I use this lesson as a way to summarize the learning the students have completed during the each of the body system units of study. Prior to this lesson I have students complete the Body Systems Review worksheet. This year I provided the students with a class period to work on completing the information. Doing this gave me an opportunity to observe whether or not they were using their notes or textbooks and allowed me to provide assistance as necessary. I explain to the students that I expect them to use a variety of resources to answer the questions on this activity, such as their notes, textbooks, online sources, and previous homework assignments. I also explain that I am looking for detailed responses.
This is a sample page of proficient Student work. As we discuss information in class later, I expect students to add/modify their responses.
The body systems review worksheet and subsequent discussion is meant to help the students understand how the various systems of the body are interconnected and interdependent. NGSS MS-LS1-3 Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells - is explicitly addressed as students answer the questions on the worksheet and then discuss their answers with their peers in order to create a pictorial representation or essay about the information. As students develop their explanations, they are also addressing SP6 - Construct explanations - by describing how each of the body systems functions as a part of the body. The crosscutting concept of systems and system models - Systems may interact with other systems; they may have subsystems and be part of larger complex systems - is also addressed as the students discuss the reliance of one system upon another, such as the manner in which hormones from the endocrine system travel through the circulatory system.
As the students enter the room, they take out their journals and respond to the prompt: Which body system serves the most important function in the human body?
While the students work on the prompt, I circulate through the room to read their responses and ask them to explain their responses. Ideally, after completing the body systems review worksheet, the students will explain that all of the systems are reliant upon each other in order for the body to function normally. After giving the students some time to jot down their thoughts, I ask for volunteers to share their responses with the class. At this point, I purposely select students who chose to write about one system. This provides us with an opportunity to review the functions of the individual systems. Once we have discussed a couple of the body systems in isolation, I call on a student who responded to the prompt by explaining the interdependence of the systems in the body.
I ask the students to take out their copies of the Body Systems worksheet and give them a couple of minutes to review the information they have written, as a way to help them become more comfortable with participating in the discussion. I then lead a review of the information that the students have written on the document. We begin by reviewing the endocrine system and its purpose within the body. Then I have the students focus in on the specific glands within the endocrine system and ask the students to describe the function of each gland. As we discuss, I lead the students to begin making connections between the various body systems. For instance, I ask the students to explain how hormones travel through the body and if they can make a connection to another body system. This provides them with information to refer back to later in the lesson.
I continue this pattern of discussion to review the nervous system, circulatory system, muscular system, and respiratory system. During the discussion, I emphasize the what as well as the how. For instance, I ask the students to explain the functions of each system, but also to explain how the system operates. When students respond by stating that the circulatory system pumps blood throughout the body, I prompt them to explain how this happens. I also ask the students to explain why each body system is important. In terms of the circulatory system, I expect my students to be able to describe what is being carried through the bloodstream, and how each of those chemicals (oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, nutrients, drugs, etc.) impacts the body.
During our discussion, I also ask students to describe information that is not included on the Body Systems worksheet, such as describing the specialized cells of each of the body systems. Specifically we discuss the structures and functions of neurons, myocytes, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets.
After reviewing key information with the students, I place them into groups to discuss their responses to the final question on the worksheet: Think about each of the different systems and how they help each other function. Write an essay or draw an annotated picture to demonstrate the various ways that the systems depend upon one another in order to function.
The students spent time answering these questions as individuals, so this is an opportunity for them to share their thoughts within a small group and to provide one another with feedback. Before the students begin sharing, I provide them with a set of expectations. The students are to share their individual answers, respond to their peers, and create a new drawing/essay as a group. As the students share, they are encouraged to add to their essay or their drawing in order to incorporate new information or make corrections. During this time, I circulate through the groups and listen to their interactions and their individual responses. I am specifically listening for areas of student confusion, because this lesson takes place at the end of the school year and I need to make sure that the students have a solid understanding of the material we have discussed.
Once the groups have finished up their products, I bring the class together for a final discussion. I ask each group to share their product with the class, using the document camera, so the rest of the students can see what has been created. I ask various members of the group to explain their diagram or essay and I make sure that each member of the group shares information, to ensure student accountability and understanding. If time allows, we generate a class diagram on the board.
I have found dissections to be an effective means through which to help my students better understand information related to body systems (Eye Dissection and Heart Dissection). Typically frog dissections are performed in seventh grade in my district, so I did not have my students completely dissect a frog. Instead, I had the students observe the frog, looking for connections between the various systems in the body. I placed students in groups and gave each group a frog and a dissection guide. I asked the first class of students to make the initial incisions in the specimen in order to view the organs. The students referenced the dissection guides in order to properly begin the dissection to view the internal organs. I then asked the students to begin to make observations about what they noticed and to identify the organs we had previously discussed. I also asked the students to identify differences between the position of some of the frog's body systems and the human body systems (such as the location of the heart). I circulate through the room as the students observe the frogs and I ask them to point out various organs and to explain the systems to which they belong.
This video provides an explanation of Dissection Alternatives.