Tagged: teaching

Anatomy Re-do: Muscle Breakdown

My goals in Anatomy need modified. I need to streamline my standards and tweak my learning objectives for this course. The existing objectives I operate under were slightly modified from the local community college when work was done on an articulation agreement (i.e., students that earned an A or B would also receive credit from the community college upon enrollment).

To that end, I’m going to attempt to organize the presentation of material and practice activities, attempting to link these to the purpose/goals/objectives of each system. This is a process I’m going to go through for each system.

The Muscular System is first for one reason: the amount of anatomy and physiology content. This is the first system where the depth of physiology becomes an issue: everything from the details of the action potential by way of the electrochemical gradient to the chemical cascade leading to contraction to the metabolic pathways responsible for energy production allowing contraction, not to mention the Cori cycle and Oxygen debt. Basic anatomy includes micro- and gross anatomy (as seen in the skeletal system) including knowing certain muscles, i.e., memorizing their names, and the method of nomenclature, but is complicated by the three tissue types, by the impact of the microscopic arrangement upon the actions of the organ (banding, sarcomeres, SR and T-tubules, endo- to epimysium, fascicle arrangement) and the conformational changes associated with contraction, not to mention the difference in isotonic vs. isometric contraction, and linking it to origin/insertion and action. There’s a lot of information and a fair amount I’ve left off this list.

Below, I’m listing the current objective & items/activities I use. Below that will be the potential change or questions I have about the changes and I would greatly appreciate suggestions and critiques.

System Introduction

  • Body Atlas Video segment “Muscle and Bone” — bridge from skeletal system to muscular system (25 min)
    • backchannel during video for comments and questions

1. Describe the properties and function of muscle tissue

  • Flipped 6.1 — gross anatomy notes: intro to muscle function, quick review of different muscle types (both tissue and functional skeletal), nomenclature, origin/insertion, lever action, movements, muscle names/locations (14.52 min)
    • Quick listing of the functions of the muscular system
    • Done individually; checked via flipped questions to identify any lingering misunderstanding and provide analytic of completion

2. Identify the principal axial and appendicular muscles of the body; including identifying origin, insertion, and action of ten muscles

  • Blank Anterior & Posterior Muscle Man — fill in blank chart
    • Identifies key muscles of the body
    • Done individually, in class
  • Anatomy ColorPlates Packet — copies of relevant pages in the Anatomy coloring book of major axial and appendicular muscles
    • Anatomy is visual; this provides reinforcement of knowledge
    • Done individually as homework
  • Flipped notes 6.1 — gross anatomy notes: intro to muscle function, quick review of different muscle types (both tissue and functional skeletal), nomenclature, origin/insertion, lever action, movements, muscle names/locations (14.52 min)
    • Does provide different images for principal muscles of the body
    • Understanding nomenclature reinforces anatomical awareness and provides leeway in remembering different names
      • Ex. Rectus Femoris vs. Rectus abdominus — found in the thigh or abdominal region; remembering the ‘rectus’ means straight bonus information
    • Quick review of the requirements of origin or insertion, linked to basic body movements (setting stage for function of muscles)
    • Done individually; checked via flipped questions to identify any lingering misunderstanding and provide analytic of completion
  • Skeleton Diagram Insertion/Origin/Action — blank skeleton and skull in which specified muscles are drawn/colored according to origin/insertion attachments; i.e., deltoid is drawn from deltoid tuberosity on humerus to clavicle on posterior view.
    • First few done on board in front of class to demonstrate just how each muscle should be drawn and information listed
    • Individually fill in worksheet; work in small group to look up/determine origin/insertion/action in class
  • String Lab — students, in pairs, attach one end of the string (i.e., the looped end) to the appropriate location of the insertion and take the other end to the origin. Pulling on the origin end, they simulate the movement/action of the muscle.
    • Collaborative work to ‘act out’ with purpose in class
    • Focus upon ten specific muscle actions
    • More clearly presents why a particular muscle produces a particular action

3. Contrast Skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle in terms of structure and function

  • Flipped notes 6.2 — information on structure and function of three muscle types; detail of microscopic organization of skeletal muscle; neuromuscular junction (14:02)
    • Detailed differences between muscle types
    • Done individually; checked via flipped questions to identify any lingering misunderstanding and provide analytic of completion
  • Muscle Tissue Flowchart
    • Reinforce structural differences

