HAPS Leadership (#13): Central Regional Director

140115 (1) Murray Jensen“Baltimore…somewhere in the 90s.  That was my first HAPS conference.  Since then, I’ve attended most of the annual conferences, served on a few committees, contributed articles to the HAPS-EDucator, and worked on the effort to archive past issues of the HAPS-ED on the APS Teaching Archive.”

I’m talking with Murray Jensen, Central Regional Director for the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society.  He’s telling me about joining the HAPS Board of Directors.

“With the encouragement of John Waters, I put my name on the ballot for the HAPS Central Regional Director.  It’s been a logical step, as I expand my horizons and learn more about HAPS.  Still, the Talking Head’s lyric – ‘How did I get here?’ – comes to mind.”

140115 (2) Talking HeadsHow did your passion for teaching anatomy and physiology begin?

“I started my professional career as a high school science teacher.  I taught everything from 9th grade special education to anatomy and physiology.  Teaching in the chaos of a high school has put most of my future teaching endeavors into perspective.  Ever try to teach 30 spastic, hyperkinetic, vocal, and emotional 9th graders how to use a volumetric flask on a Friday afternoon during the last period of the day?  You can imagine.

 “I currently teach freshman-level anatomy and physiology at the University of Minnesota, but have kept my contact with high schools through a dual enrollment program at the U.  That has allowed me to keep in touch with high school teachers and educate them about the incredible opportunities through HAPS.”

What sort of opportunities?

“My biggest project for that is a HAPS Central Regional Conference that we’re planning for October, 2014.  We’re looking to have it at a nearby high school (Murray is currently in Minneapolis, Minnesota).  At this conference, I hope to attract both regular HAPS members as well as high school A&P teachers.  We’ll have the usual plenary sessions and workshops, but there will also be ample opportunity for high school and college educators to interact and – as we do so well at all of our conferences – share successes and headaches, brainstorm new ideas, and generally have a good time.  If you know of an educator, high school or college, who might be interested, please send them to the HAPS web page to learn more.” 

http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/index.html

High Hopes for the Semester, part 2

Arrgh!  I hate microscopes!
Arrgh! I hate microscopes!

Microscopy…Arrgh!  It can be a bane for many students.  However, it can also be a gateway for many of them to truly understanding the material if I can only figure out how to help them reach through the fear and trepidation to the actual cool stuff.

It’s been a personal challenge for me for a few years now.  HAPS has been a godsend in helping me with this.  At annual conferences, I keep an eye out for new workshops on histology and microscopy (and I’m never disappointed).  Nina Zanetti‘s always good for an intriguing workshop on using microscopy to teach physiology.  Terry Bidle has a knack for helping make histology more hands-on to students.  Those are the concepts that I’ve tried to take to heart as I (hopefully) improve the histology component of my A&P courses.

Which jar contains the pseudostratified epithelium?
Which jar contains the pseudostratified epithelium?

I’ve tried to create a set of hands-on models that allow my students to see the basic concept of each basic tissue type before we actually look through the microscope.  For the epithelial tissues, I’ve filled small jars with styrofoam peanuts to simulate various epithelia.  In lab, I have 3×5 index cards that describe various locations in the body and the functional aspect of their epithelia, expecting the students to match the cards to the jars.

Can you tell which connective tissue is which?
Which petri best represents fibrocartilage?

For connective, muscle, and nervous tissues, I have created petri dishes with epoxy resin, doll eyes (cells), and other knick knacks.  Again, I have 3×5 cards to describe each tissue and have the students match cards to petris. The important detail, I tell the students, is not to memorize the color of each petri or the “which petri has rubber bands?“, but to understand “what would distinguish elastic tissue from reticular tissue?”  Does that sound familiar?

I see a lot of enthusiasm in the lab and am starting to see more enthusiasm the next day when we dig out the actual scopes and glass slides.  I’m overhearing the students discussing what to look for in each slide (actually figuring out components of the various tissue types).  This appears to be empowering the students; cross your fingers.

HAPS and POGIL

Back on May 1st I wrote about professional development and today I would like to expand upon that post and talk to you little bit about the HAPS POGIL project. As some of you may recall one of the leaders of POGIL, Richard Moog, was an update speaker at the Las Vegas conference. HAPS member and newly elected Central Regional Director Murray Jensen of the University of Minnesota also presented several workshops and is facilitating a National Science Foundation grant to develop POGIL worksheets for anatomy and physiology. Once complete and approved as official POGIL worksheets they will be released to HAPS members for one year and then be archived in the APS archives.
This week me, Jon Jackson, Murray Jensen, and about 40 of Murray’s College in the Schools high school teachers have been working to develop more POGIL worksheets. We have been particularly focused on producing laboratory exercises.
There are a lot of exciting things that you can do with POGIL, including partially or completely flipping the classroom. Stay tuned for the release of the approved POGIL activities and development of more. Also if you would like to get involved you can contact myself at jlapres@hapsconnect.org or Murray Jensen at mjensen@hapsconnect.org.
As a reminder these worksheets will be free to HAPS members only. This is just another perk of membership in Human Anatomy and Physiology Society. Below is POGIL facilitator Laura Trout with her class. Laura was kind enough to come to the University of Minnesota this week to help us with POGIL.

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HAPS Conference Wrap-up

Hello HAPSters!

