Running: A Complex Activity (AIG IRP)
Within the life science strand of 7th grade science, students focus on the processes, structures, and functions of living organisms that enable them to survive, reproduce, and carry out the basic functions of life. In this lesson, students will work in groups to create an annotated diagram explaining how the major systems (except reproduction) are involved in the process of running. The real-world and collaborative aspects of this lesson allow students to build meaningful connections and promote the development of 21st Century Skills. This lesson was developed by NCDPI as part of the Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted Instructional Resources Project. This lesson plan has been vetted at the state level for standards alignment, AIG focus, and content accuracy.
Brief Description of Lesson/Task/Activity: Within the life science strand of 7th grade science, students focus on the processes, structures, and functions of living organisms that enable them to survive, reproduce, and carry out the basic functions of life. In this lesson, students will work in groups to create an annotated diagram explaining how the major systems (except reproduction) are involved in the process of running. The real-world and collaborative aspects of this lesson allow students to build meaningful connections and promote the development of 21st Century Skills.
Time Frame: 5 class periods (~300 minutes)
Type of Differentiation for AIGs:
Adaptations for AIGs:
Explanation of How Resource is Appropriate for AIGs: AIG students in the middle grades have been exposed to basic human anatomy in earlier health and science courses. As a result, they are often ready to move into more complex topics like homeostasis without significant teacher input. Individual research/reflection and group collaboration are also skills that require further development in preparation for advanced coursework (such as AP sciences) and will benefit AIG students.
- Texts and/or laptops with internet access
- Bulletin board paper for each group
- Markers, colored pencils
- Rubric (sample attached)
- Optional: Paper cut-out parts of human skeletal system, nervous system, circulatory system, digestive system, integumentary system, respiratory system, and materials to construct additional parts (skeletal muscle, cartilage, nerve types, villi, alveoli etc.) such as construction paper, index cards, yarn, string, small balloons, drinking straws, brass brads, rubber bands, tin foil, tape, glue, etc.
- If using teacher-provided cut outs that must be pieced together, along with student-developed additions, a resource like The Body Book: Easy-to-Make, Hands on Models That Teach by Donald M. Silver and Patricia J. Wynne is useful for appropriately scaled organs for multiple body systems that are intended to be put together to expose different layers/segments/systems at a time.
- Cate Colangelo and Courtney Smith developed the poster rubric example in their 7th grade science PLC at NJMS, Johnston County Schools.
Teacher Notes: If students are being encouraged to add detail, dimensions, or other materials to a model, consider providing tickets or a group checklist for material distribution to prevent waste or the “hogging” of supplies by individual/groups of students. This process limits the amount of prior set-up for the teacher and requires students to be responsible for class supplies. An additional level of difficulty/creativity can be added by setting a limit on the number of tickets/materials that can be “purchased” by each group that is below what is available to force student decision-making to occur.
Stage 1: Engage
Explain to students that they will be assisting their health/PE teaches by developing an interactive group poster that explain the process of running before annual Presidential Physical Fitness testing begins. Present the challenge in the form of a RAFT activity. They will be assuming the Role of an anatomy/physiology publishing group. The Audience will be the health/PE teacher and students. The Format will be the development of the interactive poster on the Topic--the forms, functions, and processes in the human body that allow for running.
The teacher should then provide each student with the prompt “How does the human body work to allow for complex functions like running?” By the teacher’s choice, individual student responses can be written in one of several ways. The prompt can be provided on the board and the student given a large paper doll cut-out to draw the anatomy involved on one side of the paper doll and explain the physiology on the other side or clip-art of a runner can be provided in the center of a large blank page for the student to potentially draw arrows to label the anatomy and explain the physiology. Other methods are also viable, but the use of a visual to “fix” the students’ focus is encouraged. Encourage students to think about the results of running—how they feel, what they notice is different at the start/middle/end of the run, what they want to do after running—that may give clues about what is happening in the body as they are running.
The teacher should emphasize that this is a formative exercise and that its material will not be graded; however, it will be used by the student to inform the group poster phase and subsequent individual reflection which will be graded. Students should be encouraged to include as much detail as possible at this time.
Stage 2: Elaborate
Once all students have completed their responses to the prompt, explain that they will be sharing and discussing the information that they recorded. Provide students with materials or organizing materials as necessary—different colored pens/highlighters, a graphic organizer for “keep/check/toss” as info as shared, clean paper, etc. It may also be necessary to review the ground rules for group discussions at this time.