4. Describe the organization of skeletal muscle: (a) at the macroscopic level; (b) at the microscopic level

  • Flipped notes 6.2 — information on structure and function of three muscle types; detail of microscopic organization of skeletal muscle; neuromuscular junction (14:02)
    • Progress from fascia/periosteum to epimysium to myofilament, banding within the sarcomere, organization of thick/thin filaments, including SR and T-tubules.
    • Done individually; checked via flipped questions to identify any lingering misunderstanding and provide analytic of completion
  • Anatomy/Physiology ColorPlates Packet — copies of relevant pages in the Anatomy and Physiology coloring books of microscopic anatomy
    • Anatomy is visual; this provides reinforcement of knowledge
    • Done individually as homework

5. Explain the key steps involved in the contraction of a skeletal muscle fiber: (a) discuss the physiological changes required to contract and relax a muscle fiber; (b) discuss the protein conformation changes necessary for contraction.

  • Flipped notes 6.2 — information on structure and function of three muscle types; detail of microscopic organization of skeletal muscle; neuromuscular junction (14:02)
    • Neuromuscular junction anatomy
    • Done individually; checked via flipped questions to identify any lingering misunderstanding and provide analytic of completion
  • Flipped notes 6.3 — muscle physiology (33 slides)
    • Sliding filament theory, action potentials (electrochemical gradients, Na-K pump, graphing AP), and energy sources for contraction
    • Done individually; checked via flipped questions to identify any lingering misunderstanding and provide analytic of completion
  • Physiology ColorPlates Packet — copies of relevant pages in the Physiology coloring book
    • Processes are visual; this provides reinforcement of knowledge
    • Done individually as homework
  • Sliding Filament Theory Video — students devise video to simplify changes in protein conformation into 4 steps
    • Point is to instruct peers; posted to website
    • small group project, done in class
  • PhET Neuron Simulation Lab — simulation of action potential and physiological changes responsible
    • Individual or group, in class or homework depending upon time
  • Rabbit Muscle Lab — teased sample of muscle receives different treatments, contraction observed under the microscope
    • differences in contraction noted
    • done in class, students work in pairs

6. Compare the different types of muscle contractions

  • Flipped notes 6.3 — muscle physiology (33 slides)
    • Sliding filament theory, action potentials (electrochemical gradients, Na-K pump, graphing AP), and energy sources for contraction
    • Done individually; checked via flipped questions to identify any lingering misunderstanding and provide analytic of completion
  • Pushing the Limits: Strength video — animations of contraction, provides explanation of the power of the body and extremes of what the body can do
    • backchannel during video for comments and questions

7. Describe the mechanisms by which muscle obtains and uses energy to power contraction; distinguish between aerobic and anaerobic endurance

  • Flipped notes 6.3 — muscle physiology (33 slides)
    • Sliding filament theory, action potentials (electrochemical gradients, Na-K pump, graphing AP), and energy sources for contraction
    • Done individually; checked via flipped questions to identify any lingering misunderstanding and provide analytic of completion
  • Exercise & Cellular Respiration Lab — impact of exercise upon rate of carbon dioxide production
    • changes in carbon dioxide production noted as amount of exercise changes
    • done in class, students work in pairs
  • A Perfect Storm in the Operating Room — case study
    • interrupted case study on malignant hyperthermia
    • students answer packet questions and turn in a group report based on the last set of questions
    • small groups during class

Summary Activities

  • Disease Glog — a digital poster providing a ‘story’ about a disease
    • basic explanation about the disease, including appropriate statistics
    • explains what homeostatic imbalance is responsible for the disease
  • Blog Post — Muscular system, either or below
    • anatomy of muscle, explaining, with detail, the relationship between form and function within the system
    • physiology of muscle, linking to homeostasis for the body and how homeostasis maintained within each organ

Changes

First, it is glaringly obvious I must make changes to my videos — they need streamlined and topic/concept focused: just pics and labels for major muscles, just nomenclature, just origin/insertion, just sliding filament, just energy, etc., eliminating nice-to-know-but-not-essential items. Also, some just need to be slides, slide rocket would do the job. Some need to be augmented with Popcorn Maker: more interactivity, more quick quizzes (translation: low risk, formative assessment) during the notes for contraction and muscle energy. This would also create a more effective use of the JITT and ConcepTests ideas in my Anatomy class, allowing the recap/discussion the next day to address the issues identified during the notes.

