Monday, November 9, 2015

Meeting their specimens

Friday students got to meet their specimens for the first time. They were a turtle, dogfish shark, squid, stingray and rabbit. Although the students were excited and wanted to start dissecting immediately, I felt that I had to hit the brakes; I wanted to see their dissection gameplan first. Most specimens came with a dissection guidebook (or we purchased one); the shark, rabbit and squid came with one while the turtle and stingray did not. In the weeks leading up to the arrival of their specimens, students have been researching dissection guides and dissection videos online in preparation. Although I did not want to stifle their enthusiasm, I wanted them to understand that their gameplan and incisions needed to be purposeful, not simply "slice and dice". Just like in carpentry: "measure twice, cut once". So we (I guess, mostly I) decided that Friday would be Picture Day. I asked all participating students to take pictures of their specimen's external anatomy for every conceivable angle, as well as close-ups of various features found in their dissection manuals. They will be documenting and labeling these pictures in the day to come.

Here are some picts I took around the room:

dogfish shark (made the room smell like a fish market)  

bunny rabbit

Squid. Where's the rest???

Stingray. Dorsal surface is dark, ventral is light. Hmmmm...

We've got quite the zoo going on here!
 In addition, one of my students is learning about the anatomy of her pet tarantula. While I wouldn't say I am arachnophobic, spiders would not be my first choice of pets (personally). We obtained permission to bring the spider into class as long as it remained caged. The presence of the spider in class added to the excitement and interest. Not such a bad thing, eh?


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Project Suggestions

Based on a discussion with John Zuk, one of our APs, we came-up with some suggestions for our 20% Time students:

  • Reach-out to experts in your fields (using Twitter, Skype, GHO, email). You may be surprised how many will be willing to be interviewed.
  • Document in your blog your sources of information; Digital Research Tools (DiRT) seems to be a rich source for data interpretation. Readers will want to know where you found your information and if it is legit.
  • Why not make a table? For example:

Concept Link
Normal anatomy of human heart CHOP link
cardiomegaly Mayo Clinic link
  • Why not include some of these links in your blog? Readers would probably like to follow along with your thoughts and examine the original materials you used.
  • Use Google Scholar to find peer-reviewed research articles and the MyLibrary feature to save papers you have found.
Keep at the research. Why. Why. Why.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Last Friday was spent working on blogging skills and blogging goals. As mostly first-time bloggers, it went fairly well; co-authors worked-out editing permissions, I commented on their blogs and made suggestions (so did John Zuk (@ZukJ) , one of our APs) Today students spent their time researching their topics. Not just summarizing information. Delving. Interpreting. Slogging-through technical biochemical jargon.

I really enjoy having the freedom to not answer factual questions but instead point students in the right direction; I like driving the Struggle Bus. I like asking "Why?" Don't simply write that adult-onset diabetics either do not produce enough insulin or are are not responsive to insulin. Explain why. At the cellular level. Don't understand the vocabulary? Let your passion for your project draw you in, fight through and come out more knowledgeable.

We also had a guest appearance by JZ (actually it was a clinical observation). He took this very flattering pict of us at work. Never mind that I look like a balding, pot-bellied hunch-back. That's irrelevant.

I also showed my students tweets by @ShannonOFoster and @bobloch demonstrating the power and reach of their projects (Shannon, a former A&P instructor and current AP hails from San Diego, CA):

 Bob hails from all the way down the hall, in B-wing. It was pretty cool that the students saw first-hand, while they were looking at the overhead screen, Bob's tweet pop-up. It's nice to know that what we are doing in the confines of our classroom is being shared and critiqued by folks from across the country. And from down the hall.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Week 4 Check-in


Well, we are now four weeks into 20% Time.  There have been a couple of hitches (mainly technical) but overall 20% Time has been a huge success! Here are some roadblocks that we have had to overcome:

  • the inability to create some blogs from within school district network (IP address? firewall?)
  • inability to publish one or two blogs (not sure why?)
  • forgetting sharing permissions with a fellow classmate/co-blogger
  • blogging inexperience; most of my students have never blogged before (and I certainly am no wizard)
Success-wise, many of my students lose track of time every Friday during 1st and 4th periods; they are so engrossed and engaged in their projects. Here are their blog URLs. Please peruse and feel-free to comment; we all could learn something from you.

Anatomy Scavenger Hunt

Although we do lots of Simon Says to practice learning anatomical regions, anatomy can still be a little dry. Necessary but dry.

