November 18, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving week! With the warm weather we've been having, it sure doesn't seem like we should be celebrating Thanksgiving already. We had a busy week in accelerated biology this past week.
Events of the Past Week
Monday - No School. Thank you to all of our veterans.
Tuesday - We reviewed for our big cell unit test. We first graded several different review sheets together in class. Then, there were sheets of butcher paper set up on each lab table. I wrote a different heading on each sheet of paper, such as Cell Organelles, or Plant v. Animal Cells, etc. The students had one minute at each lab table to write as much as they could think of to write about that particular topic. When we were all done, the students had another minute to go around to each lab table to see what the class was able to brainstorm about each topic. This was a way to get the students thinking about each of the major topics on the test, and to help them see what they had forgotten that somebody else might have remembered.
Wednesday - We took the 55 question multiple choice and matching test on the topic of cells. The students in all of my classes did well, averaging a B+ overall on the test.
Thursday - We processed the test results by writing test corrections for any questions that the students missed. We then transitioned to our unit on cell division by talking about cancer. Cancer is, in simplest terms, cell division gone bad, so it is a good way for me to get the students' attention in regards to the importance of learning about cell division. I tried to be very sensitive in talking about this topic, since so many students are affected by cancer in some way in their lives, even right now. I also shared with the students my own experience of losing my first wife to cancer in 2003. This was done as a way to share with them that all of us will be affected by cancer in some way most likely during our lives, since 1 in every 2 males and 1 in every 3 females will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in their lives. For homework there was a reading about cancer for the students. I put this together using information from the American Cancer Society and a book called The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Dr.Siddartha Mukherjee. The book is a very good read for those of you interested in cancer. It was one of the New York Times top 10 books of 2010.
Friday - We discussed what the students found interesting from the reading about cancer to start class. We also talked about the fact that our cell organelle project was front page news in the school newspaper! Then, we conducted a lab experiment investigating why cells have to remain small. We used different sized cubes made of a material called agar. The agar had an indicator called bromothymol blue added to it, which turns yellow in the presence of an acid. The students then placed their cubes in a beaker of hydrochloric acid, and timed how long it took the cubes to turn completely yellow. We will be finishing the lab questions in class on Monday. Homework was to read an article from a publication by the National Institutes of Health about cell division, and answer some questions that go together with the reading.
Monday - We will be completing the lab questions from our cell size lab that we ran on Friday. When the students are done, I will be lecturing on cell division. For homework, the students should review the content from the cell size lab, as they will be given an 11 question lab quiz on Tuesday on that material.
Tuesday - Tuesday will be a shortened day due to Late Start meetings. The students will take their lab quiz, and then we will look for cells in prepared slides of an onion root tip in the various stages of the cell cycle. Homework will be to complete the lab questions.
Wednesday - We will be completing a lab called "Time for Mitosis." This lab will have the students investigating how long normal cells spend in each of the stages of the cell cycle, compared to cancerous cells. The students should complete the entire lab in class. There will be no homework for the Thanksgiving break, although we will have a quiz on cell division the Tuesday after Thanksgiving weekend.
Thursday - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Friday - No School
Graba Geeks of the Week
The Geeks of the Week this week are Jenny Chu and Karishma Desai, who both earned perfect scores on our Cell Unit Test. There were other students who have been previous winners who also scored perfect on the test, including Chloe David, Emily Jia, and Daniel Classon. Way to go, all of you! That is a great accomplishment.