Second, embrace the limited scope of some objectives. Looking at number 1, muscle function is basic knowledge. List it and move on. A similar change needs to occur with number 3, differences in cardiac, smooth and skeletal muscle. There’s a table in the textbook listing the differences between the tissue types; this is enough to address the objective. Simply point out the table and mention the Cardiovascular and Digestive systems will go into the depth of the specific muscle types, just like this system is used to present/discuss details of skeletal muscle.

Contraction differences, number 6, could be eliminated. As future chapters will go into greater detail for cardiac and smooth muscle and since I’m limiting the tissue differences to be presented, the only item left here is isotonic and isometric. This can be a component of context, posture vs. running for example, but does not require its own standard.

Thirdly, move in the direction of explore and develop curiosity (i.e., explore, flip, apply from flipteaching and Ramsey Musallam’s blog). This is where I’m weak.

My first thought is to make the “string lab” be the introductory activity. See if students can figure out where muscles must attach in order to produce known movements. Then, send the blank muscle man home to fill out as homework; check it first thing the next day. This would frame the nomenclature discussion. This also could lead into the microscopic anatomy: fascicle arrangement in names, leading to a review of micrographs, leading to a discussion of the structure behind the banding.

Another change is to keep the anatomy and physiology of contraction together – I’ve separated them the last couple of years. This separation hurt rather than helped this concept. The PhET lab would be done first, before even starting contraction, but right after the microscopic structure above. This sets the stage for the physiological/anatomical changes responsible for contraction.

The last concept is energy. I’m thinking the exercise cellular respiration lab should be done first. Then, the rabbit muscle lab. After the notes on energy sources/pathways, the case study. It becomes a summative application, requiring students to pull it all together.

All of these changes I hope will also make the disease glog and blog post more impactful. Allowing students to tell about one aspect of muscle function and the lack thereof.

My remaining questions: where to put in the videos? They are great stories and the backchannel during is always interesting, but is that enough to keep them? As for the color plates: limit to essentials, but should I have the students identify the essentials? Which means the students choose the muscles to know origin/insertion for, rather than me defining the list…good idea?

Should I eliminate more? Is there something I haven’t even thought of?

Please share any and all comments/suggestions. Thanks ahead of time.

Linchpin or Doormat?

Indispensable

Adjective
Absolutely necessary or essential.

Synonyms
necessary – needful – essential – imperative – requisite

Doormat

Noun
The thing we wipe our feet on coming & going

It’s obvious what I’m reading from my title; and yes, I’m a little behind the pop-culture curve.

You can also tell I’m a bit ambivalent. There is a fine line between being a, or the, doer (responsible, reliable, flexible, a linchpin) going the extra mile to do your job well and being used by those that, simply, don’t. Being used is not part of anyone’s job description, but it is the result when colleagues abdicate their duties/responsibilities and expect someone to pick up the slack, effectively purloining the efforts of others. The reason for this is irrelevant. Yet, to allow it more than once, is my fault (shame me once, shame me twice) and the extent I allow it is indicative of the value I place on the work. Getting used tends to cheapen any accomplishment.

While it is also the height of vanity to think any one person is irreplaceable, when I’m not present, I’d like there to be a gap. I’d like my absence to be noted, felt. I’d like to be a contributor, not a space-saver. I also agree with the importance of doing your best and being your best in all situations. The cliche about attitude is everything is paramount to anyone’s ability to overcome obstacles, to persevere through the challenges, to attain the goal or goals set. And, requisite to accomplishing anything: not being afraid to do the little extra required; work is not a dirty four letter word. Lastly, the importance of giving of your time, your self (not your mere presence), and, that giving is not giving if you give to get; gifts should not have strings

My ambivalence also stems from something I can’t quite put my finger on, something disingenuous. It’s an unsettled, skeptical feeling I have after reading the book. If you are giving to the world around you, a true gift without strings, you’re not focused upon yourself. The whole book, though, is about giving and knowing you’ll be rewarded; the whole book is focused upon ‘self.’ Frankly, focusing on yourself tends to leave little room for others. Plus, I don’t really see the insight in writing that craftsmanship will find a niche in the market; I don’t see the insight when ‘capitalism’ is ‘bad,’ but greed is not discussed; I don’t see the insight in disparaging day-to-day work.