So, after trading thoughts over the summer with Texas A&P instructor Cara Johnson (@AHSAnatomy) and tweaking @alicekeeler's classroom Twitter account idea, I came-up with the Anatomical Scavenger Hunt. Cara's students tweet Syndaver selfies (#syndaverselfie15), tagging them with the appropriate anatomical region, as well as a brief description of that region. Alice's students fill-out a Google Form with their tweet request, filling a Google Sheet. She approves the tweet and one click later it is sent-out via the classroom Twitter account.

Here is what the checklist and tweet directions look like:

Feel free to follow our escapades!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Introduction of 20% Time

After a full summer of meeting-up at #ISTE15 for #coffeeEdu, reading Teach Like a Pirate by @burgessdave and Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller, perusing Twitter chats and connecting with many teachers, professors and facilitators, I decided to implement 20% Time in my A&P classes (I say "my" classes because I am the only one teaching A&P at our high school). I ran it by the Assistant Principal who oversees our Science Department.  Here was my pitch: give students one day every week to pursue ANYTHING they were interested in. They would research, create and present. They would learn to hone their researching skills, communicate with experts, organize their thoughts, create something from scratch, and present publicly to receive constructive criticism. Students would let their inner passions drive the process.

His reply? "Go for it."

Here is the introduction to my students:

I pitched it to both of my classes and they were very intrigued, shell-shocked and excited. We started the process by brainstorming some bad ideas (see below). The reasoning behind the Bad Idea Factory is that people tend to hit a creative wall when brainstorming. We, as humans, tend to want to fix "things". If we examine some "bad" ideas, we will have the tendency to want to "fix" them , essentially turning them into "good" ideas. In addition, once we get past the bad idea roadblock, good usable ideas tend to come to light more easily:

And this was the case!

"watch someone bleed to death" turned into "determine how long a person can survive when xyz artery has been severed" - a fantastic idea for civilian Emergency Services and military medicine.

"dissect roadkill" turned into "pick something out of our supply catalog to dissect on your own"

"bring the Plague into our classroom" turned into "can I [the student] somehow order a disease online to look at the effects of different medicines?"

"watch toenails grow" turned into.......nothing.

I am really excited to see what more my students come up with.  None of them have ever been in this situation; one free period, every Friday, no lecture, no lab, just the time to work on what interests them.

Neglecting #slowAandPchat

I haven't been doing a very good job "moderating" #slowAandPchat. Once the opening of school approached, I put the chat on the back burner to focus on the First Day and to focus on enjoying the last days of summer with my two kids.

So, here is what I propose: instead of a weekly theme or question, why don't we simply let #slowAandPchat be a hashtag for ongoing conversation, exchange of ideas, and the posting of questions all related to the teaching and learning of A&P? While there are only of few members of our fledgling chat group, the posts have been awesome. I have learned much from my K-16 colleagues and I think we have much more to offer. I am trying several new ideas this year in our classroom and I would like to share. Not to boast, but to get good feedback from others who can provide an objective critical viewpoint. Or advice if they have been down the same road.

I will toss this out there to our regular contributors for discussion. Thanks.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ditch That Textbook

I finished Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller a few days ago and am only now making the time to summarize what I believe to be the most important and useful take home points for me.

I took notes as I was reading but invariably got sidetracked (you know how it goes).  As a result, there may be some points here that were not specifically mentioned in the book but, frankly, I don't see the need to parse them all out.  After all, this is not a NYT book review. Also, I have typed them up in the order I read them or in the order that I made connections from them.

    • goals/ideas:
      • give quieter students a voice
      • put up a question or prompt as students enter the room (like a Do Now; students must use their names to receive credit (?)
      • use for a digital brainstorming session
      • after school office hours for a moderated review session before a test - I really like this one; can use as college virtual office hours
  • Flubaroo for quick grading in Google Sheets:

  • Paper (app) by FiftyThree for drawing and note-taking on iPads:

  • WeVideo for creating and editing videos:

  • ShowMe interactive whiteboard iPad app:

Miscellaneous ideas:
  • Brainstorm with students first day of class and make a list of what THEY want to learn. Incorporate these ideas into our curriculum
  • Post a class hashtag in classroom for students to use anytime during class on Twitter (see this post about students using their own phones to tweet using classroom Twitter account).
  • Do GHOs (Google Hangout) with a high school class first, then other schools within the district, then out of district, out of state, across the globe. Why? To see what other classrooms are doing and to show what is going on in our classroom.
  • Same with Periscope
  • I really like this quote by Jeff Charbonneau mentioned in Ditch That Textbook. I find it to be so true:

