April 16, 2012

April 16th, 2012

I hope everyone is getting those taxes taken care of if they aren't already!  I apologize for the lack of a newsletter last week.  With the Easter holiday weekend I did not have the opportunity to write it, but it's back this week!

Events of the Past Week

Monday - No school.  Teacher Institute Day

Tuesday - On Tuesday, the students were introduced to a mathematical method for determining if a population's gene pool is changing over the course of time.  The mathematical method is called the Hardy-Weinberg Theorem.  Tuesday was a shortened day, so the introduction and example problem took the full period.

Wednesday - The students worked on practice Hardy-Weinberg problems.  These problems take a little while to do (especially the first time through), so this took the full class period.  Homework was to finish those problems.

Thursday - Our topic for Thursday was speciation, which is the formation of new species.  In order to explain how speciation occurs and what it is, the students read a chapter from a comic book called Evolution:  The Story of Life by Jay Hosler.  The author is a PhD and an associate professor of biology at Juniata College.  This was a much more interesting way to learn than listening to me lecture, and I hope the students got more out of it, too!  There was a study guide that the students filled out as they did their reading.

Friday - The students were given 20 minutes to finish the study guide associated with the chapter on speciation, and then we watched the first 30 minutes of a movie from the PBS Evolution series called "Great Transformations."

Upcoming Events

Monday - The students will be finishing learning new material about evolution today.  The topics that we will briefly cover are convergent evolution (when two organisms that are not closely related to one another actually appear to be related due to adapting to similar environments), divergent evolution (when two closely related organisms appear to be less and less related due to adapting to different environments), and coevolution (when two organisms change in response to one another, such as flowers and their pollinators).  We will then watch a few clips of David Attenborough showing some unique adaptations driven by evolution.  Homework is to start preparing for our test on Wednesday.

Tuesday - The students will be working on a review packet for their test on Wednesday.  Homework will be to study for the test.

Wednesday - The students will be taking a test of approximately 70 questions in length on evolution.  When they finish, they will be given a study guide for the next unit, which is taxonomy.  They will need to use their textbooks to complete it for homework.

Thursday - The students will be taking notes from a lecture on the history of classifying organisms.  After we finish taking notes, the students will be doing an activity where they will be using a dichotomous key to classify bacteria.  If it is not finished in class, then they will have to complete it for homework.

Friday - We will do a couple of quick activities on Friday.  One is called "Fun With Fictitious Animals," in which the students use the descriptions in a dichotomous key to try to determine the characteristics of various fictitious organisms.  The idea is to demonstrate the importance of strong descriptors when classifying organisms.  This will be followed up by an activity in which the students have to do some critical thinking to fill in missing information in a table used to classify various members of the primate order.  Finally, the students will Finally, the students will be trying their hands at classifying the organisms found at this site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/classifying-life.html

Graba Geek of the Week

This week's Geek of the Week is Marty Chindblom, who has shown an incredible knack for thinking critically, and sharing his thoughts well with his lab partners.  Great job, Marty!

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