I guess, I feel like the message is to create your linchpin status at any cost. You need to be liked, you need to give, you need to be focused on yourself, you need to…whatever. No, you don’t. There should be a line, a mental stop sign, because you do not have to like everyone you work with (or be liked by them…liking is irrelevant) to do a job well and maintain professionalism, because you don’t have to be stepped on and treated like a door mat to create a linchpin status, because several working together for a common goal can usually achieve more than most individuals. I absolutely agree, to do your job well, to do anything well, requires doing more than the minimum. It does require an internal commitment to being more than average and an understanding that doing this work will probably not result in applause. But, it also requires finding the right people to accomplish a task. It requires looking beyond your self to really find the purpose to make a difference.

Leading the Way

Chicago

Photo by digital_freak

Just spent a weekend in Chicago at the LEAD conference put on through NASSP. It was our first time in Chicago and the students first time at a LEAD conference. As with all conferences, there’s good and bad;  things to aspire to, things to learn from, things to put into action.

Aspiration & Inspiration
Before you can accomplish anything, you have to see it, that ephemeral unreality of a dream, a possibility. To see the possible around you, you must see the possible in you. Quotes abound, but Ghandi’s best summarizes the point of the weekend:

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

This was the inspirational backdrop behind the keynote address from Ed Gerety: focusing on being an individual, leading to the value of pursuing your dreams, ending with the importance of promoting this in others. It was a reminder that no one lives in a bubble. A reminder that actions have a ripple effect.

Teaching Action?
Inspiration & aspirations are great, but if these ideas do not become actions, what’s the point? Character isn’t a state of mind. Service isn’t in theory. Good intentions simply do not produce results.

This, from the perspective of the adult, was the biggest disappointment of the conference: the lack of substance. Our group attended sessions on ice breakers, fundraising, club organization and officer training.  And they were pumped and excited by the interaction with the other students from around the country and the speakers, but this exuberance wasn’t leveraged.  There was nothing on how to make a difference.  It’s not that a step-by-step guide needed to be provided, just something that could serve as scaffolding, something related to service learning, something tangible as the source of inspiration.  In essence, lessons learned from successful (& unsuccessful) service projects – what went right and, especially, what went wrong.  How did an individual, a group, make difference?  What groups did they partner with and why?  What did they do to get a whole school to buy-in to a project? How do they choose their projects? How will they build on previous success?

This, for me, represents the shortcomings, a blind spot, in the national organization. Honor society, at its heart, is a service organization. The motto, noblesse oblige, puts the focus wholly on the duty of the fortunate to help those less so. Yet, this aspect, not ignored exactly, is certainly not front & center; it’s an aside, a component certainly, but not the point.

Of course, I do realize I’m tilting at windmills to expect all teenagers in honor society to want to help others, to want to give back, to want to be involved. A few do; most try to do the least required. I do see the irony in having a required number of service hours (thus defining what’s good enough, i.e., the least required) and playing on the desire of most to have this as a line listed in the resume or college application. There is an exclusionary status associated with membership and that, ultimately, is the hook. The carrot to prod action in hopes that awareness is developed and inspiration found and both lead to doing something to change the world for the better.

After all, membership shouldn’t be in name only. Noblesse oblige shouldn’t be an empty motto. Inspiration, though required, isn’t the goal. Good intentions aren’t good enough. A step must be taken, impact must be sought. This, really, is what I’d like to see as the next conference’s focus. Inspire, absolutely; but also teach, discuss, and show how one person, one small group, can make a difference. Make the ideal tangible and more than words only.

Struggle is Not Weakness

Frigid Perfection

By <rs>snaps

Perfection, the unattainable dream of many, seems to drive much of what people do, or don’t do. It’s pervasive, especially in the ivory towers of education; at the vey least, its classrooms. Whether it comes from the students (I need to be perfect for daddy) or the parents (a B, no, you need to get an A), its malingering affect is seen in our interpretation of struggle as slow/dumb/stupid, choose your epithet.

This interpretation is not mine, rather it’s from an NPR interview with Jim Stigler our librarian shared with our staff a month or so ago, but it resounded with such clarity within me. In essence, there is a cultural difference between East & West that boils down to expectations about how students will perform in school.  In the East, the expectation is that every student will struggle in school with something.  Not so in the West.  Our treatment of the non-struggling student is they must be smart, therefore, the struggling student isn’t.  This expectation and interpretation, then, ultimately informs a student’s definition of ‘smart,’ simultaneously creating the grade-defined neurotic & the apathetic classroom-dropout (body present, mind elsewhere).
What are we doing!? Everyone knows failure happens, it’s part of learning, it’s part of living. Yet, everything we do as teachers is to make it easier, gamify it, make it fun, at all costs cover-up the struggle involved.  Do not misunderstand me, if any student learns the content while gaining the lesson of perseverance, do it, gamify away.  That’s not my point. We have lost sight of the importance of working at something and letting students puzzle through and struggle openly and for as long as it takes for them to achieve understanding.