Students should then begin discussing their formative information. Students may choose to have one individual share out until his/her response is completely checked-off or students may choose to use a round-robin approach as everyone in the group looks for each detail and discusses the merits of each statement. Using a single group graphic organizer like “keep/check/toss” will assist students in evaluating and synthesizing the individual responses into a group plan of action.
Students should submit the group’s “keep/check/toss” graphic organizer and individual formative responses before leaving class. Consider using large manila inter-office mailing envelopes for each group’s materials.
Return only each group’s “keep/check/toss” graphic organizer. Keep the formative responses for reflective use later. Explain that the focus of Day Two is for the groups to perform the research needed for the “check” section of the graphic organizer and complete any additional research needed to better understand the “keep” section before beginning the group poster. The teacher should also provide the scoring rubric for the poster, as this may also prompt additional research questions. The use of a student research format such as AVID’s C-Notes for Research Topics will help focus students on specific questions that they have, organize their responses to make them easy to locate, and provide a location for citations. Internet use is strongly encouraged, as texts tend to be too cumbersome for this type of activity.
The main guiding question for today is “How?” It is tempting for students to make simplistic statements like “The brain tells the legs and arms to move.” Remind students be very specific and go beyond a list of parts and functions to elaborate on the process—i.e. “The runner thinks about which way s/he wants to turn using the cerebrum to process the best route. The cerebellum, using information gained from the movement of the fluid in the inner ear, ensures that the body’s skeletal muscles balance it as it goes from one foot to the other. The skeletal muscles respond to all of this information as the brain sends electrical impulses down the spinal cord’s interneurons to the motor neurons. The skeletal muscles then contract or relax in opposing pairs. . .”
It may be helpful to provide an example from a system not included on the provided rubric, such as: “The nephrons in the kidney’s filter out waste products like urea from the blood that is produced as the skeletal muscle breaks down during running.”
All group research should be turned in before class dismisses to avoid the loss of student work in case of absences, etc.
Return the group envelopes containing the “keep/check/toss” organizer and additional research. Explain that the focus of Day Three is for the groups to discuss and organize their findings, as well as begin their poster construction. If using cut-out parts to assist students with accuracy of size, shape and proportion, consider whether the teacher will provide each group with all of the parts at once or only those that are requested based on each group’s research. Discuss with student how materials will be distributed and check for process understanding.
Students should develop a plan for how they will begin construction of their posters. If the teacher has not specified roles, some groups may choose to break down responsibilities based on specific body systems, location of form/function/process (head, torso, appendages), or other means. The teacher should facilitate this process to ensure that all students are being successful.
All group materials should be collected again prior to class dismissal. If students are beginning to turn in partial poster work, it may be useful to turn them in upside-down. This way, student/group names can be verified, pieces will not be knocked loose from the top, the next group will not see the previous groups’ efforts, and the entire pile can be flipped over at the end of the day to return classes’ group work the next day.
Return the group’s work. Explain that the focus of Day Four is for the groups to finalize their posters. Review with student how materials will be distributed and continue to facilitate their construction plans from Day Three.
Students should be completing their poster work and verifying it against the provided scoring rubric throughout the class period. It is often helpful for a student who was not responsible for a particular poster section to verify the rubric to encourage student questioning and group consensus.
All group materials should be collected again prior to class dismissal.
Return the group’s work. Explain that the focus of Day Five is to complete any last-minute revisions and the individual student reflections.
All group members should sign off on the final rubric prior to beginning the individual reflections. The teacher will need to return the formative prompt responses to students for use during reflection stage. Students will also need access to their group poster during this stage.
Stage 3: Evaluate
Student work should be assessed in two ways—the group poster rubric and the individual reflection.
The individual reflection should involve the following required elements:
- What previous strengths in human anatomy/physiology knowledge did you demonstrate when comparing your formative prompt response to your final poster? Explain.
- What areas of needed improvement in human anatomy/physiology knowledge did you demonstrate when comparing your formative prompt response to your final poster? Explain.
- What strength did you offer your group as you worked on this project? Explain.
- What area of improvement should be your focus as a group member during your next group project? Explain.
One possible reflection scoring rubric is:
4= Stated area of strength/improvement with multiple strong supporting details
3= Stated area of strength/improvement with some supporting details
2= Stated area of strength/improvement with few/weak supporting details
1= Stated area of strength/improvement with no supporting details
An example of the group poster rubric appears is attached.
Teacher Notes: As students turn in their graphic organizer and research at the end of each class period, take the time to review it and comment on it, pointing out strengths/areas for improvement or additional questions to consider as necessary. Significant errors can occur over the five-day time frame if not caught and addressed early on in the process, especially if students have not developed strong internet literacy skills.