  • Here is another quote by Matt Miller that I also like: "I have become pretty good at gathering new ideas in my head without turning them into reality." Sounds a lot like me. Time to change that.
  • Can't find the perfect resource? Make it!
  • Another great Matt Miller quote from Ditch That Textbook: "Teachers who pay attention to students' lives and interests and incorporate them into their class give students the opportunity to see themselves in the curriculum. When they see themselves, they see the relevance." True that.
Chapters 34 (Establish Your Philosophy), 35 (Create a Mission Statement) and 36 (Identify Major Themes) cut right to the core of the matter: What do you want your students to be able to do/know/create when they walk out your door in 90 (or 180) days? What does your course boil-down to? I think that while the previous chapters contained great insight and shared fantastic tech tools, these chapters really caused me to look at what I ask my students to accomplish.

For my Anatomy and Physiology courses, I want students to get a taste of what to expect in college A&P, nursing and medical school.  I want my students to discover the connections between seemingly disconnected physiological phenomena.  I want students to start to look at patients as puzzles or mysteries, and hunt for objective and subjective clues that will lead to a differential diagnosis. I want students to begin to develop differential diagnoses, clinical impressions and treatment plans. I want students to be able to evaluate their course of action, critique it, and make adjustments. I want students to think.

I don't want this course to be merely about the memorization of anatomy (although necessary).  I want to look into other A&P classrooms K-16 and see what good things other students and teachers are doing. I also want to share what we do.

I think I need to make some adjustments before starting in seven days...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Success! Students tweeting pictures and videos on their phones via classroom Twitter account!

I was really impressed with Alice Keeler's Class Twitter concept (see her recent blog post here).  Not only the scripting (of which I understand nil), but more so the concept:  students entering tweets into a central repository (Google Sheets), to be verified/moderated by the teacher, then tweeted out via a classroom Twitter account.

Well, I teach high school anatomy and physiology. We do lots of cool things with our dissections (uncover why human patients experiencing a dissecting abdominal aortic aneurysm complain of tearing back pain, endotracheal intubations of rats and pigs, etc...). Those are worthy of sharing with other classrooms, students and friend.  Heck, why not the world? I think we'll be doing a lot of Periscoping this year (buts that's for another post).

So I wanted to alter Alice's Sheet so that 1) students could input their tweets, handles and hashtags from their phones and 2) students could input their pictures and videos as well.  The problem is that Google Forms does not handle the input of documents.  So I messed around with for a while, as this free program allows for the submission of documents through forms and automatically creates a Sheet for you (seems to integrate really well into Google Drive).  But I finally came across a much easier method that allows me to stay entirely within GAFE.  Here it is:

take picture or video1. take picture or video
upload to Google Drive (on your phone)
2. open GDrive on your phone
3. hit "+"
4. click upload
5. click "photos and videos"
6. select all the photos and videos you would like to upload to your GDrive
7. select the check mark
grap URL of your picture or video from Google Drive (on your phone)
8. choose which pict or video you want to tweet and next to that pict or vid, select the "i"
9. click "get link" (copied to clipboard)
tweet-out message, handle, hashtag and picture or video
10. open the HH A&P Class Twitter Form
11. enter the desired parameters (tweet, handle, hastag)
12. enter URL of your pict or video from clipboard (ctrl-v)
13. click "submit"
14. follow @HHAandP to see your tweet!

take a picture or video on your phone

open Google Drive on your phone, and click the "+" to upload picts to your drive

click "Upload"

select "Photos and Videos"

find your pictures and video on your camera roll;
select all the ones to download and click the check mark

click the "i" next to the picture or video you want to tweet

click "get link" to obtain the Google Drive URL

the URL is automatically copied to the clipboard

Now, students open the Class Tweet Google Form (via posted QR code or Favorited URL)

students type in their tweet (no "@" and no "#" allowed),
handle and hashtag (both optional)

paste in the URL to students' picture or video and click "submit"

want to tweet again? click "submit another response"

students tweet information populates Response Sheet 

teacher drags-down scripts from previous tweet; stripped-down handle and hashtags appear,
click "Click Here to Tweet" link

teacher verifies that tweet, handle, hashtag (custom classroom hashtag automatically added to every outgoing tweet)
and picture or video appears as desired then clicks..."Tweet"

this is what the tweet looks like

here is the picture.  shows-up in feed as a picture in some OS; otherwise as a link

Done!  Students can now use their phones to compost tweets, add their own handles and hashtags and pictures and videos.  All sent-out via the classroom Twitter account and all OK'd/moderated by the teacher.