Failure is success if we learn from it.

Malcolm Forbes

Because when they struggle openly, their achievement is sweeter and much more satisfying because it is publicly acknowledged.  It is also far more likely that that student will persevere with each new challenge faced.  Without developing this immeasurable skill, I believe we do a disservice to each student we come in contact with.

Of course, how to do this, that’s the million dollar question.

Awareness

Photo by Leland FranciscoRecently, I listened to someone equate complacency with being unaware.  Being unaware of your surroundings, unaware of people, unaware of yourself, means you ignore it.  If you ignore something, you become satisfied, contented.  Everyone experiences this in their own bodies.  The brain is bombarded by internal and external stimuli every second.  The body via various mechanisms, makes adjustments based on this information.  The brain is responsive to everything without our consciously being aware of it.  However, what we do perceive, what we define as sensation, is based on our consciousness, our awareness of it.  We are completely content, happily ignoring all the functions of our body until we are made aware.

I thought of myself as a solid teacher.  Not great like Mr. Hansen or Mrs. Parsley, like Mr. Smith or Mrs. Porter, or even Mr. Shock, but good.  Other teachers, parents, even my students, said I was.  So, without realizing it, I had become content as a teacher.  Don’t get me wrong, I pursued professional learning: I attended AP summer institutes, I attended training on everything from small scale Chemistry to effectively using PLC’s, I even researched and implemented a version of JiTT (Just in Time Teaching started by Gregor Novak and used by Eric Mazur) for all my classes.  I was pursuing the best practices I knew.  (Therein lies the spoiler to this tale.)

Then in the spring, I had an opportunity to attend the San Francisco NSTA conference.  I was a skinny kid in a candy store, overwhelmed by the possibilities, afraid of missing out here if I was there, and, yet, determined not to miss out on anything.  And so, I stumbled upon a technology session, one of four I had scheduled for that time slot.  It was being put on by the EdTechInnovators.  It was amazing, eye-opening.  I was jazzed.  I had dabbled with GoogleDocs; I had a class website; I was using glogs; but I was dipping a toe in the shallows.  The absolute depths of tools, integration, and innovation possible was astounding.  I knew my students and I could embark and explore this new frontier.  We could do wiki projects, we could do cross-curricular studies, and my brain took off.

Determined not to lose traction on my new found, trail-blazing activities, I assigned wiki projects (some with more success than others), trolled the Internet for cool Web 2.0 tools my students could use, and started a Twitter account.  Well, more accurately, actually started using the Twitter account.  In addition, I decided to participate in the ISTE 2011 conference virtually through the Remote ISTE option.  Plus, thanks to a tweet by Adam Taylor (@2footgiraffe), I could join TeachMeet Nashville (#tmnash) the same way.  At some point through this, I stumbled upon the flipped classroom, joined the flipped classroom ning (still not exactly clear on what a ning is, but going with the flow) and began the process of creating and posting some of my lectures to a second website.  It has been a busy, intense summer.

But, then I had this epiphany.  My frontier was a superhighway.

I had dabbled with technology but had ignored the possibilities; I had remained unaware of the potential.  Yet, the very questions I hadn’t asked myself as a teacher created a narrow, limited, defined boundary in my classroom; and consequently in my students.  This summer has, ironically, been about eliminating boundaries and pushing the envelope in a way I didn’t know it could be pushed or needed to be pushed.  Getting connected in a different way surrounded by challenging ideas has had an impact on my outlook and will directly impact my students.  I won’t go so far as to say it’s transformed my approach to a job I love, but it has provided a much needed influx of hope and renewed determination to do better and to listen more.  It is a reminder that to find, you have to seek; to encounter opportunity, you have to knock on the door.

Again, I’m jazzed.  Thanks to an eclectic mix of professionals I have found, not to agree with, but who can provide a different voice I am now aware I need.

In the body, the brain is bombarded by internal and external stimuli every second.  The body via various mechanisms, makes adjustments based on this information.  The brain is responsive to everything without our consciously being aware of it.  However, what we do perceive, what we define as sensation, is based on our consciousness, our awareness of it. We can ignore it until we are made aware.

Awareness is everything.