Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Design Thinking

Allowing my students to design our course this year has increased motivation, learning, and engagement in my classroom.  Not only are students processing information in a new way, but they are given the choice of what to learn and how to learn it.  We take the topics they are interested in and find ways to benefit society with our knowledge.  What my students have accomplished this year really is beyond any expectations.   From a student developed online course in health concepts that has over 27,000 subscribers world-wide, to creating a challenge to improve the health of our community, students are innovating, creating, and asking questions that I cannot answer.  I love the daily challenge it has provided me.  Giving up control of the classroom allows voice and choice from everyone in the room. --Real projects with real outcomes--

Here is my presentation for mini-CAST on Design Thinking in the Science Classroom.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flu Vaccine Project

With the flu plague going on right now in Texas, I felt like we should bump up our immunology unit a bit.  So many of my students have requested to learn about how their immune system works, why they should get a flu vaccine, and why its so much worse this year (is it?).  So here is the two part plan to teach immunology via the flu...

(1)  Visualizing the Flu 
  • In groups, find a current news article discussing the flu.  Share out with the class your groups opinion of the article. Is there media bias?  Does it contain scientific facts to support claims?  Does it provide useful information?
  • Find an article about the flu outside of the U.S.  (Google custom search by finding the internet country codes and using "site: Country Code, Flu Vaccine)  Share out with class - what is going on everywhere else?  How do we compare?  We hope to tie this in with our Skype in the Classroom Discussion.
  • Develop a visual of how the flu enters the body and show the how the body fights and tries to protect you.  Show the difference between specific and non-specific body defenses and demonstrate how getting a flu vaccine changes things.  Students can use any digital media they choose to create their visual (Explain Everything, ThingLink, iMovie, etc).
  • The best ones can be published in our iTunes U course to educate others on how vaccines work.
Here are a couple of examples of products using ThingLink:  

(2) Design Lab: As a group, design a lab investigation that will help others make wiser decisions regarding their health.  Nutrient agar plates will be supplied.

  • Team planning to figure out what kind of experiment they want to run.
  • Group meetings with me so I can verify and approve their lab plan and review safety guidelines.  Students should explain what they want to do and how they plan to run their investigation.  The purpose of the meeting is for me to know what they are doing, approve it, and help them troubleshoot prior to setting up.
  • They will be required to cite a recent scientific journal or article that supports their claim and/or laboratory results.
  • Create a lab report in the form of a Public Service Announcement.  It should include all necessary components of a standard lab report - hypothesis, procedures, data, analysis [using the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning method], sources of error, and recommendations.  The lab should be audio, not text, using photographs and data using Explain EverythingVoiceThread, etc
  • Here is the rubric we are working on--feel free to give us any suggestions :)
  • Again, the best work can be published in our iTunes U course to teach others around the world. 
Here is one example of a final product that used Explain Everything and iMovie.

Students learned how their immune system works, the difference in specific and non-specific defenses, antibody-antigen interactions, the different types of vaccines, aseptic lab technique, and safety standards for microbiology experiments - all without direct teach.  We had several formative assessments along the way just to make sure they were getting the big concepts and understanding everything. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Literature in Science

Literature in Science

As a high school Anatomy teacher, I don't typically take the time to do a book study or read novels in class.   I  think it might be fun to allow my students the option of a book study in place of a project we are doing this six weeks. 

Our really cool librarian Ms. Sullivan, created this complete list of resources found in our library that connects with my class.  She gave us this annotated bibliography that my students can read through to select a book that is interesting to them.

My idea is to allow the students to choose a book, read it, and develop a movie trailer to encourage others to read it as well.  As a part of the assignment, they would also need to create a character analysis and demonstrate to me the connection between the book content and our anatomy class.  The method by which they create and submit this will be entirely up to them.  

I am looking forward to seeing if any of my students accept this challenge and what products they might submit for their project.  I love giving options in my class and letting them decide what they want to learn more about.  Once complete, student creations will be published in our class portfolio.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Welcome to the Healthy Cowboy Challenge for 2014!

In the spirit of letting my students design the class this year, I decided to let them also plan our 3rd annual health challenge at the high school.  In the past, we have adopted a volunteer teacher (or any school employee) and created a wellness plan for him or her. The students are the personal trainers, dietitians, and cheerleaders, helping their clients reach their goals.  Here is what this years students came up with to improve this project:

What's New This Year?

1.  Make it bigger -- invite people outside of our school, district, and community to join us.  If we are trying to improve the health of society, why limit ourselves within the walls of our high school?  Our central administration has a team this year and we are so excited to work with them!  We also have a teacher from a neighboring district participating via Skype!

2. Make it a competition.  Give points for healthy choices such as working out, trying a new healthy meal, replacing unhealthy drinks/snacks, visiting a farmers market, doing a fun run, etc. Whoever has the most points at the end of 12 weeks wins!

3. Use #chsAP to motivate, share pictures, and create a way to share successes.

4. Don't make all students participate.  Some students are unsure about this project, so we are going to give them the option of doing it.  If they want to help a teacher, they can, but if they don't...they have a different project to work on.  This ensures that all students involved truly want to make a difference and help their client achieve their goals.

What Clients Should Expect:   

(1)  Weekly check in each Friday so the students can record weight, blood pressure, and heart rate.

(2)  Students develop a weekly plan that could consist of healthy recipes, workout plans, general healthy habits tips, or scientific reasons you should be avoiding unhealthy foods.

(3)  Each week you accumulate points for making healthy choices.  It's a healthy competition!

(4)  Work with a team of motivated students who want to help you be successful and meet your goals.

Motivational video created by Jessie C. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Heart Smart

Our third lesson is now posted in Health Without Borders!  Subscribe to our course in iTunes U on your iDevice and click HEART SMART to see what cool things my students created to teach about the heart and lungs.  Here is the overview:

Take a health challenge and have a healthier heart!  Have your class decide what they could do to improve heart health, complete the challenge, and then blog about it with us. We will respond to your posts.  Click here for a direct link to our class BLOG.

Learn from my students by using the iBooks and videos they created to learn about the heart and lungs.

Use the Explore section to find a fun lab from PBS kids on heart rate, determine lung volumes with a lab created by my students, or check out a few activities from the Texas Heart Institute.

Get your class moving with the Get up and Move Challenge. Log your miles with us! So far, we have miles logged from Texas, Tennessee, and Bejing!

You can check out the apps we found for you and then Skype with us and let us know what you think about the lesson.

All resources are found in the iTunes U course "Health Without Borders" under the post Heart Smart!

P.S...its all free :)
Take pictures and share them with us on Twitter using #chsAP or @jdeinhammer!