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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cell Organelles Pet Peeves

So when you ask a room of 9th grades what they know about the mitochondria there are approximately three responses: blank stares, light snoring, or "the powerhouse of the cell."  Nope, not in my classroom.  When I first started teaching I was ecstatic with that powerhouse answer, and I even did the project where the cell is a city and they have to come up with analogies for organelles as parts of a city ... once.  I didn't feel like they understood what ANY of it meant.  For example, when I asked them "what does a powerhouse do?"  blank stares, more light snoring, and someone trying to get on their phone ... nothing.  So they don't get to say that in my room.  They have to have an answer that has to do with making ATP.  This has officially reached ridiculous levels this past year with my band students including AP Bio and Freshmen Bio students.  It started small and built quickly to the point that it was mentioned in a speech at graduation.  

The other organelle that I fight is the nucleus.  I have two issues.  When I ask "what is the nucleus of a cell?"  I get a few responses: blank stares, light snoring, "the brain" or "it's where the protons and neutrons are."  So after eye-rolling and thoughts of day-drinking (just kidding), I make sure we go over the differences in the nucleus of a cell and the nucleus of an atom.  Then once we are focused on cells the only answer I will accept has to have something to do with containing DNA. I focus on the DNA being instructions for activities, but the nucleus doesn't select for or against activities. The kids don't fight me as much on this one.  

If this is what you teach your kiddos, I don't want you to feel like I am judging you, or creating any negativity, it's mostly about me being so wacko due to teaching freshmen for approximately one million years ... what was I saying?

Do you have any pet peeves or anything you are particular about in your classroom? 


  1. LOL "the powerhouse of the cell". Last year, when my students called that out (practically in unison), I followed up with "OK, what does that mean?" Blank stares. One student finally stumbled through an answer. At the end of the period, students had to scientifically explain the function of the mitochondria as their bellringer. "Powerhouse of the cell" was a no-pass.
    I don't teach an organelles unit - I feel there's no point, and students are just memorizing information. Instead, I teach the organelles in context with the processes that involve them.

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