Shocked By Charlottesville

Dear World Leadership School Friends,

We, at World Leadership School, were shocked and saddened by the news that came out of Charlottesville, VA on Aug. 12th. It is hard to wrap our minds around this display of oppression and hate. We stand in solidarity with those who are working to fight against bigotry, racism, and all forms of hate. We know that our strength comes from our diversity. The acts on Aug. 12th remind us clearly that we have not come as far as we had hoped as a country with regards to race and religion. We find ourselves asking, how do we collectively move forward from here? The only foreseeable answer is education.

The community of educators in this country is strong and when trying times arise, we are ready to rely on and assist one another. We have learned time and again that when teachable moments arise, we act. Less than 24 hours after the violence in Charlottesville occurred, there was already a place created for teachers everywhere to share content on how to address these issues and use the classroom as a place for safe discovery and discussion. The twitter hashtag, #Charlottesvillecurriculum, was created and is full of important and pertinent resources that teachers can immediately bring into their classroom in the coming days to help shed light on the questions that students are going to inevitably have. NPR and EdWeek’s Teaching Now blog also compiled their own collections of resources to address racism and bigotry in school and in the community. Education experts from the American Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, the Anti-Defamation League and Facing History and Ourselves have come together to create a webinar, When Hate Is In The Headlines, focused on Charlottesville. This webinar includes important information about related issues such as the “alt-right”, the history of hate and white supremacy in the United States, and strategies for talking about race and religion with our students.

I have often found that the most meaningful pieces of education happen in the unplanned moments, during open and honest discussions with students. Talking about race and race relations is difficult for anyone, but more so for white teachers in predominately white institutions; it is hard to know what to say and how to say it well. Angela Watson’s podcast, Truth For Teachers, provides some insight on how to effectively have these conversations in Ten Things Every White Teacher Should Know When Talking About Race. Finally, if students or teachers are looking for action steps to take in response to the Charlottesville riot, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a guide entitled Ten Ways To Fight Hate: A Community Response, which will empower anyone to take action against racism and hate within their own communities.

Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”, which I believe is a clear representation of the power of teachers and the extent to which our influence can travel. This blog post is my action step, my small stone that will hopefully create ripples far and wide by providing useful tools for all the great teachers out there faced with the awesome responsibility of shedding light into the darkness in our country right now. The White Nationalists will never win in a country full of educators who have committed their lives to the betterment our country through the greatest tool of all, education. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to the young people in this country, they need you more than ever right now. We all do.

Teach well, my friends

Feed My Starving Children PBL

Last year, I implemented this project-based learning activity, Feed My Starving Children, to accompany my macromolecules unit in 10th-grade biology. Macromolecules can be tedious as they are a bit abstract in nature and the students struggle to find the authentic purpose for studying these, to begin with. As educators, especially science educators, we understand that fundamentally if the students don’t understand what macromolecules are, how they bond, and what functional groups are associated with each, you can’t really comprehensively move forward with cells or cell organelles. So, to make this unit more relevant and applicable to something the students care about, I have created this project-based learning activity to enhance their learning.

Feed My Starving Children is my brain child that pulls in those 21st Century skills that we desperately want for our students to develop. This project requires creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. This project also enhances the idea of empathic design and responsible global citizenship that I need for my students to walk away with after spending the year in my classroom.

Below I am including a description of the project as well as links to all my materials in the form of Google Docs. If you have any questions about this project or want to try it, please reach out to me as I am happy to help! Good luck!

The outline of the PBL is as follows: (and can be found here)

Project-Based Learning Title: Feed My Starving Children

Grade: 10th

Project idea: The World Food Program is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On average, WFP aims to bring food assistance to more than 80 million people in 75 countries. Malnutrition affects millions of people around the world. A third of all deaths in children under the age of 5 in developing countries are linked to undernutrition. WFP’s role in fighting malnutrition is not only to treat it but also to prevent it becoming severe in the first place.

The World Food Program is employing you to design a new nutrient-rich recipe that will be used to feed millions of people worldwide. The price of food and fuel has increased exponentially and the World Heath Organization has had to cut your budget by 18%, which means that you have a total of $1.25 per meal per child. Ideally, you will be able to feed each child 3 times per day. A typical serving portion is 1 cup of prepared food.


DQ:
 How can we feed a child all the recommended macro and micronutrients on $3.75 per day?

Content:
macromolecules (biology), micronutrient recommendations (biology), food insecurity (global perspective), developing nations (geography),
Major Products:

  1. Detailed recipe of ingredients and preparation of foods
  2. The food item you prepared from your recipe
  3. Your written proposal should include: receipts, recipe, and nutritional information about your product, why your product should be selected by the WFP
  4. Nutrition lesson meant for the first-grade level to explain what carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids are, where they can be found, and a learning activity for the first graders
  5. Reflection on the project: what did you learn? What did you like/not like? What could I (Mrs. Cooke) do differently next time with this project?

