The Muscular System

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SWBAT provide examples of various muscles and describe how they function.

Big Idea

This lesson utilizes an online interactive to help students understand how various muscles in the body function.


5 minutes

As the students enter the room they take out their journals and respond to the prompt:

Are muscles important?  Why or why not?  Explain.

Students begin working as I circulate through the room to read what they have written. I use this journal prompt as a way to activate students' prior knowledge and to provide me with insights as to what the students have retained from the independent notes they took prior to this lesson. My expectation is that students will identify that muscles are important and then for them to support that with appropriate examples. For instance, this sample journal notes that muscles are important and provides a reason as to why, but the student could have provided additional support for the answer.

Once the students have had a chance to write down their thoughts, I ask for volunteers to share their responses with the class. This is when I use questioning to draw out all of the different types of tasks that are accomplished by muscles. I do this by having students think about an action, voluntary or involuntary, and then try to determine whether or not a muscle is involved. It may be helpful to have the students keep a running record of this information for future use or reference.


10 minutes

After reviewing their journals, I ask the students to take out the notes page they completed. Prior to this class, the students read about Smooth-Skeletal-and-Cardiac-Muscles. This information is from the website CK-12. The information can be shared with students online, where they can highlight and annotate information. For this lesson, I print out copies of the notes and provide them to the students. The students are then able to highlight and annotate on the hard copies of the information.  

While they are able to highlight on the page, I still require the students to create Cornell notes as this requires them to focus in on key information and to rewrite important terminology.

To review the notes, I begin by discussing the review questions that were found at the end of the reading:

  1. Compare and contrast the three types of muscle tissue.
  2. What can muscle cells do that other cells cannot?
  3. Why are skeletal and cardiac muscles striated?
  4. Where is smooth muscle tissue found?
  5. What is the function of skeletal muscle? Give an example.

I called on volunteers to answer the questions and then ask another volunteer to state whether he/she agrees or disagrees and why. Many times the students refer to select portions of their notes when providing agree or disagree statements. During this time I also encourage students to correct their answers, if necessary.


15 minutes

I ask the students to take out their Chromebooks and open the Muscle Assignment while I open the document on the SMARTBoard.  I have students start on the first question of the assignment, which as you will notice, is the same as the journal entry. Since the students have discussed this answer at length with their classmates, I expect their answers to this question to be much more complete than their journal responses. I then tell the students to move onto the second question and explain that we will come back to this question at some point, so they should be ready to share their responses. This question will be the journal prompt for the next class period.

When I initially planned this activity, I intended to lead the class in an online muscle identification game, but it was blocked by the school internet filter. (Maybe you won't have the same problem. The Muscle Website video provides an overview of the website and explains how the game works. Test it, because it uses Flash so it may not be compatible with your browser or computer.) Since the game was not available, I have the students work with a partner to search the internet and find the answers to the questions about the activity.  

While it is not my initial plan, it worked well because it requires the students to hone in on their use of search terms and practice finding reliable sources of information, meeting CCSS RST.6-8.10 and NGSS SP8. As the students work, I circulate through the room to read their responses and to inquire as to the reliability of their resources. Once they have found the required information about the various muscles, the students are required to summarize the activity. This summary provides me with insights as to how well the students are able to connect the information from their notes to the information from the activity and apply it to the information they had learned about other body systems, which addresses NGSS MS-LS1-3 and Cross Cutting Concept Systems and System Models. Please see work sample one and work sample two for examples of student work on this activity.

Wrap up

5 minutes

The students are very excited about the various muscles that they researched, so at the end of class, I provide them with an opportunity to share their findings with the rest of the class. I begin by asking for volunteers to share a description of a muscle found in the face. This part of the discussion generally prompts lots of funny faces as the students try to use the various muscles being described by their classmates. As the students share, they are able to develop an understanding of how important muscles are to the rest of the body and how many different muscles they have.