Responding to Events- 1

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Students will be able to use a textbook to gather information about the structure and function of the organs in the nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems

Big Idea

AHHHHHHH! A lion! Fight or Flight?

Ready. Set. Engage

5 minutes

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.

Learning Goal:  Understand how the three systems Muscular, Skeletal, and Nervous work together to help you respond to events.

Essential Question:  A mountain lion walks into the room.  How do we respond?  How does our body react to try to help us survive?

Once the students have recorded their answer, I like to pretend that a lion has just walked in and get the students to tell me how I have to react.

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets.


5 minutes

This is a repeat of a hook we did a few days ago.  The point of the repeat is to see if ideas are changing and if students are able to complete this task.  I have the students write these words on post-it notes.

  • Tissue - muscle tissue
  • Cell - muscle cell
  • Organ - spinal cord
  • Organelle -cell membrane
  • Organism - person
  • System-  Skeletal system
  • Atom - oxygen


These are put these into order from smallest to greatest.   This is a great activity to show misconceptions quickly.  If I see major misconceptions I stop the class, do a mini-lesson, and then let them try again.  


5 minutes

The purpose of this section is to help students set up their notes and show them how to skim and scan.  

I start this by having students get out their notebooks.  In my class, we keep all processing pieces like, thinking maps, two column notes, and picture notes in a notebook.  I have them make a giant stick figure on two different pages.  One is titled "Responding to events- Muscular System"  One is titled "Responding to events- Skeletal System"

Then, I put the relevant page numbers on the board and make sure that each table has the right number of books.  I use our text book for this.  If you don't have a textbook you could use any reading that went through the structure and function of the organs in each system.

A great place to get readings is a free website called cK-12.  This website allows you to search through a variety of readings at different levels and use them to "build" your own online textbook. Many of the readings contain great illustrations and videos.  

I tell the students that we will be taking notes in the same way we did in "Getting food to the cells".  We will be skimming and scanning to record our notes on a stick figure.  The purpose of this assignment is not to learn or memorize all the facts of the muscular and skeletal systems, but to make a note catcher that we can store our knowledge in for later use.  

I use the information in the resource to get information on the quadricep muscle.  I share with the students the information that I would write down and use the document camera or SMARTBoard to show students how I would put the information in the notecatcher for later use.

The screencast below describes why I like this kind of note and how it helps develop the reading skill of determining importance.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.   

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For this section, I want to use the work from the previous lessons to help students reflect on the best way to do this task.  We go back to our notes from Getting Food to The Cells and Getting Oxygen to The Cells.  I ask the students what they notice about their notes.  After some answers, I ask them why they like about their notes and what they don't like about their notes.  

Students will give answers like

- I need more information

- I like my picture.

- I think I got the most important information.

We discuss how notes are a method not only to help us understand and process what we are learning, but that they also provide us a new place to get information, like a storage container.  Would your notes from the other day help you on a test?  Why or why not?

This is a great question to ask because it adds a greater level of specificity and accountability to the discussion.  Students that earlier said they liked their notes will then tell you that they are not good enough for a test.  

What do your notes need to be like today?  How are you going to change your method to make them better? What are you going to keep the same?

These questions are key in a discussion about work and effort because they allow students to self- assess themselves.  This is a skill that all teachers would like students to have but sometimes aren't able to develop.  Students can't just look at their work and tell you what is good or bad about it.  They need a specific prompt with success criteria in order to make these judgments.  This skill takes a frustratingly long time to develop but is one of the most important skills students scan have.

Collaborative Practice

20 minutes

Now that students have assess their old notes and made commitments to making better notes they are ready to go on the next activity.  The purpose of this section is for students to get the information they need by working collaboratively.  I stress that we are working together so that everyone has a chance to learn.  I like to use these collaboration norms:

  1. Stay on Task.
  2. Listen to each other.
  3. Help others out.

The students' task is to skim and scan the reading to find out information about the tendon, ligaments, joint, bone, and spinal column. I find it helpful to give the students the terms that they should get information on so that they have more clarity about how to be successful.

The success criteria for this task are:

  1. Find out where each structure would be and draw it on the person.
  2. Label the structure.
  3. Find the most important information about each structure and record that on the notes.

I go around the room using a program like Class Dojo to keep track of the positive behaviors I am seeing.  Class Dojo is a great site to monitor activity and positively push students towards behaviors you are looking for in class.  

I record the behaviors on my tablet as I walk around the room.  Meanwhile I have the site pulled up on the computer up front.  This allows the positive comments to pop-up on the screen.   

I encourage the students to remember what they need to do in order to create notes that are reusable.

Independent Practice

7 minutes

The purpose of this section is to give the students a chance to make connections between the nervous system, muscular, and skeletal system to try to answer the question, How would your body respond if a mountain lion walked into the room?

Now that the students have collaboratively used the text book (or other resource) to find information about the skeletal and muscular systems, it is time to add the connection with the nervous system.  The big ideas I want the students to think about are, that humans...

  1. Take in information from sensory organs.
  2. Process information in our brain.
  3. Have messages sent to our muscles causing them to contract.
  4. The muscles contract and move the bones causing movement.  

To do this I put these big ideas on the board giving my thinking about each.  Then I ask the students to add information and organs to their pictures that would give factual details from the reading on how the body does this.  I ask the students to write in a different color so that their notes can pop out at them.  

A screencast of my instructions is below.  


3 minutes

For my closing question, I ask the students, "How would a toddler react to a lion walking into the room?"  Would the reaction be the same or different?  Why?  What is the reaction that gives you the best chance for survival?

Read more about procedures that are critical for a successful closure here.