Public Audience: Andy – master chef, Feed More organization, Stop Hunger Now representative, admin/faculty, Collegiate first grade classes, etc…

What I give to the students looks like this (and can be found here):

WFP.jpg

The World Food Program is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On average, WFP aims to bring food assistance to more than 80 million people in 75 countries. Malnutrition affects millions of people around the world. A third of all deaths in children under the age of 5 in developing countries are linked to undernutrition. WFP’s role in fighting malnutrition is not only to treat it but also to prevent it becoming severe in the first place.

The World Food Program is employing you to design a new nutrient-rich recipe that will be used to feed millions of people worldwide. The price of food and fuel has increased exponentially and the World Heath Organization has had to cut your budget by 18%, which means that you have a total of $1.25 per meal per child. Ideally, you will be able to feed each child 3 times per day. A typical serving portion is 1 cup of prepared food.

DQ: Is it possible to feed a child all the recommended macro and micronutrients on $3.75 per day?

Here is what you need to focus on:

  1. The recipe must include all daily nutritional dietary needs (both macro and micro nutrients)
  2. The product needs to be as dry as possible to limit microbial growth. Workers/recipients in the field can add milk or water to make a paste.
  3. Food base should be easily grown with limited amounts of processing.
  4. This food needs to taste good, period.

 

You will need to make this food for the class and we will have a taste test at the end of the project. Please submit your receipts so that we know what the actual cost of your product encompasses.

End Products of this Project:

  1. Detailed recipe of ingredients and preparation of foods
  2. The food item you prepared from your recipe
  3. Your written proposal should include: receipts, recipe, and nutritional information about your product, why your product should be selected by the WFP
  4. Nutrition lesson meant for the first-grade level to explain what carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids are, where they can be found, and a learning activity for the first graders
  5. Reflection on the project: what did you learn? What did you like/not like? What could I (Mrs. Cooke) do differently next time with this project?

Assessing Student Work

Assessing student work with project-based learning is difficult. If they are invested, interested, and working hard, shouldn’t they all get an ‘A’? Not necessarily. I am still developing my understanding of appropriate assessments for project-based learning and a tie-in with core content. For this unit, the students have a traditional content-based assessment AND they are comprehensively graded on all aspects of the design and presentation of this project. I am including the rubrics and grading tools that I use with this project. If you modify or can think of a different and more effective means of assessment, please let me know.

Feed My Starving Children Rubric

Taste Tester Opinion Ranking Chart

Team Grading Form

Other Supplementals

Here are some additional documents that I use to enhance the understanding as the students work through this process.

Detailed Budget on Excel

Background Nutritional Research

World Food Program Product Guide

World Food Program Specialized Nutrition Sheet

Article on Food Security in Malawi

Here are some pictures of my students and their work

Empathy and Understanding

My students have been working through their latest #pbl in my honors Biology classes. We have been focusing on Mendelian and Non-Mendelian Genetics in class while they have independently been working on their human genetics disorder #pbl outside of class.

The project started with my students doing basic genetic disorder research on the most common human genetic disorders that genetic counselors will see. They were to pick 21 disorders to do very basic, introductory research on so that they could identify possible areas of interest for their PBL activity. From this research, they were asked to identify a disorder that they wanted to learn about in depth. Each student then worked independently to learn about their disorder and plan a presentation for their peers about this disorder. I gave them a detailed rubric of required content that I wanted them to research so that I knew they were going deeply enough into their research, but the way in which they presented to their peers was up to them. While most students will use powerpoint as their medium, I have had students use Prezi, create a digital storyboard, make a brochure, create a video with voiceover, etc…they never run out of creative ways to present information.

The #pbl aspect of this project came into play when I let the students know that they are going to function as genetic counselors who will be counseling their patients through a diagnosis of the disorder that they have each been researching independently. I explained that they will need to write a detailed letter to a family explaining that they have been diagnosed positively with this disorder and present to the family all of the necessary information and options that they will have. I also explained that this is where they need to pull in their emotional intelligence and work from a place of empathy and understanding. A large portion of the disorders researched were terminal and affected children, this is a challenge for them to be able to do in a professional and caring manner.

Dr Kelly Fulk - genetic counselor

I had a local genetic counselor come in to talk with my students about the process of diagnosing someone and counseling them through that diagnosis. The letter written by the students serves as their summative assessment for this unit.I really love this experience for the students and I always receive good feedback from them about the process and what they learn. To make this a true #pbl experience for my student, I am going to ask Dr. Fulk (pictured above) to have some of the counselors in her office review the letters that my students write and ask them to provide some valuable feedback on their writing and the process.

Why Does Mitosis Matter?

