Thursday, October 25, 2012

Starting Unit 2

On Tuesday, we started the second unit of the year. Students will be learning about cells for the next several weeks. As I introduced some of the new vocabulary terms, I explained why science terms are often based on Greek and Latin. Until about 100 years ago, everyone who went to college in America or Europe studied Greek and Latin as part of their educations. So, science used that universal language; it didn't matter whether a scientist was from France, England, or America, the scientist could understand scientific terms.

Of course today few people know Greek and Latin. So, science terms often seem confusing. One of my goals is to teach students some of the most common prefixes, suffixes and roots, so science will actually make sense to them. Plus, many common English words are based on Greek and Latin, which means learning these words will help them with their English vocabularies, too.

We began with the names of the two most common cell types: eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. In Greek, eu means good, and pro means before. Karyon means kernel, like a popcorn kernel. So, eukaryotic means good kernal. A eukaryotic cell has a nucleus, which looks like a kernel when seen through a microscope. Prokaryotic cells do not have nuclei.

In everyday English, eu is used in the words eulogy and euphoria.

Next week, students will learn how to create outlines of their textbooks. I teach students different ways to take notes and to study because as they move farther along in school, they will need to take notes. Of course, I want students to do well in my class. But, I also want them to be well prepared for their futures. That is the real purpose of them being here at all.

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