Learning Human Anatomy Basics with Paper Dolls (Day 3 of 3)
Lesson 3 of 9
Objective: SWBAT identify the major systems of the body: system name, components, and functions.
This is a 3 day lesson series that is my students' first introduction to the systems of the body. I like starting with this paper doll activity because the systems can be quite complex. Using an extended drawing activity that slows down student thinking and appeals to their happy early childhood memories of coloring while they begin to grapple with complex terms and how they relate to one another helps us tackle this large topic area in a very short period of time. Our school has a very popular upper level Human Anatomy and Physiology course and as a result, the introductory biology class tends to focus on molecular biology concepts rather than emphasize the body and other larger scale systems. This project helps me to give students a taste of what it is to come for them later on in their high school career.
On Day 1, students are introduced to resources about the human body systems and begin to brainstorm their paper doll ideas. The class also reviews basic concepts of hierarchy and organization within living systems: cell, tissue, organ, organ system, organism.
On Day 2, students collaborate during studio work time to complete their paper doll booklets.
And during Day 3, students share their projects with the class and make deeper connections with each system.
After this lesson series, we spend time digging into the essential concept of feedback loops and then work on a multi-day project activity involving specific body systems. This is a short unit, but one that students report being impacted by and enjoying as an end of the year experience before school lets out for the summer. And because they are now much more confident learners than they might have been at the start of the academic year, students feel comfortable taking on more independent roles in learning this new material.
1. Ask students to display their paper doll project on their lab table and then return to their desks.
2. Pass out the Gallery Walk peer feedback document, one per student lab partner pair.
3. Announce to students that they will be touring the classroom with their lab partner for our Gallery Walk session. Their responsibility is to give positive and honest feedback on each project.
- Note: Because we have been working with this Gallery Walk and peer feedback protocol for the entire school year, my students are very comfortable with the format. I would suggest that if your students have not used this method before that you take time the day before the Gallery Walk to discuss expectations and flow in more detail. See my helpful hints Gallery Walk Protocol document for some ideas for this conversation.
1. Each student pair will tour around the room looking at individual projects with their feedback document (one per pair). As students move around the room viewing and discussing the doll projects in order to fill out their feedback documents, you can use that time to evaluate projects using the paper doll project rubric.
Note: In past years, I have had a very detailed rubric. However, I found that it was not practical for me to use in grading so many individual projects in a timely manner right just weeks before final exams. This rubric is more holistic and allows for your judgement about the students' overall understanding of the basic structure and functions of the body systems and input of time and care into the work. I am thinking that next year, I will add in an additional student personal reflection document piece to this project to help me better assess these qualities without making an overly specific rubric. I am considering prompts such as:
- What was the biggest challenge you faced while doing this project? How did you overcome it?
- What specific ideas about the structure and function of the human body systems did you learn?
- How do you think drawing each system helped you to learn more about the human body systems?
- What questions do you still/now have about the human body systems?
2. You can expect that student pairs will be engaged throughout this session. Students love to see each other's work and compare how each student approached the project. The feedback form gives student pairs direction so that they stay on task, and the length of the session is long enough to get the work done but still short enough to create a sense of movement and urgency so that students continue to direct their conversations toward the science content and presentation. As you look at each project, you can check in with student evaluator pairs about their questions or to have them consider one specific concept from their form in more closely. Be sure to verbally appreciate student work and effort throughout the session as students are sincerely very proud of their individualized, creative work!
Check out my short video showing some of the projects my students have created! I was very flexible and open to any visual representation of the anatomy of each body system. On my rubric, I focus more directly on the presence/absence of the specific organs required in our paper doll activity document. Although I did give extra points for exceptional art work, that was not the focus and on my rubric, I focused more on the time and care aspect of the visual work.
1. Ask students to come back to their desks. In their lab groups, allow students a few minutes to briefly discuss the following prompts:
What impressed you most about the paper doll projects you viewed?
What did learn through making and/or viewing the paper doll projects?
2. Using the spokesperson protocol, allow each group to share out their responses.
- Note: I am looking for responses that highlight a) the use of color and visual imagery to bring the systems to life, b) how labeling can add to learning in a way that is different than the use of a key or legend, c) how impressive it is to see the many ways in which different students approached the same assignment and the value of creative expression, and d) the power of evaluating projects as a model for the self-assessment of their own work. This last piece is really key--if students can see the merits of other projects, they can apply those same standards and objective lens to their own work prior to a turn in date.
3. Announce that our next series of lessons will give each student the opportunity to learn more about one specific human body system.
4. Tell students that will the remaining class time their job is to choose their top 3 human body system choices that they might like to explore further and to start checking in with other students to see what groupings of 2-3 students per system come up. Tell students that you will introduce the project activity tomorrow and take group member and topic requests after that introduction.
5. As students discuss, be available to answer questions they might have about specific systems.
- Note: Students may not be as familiar with the endocrine system as they are are with other systems and hearing more about that system helps to encourage kids to choose it. Also, they may not always realize that the always interesting kidney is the major organ of the excretory system, and this fact might sway them to choose this under appreciated system! I usually make a big thing about having an opposite gender group present each of the reproductive systems and kids respond to this silly challenge in a big way, they are typically some of the best projects in the class! These ideas are ones I talk more about when I introduce the next activity, but I start the conversation here in order to get kids thinking and talking about possible ideas and partnerships.