May 22, 2011

May 22, 2011

I hope everyone enjoyed the great weather we had over this last weekend!  Our family played a lot of baseball together and enjoyed being outside.

Events of the Past Week

Monday - We watched a video in class because I was not there.  The video was about reptiles and many of their adaptations, including adaptations for breathing which tied into learning about the respiratory system.

Tuesday - We reviewed the functions of the parts of the respiratory system and learned about the urinary system via a lecture about the parts of the system and what they do.

Wednesday - The students reviewed for their test on anatomy and physiology by looking at the quizzes they had taken during this unit as well as by looking at labs and homework assignments they had completed.  They were able to ask me any questions that they had on anything related to those quizzes and assignments as well as about the test itself.

Thursday - The students took the 75 question multiple choice test on anatomy and physiology and did very well, for the most part.  I was very impressed with their effort!

Friday - We took the lab practical portion of the test.  There were 7 pigs and one calf heart set up around the room with pins in them.  At each station the students had 1 minute to answer three questions about the organs the pins were placed into.  While they waited for their turn or after they finished, the students were working on a packet that introduced them to some important terms and concepts related to ecology, which is our next unit.  Anything in that packet that was not finished needs to be completed for homework.

Upcoming Events

Monday - I will be collecting the "Introduction to Ecology" packet from the students.  After that we are going to take a look at both parts of our test on anatomy and physiology. 

We will then be spending our class time working on learning about food chains and energy transfer in an ecosystem.  There is an activity the students will be doing in pairs to help them learn about this topic.  Our focus will be more about what happens to the energy in a food chain than on what organisms eat what other organisms.  I assume that most of the students know that some kind of herbivore will eat plants, and some kind of carnivore will eat the herbivores, so I don't want to bore them.  By focusing on the flow of energy through an ecosystem the students will be asked to think at a higher level than if they were just asked to identify which organism eats which other organism.  A food chain and food web packet will be assigned for homework, as well.

Tuesday - The assignment that we worked on in class will be collected, while the homework will be gone over in class.  Anyone who does not have the homework assignment completed, however, will be asked to step into the hallway to complete it while the rest of us go over it together.

After we have gone over the homework, the students will be doing a case study called "Tuna for Lunch?"  They will be working in pairs on this assignment.  The purpose of the assignment is to investigate the way in which toxins such as mercury accumulate and undergo what is called "biomagnification" as they pass up the food chain.  Hopefully your children will be able to tell you what biomagnification is after having completed this assignment.

Wednesday -  We will begin looking at how nutrients are cycled through an ecosystem with a jigsaw assignment.  The students will be in groups of 3.  One person will become an expert on the carbon cycle, one on the nitrogen cycle, and one on the water cycle.  After each person has become an expert, they will teach the other members of the group about their topic.  Then the students will have some questions to answer about each cycle.  For homework, the students will be doing an assignment called "Ecology Cycles" to look at how other factors may cycle in an ecosystem.

Thursday - On Thursday, we will be doing a lab to look at how predator and prey populations affect one another and have a definite cycle in nature.  For homework, the students will be completing an assignment called "Analyzing Ecological Relationships," where they will be asked to look at 3 different graphs and interpret the information they present.

Friday - I will collect the homework on Friday, and then we will look at a real life example of the effects of the removal of a predator (the wolf) on their prey (the deer) on the island of Kaibab.

Afterwards, the students will be introduced to symbiotic relationships.  These are relationships in which two organisms live in close association with one another.  The types of relationships can be mutualistic (where both organisms benefit), commensalistic (where one benefits while the other is neither hurt nor harmed), parasitic (where one organism benefits at the other's expense), competitive (where both organisms are trying to obtain the same resource), or predatory (where one organism preys on the other).  After a brief introduction to these relationships, the students will be given a variety of different examples of symbiotic relationships to read about and identify.

For homework, the students will be given an article to read about the importance of the wolf to the ecosystem in Yellowstone.  This article comes from the journal Scientific American.  There will be several questions the students will be answering to go along with this reading.  The article does an excellent job explaining how many of the organisms in Yellowstone are dependent on one another, as well as how disrupting even just one of those organisms dramatically impacts the rest.

Graba Geek of the Week

This week's Geek of the Week is Hannah Kuhl.  Hannah has been one of the top-performing students in class all year long, and culminated her efforts with a perfect score on the 75 question multiple choice test we took on anatomy and physiology.  In addition, she earned 24 out 25 possible points on the lab practical we took on Friday, earning her high score on that part of the test as well.  Way to go, Hannah!


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