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It was such a pleasure to meet some of you at the HAPS Conference in Vegas! I’d say it was it a definite success (for me, at least); I had a great time! By far, the HAPS organization is one of the friendliest, most knowledgeable, and distinguished organizations I have encountered, and I feel really honored to have been able to attend the conference and collaborate with you all!

I greatly appreciate those of you who attended my workshop! We came up with some great ideas for how HAPS can help high school teachers be more successful, especially in their first year(s), and I’m really looking forward to seeing those ideas implemented (which has already begun)! There is now a Committee for High School Teachers and we have already started chatting and brainstorming about all the directions and

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opportunities our connections with HAPS will take us! Be on the lookout in the near future for more information about how you can help kick-start our group and collaborate with us!

On a separate note, it is with great joy (and maybe just a tinge of sadness) that I tell you it is my LAST week of school! The HAPS Conference was an awesome taste of summer, and now it’s almost here in full force! While I will be teaching summer school, Anatomy and Physiology is not being offered over the summer, so I will be taking a break from blogging for the summer. But not to worry, I’m sure that is not the last you will be seeing/hearing of me! Ha! 🙂

Thank you for reading my blogs and taking an interest in a little ol’ high school teacher in Texas! I look forward to continuing to work with you all in the future and am so excited about the connections I’ve made and knowledge I’ve gained through my first year teaching and through this awesome organization!

Final Project – Research Papers

As the end draws near, I have finally decided on an end-of-year “project”, of sorts. I have asked my students to create a “Disease Diary” in which they research a disease from each of the body systems we have covered this year. I figure this is a project that will prepare them for many of the things they will do/see/study in college or encounter if they pursue a career in the medical field. Not only is this a summative assessment of their participation in my class, but many of my students do not have experience writing papers (especially not scientific papers) or utilizing peer-reviewed resources to do research; I am hopeful I can guide them through their research and writing to create well-referenced, high quality projects that will prepare them for the many papers and essays they will be required to write in the future. 

On that note, what databases or websites can I suggest my students visit to find peer-reviewed, primary sources that high school students can use to find information about various diseases and disorders? Many of my students are not native English speakers and have a rather limited scientific vocabulary (although I have tried my best to change that!) But if I do not provide specific sites and sources, I am afraid to see what kinds of things they might come up with! 🙂 I have been told before that when in doubt, use the references provided at the end of the wikipedia article, but I am still hesitant to suggest that. When I was in college, we had access to the library’s database of articles and books, but I am not sure what options our high school offers. As far as I know, the research will have to be done entirely through free, public databases. Do any of you have any suggestions or ideas??

And, lastly, what is your biggest “pet-peeve” in your students’ writing? I’d love to ensure I address those little annoyances! 🙂

Thanks for your suggestions!

Online Resources and Research Update

In a post a few weeks ago, I mentioned the exciting opportunity I was given to work with a medical school in Houston that was testing the efficacy of a cardiovascular unit that they had designed. A few of you asked for more information and now I have a chance to share!

The research program is through the Center for Educational Outreach at Baylor University College of Medicine. The cardiovascular unit, if effective, will be released on their website http://www.bioedonline.org/ where they already have a plethora of awesome interactive, online lessons and resources. I have used their online resources many times in the past (especially when I was student teaching in biology), and found the lessons and activities to be very engaging, comprehensive, and very visually appealing. They have everything from simulations to articles, videos, slides, and tutorials. I am so excited to learn about the results of the study and hopefully the unit will be available for everyone soon! Seeing it on paper in a big research binder and seeing it as an interactive, online unit will be so different, and it’s neat that I can say I played I role in that!BioEd-3

It is resources like this (the bioedonline.org) and others like the APS Archives (another incredible website) that make my life so much easier! It’s so helpful and exciting to have resources to refer to that I know are high quality, reliable, and accessible for both me and my students, and finding those kinds of resources has proven to be one of my toughest challenges this year. It’s difficult for me to trust online resources, but I can rest a little easier knowing they are backed by scholars, researchers, and academics. If you know of any others I should check out, please let me know, and if you have any other questions about the study with Baylor, ask away! I am not sure how much information I can disclose right now since it is an ongoing study, but I’d be more than happy to find out or share once the study ends!

Student-Centered, Student-Driven Instruction

As our year is winding down, we are finally coming to the end of our curriculum, and the students are noticing how little there is left on our calendar! I’m trying to get my students involved in lots of activities to keep their energy and motivation up through the end of the year. Each student will be working on an activity/poster/project that they will share with the class to showcase all they have learned this year.

One of the students in my Anatomy and Physiology class has expressed a passion for going to medical school and becoming an Endocrinologist. While we have covered the Endocrine system throughout the year in our discussion of other systems, I was not planning to do an entire endocrine unit. This shining student, however, has volunteered to teach the class about the endocrine system and I couldn’t be more thrilled! It’s so refreshing to have students who are motivated, interested, and willing to go above and beyond!

What great student-led discussions or activities have you had in your classrooms? What direction should I guide her in with her approach to the endocrine system? As this is not something I originally planned, I have very few lessons or resources to provide her with, but I know she will do a great job researching and learning all that she can. If you have any suggestions about main ideas, interesting facts, or cool resources for the endocrine system, she and I would love to know about them!

Also, as it turns out, the reason she has such a strong desire to become an Endocrinologist is because she, herself, was recently diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome and has come to greatly admire the doctors who have helped her and ignited her passion for science and medicine. So, on that note, thank you to all you wonderful doctors who inspire our kids and students and encourage them to take an interest in science and their health!