Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Owl Pellets

The 7th and 8th grade students in Jr. High Reading are reading the book Incident at Hawk's Hill. In the story, 6 year old Ben MacDonald is fascinated with animals. He is constantly studying their movements, mimicking their actions and trying to replicate their noises. He wants to know absolutely everything about animals that he can, including how they work on the inside. When out in the prairie one day he sees a hawk kill and eat a jumping field mouse. When the hawk drops part of the mouse, Ben finds the tiny jawbone in the grass and saves it to examine later.

In order to extend our story and make a connection with real life, we decided to "be Ben" and learn a little more about birds of prey.  In order to do that we dissected barn owl pellets. Owls eat their food in chunks or whole. Any soft tissues are dissolved in the abdomen and used for nutrition, the fur and bones, unable to be dissolved are then compacted by the gizzard and regurgitated by the owl about 12 hours after having their meal. These owl pellets are then dried, sterilized to remove any bacteria or creepy crawlies, and can be examined and dissected to learn more about the owl's diet.

In our dissections, the students found a lot of fur, small bird feathers and too many bones to count. There were numerous intact skulls, jawbones, teeth, ribs, vertebrae, long bones, etc... It was quite exciting to be the person to come across another skull or the first one to identify a vertebrae. After a student found a bone, they then sorted them on a bone diagram in order to classify them and try to determine what type of animal the skeleton used to be.

We decided so far that most of the skulls look like they belonged to small field mice but one group thinks that they found part of a bird.

Even though the bones were teeny tiny, it was even possible to see the ball at the end of the thigh bone that would attach into the hip socket.
 If you would like to find out a little bit more about owl pellets and see one being regurgitated you can follow these links in order to hear a catchy Owl Pellet tune or see a video of a

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mitosis Diagrams

The 7th grade students are busy practicing their knowledge of mitosis by creating a diagram of the process. They spent their class time today drawing, coloring, and writing to show their knowledge of the process of cell reproduction.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Informative Essays

7th and 8th Grade have finished their section on Argumentative Essays and are now starting to analyze and write Informational Essays. Today we discussed the different places the informative essays are encountered in our every day lives. Some of the most common sources mentioned were newspapers, magazines, text books, and informational web sites or blogs.

Informational Essays are written exactly for the purpose stated in the title, to provide factual information about a topic. There are different formats that can be used to set up an Informational Essay.

Cause to effect
Effect to cause
Main Idea and details
Topic and supporting facts with sensory details

7th grade Science extra credit

7th graders all have an extra credit sheet for Science. It is optional, but if they would like to receive credit for it, it is due January 11th by the end of the day. (right before the end of the 9 weeks)

The extra credit is a word search of all of the elements of the Periodic Table.

Have fun finding the elements, kids!

Monday, November 2, 2015


7th grade started a difficult section in their science book today. The second section of Chapter 4 is all about Meiosis and reproduction in organisms, how the cells combine and what happens scientifically to those cells.  We are learning words like haploid, diploid, zygote, fertilization and Meiosis.  This is a difficult section to understand if you have not encountered these concepts before.  If you would like to look over the section with your child, you can access an on-line copy of their text book.  Go to
mhln.com   and enter the access code     E20560325A.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Argumentative Essays

7th and 8th grade are in the process of writing their finals drafts of their argumentative essays. The topic they are debating in their writing is whether or not cell phones should be allowed in schools for use during the school day. Most students argued that cell phones SHOULD be allowed in the school setting, but a few chose the opposing view.  The main reasons chosen for allowing them in school were, it would be easier for parents to contact their child during the day, students would be able to access the internet at any time to help them with their school work and apps could be downloaded that would help the students reinforce the lessons that the teachers were presenting in the classroom. Each essay follows the same pattern template:
Reason - Text Evidence - Response
Reason - Text Evidence - Response
Reason - Text Evidence - Response
Opposing Claim - Text Evidence - Response

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Next Science Test

7th grade will be excited to learn that their next science test will be on Tuesday, October 27, 2015! The test will be over chapter 3, Cell Processes.  If you go to my home page on the Philip School web site and click on the Science Study Guides Link * or click HERE* you will be able to find the study guide for the test. Students will also be receiving a printed copy of the study guide in class.

Diffusion, osmosis, mixtures, solutions, active and passive transport have been so much fun to learn about we will be sad to leave them behind! But just imagine what is coming up in the next chapter! SO EXCITING!!!