April 3, 2011
Welcome to April! 4th quarter begins on Monday!
Events of the Past Week
Monday - We went over the genetics test from the two days before spring break on Monday (after we talked about some of our spring break experiences). I shared the coprolite I purchased over spring break with everyone. If you don't know what that is, see if your children remember! It might show up as an extra credit question on their evolution exam - hint, hint. Afterwards, the students were introduced to the age of the earth, and did an activity on the geologic time scale, which they completed for homework if they did not complete it in class. They were also assigned a reading on the Miller-Urey experiment and answered questions about it.
Tuesday - The geologic time scale activity was collected, and the Miller-Urey experiment questions were graded in class. Afterwards, the students took notes as I lectured about the age of the earth, fossils, relative dating, and radiometric dating. An activity on carbon-dating was assigned for homework.
Wednesday - On Wednesday we went over the carbon-dating activity in class. Then, everyone took notes as I lectured on the ideas of Jean Baptiste Lamarck and Charles Darwin. We also spent a little bit of time discussing Darwin's life and the voyage of the Beagle, which gets me a little bit excited so we usually end up spending more time on that than I originally planned. One of the topics of the lecture was Descent with Modification caused by Natural Selection. The example for descent with modification that the students were given was the evolution of whales from land mammals, which tied in nicely with the activity on Thursday. Also, I was informed on Wednesday that we may not be giving the Explore exam this year as our district assessment. There is a pretty good chance the district is going to change the assessment we give, so that changed my plans for Friday. I had initially planned to give the Explore test on Friday, but did not want to subject the kids to a test if they did not have to be. Thankfully, this allowed time for expanding our evolution unit a little bit!
Thursday - As a result of the extra time, I showed one of the videos from the PBS series on evolution called "Great Transformations". The evolution of whales, the development of four limbed organisms (referred to as "tetrapods"), and the commonality of genes that control development of the embryo in organisms from Drosophila melanogaster to Homo sapiens were shown in the video.
Friday - The lab reports on Drosophila melanogaster were handed back so that the students could look at them and see where points were taken off on the assignment. I circulated to all of the lab groups and allowed them to ask questions if they had any. Afterwards, I showed the students their 3rd quarter grades. Those may have changed a little bit since I showed them to the students because I graded the geologic time scale activity over the weekend and added that to the gradebook. The grade on that assignment only helped move students' grades in a positive direction. After looking at the reports, we did a jigsaw reading activity where students were broken up into groups of three. One person in the group read an excerpt from a publication by Lamarck, one person read an excerpt from Alfred Russell Wallace, and one read an excerpt from Charles Darwin. Afterwards, each person had to explain the main ideas of their excerpt to the other members of the group. Lastly, we came back together as a class to discuss the readings as a group.
Monday - 4th quarter begins on Monday. The students will be allowed to choose their own lab partners for 4th quarter, and I will allow them to choose their own seats as well. They will be told that I reserve the right to move seats and change lab partners if I see the need. Usually there are no problems, but occasionally I do have to switch some people around. Once we are all done moving things around, the students will do a natural selection lab activity that they will finish in class on Tuesday. Homework will be to complete the notes on chapter 15 for Tuesday.
Tuesday - On Tuesday the students will take notes on the effects of natural selection on a population and some factors that can effect the variation amongst members in a population. We'll watch some video clips of the effects of female mate selection on the evolution of bizarre coloration and behaviors in male birds. Notes on Chapter 16, due Friday, will be assigned for homework.
Wednesday - Students will be introduced to the different types of evidence that support the theory of evolution by natural selection, including the presence of vestigial structures, homologous structures, analagous structures, fossil evidence, macromolecular evidence, and embryological evidence. Following the lecture, students will begin a lab activity comparing amino acid sequences for the proteins hemoglobin and cytochrome c amongst many members of the animal kingdom. The activity will be completed on Thursday in class.
Thursday - We will complete the amino acid sequence activity, and then compare skeletons of many different animal groups looking for homologies.
Friday - The students will learn about some of the ways in which new species can form, as well as the factors that prevent two different species that would appear to be closely related from mating and fusing together into one new species. The test on evolution is tentatively planned for the following Thursday (the 14th).
Graba Geek of the Week
This week's "Geek of the Week" goes to Andrew Lundholm, who moved to our class from Mrs. Thorstenson's class at semester. Since moving up a level in biology, Andrew has done an outstanding job, scoring near the top of the class on all of our tests and doing an outstanding job on his Drosophila melanogaster lab report with his teammates. We're glad he's joined our class!