The middle school years represent a time when young people establish habits and lifestyles that will affect their health for the rest of their lives. At this young age, students are not thinking about their adult years or the fact that they are just an accident away from becoming disabled. They take the workings of their bodies for granted.
This module introduces students to the musculoskeletal and skin systems. The relationships between structures and functions, the interactions between these body systems, and factors that influence the body systems’ functions are stressed.
Looking Good, Feeling Good: From the Inside Out has four objectives. The first is to help students understand the basic structures that are part of the musculoskeletal and skin systems. These structures are discussed in the context of the systems’ myriad functions. While students have some knowledge of the functions of bone, muscle, and skin, most do not appreciate the full range of activities carried out by these systems that are essential for their good health. For example, the abilities of skin to regulate body temperature and of bone to serve as a reservoir for important minerals are often overlooked.
The second objective is to provide students with an opportunity to practice and refine their critical-thinking skills. Such abilities are important not just for scientific pursuits, but for making decisions in everyday life. Our fast-changing world requires today’s young people to be lifelong learners. They must be able to evaluate information from a variety of sources and assess its usefulness. They need to analyze information about diet, exercise, and environmental factors that influences the workings of their musculoskeletal and skin systems.
The third objective is to convey to students the purpose of scientific research. Ongoing research affects how we understand the world around us and gives us a foundation for improving our choices about personal health and the health of our community. In this module, students participate in a series of inquiry-based activities that help them construct their own understanding of the musculoskeletal and skin systems. The lessons encourage students to think about the relationships among knowledge, choice, behavior, and human health in this way:
Knowledge (what is known and not known) + Choice = Power
Power + Behavior = Enhanced Human Health
The final objective of the module is to encourage students to think in terms of these relationships now and as they grow older.
Middle school life science classes offer an ideal setting for integrating many areas of student interest. In this module, students participate in activities that integrate inquiry, biology, human health, mathematics, and the interweaving of science, technology, and society. The real-life context of the module’s classroom lessons is engaging, and the knowledge gained can be applied immediately to students’ lives.
Looking Good, Feeling Good: From the Inside Out meets many of the criteria by which teachers and their programs are assessed.
In addition, the module provides a means for professional development. Teachers can engage in new and different teaching practices such as those described in this module without completely overhauling their entire program. In Designing Professional Development for Teachers of Science and Mathematics, Susan Loucks-Horsley et al. write that replacement modules such as this one “offer a window through which teachers can get a glimpse of what new teaching strategies look like in action.”31 By experiencing a short-term unit, teachers can “change how they think about teaching and embrace new approaches that stimulate students to problem solve, reason, investigate, and construct their own meaning for the content.” The use of a supplemental unit such as this module can encourage reflection and discussion and stimulate teachers to improve their practices by focusing on student learning through inquiry.
The following table correlates topics often included in the middle school life science curriculum with the major concepts presented in this module. This information is presented to help teachers make decisions about incorporating this material into the curriculum.
|Topics||Lesson 1||Lesson 2||Lesson 3||Lesson 4||Lesson 5||Lesson 6||Lesson 7|
|Structure and function in living systems|
|Regulation and behavior|
|Human health and medicine|
|Nature of science|
|Relationship among science, technology, and society|
Next: Implementing the Module