April 10, 2011
I hope everyone is enjoying the warm weather today! Weather like this is a great time to get outside and enjoy nature. To learn a little about the importance of informal science learning opportunities that present themselves on nice days like today, check out this article: http://bit.ly/hReVky
Events of the Past Week
Monday - After switching seats, we spent our time doing a natural selection lab. The students filled a paper bag with pinto beans, then had to search by feel for kidney beans or lima beans in the bag to capture as their
as their prey. The lima beans were chosen much more frequently as they do not "blend in" as well as the kidney beans do in that environment. The students were also reminded to finish the notes on chapter 15 for Tuesday.
Tuesday - The first thing the students had to do was show me their notes. After that, they had a little time to finish their labs on natural selection, and we watched some David Attenborough video clips about the effects that female mate selection has had on male behavior/appearance in a large number of different animal species.
Wednesday - On Wednesday I lectured to the students about genetic drift, the bottleneck affect, and evidence from the areas of comparative anatomy, embryology, and biochemistry that supports the theory of evolution by natural selection. Afterwards, we took a look at the similarities and differences among the amino acid sequences for two different proteins (hemoglobin and cytochrome c) in a wide group of animals and plants. Students needed to finish the lab questions for homework.
Thursday - On Thursday I took out our disarticulated human skeleton and we used it to learn the names of several bones in the human body. The kids really seemed to like it! After that, we did a lab activity comparing the skeletons of a fish, a bullfrog, a pigeon, and a human for homologies (similar structures inherited from a common ancestor). Most students finished up the activity by the end of the class period, but a few had to finish for homework.
Friday - On Friday, the students took some notes on how new species form, as well as mechanisms that prevent two different species from being able to produce offspring (which helps to maintain their separation as two distinct species). We then watched part of an episode from the documentary series "Life" put out by BBC America. We saw many unique adaptations in amphibians and reptiles. The students were asked to pick one organism they saw, and describe why the adaptation it has would have given the first organism with that adaptation an advantage over other members of the same species who did not have the same adaptation. Chapter 16 notes were assigned to be completed by Tuesday.
Monday - No school for students - Teacher Institute Day
Tuesday - The students will finish up taking notes from my lecture on convergent evolution, divergent evolution, and coevolution. Afterwards, we will begin our review for the test on Thursday.
Wednesday - On Wednesday, the students will be playing a review game with remote control clickers that they use to answer multiple choice questions. The software program keeps track of how each student does while they are answering the multiple choice questions.
Thursday - TEST DAY! The test for this unit is open note, with 60 multiple choice questions and 15 fill-in-the-blank questions. Wednesday night I have to call in to find out if I have to report for jury duty on Thursday, so there is the potential I will not be in school on this day. I have suggested to the students that for an open note test, they should only use their notes to answer questions they do not know the answer to, otherwise they will run out of time. Another suggestion I had for them was to use little sticky note tabs in their notebooks to identify where different topics are located in their notes. This helps cut down the amount of time spent hunting for the answer to a question.
Friday - Students will see how they did on the evolution test, and we will begin our classification unit with an activity called "Why Classify?" that they will complete for homework over the weekend.
Graba Geek of the Week
The geek of the week this week is Nick Vucovich. Nick is one of the hardest working kids I have seen in my 13 years of teaching. He is also always willing to help other kids in the class when they ask him. This past week, Nick was a very active, important member of our classroom discussions, and he usually laughs at my jokes!