The students began class with a review; they looked through their notes and wrote down two questions about the brain. Then, they paired up and asked their partner the questions. They repeated this with another partner, so each student asked and answered four questions. Everyone turned in their note cards at the end of the activity, so Mr. Macha was able to later look through them to ascertain the level of understanding. While some of the questions were extremely basic, others demonstrated a fairly deep level of understanding. It was also interesting to see what each student honed in on for their questions. Next, we continued exploring the structure and function of neurons and we discussed the difference between structure and sensory neurons. The students explored this with two activities. First, they sent a message around a circle (holding hands) to visualize information moving from the dendrite to the cell body to the axon. Second, they ordered the steps that occur from the time a mosquito lands on your arm to the time that you slap it away.
The classes seemed a little antsier today and the second two had a lot more trouble concentrating. I’m not sure whether this was due to the fact that they had two days off (in-service teacher training on Monday and Tuesday) or if there was some change in the weather that caused the behavioral shift. Any rate, it took much more effort than usual to keep them on task. On a separate note, the brain seems to be a recurring theme in my life lately. One of the chapters* that we read for our fellows discussion this week was about neural pathways of the brain and the different ways we can stimulate their development. Also, the latest issue of National Geographic Magazine has an article about the development of the teenage brain. It’s pretty cool to see how those all come together and to compare the types of information in the different sources. The brain is an extremely complex organ and we’re just beginning to understand it. I’ve included links below to the article on teenage brains and to an additional interactive section on the National Geographic website.
*How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. J. D. Bransford, A. L. Brown, and R. R. Cocking, eds. National Academy Press; Washington, D.C.