December 16, 2012
Happy last week before break everyone. I apologize for not having updated my blog in a few weeks. I promise I will be back on it going forward.
Events of the Past Week
Monday - We completed two labs on Monday. In the first, we separated the pigments found in a leaf of spinach using a technique called paper chromatography. Using an organic solvent, the four pigments in a spinach leaf travel different distances on a piece of paper so that the students can see that green is not the only color of the pigments in a plant. While that experiment was running (it takes awhile for the solvent to travel on the paper), the students looked at the structure of a leaf under the microscope. For homework, the students completed any of the lab questions that they did not complete in class.
On a side note, there were several students who did not turn in one of the two assignments, or turned them in incomplete in many of my classes. I know it is close to winter break, but it is important that they keep working hard through the end of the week. Then they can take a couple of weeks off!
Tuesday - I lectured on a part of photosynthesis called the light reactions. This took the full class period. There was no homework on Tuesday night. This particular unit is rather lecture heavy because I still haven't figured out a way to turn learning the intricacies of photosynthesis in a student-centered way. I keep trying, but there are a LOT of new concepts in this unit that students really need to have explained to them by me.
Wednesday - I finished my lecture on photosynthesis by teaching the students about the Calvin cycle, named after Melvin Calvin, who figured out the steps of the cycle in the 1950's. This took most of the period. When I was all done, the students had the opportunity to ask me any questions they had about photosynthesis. Homework was to study for our 30 question photosynthesis quiz on Thursday.
Thursday - We took our quiz on photosynthesis. In most classes, a couple of students took almost the full 50 minutes to work on the quiz. In my 8th hour class, however, the students finished with 20 minutes left, so we began learning about cellular respiration. There was no homework Thursday night.
Friday - We reviewed the results of the photosynthesis quiz. I was very impressed with how well the students did on the quiz. I did light a little fire under some of the classes after being a little disappointed in the number of missing assignments from Tuesday, and I think some of them responded. The students were told that they should look at the list of objectives they were given at the beginning of this unit to help guide their studying. Almost all of them told me they did look at the objectives, and it showed. The average for my four classes was a 27 out of 30.
When we were done looking at our quiz results we moved on to a lecture on the first two stages of cellular respiration, called glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. There was no homework over the weekend; however, it was suggested that the students review their notes before coming to class on Monday so that they don't forget everything they learned on Friday.
Monday - We will be finishing the lecture on cellular respiration. For homework, the students will be given a review sheet on cellular respiration and photosynthesis to help start preparing for our test on Thursday.
Tuesday - We will go over the review sheet together in class. The students will then be given a packet to review enzymes, cellular respiration, and photosynthesis that they will work on for the remainder of the class period. Homework will be to finish the review packet (if it was not completed in class).
Wednesday - We will be playing a review game on Wednesday after checking our review packets at the beginning of class. For homework, the students should study for their test. The main resources they should refer to are their notes and the objectives list for the unit. Most all of the information on the test will come from their notes, and they can use their objectives list to determine whether or not they know the important material that will be covered on the test.
Thursday - The students will take a 65 question multiple choice and matching test on enzymes, photosynthesis, and cellular respiration. There will be no homework.
Friday - We will be reviewing our results from the test. When we complete that, the students will be given a DNA History Study Guide that goes along with a website that I put together online. This should be completed over winter break, but I would prefer it actually be completed closer to the time we come back to school than at the beginning of break. After receiving the study guide, we will be working on a couple of fun activities in class.
Graba Geek of the Week
This week's Geek of the Week is Nikki Menis. Nikki earned a perfect score on the photosynthesis quiz (one of only two students all day to earn a perfect score, but one of many to earn an A). She also knew the answer to the extra credit question: In what year and in what field did Melvin Calvin earn the Nobel Prize for determining the steps of the Calvin cycle? She correctly answered 1961 and chemistry. Way to go, Nikki! Have a great break, everyone!