As the students enter the room, they take out their journals and respond to the prompt:
What type of muscle is the most important? Why?
I circulate through the room while the students work on their response. This prompt requires students to think about the different types of muscles that we reviewed in the previous lesson - The Muscular System. I remind the students to begin by thinking about the three different types of muscle that we reviewed and then to think about which one is most important to the body.
Once the students have had a chance to record their thoughts, I ask for volunteers to share their responses with the group. Several students think that cardiac muscle is the most important, because it is used to drive the circulatory system, which supports the other body systems. Some of the students argue that smooth muscle is the most important because it helps to digest food and provide nutrients to the rest of the body. Still other students argue that skeletal muscle is most important so people can move. Sharing their journals serves as a good review of the information from the previous lesson because students are required to use facts to support their position. This mini-debate about the most important type of muscle also provides great dialogue about how the muscular system impacts the rest of the body (NGSS MS-LS1-3).
In this sample journal, the student wrote about each type of muscle, rather than just picking one.
For the next portion of the lesson, I ask students to write about one of the specific muscles they selected to write about for their assignment in the previous lesson. I ask the students to try and pick a muscle that they think no one else will pick. This helps provide the students with greater variety to choose from as they continue through the lesson.
I am looking for the students to include the name of the muscle and its function in the body, as is seen in this student's muscle description. While the students work, I circulate through the room to review their responses. After a few minutes, I ask the students to share their responses within their small group. I add an element to this activity by requiring the students to share information about a muscle that has not already been discussed by another group member. This means that some of the students will need to make additions to their journals. It also means that a greater number of muscles will be discussed and the students will have access to more information from their peers.
Once each group member has shared information within their small group, I tell the students that they will work together as a small group to create a poster for one of the muscles reviewed by their group. I ask the students to help me create a list of requirements for the poster. This is the list of instructions they developed.
The students use their list of guidelines to begin working on their poster. In order to complete the poster, the students are addressing SP8 Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information as they locate, evaluate, and communicate information. They are free to type and print their information, to draw their pictures, or to use any combination of the two. The most difficult part of this activity is for the students to develop a consensus on the muscle they will create the poster about. I ask the students to avoid using biceps and other muscles that they are very familiar with or muscles that multiple groups are planning on writing about.
As the students work, I move from group to group to ensure that each member of the group is being productive and contributing to the project, whether it be through finding/drawing the picture, researching the muscle's scientific name or providing the function. If the group has not already delegated tasks to each member, I ask each student to pick part of the project to work on and I remind the group that one person from the group will explain the information to the class and that I will select which group member will have that task. This helps hold each of the students accountable for the information researched by the group. This video demonstrates how to use the Google Doc - revision history to view the work process of students while they work on a Google Doc. Please see my reflection for ways to utilize Google Docs as another accountability measure.
This is a sample of a proficient muscle poster. The posters created by the students serve as models/representations of the muscles they researched as identified in SP2 Developing and Using Models.
At the end of class, I have one member from each group share the work that the group had completed up to that point. Most of the groups have had time to finish, but others still have a couple of items to add. I do expect that all of the students have finished researching the necessary information, so I expect that information to be shared with the class. This share time is an opportunity for the students to showcase their work and share information with their peers. This is also a chance for them to receive feedback. In a couple of cases, a group had forgotten to include certain information, and their classmates were able to remind them of what else needed to be included. After the students shared their information, I put their poster on a bulletin board, so it could be referred to as review in later lessons.