Cell Stories

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SWBAT to explain how a knowledge of cells relates to the very real experience of health (both wellness as well as disease). Additionally, students will develop a sense of sympathy regarding the impact that cell failure can have on daily life.

Big Idea

Health (and disease) is the direct effect of proper (or poor) form and function of cells.

Learner Goals

Note: I recommend that you first check out this resource in order to get the most out of this lesson!

In high school I took several drafting classes and, for a while, I had hoped to become an architect. With respect to planning instruction and teaching, I feel that I can still live out the detailed approach to building something intricate and complex even though the product is a lesson rather than a certain "built environment".

The lesson-planning document that I uploaded to this section is a comprehensive overview of how I approach lesson planning. This template includes the "Big Three" aspects of the NGSS standards: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science Practices. Of course, there are many other worthy learning goals, skills, instructional strategies, and assessments that can be integrated into a class session. I don't feel compelled to check every box but, rather, use it as a guide to consider various options and tailor the lesson in light of these.

With regard to this particular lesson I want students to:

1. Get to know the personal stories of three individuals whose lives (and health) are impacted by various (cell-dependent) health issues.

2. Consider and discuss how health issues related to cell disorders might have impacted you, your family, and/or friends.

I hope you get some value from my work! Please find the more intricate details of this lesson plan there.

Anticipatory Set ("Hook")

10 minutes

The study of biology is very complex and yet it all begins with the form and function of the cell. Health and disease are the twin effects of proper cell action, or its absence. As we begin the study of how cells are made and the resulting functions that emerge, we take a look at the personal stories of three individuals who are challenged with different health disorders: Diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis (CF), Colorectal Cancer. In theory a number of different strategies may be chosen to activate prior knowledge and to prompt students to generate questions that are meaningful to them prior to a learning experience. I am most familiar with the KWL strategy and it is quite intuitive for students to use, therefore I frequently employ this as a classroom strategy, especially when teaching a new topic.

1. To start, have students brainstorm by using a KWL chart. Have them fill in at least four (4) things that they know about diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and/or cancer (K).

2. Next, have them list at least five (5) questions they would like to know more about these topics (W). Have them leave the (L) column blank until later; perhaps during the activity or after it has finished.
Instructor note: I tend to want to rush through this task but have learned to not rush the time needed for students to process the prompt in an authentic and meaningful way.

Instructional Input/Student Activities

30 minutes

1. Word Wall: I like to review these verbally and visually (listed on a PPT slide) with my students in order to distinguish among the following common terms for clarity.

    • Disorder (an abnormal physical or mental condition)
    • Syndrome (a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a   particular abnormality)
    • Illness (an unhealthy condition of health or mind)
    • Disease (an impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions, is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms, and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mplusdictionary.html)
2. Good stories are inherently compelling and leave a lasting mark in our memories. We will examine the stories of three individuals who face different health challenges. Sam lives in England and deals with the growing epidemic of diabetes. Lauren, an active 14-year old, has battled the effects of cystic fibrosis. And Zac, a husband and young father of three, has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Note: any individuals whose story reflects cell dysfunction could substitute here. In fact, I commonly share the story of my brother-in-law who fought, and ultimately lost, his battle with colorectal cancer. The point is to personalize the study of cells in order to enhance the meaning behind the study thereof.
3. Make connections with students by soliciting responses to these questions (and any other relevant ones):
  • By a show of hands, who knows what diabetes/cancer/cystic fibrosis is?
  • How might one develop diabetes/cancer/cystic fibrosis?
  • By a show of hands, who has a friend with diabetes/cancer/cystic fibrosis?
  • By a show of hands, who has a family member with diabetes/cancer/cystic fibrosis?
  • By a show of hands, who (in this class) has/or had diabetes/cancer/cystic fibrosis?
  • How has this impacted their/your life?
  • What, if anything can be done about the illness/disorder?
  • How has this impacted their/your life?
  • What, if anything can be done about the illness/disorder?
4. Present “Cell Stories”:
Students will now take notes related to each of the following stories using this document. Use YouTube or another online video website to play the stories of Sam, Lauren, and Zac. For each I accessed the story by the following search terms:
  • Sam (5:39): YouTube/”open university Type 1 diabetes Sam's story”
  • Lauren (4:28): YouTube/“cystic fibrosis lauren’s story”
  • Zac (4:29): TeacherTube/”zac’s story”
Note: This story is certainly gut wrenching and the video ends without knowing the outcome. My students were very eager to learn what happened to him and…(SPOILER) he passed away not long after. His wife posted a very poignant video expressing the “after” experience. So devastating to comprehend! :(

Closure: What did we learn? Where do we go from here?

5 minutes

At this point, students may have questions about details of the video clips so I try to honor these and answer them as well as I can.

Students ought to complete the (L) column of the KWL chart and any incomplete sections of the lab investigation.

Note: This task may be assigned as homework depending on time constraints and student pacing.