November 13, 2011

November 13, 2011

November 13, 2011

We are reaching that time of year where it seems like there are as many days off of school as there are days in school!  Students have Monday off as we will be meeting with other science teachers from all of the schools in District 211, and then on Tuesday we will be meeting as biology teachers on our late start day to analyze data from our cell test that all accelerated biology teachers gave last week.

Events of the Past Week

Monday - We took the 10 question quiz on cell transport as planned.  Afterwards, students worked on the analysis questions to their egg lab, and then began work on a review packet on cells.  They also handed in the "Osmosis in a Plant Cell" lab from the previous Friday.  Homework was to complete the review sheet.

Tuesday - I handed back the "Osmosis in a Plant Cell" lab to the students, as well as their egg lab analysis questions.  We took the time to discuss the results of those labs.  Then, the students got back their 10 question quizzes from the day before and were given time to ask me about them.  The next item on the agenda for the day was to go through the review packet and see if there were any questions on that.  After going through the review packet, we finally had time for our review activity with butcher paper on each lab table that has been described in previous posts.  Homework was to study for the test on Wednesday.

Wednesday - Students took their test on cells on Wednesday.  There were 55 questions on the test, the 48 common assessment questions that all accelerated biology teachers gave, and then seven questions that related directly to the labs we did in class.  The other accelerated biology teachers also ended up giving those questions to their students after looking at what I had put together, so we all gave the same 55 question test.  We plan to take a look at the results from that test together on Tuesday.  There was no homework Wednesday night.

Thursday - Students got a chance to see how they did on the test.  The majority of students received A's or B's on the test.  The toughest portion of the test was definitely the portion on cell transport (diffusion, osmosis, active transport, etc.).  When we were done with this, the students began a reading on cancer that I located on the American Cancer Society website.  The students' homework is to finish the reading and take notes on it.  Only a class set of the reading was run off, so I linked the handout to my website ( on the accelerated biology "Worksheets and Presentations" page with a reminder of how far in the handout they have to read.  The idea behind having the students do this reading was to give them a reason to care about our next topic, cell division.  When cell division spirals out of control, cancer is the result.  Since it is estimated that one out of every two males and one out of every three females will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life, it is important to me that the students be educated about it.


Upcoming Events


Tuesday - LATE START DAY.  We will have shortened periods on Tuesday, so we will take a little bit of time to discuss the reading from the weekend (we will spend a little bit more time discussing cancer later in the unit), and I will lecture on the stages of the cell cycle, which includes the stages of mitosis. 

Wednesday - The students will be doing a reading on the cell cycle and answering questions about it in class.  There will also be a coloring handout on the stages of the cell cycle for the students to complete.  Anything that is not finished in class will be homework.

Thursday - We will do a lab where the students try to grasp the concept of surface area to volume ratio.  A cell needs a lot more surface area (cell membrane) than volume (cytoplasm and its contents) in order for nutrients to enter the cell quickly enough and waste to get out quickly enough for the cell to survive.  The lab will use cubes of agar of various sizes with sodium hydroxide and an acid/base indicator called bromothymol blue, which is blue in the presence of a base and yellow in the presence of an acid, inside of them.  The cubes will be placed into hydrochloric acid, and the amount of time it takes for the cubes to turn from blue to completely yellow will be recorded.  The students will see that the greater the surface area to volume ratio is, the faster the acid diffuses throughout the whole cube.  Homework will be to finish the lab questions.

Friday - Class will start with a quick lab quiz to see what students learned from our agar cube lab.  We will look at slides of onion root tips, where cells are actively dividing as the root grows, to find cells in the various stages (interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase) of the cell cycle.  Homework will be to finish the questions in the lab.

Graba Geek of the Week

This week's Geek of the Week award goes to Christopher Umeki.  Chris earned a perfect score on his test on cells, getting all 55 questions correct!  Way to go!  In addition, when a student asked when we'd learned that the smooth endoplasmic reticulum was responsible for detoxifying poisons (which was a question on the test), he was able to pull out his presentation and show the student the part of his presentation where he addressed that.  It always helps to be prepared! 

Have a great week, everyone!

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