Sequencing A&P

Following is a post I made on a social networking site for Anatomy & Physiology teachers interested in the flipped classroom. I am posting it here as a reflection of my current thoughts re: sequencing my A&P course. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

 

Okay, y’all — I would love some feedback on a sequencing discussion I’m having with myself. 🙂

What’s the best way to bundle/sequence your units??

In the past, I have setup my course to go “system by system” (i.e. Unit 2: Skeletal System; Unit 3: Muscular System; etc.). I did it this way because: 1) the text is setup this way; and, 2) that’s the way it was taught in my A&P classes…?

However, in looking at my curriculum standards (TX) in more detail, I see the following major themes:

– energy needs and processes

– responses to internal/external forces/stimuli

– homeostasis

– electrical conduction processes/interactions

– transport systems

– environmental factors and their effects

– structure & function of human body

– reproduction

– emerging technological advances

 

This really got me thinking…! Do we talk about these topics throughout the year? Yes, but indirectly. We spend so much time learning all the parts of each system and then how they work, that we don’t really explicitly focus on these major themes and overarching issues. (The big exception: I spend a lot of direct time on the “structure and function of the human body” theme…more than its “fair share” when looking at in comparison to the other standards.)

 

So…here’s what I’m thinking. I’m contemplating structuring my A&P course this year around these themes (not necessarily in the order above). For example, doing a unit on “Energy Needs and Processes” — discovering these needs and then learning the anatomy and physiology of the different parts of the body that play a role in this (i.e. what are our energy needs? How is the digestive system (/other systems) related to energy needs? What parts? How do they work? What problems could occur in regards to energy needs?).

 

I think this might be a better approach to the course — giving students more context in which to learn the A&P rather than just “Here — next we’re going to learn all about the ________ system.”. I know it would take more work to change over and structure my course this way, but I think it would be a richer experience…

 

What do y’all think…?? I’d love to hear…! Thanks!!

Prezi as a Powerful Creation Tool

Here is a Prezi I made last year to synthesize and demonstrate my learning re: what it means to be gifted.

I am learning more and more about the importance of teaching students to be producers and creators of knowledge, rather than just consumers of knowledge. Prezi is a great tool that allows students to display their understanding in a storytelling format that is limited only by their creativity.

Another great story-telling tool is Google Search Stories, which I have blogged about previously.

Books + People (+ Reflection) = Growth

The following quotation, shared often by the financial guru Dave Ramsey, is one that I return to again and again in regards to my personal and professional development:

“Five years from now you’ll be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

What an interesting idea! Growth (either personal or professional) does not just occur, but is the result of a purposeful effort to learn more, do more, produce more, be more. Many people want to grow and improve, but their good intentions die as such. This quotation shares two great ways to get started in changing your desires for growth into tangible results.

First, the people you meet. A good start? Deliberately surrounding yourself with people who are masters (or, at the very least, successful) in areas that you want to master. The advent of social networking has made this possible in ways previously unimaginable. After reading Jeff Utecht’s Reach I was challenged to create my own Professional Learning Network via Twitter, a site I had heard of but had no experience with. What an amazing opportunity this is! Twitter allows me to follow, learn from, and engage with top educators from across the country (and world!) in real-time on a daily basis. In my small, rather isolated district, I now have access to some of the most brilliant and creative minds in education! Oh, and did I mention…it’s easy? I also still pursue meeting new people in more traditional ways (i.e. via conferences — most recently and notably the Flipped Classroom Conference in Woodland Park, CO), but Twitter adds a whole new dimension to this.

Second, the books you read. As shown in the graphic above, this summer has been all about reading quality non-fiction books that will stretch my mind and perspective. I started 2009 with a goal — to, on average, read 1 non-fiction book a month. (This goal was also motivated by Dave Ramsey.) After achieving that and learning so much in the process, in 2010 I doubled my pledge to 2 non-fiction books a month. At the end of the year I was disappointed to fall a few books short, but…still — all of the thoughts, ideas, and epiphanies from 20 excellent books in one year — definitely not a loss! I have continued this goal for 2011.

With the recent creation of the blog, I am adding a third element to my growth formula.

The people I meet + the books I read + time spent actively reflecting on these ideas = a great equation for growth!

The reflection piece of this equation will allow me to “mull over” the ideas I glean from people and books in a more formal, meaningful, and purposeful way.

Rather than using technology for its own sake, it is imperative to use a tech tool to accomplish a specific objective — and one that it is well-designed for. My goal is to actively reflect on my own practice and professional development; I think this blog is just the tool to accomplish that.

Lastly, just this morning I read the following in Seth Godin’s Linchpin:

“Yesterday’s remarkable is today’s really good and tomorrow’s mediocre.”

It will never be enough to achieve “remarkable” status — you must work to stay remarkable. That is my goal. People, books, and reflection will help me get there.

That’s One Way to Tell a Story!

For the past two days I’ve been participating in the Flipped Classroom Conference via webinar. It has been an amazing professional development experience! I am hoping to blog more about these trainings tomorrow.

In the meantime, I was eager to try out some of the many Web2.0 tools that have been mentioned throughout this conference.

Here’s a video I made using “Google Search Stories”.

It’s a remarkably easy process that yields a remarkably different product. You really have to think about the words you use and how the searches you enter can tell a story. (Sounds easy, right? I encourage you to try it for yourself!)

I am learning more and more about the importance (and feasibility!) of having our students be producers of the web, instead of just consumers of it. I think this easy but effective tool could be a great way to have students tell a story in a nontraditional format.

In what other ways could this tool be used?

Perfect vs. Published

Here’s another book I have been devouring: Quitter by Jon Acuff. (Interesting choice, I know, since I am already happily working my dream job, but anyways…)

This book is full of powerful insights, but here’s the one that hit me like a freight train:

90% perfect and published always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head.

If my goal is to improve my teaching through hard work, reflection, and collaboration, then I cannot let perfectionism (of all things!) stand in my way. Don’t get me wrong — I am beyond passionate about high quality, professional work. But it is definitely possible for the endless and unattainable pursuit of perfection to cripple efforts that would otherwise yield significant success. And what a waste that would be…!

So, here goes…!

How is Your School Perceived? Why? And What Will You Do About It?

What one factor stands above all others as the determinant of the perception of effectiveness of a school? Perhaps surprisingly, not test scores, not school “ratings”, and not the success of highly toted (and funded) athletic teams.

Todd Whitaker, in his book What Great Teachers Do DIFFERENTLY, argues that:

“All the way from kindergarten through college, the quality of the teachers determines our perceptions of the quality of the school.”

What a simple truth!

Even more so, I believe that the quality of teachers determines the actual quality of the school, not just the community’s perception of such.

This is an exciting reality! If we want to change how our school is perceived and (more importantly) improve the effectiveness of our school, the most productive avenue is also the most accessible. We need only to improve ourselves — improve the quality of our teaching — to have a profound effect on the community we serve.

What a blessing, because our quality is 100% in our control.