Today I had an amazing Biology class. My students had individually researched the endocrine system, and this morning they were randomly put into teams using an on-line teammaker. They loved it. But that’s far from the highlight
Their assignment was to use the information they had gathered, as well as the internet, to identify a number of endocrine problems, using the symptoms given in each question.
I’m guessing many teachers use this format often; however, like me, this may be something completely new to you. And after today, I plan to use it in every unit, when possible.
Of course, I expected my students destined for medical professions to enjoy something like this, but so did every other student.
Tables were put together. Notes gathered. Teams assembled. Macs opened. And they immediately commenced working.
As they worked, I spoke with the EA in this class about different assignments, units and students. All of a sudden I stopped talking. Something was very different.
I looked around carefully. Not one student was off task. Not one. That’s not easy to accomplish two days before Christmas break. The room wasn’t silent, but nor was it loud.
But it was something more. They were deeply engaged.
I watched as they talked to each other. They went back and forth. Expressing and testing ideas. Problem solving. They looked at each other intently, taking turns listening and talking. Sometimes pushing back, respectfully, when there was disagreement. It was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this before in my students.
As I watched, bits of conversation drifted towards my ears, “…it’s definitely hyper-tension…” And he was right. “…diabetes, that’s the only thing that makes sense…” They were right too.
No one asked if this would be on the exam.
I realize the caveat of self diagnosis. Since the rise of the internet, the words a doctor probably most loathes hearing are, “I googled my symptoms and…” And I shared this concern with my students. I think it’s possible to google your symptoms and come up with 13 fatal diseases, none of which you actually have.
However, I have a friend who is a teacher. A little over a month ago, she wasn’t feeling well. She had an inkling what the problem might be, and so she went on-line to check. After she did, she told her husband they needed to go to the hospital. Guess what? She was having a heart attack. I shared this story with my students as well.
I think our Biology and health classes need to educate our students in what both health and disease look like. And how to use technology to delineate between the two. One day, it just might save their lives.