This year’s Mitosis unit is running in this way:

I started the concept of Mitosis by talking about Henrietta Lacks and her mysterious cancer cells, which of course divide through Mitosis. This is such a great way to introduce a seemingly dry molecular topic because it gives the students a reason to care. In 10 minutes, you can pull in ethics, medicine, history and civil rights all surrounding this topic and get your kids fired up about the injustice of it all. The Power Point that I created for this lecture is here: Mitosis

planaria planarian2

 

 

 

 

 

 

After discussing the big picture about Mitosis, what it is, why it happens, how cells know to do it, I then introduced my students to our next organisms of study, the Planaria. Planaria are fascinating and tangible and the kids really do feel that they are doing science when they are “creating” new worms. Howard Hughes Medical Institute has a GREAT lesson that revolves about Planaria regeneration and you can access that information here. I love this lab for so many reasons. You can take it as far as you would like. The lab sheet explains exactly where and how to cut the worms so that they will regenerate in a predictable manner if you are working with younger students, or, you can let your students run with it and explore this idea on their own. I let my kids have as many worms as they wanted and to cut them however they wanted to see what the results would be. Also, if like me, time is not an issue for you, you can let your students explore the regeneration rates of these worms in different environmental contexts. My students this year were interested in the affect water temperature would have on the worm fragments and the affect light has on the worm fragment regeneration. Planaria generally repel light so my students wanted to see if this would have an affect on their regeneration rates…we will have to wait a few more days to see on this one.

For outside work following this lab, I have asked the students to research various labs around the globe that are extensively researching Planaria and why they are doing so. This is to tie in a real life application of what is happening in our lab to what is happening out there in the world.

As a final wrap up to the Mitosis topic (before diving into DNA and then Meiosis), I addressed the specifics of the DNA function and location during duplication. I modified an existing activity this year to use cooked spaghetti noodles to represent Chromatin and am having the students create a Snap Chat story involving the manipulation of their noodles through the different stages of Mitotic division. I wrote another post about that and you can find that here, Mitosis With A Side Of Sauce.

As always, if you use or adapt any of these ideas, please come back and share with me. Let me know how it’s going and what worked or didn’t work for you. And, if you plan to publish these activities anywhere, please refer to this Blog as the source and me as the author.

Thanks so much! Happy dividing 🙂

Mitosis, With A Side of Sauce

Mitosis, With A Side Of Sauce   I have found that Mitosis and Meiosis can be complicated to teach because like much of molecular biology, my students can’t get their hands on the process to fully understand it. I have done lots of activities in the past using candy or pipe cleaners but this year I am doing something a little differently, I have decided to use cooked spaghetti noodles to simulate the chromatin. I am including the lesson plan below. As with other lessons and projects, if you use or publish this material, please cite this webpage as your source and me as the author…thanks so much!!

Lesson Plan: Mitosis, With A Side of Sauce

Goals and Objectives:

The goal of this lesson is to give the students some tangible ownership over the process of mitosis without getting caught up in the details of terminology. This lesson can be used as an introductory activity to the process of Mitosis or it can be used as a follow up to a discussion/lecture on the process.

Rationale:

I have found that students have a hard time conceptualizing what is actually happening with the chromatin/chromosomes during the process of mitosis. The diagrams in the books and on the web are too abstract, in my opinion, for them to achieve any kind of real life connection with. This activity gives them 30 minutes to take the process step by step and really show whether or not they get the big picture and understand the details. This is a good alternative to the pipe cleaner activity and is a bit better, in my opinion, because they are using the same noodles throughout the entire process instead of getting new pipe cleaners along the way.

Procedure:

Materials Needed:

1. Give each student the following:
~ 10 cooked spaghetti noodles
~ a paper plate
~they will need their smartphones or cameras

2. In respect of time, I think it would be best to cook your spaghetti noodles at home before the activity. You could also have the students cook them for homework and bring them in. You may want to break the noodles in ½ before cooking so they are easier to work with.

3. Have students partner up with their lab partners

4. Have each student show their knowledge of mitosis through the manipulation of their spaghetti noodles. Have them start with their noodles spread out on their paper plate (as chromatin) and tell them that your whistle is the Progression factor hormone, Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) that instructs the cell to enter Mitosis. At this point, turn your students loose and let them express the steps of Mitosis using their spaghetti noodles. They need to document each step by taking photos and turning these photos into a brief movie. This can easily be done using Snap Chat movies or Instagram movies. If you have an Instagram page for your science class they can post it there or, you can create a snap chat account for your science class. The only problem is that the snap chat movies only last for 24 hours once they are shared so you can’t keep them indefinitely.

  1. When completed, have each group share their movie with the class to look for inconsistencies or to identify common themes.

Assessment of Student Learning:

Every lesson does not need a written test or quiz, but each lesson should check for student understanding. You can do the traditional assessment and ask the students to answer questions on the process of mitosis or you can also transfer the learning to the lab setting and set up a number of microscopes around the lab with pre-determined (by you) slides of onion root mitotic division and have the students identify the stages based off of their observations.

Activity Extension

You can modify this lesson to teach the process of Meiosis as well. You can do the activity as described above but this time make 2 pots of spaghetti noodles, one regular and one in colored water (with food coloring, green or blue works best for me). Give each student 10 noodles, 5 regular and 5 colored, and have them show the process of meiosis (including crossing over) with the noodles. It will be easy for them to see the specific steps of the process because of the different colored noodles.