Post-its and Ponderings
A middle school teacher's thoughts on science, technology and learning

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Muscle Song in Prep for Frog Dissection

When studying comparative anatomy, my students sing the following song, to remember the function (lyrics) and location (motions) of some major muscles. They tease me for making up the song, but I've heard more than one student hum the tune while taking the muscle test!

(to the tune of "If You're Happy & You Know It." Instead of clapping twice, as in the original song, we do the indicated motions twice.)

The Pectoralis is a muscle in my chest, (cross arms over chest)
My Deltoids lift my arms the best, (lift arms as if flying)
If I wanna take a peek, (hand up as if shielding your eyes from the sun)
Then I'll have to use Oblique (turn and bend diagonally)
The Pectoralis is a muscle in my chest. (cross arms over chest)

Use my Rectus Abdominus in a crunch, (crunch forward)
My Triceps Brachii help throw a punch, (punch motion)
Now to lift my leg like this, (lift leg in 90 degree angle from hip)
I'll have to use my Femoris, (hold pose)
Use my Rectus Abdominus in a crunch. (crunch forward)

My Gastrocnemius is kinda neat, (stand up on tip toe)
It's the muscle that helps me point my feet, (lift foot and point toe)
Now you might think I'm a nut, (no particular motion here)
But my Gluteus is my butt, (turn and point to butt)
My Gastrocnemius is kinda neat. (stand up on tip toe)


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Microbe Wanted Poster & Plagiarism

Every life science teacher in my building does some variation of the "Wanted Poster" during our study of microbes. (Feel free to modify my checklist.) Search Google, and you can find many teachers who are using a similar project. Not only does it allow for a little creativity, but a project like this helps dissuade the plagiarism beast.

Media literacy is as big of an issue to tackle as plagiarism, so for this assignment, instead of letting them loose on the Internet, I restrict their search to a list of trusted sites.

With all of these great resources available on diseases, a straight report would be an open invitation for plagiarism. We've all heard our students claim "but, the author wrote it exactly the way I would write it already!" In the old days, plagiarism meant painstakingly copying sentences from an encyclopedia. However, nowadays, "cut-and-paste plagiarism" is much more convenient and prevalent.

I used information from Indiana University and Lisa Hinchliffe to create a PowerPoint to use with my students at the start of this project. At each natural stopping point, I allowed my students to write and share their own paraphrasing of the selections. It was a good discussion and all of the kids said they learned something from the activity.

Does this mean I have never had instances of plagiarism again? Not quite. There will always be those students whose waited well beyond the last minute or who are looking for the "easy A". However, it did cut down tremendously on the amount of "uninformed plagiarists" - those kids who honestly didn't realize what they were doing was wrong.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

12 Days of Christmas - Math Lesson on Percentages

It was getting close to the holidays, and my students' attention for math was beginning to wane. So I developed an activity so that they could exercise their imaginations, while practicing their math skills.

You might know the song… “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a partridge in a pear tree” etc. If you really bought all 78 items sung on the last day of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” it would cost you $18,920 this year, according to USA Today.

If you were to choose 12 days of gifts for your own true love, what would they be? More importantly, how much is it going to cost you?

It is kind of interesting to see what my middle school kids would buy in this lesson on percentages! (I got a lot of spinning rims (did you know they made them for bikes?!), iPods and grills.) Feel free to borrow, copy, or modify the activity.