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Upper El (Mr. D): Morals, Extinctions, and Masters

*I guess I didn't really take pictures this week? Oops! That's all I've got!

This week, we explored writing stories with a message or moral, finalized our Science Fair ideas, and began a deeper dive into the concept of homeostasis in living organisms.


Almost every story ever written has a message or a moral that the writer wants us to take away from it. Even comical stories tend to have something to say. As a class, we had students pick a Disney movie, and then we explored the message. And, of course, we also looked at some Star Wars and Marvel movies! Everyone had fun trying to find a movie that didn't have a message; but, we discovered that there's always something there.

After that, we started discussing different ways to put a message in a story. How do authors do it? Through a character's journey, stating it directly from an old wise character, or even through the setting. Sometimes, the starting setting or ending setting of a story can be a warning or a triumph if we learn the story's lesson.

Finally, students were off to write a story, due next week, that incorporates a message or moral of some kind.


On Tuesday, we began to dive deeper into homeostasis by looking at extinctions. When animals fail to maintain that internal equilibrium that we call homeostasis, they die off and eventually become endangered or extinct.

First, prompted by a great question, I clarified the difference between balance and equilibrium, discussing how things at equilibrium are constantly shifting while balance seems more stagnant or stationary. It was an excellent tangent that I'm glad we went down!

Then, I provided students with two websites that listed over fifty extinct species and why they've gone extinct—some dating back millions of years and some that went extinct as recently as 2011. Their task was to identify as many different reasons these animals went extinct.

After they worked on this, we came back together to share what we found. I wrote their answers on the whiteboard, and we tried to find categories to pool them together. Finally, we checked out one more resource to see if we missed anything. They did such a good job we only had to add one extra category to the whiteboard: lack of genetic diversity. Admittedly, that's a tough one to think about!

On Thursday, we picked up where we left off. Now that we had a list of why animals went extinct, we asked a new question: what do animals need to do to maintain homeostasis? We see what happens when things go wrong, so we can establish what animals and ourselves are doing to keep things at an internal equilibrium by reversing that thinking.

We came up with many functions that living organisms need to perform, like maintaining body temperature, taking in fuel and using it, eliminating waste or toxins, dealing with diseases, and hiding or defending from predators. We made a great list to work from, and we'll explore other functions as well in the future.


Students have honed in on their Science Fair topics after meeting with me one last time. Next week, we'll discuss researching, finalizing details of our experiment's procedure, and getting ready to do the experiments at home.

Friday, we had a great day having lunch on the library green for a birthday celebration and came back to class to introduce Master Class, where students will get to choose and research a topic of their choosing and present it to the class. We outlined many details, and students will get started next week! We're all excited about this!

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