Brainstorming: Integration of Body Systems Essay (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT activate prior knowledge to develop an essay to explain the integration of two body systems to maintain homeostasis in the human body.

Big Idea

Writing in Biology is the way of the future! Time to strut your stuff and show how much your know with this lesson's essay.

Hook - Homestasis As A Guide

5 minutes

Students will read a short excerpt from their textbook titled, "Maintaining Homeostasis".  This reading will emphasize the importance of integration by all of the body systems to maintain homeostasis through feedback mechanisms.  Students are encouraged to use the following terms in their written reactions to the anticipatory reading activity:

  • hierarchical organization
  • integration
  • homeostasis
  • feedback 

Direct Instruction - Essay: Integration of Body Systems

15 minutes

Students will use the list below to identify which two body systems they believe work most closely together to maintain homeostasis.

  • Muscular System
  • Skeletal System
  • Nervous System
  • Digestive System
  • Excretory System
  • Cardiovascular (circulatory) System
  • Respiratory System
  • Immune System
  • Integumentary System
  • Endocrine System

Students will follow the directions for the activity as described in the video clip below:

Fold your paper in half vertically so that there are two equal columns created.  Students will label each column with the name of each of the two body systems they have selected to compare and contrast in their essay to explain the hierarchical organization of the human body.

Samples of Student Brainstorming Session: Students are encouraged to "brain dump" everything they know about each of their two selected body systems.  These samples demonstrate the wide range of effort and enthusiasm the students displayed for this writing project.  Above all, students were reminded about the importance of the pre-writing process and the ability to convey their understanding through writing!

First Paragraph - Students will create an introductory paragraph that describes the importance of homeostasis and the interactions of the organ systems contained in the human body.

Second Paragraph -Students will focus on the structures and functions contained in the first of their selected body systems.  

Third Paragraph -Students will focus on the structures and functions contained in the second of their selected body systems. 

Fourth Paragraph - Students will conclude their essay with their main ideas that all systems need to work together to keep the body healthy and maintain homeostasis.

Guided Practice - Brainstorming: Organizing Our Ideas

10 minutes

Students will have the opportunity to pair-share their ideas as to which two body systems integrate to help maintain homeostasis in the body.  Student pairs engaged in rich discussion to defend their ideas because many students developed different ideas than their neighbors.  The students were able to review in a whole-group discussion as a follow-up to their pair-share conversations. 

Students are encouraged to consider the integration of all body systems before they commit to which topic they will eventually write their essay about.

This video clip shows that many students in this specific class resorted to writing about the muscular and skeletal system because that is where most of their prior knowledge is centered.  In other classes, students were much more adventurous and selected a wider array of topics!

Video clip to demonstrate the whole-class discussion:

Independent Practice -Creating Our Rough Drafts

15 minutes

Armed with their research notes, textbook, and creativity, students will begin to write the rough drafts of their Anatomy Integration Essays using the teacher-described directions in the video clip above.

Students will also be provided the Body System Integration Essay Rubric, so they are familiar with the expectations before they begin the project.

Samples of Student Essays - Rough Draft:

Sample of Rough Draft #1:  This student was straight to the point with their details and did a nice job demonstrating how both systems integrate to maintain homeostasis.

Sample of Rough Draft #2:  This student met the expectations of the assignment, but could have provided more evidence to support her ideas.

Sample of Rough Draft #3: This student went above and beyond with the details and excelled with her writing abilities.

Close - Reflection on the Writing Process

5 minutes

Students will be asked to describe their reaction to this writing assignment.

  • What factors influenced your decision to select your topic?
  • What were challenges you encountered in this writing process?
  • On a scale of 1-5, how comfortable are you in writing to demonstrate your understanding of our Biology curriculum?
  • Any other ideas related to this writing assignment!

Many students still get flustered when they are given the opportunity to write across content areas, but writing in all of their classes will be the norm in the next few years so embrace it and make the most of it!

The objective of the student self-assessment is to encourage students to identify their strengths and areas of potential growth in the writing process and how it pertains to their ability to communicate their understanding of scientific information.  Self-reflection is an important strategy for students to utilize throughout the year from simple daily lessons, to unit projects, all the way up to a self-assessment of the entire year in Biology.  NGSS and Common Core demand that students are able to explain/communicate their understanding of the content and the process of self-reflection builds the confidence for students to share their knowledge of science with others!