The purpose of this lesson is to finish the close reading pushing students to go back to the text for answers and to use a textbook to research what parts of the body are used to accomplish two important jobs; getting food and oxygen to the cells and responding to stimuli.
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Learning Goal: Understand how the levels of organization are related the jobs the body needs to accomplish.
Essential Question: One of the important jobs of the body is to get Oxygen and food to all its cells. What systems are involved in that? What systems are involved in responding to stimuli in the environment?
Students come in the room, get ready (get their stuff), get set (get settled in their seats), and engage in writing the learning goal and answering the essential question on the board.
As the students are walking in I remind them to get ready by getting their folders and get set by setting up their work station. When the bell rings, I put three minutes on the timer and say to the students, "Ok kids, you should be engaged in our work now."
This is not the most engaging video of all time. However, it does do a good job at looking at levels of organization from the cell to tissue to organ to system. I especially like the part on tissues, because this seems to be the biggest barrier to kids in my class. Since it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, I try to help the students stay focused on it by having them keep their word glossaries out and then stopping the video at certain points to add or change information found there. Bottom line, even though this isn't an "exciting" video, it does make visual connections so that students can access their vocabulary words another time, and in another context.
This is the third day the students have looked at the Organization of the Human Body reading*. Today, I am focusing on listening to a reader and on answering questions that take us back to the text to find the answers.
This is a point that is stressed repeatedly in Rigorous Reading, that too often questions only ask students to connect with their lives rather than the text. When this happens, it is easy for students to just skip the reading part. By asking questions that force the student to return to the reading you are reinforcing the need for looking at detail, gathering evidence, and finding answers in the text.
I start by telling students that they are now going to get to listen to the text as I read. I think this is an important step in reading as they will hear the words pronounced correctly. I ask the students to continue annotating the text, this time focusing on ideas that are interesting (!) and questions they have (?) Then, I read the text. I am careful NOT to stop and interpret the text for them. This is another problem with common reading practice in classrooms. Teachers are always helping the students understand the text rather than allowing the students to have that responsibility.
When I am done reading the text, I put the questions I want the students to answer on the board. I have students go back in the text to find the information they need. When they find the information they put the number of the question by the text and then answer the question. This pushes the students to actually go back and locate the information.
My questions for this reading are:
1. What is unique about muscle cells?
2. Many people say the brain is a muscle. How do we know that that is actually not true?
3. How does the structure of a nerve cell help it function?
Close reading is one of the literacy strategies I use often in my class. A great description and explanation of Close reading can be found in the Fisher and Frey book, Rigorous Reading. My general structure for this strategy is a week-long plan designed to support the students in going deeper and deeper into a reading without much help from me. For this reason it is important to choose a text that is accessible but appropriately challenging.
By now, students are used to using their folders to record the learning goal and answer the essential question, store their word glossary and writing-to-think logs, record and evaluate their work, and store past assignments.
It is time for students to get used to some of the structures that we will use in our lab books. The lab books for my class are a composition notebook. I use them for labs, but also for all of the assignments where we are processing or gaining information in the form of notes, charts, thinking map, webs and others.
I store the binders in milk crates behind each table. In the milk crates are folders for each class. So there is a Table 1 crate that has folders for period 3, 5, 6 and 7. I have found that it is easier to store lab books like this in multiple places around the room so that you don't have 20 people trying to get something from the same spot.
Today in our lab books, the students research the systems and organs involved in doing two of the main jobs of the body.
1) Getting nutrients and oxygen to the cells.
2) Responding to stimuli.
From our essential question discussions, students should already have a pretty good idea of the systems they are looking for. I give them a text book resource* and put the important chapter numbers on the board for them to reference. I do not put the exact page numbers on the board because I want this to be a thinking exercise in seeking and finding.
The students are NOT going to learn everything about the systems in this time. That isn't the point. This mini-unit is about students remembering what they have learned in the past. So far they have had a chance to see videos, talk to friends, and do a short reading to jog their memories. This is a chance for them to look at a grade level reference book and continue thinking about what they know. My overall goal is that by the end of this unit, students can talk intelligently about the purpose of a system, name some organs inside of it and understand the four levels of organization cells, tissue, organs, and systems. A deeper understanding will come later in the unit.
Potential resources that could be used instead of a textbook:
K-12 OpenEdBooks Human Body Systems
FactMonster Science Your Human Body's Systems
Teens Health (Nemours Foundation) Heart and Circulatory System
Please insure that these meet your needs by reviewing them before using the material. The reading level of any text, including online, can be modified using the web resource Rewordify.
I try to do a provocative question to close out this class. I remind the students that we started out by looking at the body and the systems and then we studied the organs in the systems and the tissues and the cells.
I leave them with this question to consider, "What is inside cells? What are cells made of." My hope is by engaging their curiosity at this point the students will be even more excited when we start travelling further and further into the microscopic.