I am new to blogging, GAFE and generally don't have a clue about scripting but if you want me to help set you up, drop me a line!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Class Twitter Account (Building upon Alice Keeler)

This week Alice Keeler blogged about setting-up a class Twitter account.  Rather than having students tweet using their personal accounts, she created a Twitter account and linked-up a scripted Google Sheet into which students input their tweet, handle and hashtag. The teacher can then approve the tweet and send it out. Automatically!  If you don't follow @alicekeeler on Twitter yet, stop what you are doing and do it now.  No, really.  Do. It. Now.  Her tips on using GAFE and Google Classroom are indispensable.

So I made a Google Form (the URL of which I would post in our classroom, or QR code) so that students can enter their tweet and handle from their own devices and then allow the teacher to send-out the tweet via the class account after approval:

blank form

form filled-out

what automatically appears in Response Sheet

drag-down the script (that Alice made)

here's the tweet pending approval

there's the tweet (at the top)

The next step is to allow students to upload pictures and videos from their phones into the form, have that media automatically imported into the response sheet and get the script to include the media in the tweet.  I am looking into and will report back...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Teach Like a Pirate #tlap Notes/Ideas:

I had been hearing a lot about the book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.  The #tlap hashtag is everywhere in EduTweets and and there seems to be a lot of excitement surrounding it.  Curious, I bought a copy from Amazon last week and it arrived the very next morning (I wish I could grade essays that quickly).  I spent the day in the hammock reading and taking cursory notes (as suggested by the author).

Embedded image permalink

The result?  Wow.  What a book.  I can't really put into words how the book made me feel and how it made me think (I guess that's what I teach A&P and not journalism).  I would not be able to do it justice.  I was torn between re-reading it and taking really good notes or running with what I had learned, brainstorming more and starting to implement ideas.  I really wish we had several more weeks of summer; not to put-off the first day of school, but to give me time to wrap my head around the myriad of ideas bouncing like a ping pong ball between my eight cranial bones.

So here are some ideas that originated from the book (tailored for my A&P classes).  And that's really what this book is about: thinking about teaching and developing our classroom mindsets.  Make our classrooms into places that students want to come to and not have to come to.  It's a pretty cool feeling when students opt to stay in your room in lieu of attending an optional assembly, isn't it?  I want to experience that more often.

I took my brainstormed list of ideas, developed them and categorized them into 5 sections:

  • Beginning of semester
  • Beginning of unit/day
  • Middle of unit
  • End of unit (review)
  • Miscellaneous
Beginning of semester:

- at the beginning of the semester, line-up students.  step forward/back if they have been impacted in some way by a family member or friend who has a history of diabetes, sickle cell, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, seizures, cardiac arrest, hypertension, congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular accident, muscle cramps, dehydration (this visually and kinesthetically demonstrates the connection that Ss will have with our areas of study and promotes buy-in and authenticity)

- 1st day sort students into areas of expertise (such as Google Docs/Sheets/Forms/Slides/Mail/Draw/Drive/Hangout, video/pict media, artistry, etc...) for work groups.  Goal is to have one "expert" in each work-group. 

Beginning of unit/day:

- create a board message hook to create buzz before bell even rings (or project just a QR code on board)

- Before starting a new chapter present and discuss a case study (like pediatric fractures before skeletal system: growth plate involvement, bone anatomy, bone development, fracture repair)

- Ss use to diagram and explore the various pathologies behind findings on physical exam (skin linked to pale, flushed or cyanotic) then each finding (e.g. cyanotic) is explored more deeply (physiological causes). Used as intro, Ss discover the "backstory" behind why we are earning xyz:

Middle of unit:

- Ss use to create mind maps of a disease of their choice (etiology, signs, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis):

- Ss create and teach a dance to class (show Richard Simmons video, use for directional terms, body regions, abdominal quadrants and bone identification)

End of unit (review):

- end of unit review assignment for all of Gardner's multiple intelligences (outline chapter, poem, rap, sketch, 3D art project, song, video summary like a dance, etc...)

- create a review dance video at end of unit

- play Pictionary, charades for review, Jeopardy (use and Google Sheets in lieu of PPT; have Ss work groups make their own Qs and As then put all together):


- later in the semester, Ss have labels (hpi, pmhx, meds, aller, ros, pe, vs, differential diagnoses, clinical impression) and sequence themselves in order of logical progression 

-  Ss change lyrics of a song to learn course content (isn't it ionic, don't you think?)

- best dissection group gets to be guest Pandora DJ for the following day (revisit dissection rubric --> daily dissection grade)

- create something real for world to view and comment on (Google Sites dissection log):