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Multicultural Unit Plan Write-up

Jenna Larson
MSU
7/3/2014

Jennifer and I chose to design our unit plan on the topic of homeostasis as it is a topic that is
covered in every biology class in high school, whether it is ninth grade biology or even AP
biology for seniors. Homeostasis is something that is very observable in the human body, so
there are many ways to use students experiences and observations while teaching the unit. In a
culturally responsive pedagogy, it is important to frame lessons and unit plans in a way that
students are able to build their own meaning into a lesson by bringing in their own knowledge
(Gay, 2010; Ladson-Billings, 1995). It was critical in the planning of this unit to relate it as
much as possible to the students; we tried to use examples that are most interesting to them, use
examples of what they do that demonstrates homeostasis, as well as encourage them to
demonstrate the phenomena using themselves as test subjects. Homeostasis is a great unit topic
for encouraging hands-on learning and incorporating personal experiences and observations of
students.
On the first day of the unit, the goal was to get students engaged and also thinking critically
about how their body regulates certain processes. We chose to do an experiment measuring the
changes in pulse due to exercise, but introduced the experiment as one that the Detroit Tigers
were conducting in preparation for the upcoming play-offs. We would tell the students that we
were going to help the team by collecting some data of our own and validating their results. This
was designed to get the students up and moving, while practicing collecting data, as well as
introduce them to one aspect of homeostasis-heart rate. We chose to use the Tigers because we
thought that was a team that would appeal to many of our students, however this could be
substituted for any team that was of interest to the students. After completing the experiment, we
would conduct a short lecture to introduce the term homeostasis and define it, and as an
assessment for the day we would ask students to brainstorm a list of examples from their life

where they could observe homeostasis. This encourages students to apply what they learned to
their lives and relate the knowledge form the classroom to the real world.
The second day of the unit would begin with a cause and effect worksheet outlining several
environmental changes that the students would then need to predict what would happen in the
body as a result of these changes. Once completing the worksheet with a partner, a majority of
the class period would be spent in lecture on the mechanisms of homeostasis. After the lecture,
students would revisit the worksheet and make any corrections they felt necessary as well as add
in whether they thought each change was due to positive or negative feedback. After deciding
this with their partner, students would combine into groups of four to share and discuss their
answers before turning in the worksheet and leaving class. The third day would be spent mostly
playing the brain game, where students would simulate how messages are moved throughout
the body to the brain. Different scenarios would be used and the complexity of the game and
signal movement could be varied depending on the level of the class. After the game, there
would another short lecture on the role of the brain in homeostasis. This day was designed to get
kids out of their desks and moving around in an effort to visualize a process that they can not see
within the body.
The fourth and fifth days of the unit allow the students to design their own experiments that
will demonstrate whichever aspect of homeostasis they are most interested in. on the fourth day,
students would be in groups and use the time to brainstorm what their experiment will be. By
the end of the class period, they should have completed an outline detailing how their experiment
will be run, what they are testing, and how they will collect data. The fifth day is a day to
present their experiment to the class. We would require that the audience ask at least two
questions of each presentation to encourage class discussion and participation. The goal of the

presentation is to hear feedback on experimental designs, but also to share new ideas throughout
the whole class. If there was time in the following days, we would actually conduct the
experiments, but for the goal of this unit, design of and discussion about the experiments was
most important.
This unit employs a problem-posing pedagogy by asking the students in the first day to
make observations about what happens to their body when they exercise and using these
observations to discover how the body regulates itself (Freire, 1993). Students will also problem
solve during the brain game where they must figure out how signals will move throughout the
body to reach the brain. Activities like these encourage students to take ownership of their
learning and construct knowledge on their terms, rather than just the teacher telling them
information that they will need to know for some kind of assessment (Freire, 1993). These
activities also use differentiated teaching styles because students are able to get up and move,
present information in visual and physical ways, and are not only being lectured to (). This
physical activity may also be helpful to students who are still learning English as they would be
able to make the same observations as students who did speak English proficiently (Delpit, 1994;
Emdin, 2010). Also, the presentation criteria could be altered to allow students to present in
whatever way was most effective for them, whether that was poster, through diagrams, through
speaking, an outline, or a PowerPoint presentation. This too would allow students to use their
many different skills to present knowledge (Ladson-Billings, 1995). This unit plan also provides
for many different ways to assess student knowledge, both as formative and summative
assessments so that the teacher has many opportunities to gauge how well students are
understanding homeostasis and are able to apply it to their lives (Crocco and Costigan, 2006).

References:
Crocco, M. S., & Costigan, A. T. (2006). High-stakes teaching: Whats at stake for teachers (and
students) in the age of accountability. The New Educator, 2, 1-13.
Delpit, L. (1994). Language diversity and learning. In Other peoples children: Cultural conflict in the
classroom (pp. 48-69). New York: The New Press.
Emdin, C. (2010). Dimensions of communication in urban science education: Interactions and
transactions. Science Education, 1-20.
Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed, 30th anniversary edition. (pp. 79-98). New York:
Continuum.
Gay, G. (2010). Power pedagogy through cultural responsiveness. Culturally responsive teaching:
Theory, research, and practice. (pp. 21-43). New York: Teachers College Press.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). But that's just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy.
Theory Into Practice, 34(3), 159-165.