March 18, 2012

March 18, 2012

March 18, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!  I hope everyone has enjoyed being outside these last few days as much as my family has.  Too bad we're not on spring break this week so the kids could take full advantage of the weather!

Events of the past Week

Monday - We counted flies on Monday.  After the weekend, many groups had more than 100 flies to count in each of their 2 vials.  After they finished, the students were given a review sheet that touched on each of the topics that would be covered on the test.  Homework was to finish those problems.

Tuesday - We counted flies again, and the students were given the opportunity to check their answers to the review packet against my key.  Anyone that had questions could then ask me individually for help, so that everyone got the help that they needed.  Homework was to study for the genetics test.

Wednesday - We took the 1st day of the genetics test.  The average from my four classes was around a 31 out of 36.  I was very proud of the group for their hard work during this unit, as it seems to have paid off for them on the test. 

Thursday - We took the second day of our genetics test on Thursday.  The students did even better on this day, averaging approximately 29 out of 32.  Homework was to read an article titled "Drawing a Line Between Monkey and Kangaroos."  The article was about the naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, who came to the same conclusions as Charles Darwin around the same time as Darwin.  Darwin, however, had much more evidence supporting his ideas, so he is the one remembered most for explaining how it is that organisms have changed over time.

Friday - This was our final day of counting flies.  There were many, many flies to count because most groups had gone two days without counting (some did come in after school on Wednesday to count, so they did not have as many flies as others).  When the students finished, they were given the opportunity to look at their genetics test if there was time.  My third hour class needs to look at both parts of the test on Monday, and my fifth hour class needs to look at the first day of the test on Monday.  Homework for the weekend was to total all of the data the students have collected during their Drosophila melanogaster experiments, and to read an evolution-related ACT passage and answer the seven questions that go along with it.

There was also an interesting study published in the journal Science this past week regarding the use of Drosophila melanogaster in the study of alcoholism.  Here's a link to the article that summarizes the work:

Upcoming Events

Monday - We will begin our evolution unit by looking at how radioactive dating works.  We have an activity that we will be doing investigating the use of Carbon dating to date fossils as old as 50-60,000 years old. 
Homework is to work on the Drosophila melanogaster reports.

Tuesday - We will be finishing the carbon dating activity, then doing an activity looking at the Geologic Time Scale.  I will then introduce the students to some of the material in Chapter 14.  After we finish that activity, the students will be completing an activity comparing the ideas of Darwin, Wallace, and Jean Baptiste Lamarck.  Homework will be to work on the D. melanogaster reports.

Wednesday - We will be watching a NOVA video called Origins, that ties very nicely into the concepts from Chapter 14.  Homework will be to work on the D. melanogaster reports.  There will be a substitute teacher Wednesday because I will be at an AP conference at Northwestern University.

Thursday - The students will be introduced to the concept of natural selection.  After I have lectured for 15-20 minutes, we will be completing a lab activity to look at how natural selection works.  We will finish the activity in class on Friday if we do not finish it Wednesday.  Homework will again be to work on the D. melanogaster reports.

Friday - We will take whatever time is necessary to complete the natural selection activity.  I then have some video clips from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from a series that they put out called "The Making of The Fittest" which we will watch.  The video clips explain natural selection, show the students examples of evolution in action, and explain how changes in DNA drive the evolution of organisms.

Graba Geek of the Week

This week's Geek of the Week award goes to Carson DeVries.  Carson has done an outstanding job during our genetics unit.  The improvement and growth he showed during this unit were tremendous, and culminated with him earning one of the highest scores in the class on our genetics test.  Keep up the good work, Carson!

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