Comparative Anatomy - How Do We Compare?

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SWABT identify similarities and differences in the hierarchical organization of interacting body systems between humans, the earthworm, the crayfish, and the rat.

Big Idea

This culminating activity will enable the students to identify and explain the similarities and differences between the structures and functions of the anatomical body systems through a well-crafted written essay.

Prior Knowledge and Activities - A Class Review of Human Anatomy

10 minutes

Human Anatomy Review Group Project

The students in 9th grade Biology CP course have just concluded their study of the human body in their Health course.  Students will utilize this prior knowledge as a basis for understanding of the hierarchical organization of interacting systems.

As a review of human anatomy from the Biology perspective,  the students created Google Drive Presentations to share with the other students in class through a Gallery Walk to share the projects in small group settings.  The District has taken a proactive step to integrate technology into our instruction by creating Google Drive accounts for each student in the District.  This access to technology allows easier collaboration and access to 21st century technology.  Use the provided links to access prior lessons that capture these lessons and instructional strategies in more detail.

The students' collaborative Google Drive Presentations were assessed using Body System Project Rubric that was distributed to the students ahead of time to ensure that the expectations were clear to all students. 


Prior Knowledge: Labratory Experience-Dissection

250 minutes

Labratory Experience-Dissection - The Earthworm, Crayfish, and Rat 

After completing the review of human anatomy, my Biology CP students were able to engage in multiple specimen dissections.  The dissection lessons were scaffolded  in an effort to progress student learning from most simple (the earthworm), to more complex (the crayfish), and culminated with the most complex (the rat).  Throughout this unit, students were able to utilize the course website to post video dissections to help prepare the students for the scientific investigation that would be experienced the next day.  These video clips are examples of the tutorials that were provided for the students to view before attending class so they knew what to expect.  Due to the graphic nature of the comparative anatomy/dissection unit, students appreciated the opportunity to desensitize to the material in the comfort of their own homes.

Quiz - Worm and Crayfish - sample student assessment for the earthworm and crayfish anatomy

Quiz - Rat Dissection - sample student assessment of the rat anatomy






Culminating Activity: Comparative Anatomy Essay

110 minutes

Engage - "How similar are we to the specimens that we dissected during our Comparative Anatomy Unit?"  Students are given two minutes to independently respond to the prompt on their Bell Question sheet.  Students will reference their summary reports from each of the three dissections that were completed in prior class sessions.  These summary reports for the earthworm, crayfish, and rat identify unique qualities of each anatomical body system.

Explore - Students are reminded of the images, facts, and experiences they observed during our Comparative Anatomy Dissection Labs.  After our quick review, the teacher will facilitate a whole group discussion by recording student responses on the front board.  The student contributions will be organized by the specific body systems.  The students will focus their responses on the skeletal, nervous, muscular, digestive/excretory, circulatory, and respiratory systems.  The teacher will also display images/diagrams of each dissected specimen to provide visual cues to identify similarities in each particular body system.

Explain - The teacher will distribute the Comparative Anatomy Graphic Organizer that will encourage the students to organize their data in a workable format.  Students will collaborate in small groups (2-3 students) to synthesize all potential similarities and differences between their three selected body systems and how they each relate to our human anatomy.  The provided graphic organizer will assist students in analyzing their knowledge and encouraging them to create connections in a cohesive essay.

Elaborate - The teacher will remind the students to use their Comparative Anatomy Unit study tools as a reference to identify similarities and differences between our human anatomy and that of our dissected specimen.  Students will draw conclusions from their textbook and dissection notes to provide essential supporting details as they prepare to create their compare/contrast essay. This portion of the lesson is for student/teacher interaction and clarifications regarding any questions that may be remaining. The teacher will conduct formative assessments of the students to gauge comprehension and provide any necessary supplemental discussion.

Primary Evaluation- Each student will write a culminating 5 paragraph essay that identifies the similarities and differences between the structures and functions of the human  body systems as they compare to our three dissection specimens.  The students were provided an assessment rubric that will identify areas of emphasis for this assignment. 

Elaborate - Students will use the Peer Editing Session Protocol to share their essay with three other students in the class.  

One partner will proofread the essay for the proper use of accurate scientific evidence - the role of the Science Teacher.

The second partner will proofread the essay for grammar, punctuation, and spelling accuracy - the role of the English Teacher.

The final partner will proofread the essay for relevance, transition, and overall flow of the essay - the role of the 9th grade peer. 

Final Evaluation - Students will have an opportunity to revise their pair-shared essays and incorporate the peer suggestions/corrections.  The final draft of the compare and contrast essays will be assessed using the provided Compare and Contrast Rubric.