December 4, 2011
Welcome to December! Just 2 more weeks until winter vacation is upon us. I'm sure the kids are looking forward to that! We have a tough 2 weeks before break, however, so please work to keep them focused until they are on vacation.
Events of the Past Week
Monday - We began the week by looking at our results from our quiz on mitosis the previous week. The students were given the opportunity to ask me any questions that they might have had on anything they missed.
Once we were done reviewing our quiz results, we began a cooperative group project learning about enzymes. The students were allowed to pick their groups of 3. Since each of my 4 classes has 27 students in it, the numbers worked out very well! Each person in the group had some assigned information to research regarding enzymes. The students were asked to try to complete their portion of the project for homework.
Tuesday - The students completed any parts of their assigned portion of the project that they had been unable to complete for homework, and then began to share their information with each other. They were instructed that sharing needed to be more than, "Here's my paper, copy it." The groups did a good job of not only sharing what they wrote, but explaining what was meant by what they had written. In addition, there were many good questions for me from the groups when there was something they did not understand in their packet.
Wednesday - The groups spent about 25 minutes completing the sharing of information in their groups. Afterwards, they had the remainder of the class to ask me any questions they had about enzymes. For homework, there was a passage taken from an ACT exam about energy-releasing (exergonic) and energy-storing (endergonic) reactions. In addition, the students were given the lab handout for our experiment on Thursday and Friday. They were asked to read through it and answer the 8 prelab questions found at the beginning of the handout.
Thursday - We began our experiment. 3 lab pairs worked together on the experiment. One of the pairs of students researched whether or not an enzyme found in fresh pineapple juice, called bromelain, was also found in other fruit juices. One pair researched the effects of temperature on the functioning of the same enzyme. The final pair researched the effect of changing pH on bromelain. Homework was to create a data table that could be filled in during class the next day when we would observe our results from the experiment.
Friday - We observed the results of our experiment. Rather than telling you in this newsletter, I'd like you to ask your children to explain what happened in their experiment. They should be able to tell you about the results from all 3 experiments. After recording the results in a data table, each lab pair had to create a flow chart to explain the procedure that they followed during their experiment. Finally, each large group of 3 lab pairs worked together to answer the 5 postlab questions at the end of the experiment. Homework for the weekend was to study for a quiz on enzymes on Monday.
Monday - We will be taking our quiz to begin class. I don't anticipate this taking more than 20 minutes. Once the quiz is completed, we will begin to learn about the process of photosynthesis. My plan is to review the visible light spectrum, introduce the concept of excited electrons, and the role of pigments in plants by the end of the period. Homework will be to complete an assignment about ATP - the molecule living things use as the source of energy to drive all of their metabolic processes.
Tuesday - We will be doing two labs at once on Tuesday. Students will first set up a chromatography lab, where they will be separating the pigments found in a spinach leaf. Once this lab is set up it takes about 20-25 minutes to complete. Watching chromatography solvent inch up a strip of paper is about as exciting as it sounds, so while we are waiting for that to finish, the students will be looking at leaf cross-sections under the microscope, as well as looking at the underside of living leaves to look for stomata (openings where gases enter and exit the leaf). Homework will be to finish the questions that go along with both of the labs.
Wednesday - On Wednesday, I will be lecturing to the students about the light reactions and the Calvin Cycle (the two phases of photosynthesis). Homework will be to do a reading on the history of the discovery of the events in the process of photosynthesis and answer some questions about the reading.
Thursday - We will review the process of photosynthesis on Thursday using graphic organizers to help organize all of the information from Wednesdays lecture. Homework will be to study for a quiz on Friday.
Friday - The students will be taking a quiz on photosynthesis. When the quiz is completed, we will begin to learn about the process of cellular respiration. There will be a reading guide that goes with the textbook that the students will be working on, so they will need their books on Friday. Homework will be to complete the reading guide.
Graba Geek of the Week
This week's geek of the week goes to Lauren Hoffman. Lauren has done a great job this year, and especially this last week as we learned about enzymes (a topic that is brand new to most students), of asking good, specific questions when she is not completely understanding something. All of the questions she has been asking have been paying off as her scores on the last few quizzes and tests have been excellent. Way to go, Lauren! Keep up the good work!