ball game, and a soccer game for my kids on Saturday I just ran out of time to get my post written!  Anyway, I'll recap last week, tell you about the current week, and let you know about the events of next week all in this post.

Events of the Past Week

Monday - We discussed the organs of the digestive system last Monday.  We went through the alimentary canal first (the organs through which food passes), and then through the role of the accessory organs (those organs through which food does not pass).

Tuesday - We spent time reviewing the organs of the digestive system to prepare for our quiz on Wednesday.

Wednesday - We took our quiz on the digestive system.  The quiz included a 5 question portion on the pigs where I had a picture of a pig's abdominal cavity that had been dissected, and asked the kids a few questions about the organs shown.  My hope was that this would prepare them for the lab practical that we took this week a little bit better.  When they were done with the quiz, the students were given the dissection guide for the circulatory system.  Homework was to read the lab.

Thursday - We did our heart dissection on Thursday.  This took about 35 minutes, so after the students had completed the dissection, they were given time to work on the questions in the lab.  Homework was to finish the lab questions.

Friday - We did our final pig dissection on Friday.  This dissection was of the respiratory and urinary systems.  The students did a good job finding the larynx, trachea, lungs, diaphragm, kidneys, ureters, and urinary bladder.  After they completed the dissection and cleaned up, they were given time to work on the lab questions.  Homework was to finish those questions.

This Week's Events

Monday - We took the pigs out one last time on Monday.  The students were given the opportunity to ask questions of me (if they had any) and quiz their lab partners on the parts of the pig and their functions.  Most students made good use of this time, but there were a few who did not, and it showed for some of them who did not on the lab practical the next day.  I also showed the students a good virtual pig dissection website they could use to study from home for the lab practical (since I assumed most of you did not want a preserved pig on your dining room tables Monday night!).

Tuesday - We took the lab practical on Tuesday.  There were 9 stations set up around the room.  The students were given one minute at each station to answer 3 questions about the pig in front of them.  At the end of one minute, they rotated to the next station to answer the next 3 questions. 

Homework was to do the first page of a study guide on the circulatory system.

Wednesday - We reviewed the results of the lab practical.  Many students did well.  Lab practicals are notoriously difficult, so I was pleased with the results, as most students earned A's or B's on the practical.  After reviewing our results, we did two activities related to the circulatory system.  One of them involved learning to read an electrocardiogram, and the other was a crossword puzzle with circulatory system vocabulary.  Homework was to complete the second page of the circulatory system study guide they had received on Tuesday.

Thursday - We went over the circulatory system study guide together, and then completed a few worksheets related to the circulatory system.  Homework was to complete a respiratory system study guide that went along with the textbook.

Friday - We reviewed the results of the respiratory system homework, then took a circulatory system quiz.  The quiz was not taken for a grade, but to to help the students and me determine what it is about the circulatory system that the kids need me to help them learn and what they have already figured out.  Afterwards, we began to go through some of the information about the circulatory system that I expect the students to know.

Upcoming Events

Monday - We will finish learning about the circulatory system as well as the respiratory and urinary systems.  The students have a packet to help them take notes on the circulatory system, and most of the other two systems notes will be a quick review of what we have already learned during dissection lab and worksheets.

Tuesday - We will review for our test on the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and urinary systems.

Wednesday - The students will take a 75 question multiple choice anatomy and physiology test.  Homework will be to complete and introduction to ecology worksheet.

Thursday - We will review the results of the anatomy and physiology test.  Then we will go over the homework from the previous night.  Finally, we will begin our ecology unit in earnest by reading aloud an article called "A View From the Top of the Food Pyramid."  After that, we will do an activity that will have the students look at how energy moves through an ecosystem, which they will finish for homework.

Friday -  I will collect from the students their homework on energy flow in ecosystems.  Then we will work on a case study to introduce the concepts of bioaccumulation and biomagnification.  It is called "Tuna for Lunch," and the students will examine what happens to toxins such as mercury as they pass from one level of a food chain to the next.  Your kids should be able to tell you the distinction between bioaccumulation and biomagnification after doing this activity.  One neat memory trick that a student came up with last year was a rhyme that went something like, "Bioaccumulation occurs when an organism is single, biomagnification occurs when organisms mingle."  That will make more sense to you after you ask your kids to explain the distinction if you don't already know what those two terms mean!  Homework will be to finish the biomagnification activity.

Geek of the Week

This week's Geek of the Week is Ryan Moran, who earned a perfect score on his Fetal Pig Lab Practical.  The lab practical test is one of the most challenging of the year, and to earn a perfect score is quite a feat!  Also earning perfect scores, but I believe having already won Geek of the Week this year, were Christina Miller, Patrick Chen, and Jennie Yang.  Way to go!

May 7, 2012

May 6, 2012

May 6, 2012

Plans changed a bit last week, as I had to miss school on Monday to be home with my son, who was sick.  The quiz that was originally scheduled for Friday will now be on Wednesday of this week.

Events of the Past Week

Monday - We watched the classic bio movie Hemo the Magnificent, about the parts of the circulatory system and how the circulatory system does its work.  The movie does a very good job with the anatomy of the circulatory system and the role of the circulatory system, in my opinion.

Tuesday - This was a late start day, so our time was shortened.  As a result, we spent the time reviewing the homework that had been due on Monday, and then we labeled a diagram of the human digestive system.  Finally, I passed out the first pig dissection lab to the students to read for homework.

Wednesday - Wednesday was our first day of dissection.  There were some students that I kept a close eye on throughout the dissection because I was worried they might not make it through, but everyone came through with flying colors, and many students genuinely enjoyed the learning experience (although there were definitely a few who were more than a little squeamish about it).

Thursday - We finished the dissection of the digestive organs of the abdominal cavity on Thursday.  Everyone found all of the organs they were supposed to, and most groups were able to point out to me each of the organs I asked them to without much trouble.  Homework was to finish the questions in the dissection lab.

Friday - I collected the pig dissection labs, and then we began a digestive system project.  The students color-coded and cut out drawings of each of the organs of the digestive system, and then did the same with labels for each of the organs of the digestive system.  The organs were then glued down in the proper locations, and the labels attached to the proper locations.  Finally, the nutrients that are chemically digested in each organ were cut out and placed by the appropriate organ, as well.  Homework was to complete the questions in the packet that went along with the project.

Upcoming Events

Monday - I will be collecting the questions from the project on Monday, and then we will be going through together the functions of all of the organs of the digestive system. 

Tuesday - We will be reviewing for a quiz on the digestive system on Tuesday.  Homework will be to study for the quiz, which is Wednesday.

Wednesday - There will be a 20 question multiple choice quiz.  At the end of the quiz, there will be five fill in the blank questions where I will have a PowerPoint slide with a picture of a dissected pig, and the students will be asked questions about different organs that can be seen in the pig.  There will be 5 questions on this part of the quiz, which is intended to help prepare them for the test at the end of the unit as well as assess their current knowledge of the anatomy of the pig.

Thursday - After reviewing the results of the quiz, we will be dissecting the circulatory system of the pig.  Homework will be to finish the questions in the circulatory system dissection lab packet.

Friday - We will finish our dissection of the pig by looking at the respiratory and urinary systems.  All of the systems we look at in the pig will be on a lab practical at the end of the unit.  The students will be asked to identify different organs and their functions by looking at the pigs, which will have pins in different organs with questions associated with the pins.  Homework will be to finish the questions in the respiratory and urinary system lab packet.

Graba Geek of the Week

This week's Graba Geek of the Week is Eli Pagones, who did a great job with his dissections this week and made me proud.  Way to go, Eli!