This fall, Headwaters staff worked with a science teacher at The Kings Academy to revise an upcoming lab. Using frog dissections to learn about organs, and how body systems work is a common middle school life science lab. However, due to the challenges associated with leading a room full of middle school students through an involved dissection, it is hard to incorporate NGSS concepts and practices. These types of labs have been slower to convert to NGSS than other life science lessons.

Below is a link to the updated version of this lab and a description of  some of the main changes we made.

One of the biggest changes was to add a Claim Evidence Reasoning to the pre-lab. While students may only have limited information on the subject at this time, having them go through this process at the outset is a great way for them practice arguing claims based on evidence, or in this case expected evidence. Through giving them a template to start the claim we can steer students towards the learning outcome without giving them so much information that they worry about providing a “wrong” answer.

During the actual lab, we cut ~10% of the basic identification questions to leave room for more open ended exploration. After further testing we may end up cutting more.

In the post lab, we added the fill in the blank “path-of-nutrients” question to provide a knowledge foundation for the remaining post lab questions. The goal of this was to give different types of learners, and those whose didn’t successfully execute their lab, an equal chance at the more difficult post lab questions.

We liked circling back to evaluate their pre-lab Claim Evidence Reasoning, because it gives students an opportunity to self-reflect on their prior work and a potential opportunity to evaluate an incorrect claim. Learning from incorrect claims is a huge part of science and something that students do not often get the chance to do in the classroom. By following these first two reflection questions with another Claim Evidence Reasoning students can immediately apply what they learned in their self evaluation.

We hope you find this revised lab, and theory behind the changes, useful in your own teaching. All of our curriculum is living work based on feedback we get from our instructors and teachers, so if you do have any ideas or strategies that have worked for you in the past, we would love to hear them.

Frog
Photo: Frey Scientific

Updated Frog Dissection Lab

Original Lab