CancerQuest: Cell Division Gone Wrong (Day 3 of 3)

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SWBAT compare and contrast the cell cycles of normal and cancerous cells.

Big Idea

Get your students connecting the cell cycle to their daily lives through the use of medical treatments and explanations of cancer.

Notes for the Teacher

This is a three day lesson series exploring current cancer treatments.  One student last year told me with pride in his eyes, "This project was IT for me."  Time and time again, students tell me that this project connected for them.  When I ask them why, they tell me the topic is one that matters to them and that they felt they were learning things that were directly related to their lives.  Some students told me they recognized the names of medications their grandparents have used and that although the vocabulary was challenging, that they understood just enough to motivate them to go further in their research or through check ins with their teammate or me.  When the topic is relevant, students will go so far!  I also build in time to do the research in the classroom so that I can provide additional support.  

Over the past few years, I have been focused on and committed to connecting each of our topics to student priorities and this particular project is a great example of the success of this approach in engaging kids and pushing them to pursue their level of science understanding.  

During Day 1, students explore their options on the CancerQuest website.  Standard(s): W.9-10.1eW.9-10.2bW.9-10.2dSL.9-10.1cSL.9-10.3SL.9-10.4RST.9-10.1RST.9-10.2RST.9-10.4RST.9-10.5HS-LS3-1HS-LS3-2XC-CE-HS-1XC-CE-HS-2XC-SF-HS-1

On Day 2, students work to create their projects. Standard(s): W.9-10.1eW.9-10.2bW.9-10.2dSL.9-10.1cSL.9-10.3SL.9-10.4RST.9-10.1RST.9-10.2RST.9-10.4RST.9-10.5HS-LS3-1HS-LS3-2XC-CE-HS-1XC-CE-HS-2XC-SF-HS-1

On Day 3, students create a public display of their findings so that others can benefit from their work. Standard(s): W.9-10.1eW.9-10.2bW.9-10.2dSL.9-10.1cSL.9-10.3SL.9-10.4RST.9-10.1RST.9-10.2RST.9-10.4RST.9-10.5HS-LS3-1HS-LS3-2XC-CE-HS-1XC-CE-HS-2XC-SF-HS-1

The Classroom Flow: Creating Treatment Summary Cards

40 minutes

1.  Tell students that today they will be taking their research project cancer treatment project information and summarizing it onto an index card for all of us to see and learn from.

  • Note: Check out these two samples of student work for the Cancerquest research project assignment that students will use today to create their cards.  Both of these samples show a depth of understanding of their treatment and include personal reflection paragraphs that mirror our overall learning goals for this lesson series.  

2.  Remind students that they are creating what they would want to see if they were in the audience: making things visually attractive/appealing is the goal.    The basic guidelines for their cards include:

Cards should be colorful and include simple graphic elements whenever possible

Cards should include a basic summary of the treatment

Cards should be engaging for a viewer/reader!

  • Note: If students ask to use a larger sheet of paper, I typically ask to see a mock up of their thinking so we can check in about their text.  Typically, more space to write means less time deciding what is essential information and what isn't and that is what this exercise is about:  concentrating on how to communicate the basics of each treatment to our broader, non-science class related community.

3.  Show students where they can find basic supplies such as:  markers, colored pencils, index cards, crayons, highlighters, colored paper, old magazines, etc.

4.  Allow students to spread out around the room.   Tell them that they may work with their project partner and that only one student can set up at each lab table with other pairs in desks throughout the classroom.  

  • Note: My purpose here is to minimize distractions and increase focus on the task of editing, layout/blocking, and creating their cards with a collaborative partner for support and feedback throughout the process.  

5.  As students are working in this highly engaged class session, you will see many productive behaviors:  preliminary sketching, informal feedback sessions with peers, materials selection, and research paper re-readings.  

  • Note:  If a students requests it, I do allow them to utilize their personal devices to access online resources they might want to consult while creating their card.

6.  While students are working, you can use this time to observe, listen, and be available for students if they need to confirm or brainstorm ideas for their card.

The Classroom Flow: Putting Together the Classroom Display

10 minutes

1.  As the designated time, tell students that it is time to put together the display of their cards!  Cards will be quite diverse in terms of text amount and font, color schemes, graphics, location of words and visuals, and general tone of the writing (funny, serious).  Check out this collage of student work samples for a sense of the diversity you will encounter. This card shows a simple diagram on one side with the text on the back side.  

  • Note:  You may do this at the end of this session or save it for the start of the next.  I decide this depending upon the level of engagement in the card creation process and the general flow of the room in terms of students ready to display their work. 

2.  Show students where each of the major cancer treatment share out signs are located around the room.

3. Ask students to go to the area that matches their specific cancer treatment.  

4.  At each station, they will find a single hole punch, scissors and string.  Tell students that they will build their cards into a web around their topic signs by attaching a string to their card and linking it to their topic sign.  

5.  As students work, you can direct/help them put up their individual cards onto the wall display in an organized way.  Take a look at our classroom wall display from this year for one approach to the display design where we clustered cards into groups based upon the Cancerquest website organizational themes.  This way, all classes could see how their individual and group work fit into the rest of the class periods.  

6.  Be sure to take a picture of the completed wall after each class period makes their contribution…you will find that students enjoy going up and looking at the work of their classmates throughout the semester!

  • Note:  I send out an email invite to other classes to tour our display area as a way to extend the lesson out into the community and to showcase student work. I also post the photo on our class website so that their families can see it too.

7.  Ask students to clean up their work spaces, return materials to their designated space in the classroom, and sit back down in their desks.

8.  Congratulate students on work well done and ask any students who need additional time to check in with you so that you can agree together on an extended due date for the cards.  Remind students to leave their Cancerquest research projects in the room for grading as they leave at the bell.