This is usually the final unit before I begin regents review with the students. It is meant to be an overview of how the human body systems work together to maintain homeostasis. In discussing the body systems I am able to revisit some of our earlier topics such as diffusion, surface area, and energy usage.
I start out asking students to brainstorm a list of body organs. If they are able to assign groups of organs to particular systems, I have them do that. I do make some mention of levels of organization and types of tissue. I come back to this topic later in the unit.
I begin with the digestive and excretory systems. I provide students with some general information about digestive and accessory organs, as well as some information about how the body deals with solid, liquid, and gaseous waste.
It is in discussions of the circulatory and respiratory systems that I take the opportunity to talk with students about the different types of muscle tissue, especially smooth muscle. I remind them about co- and incomplete dominance when I talk about blood type alleles. I also remind them about surface area to volume ratios and how that relates to cell size. I often show the Body Story video about the guy having a heart attack at this point.
Next we move onto the integumentary system: The integumentary system serves as a barrier against infection/injury, helps regulate body temperature, assists in excretion, and provides protection against UV radiation. I spend a few minutes discussing those items. Since the integumentary system functions in excretion, I revisit the excretory system and talk about kidney function.
When I talk about the lymphatic/immune system, I remind students that they previously learned about cell membranes having many different receptor molecules/surface markers that vary by shape and are often unique to the individual. I discuss the terms pathogen, antigen, and antibody. Some class time is also spent discussing immune system disorders, and vaccines.
Next, I move on to control and coordination. During instruction about the nervous system, I again revisit the theme of surface area when I discuss the sulci and gyri of the brain.
The endocrine system also deals with control and coordination of the body. Students learned a bit about the endocrine system during the reproduction unit. However, in the Human Body Systems unit, I elaborate more on hormones and feedback mechanisms. I provide students with information about specific hormones important in controlling blood glucose levels, body temperature, metabolism, lactation, uterine contractions, and blood clotting. (These hormones have appeared on previous regents exams). I also quickly review of male and female reproductive structures.
My overview of the skeletal and muscular systems is rather superficial due to time constraints and the reality that there are few detailed regents questions about these structures. I focus on how the respiratory and circulatory systems work with the musculoskeletal system in terms of movement and the maintenance of homeostasis. I then segue by encouraging students to brainstorm different body systems and how they work together to keep a dynamic equilibrium despite changes in the environment. Exercise is a good environmental change to use an example of a condition which would prompt body systems to react.
The unit wrap-up is also a wrap-up of the course. I encourage students to name some common themes they've learned about in the course (surface area, support/protection, and shape of molecules are examples they might name.) I also ask for comparisons between human body structures and cell parts. The cell membrane is often compared to alveoli and nephrons because of its filtering function. Lastly, I touch on disease and other disruptions to homeostasis.
In the state lab: Making Connections, students investigate scientific claims and describe how body systems work together under varying conditions.
New York State Teacher of Biology/Living Environment
All regular education and most special education students are required to take the New York State Living Environment Regents. This is the material I have delivered to all ability levels of students to prepare them for that test.
My instruction of this course evolved. Although I continually "tweaked" things from year to year and class to class, I found that the most orderly delivery was to use PowerPoint slides to act as my "plan book". From these, I communicated instructional objectives, vocabulary, lab activities, and other learning activities to students.