Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora and I are on our last unit before we start reviewing for The Very Big Deal Government Mandated tests that happen the end of April. And as luck would have it, one of our very favorite units to teach is the very last one - The Body Systems Unit. This unit is so much fun to teach because it can be so disgusting and gory.
And if you want to engage a seventh grader, especially a seventh grade boy, disgusting and gory is the way to go.
We have a real human skeleton at The School (it was bought for The School when it opened as a Junior High in 1965) which we can roll out and show the kids. Of course, most of the kids wanted to take a selfie with it and I informed them that since it happened to have been a real person at one time, to have a little respect and to put their phones away.
After that we have the pig lungs which we put on a contraption with a bellows so we can inflate and deflate them. I like to put them on the document reader first and zoom in so the kids and see how soft and squishy they are. The sight of squishy, pink, tissue sends some of them over the edge. The smell doesn't help either. At this point, you start to see kids put their heads down on their desk.
Then there's the sheep's brain and the cow eye. (The cow eye is fun to put on the document reader and then tell the kids "I can see you!")
But we decided to spend some of our own money this year (budget is done with) and bought a few tongues, some kidneys, and some fetal pigs to actually dissect for them. (They don't get to actual dissection until high school.)
I can't wait for that. It might be gross, but they'll remember it. Trust me. I have one student who's going to college to be a nurse based on seeing those pig lungs a few years ago.
Now that's engagement.