April 22, 2012
Midterms are almost upon us. It's hard to believe that the school year is this close to being over. It seems like just yesterday these young people were walking through my classroom doors as wide-eyed, brand-new freshman!
Events of the Past Week
Monday - We put the finishing touches on our evolution unit. The students learned about convergent evolution, divergent evolution, and coevolution. Then we watched several clips of David Attenborough showing unique adaptations that have helped organisms from Leopard Slugs to Elephant Seals survive and pass down their genes. Homework was to complete an evolution review packet.
Tuesday - We began class by discussing the review packet and answering any questions students had about the packet. When that was done, we played a review game with remote control clickers and multiple choice questions that the students answered using their remote controls. Homework was to study for their evolution test.
Wednesday - The students took the multiple choice section of their evolution test. There were 56 questions on the multiple choice part of the test. They also took the district benchmark assessment on evolution, which consisted of 8 multiple choice questions.
Thursday - The students took the short answer portion of their evolution test. I had originally planned for all of the test to be taken on Wednesday, but realized it was going to be too long to take all in one day. When the students finished the test, they were given the opportunity to review the results from the multiple choice part of the test. Homework was to finish a study guide for the first section of chapter 17 in the textbook. The topic of the study guide was taxonomy (the science of classifying organisms), NOT taxidermy, which is what some students were hoping for!
Friday - We began class by taking a few notes on taxonomy, and then moved on to work on a packet called "Why Classify?" This packet had the students doing some thinking about the benefits of a classification system for organisms, and also learning some of the vocabulary associated with classification. Homework was to finish the packet.
Monday - The students will first be looking over their "Why Classify?" packets with me. Then, we will learn about phylogenetics (classifying organisms based on their presumed evolutionary relationships), and cladistics (essentially creating branching diagrams that show the evolutionary relationships between organisms). The students will then be creating a cladogram themselves. Homework will be to complete a study guide that goes along with chapter 17 in the textbook.
Tuesday - NO SCHOOL. PSAE testing. By the way, if you would like to read an interesting article about standardized tests, read this about New York's standardized English test: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/nyregion/standardized-testing-is-blamed-for-question-about-a-sleeveless-pineapple.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1
Wednesday - We will have 28 minutes of class time on Wednesday. We will take a look at the homework from Monday night, and then the students will be introduced to dichotomous keys. Dichotomous keys are made up of a paired series of statements that biologists use to help identify organisms when they are in the field. We will also review the characteristics of the 6 kingdoms and 3 domains of life.
Thursday - We will be completing a dichotomous key activity using various types of hardware. The students will have to design their own keys to classify the pieces of hardware. Homework will be to study for the quiz on Friday.
Friday - We will take a quiz on taxonomy on Friday with 35 multiple choice questions and 1 written question. The students will be letting me know whether they want to be a dissector or a recorder during our fetal pig dissections when they finish their quizzes. We will begin dissections on Monday.
Graba Geek of the Week
This week we have co-Geeks of the Week. Denae Gerasta is one, and Emma Gattuso is the other. Denae recently did a little research into her family's genetic history, as she noticed that one of her thumbs seemed to be rather short, much like the actress Megan Fox, who we learned has brachydactyly (a dominant genetic condition where one or more of the digits are shorter than normal). It turns out that the trait does seem to run in her family, and may be the same one we learned about in class (although there is no way to know for sure unless a genetic counselor were to be consulted).
Emma earned the honor by volunteering at a District 15 middle school to help students with some science projects. Talk about showing an interest in science! Way to go, girls!