02 November 2005

Feelin' Groovy

(c) 2005 Campbell Biology

I really enjoyed being a teacher today. I feel like things have been going just perfectly the last couple of days.

You see this thing above? It's a graphic representation of what happens during nerve transmission---and in my experience, it's devilishly hard for most kids to wrap their minds around fully. There are lots of things going on: diffusion of ions, embedded proteins, electrical currents, and more. Students have to be able to integrate all of this and the last few years, I haven't felt like I've done very well at helping them.

But this year is different. We started yesterday modeling the membrane and just looking at how the electrical charges were set up and why. Today, I took the papers they created from the models and put them up on the chalkboard. There were four to represent the stages above (we combined "threshhold" and "depolarization." Instead of having the kids use manipulatives, I had them draw in the different items (sodium, potassium, chlorine, large anions) so that we had a big timeline to look at. We then looked at the above diagram in terms of graphing what we had represented in our timeline. So far, so good.
(c) 2005 Campbell Biology
Next, I handed out a case study entitled "Bad Fish." I have adapted it a bit from the ones you will see if you follow the link. It's a good way to get kids to apply their knowledge. We worked through a lot of the case today, using the timeline on the board to reference the learning. It seemed to be extremely successful. Students were very tuned into the discussion and interested in the problem.

It's exciting to me to have found a successful way to teach this. We have more to attach to this skeleton of information tomorrow...but I feel like the kids are ready. I haven't had to force feed the information and hope they keep it down. I'll let you know how the next challenge (above) goes.

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