There’s no better way to learn a subject than to teach it. That was the takeaway lesson for students of Andrea Maxwell, who teaches anatomy and physiology at Great Bend High School. The teenagers wrote and illustrated books about major systems in the human body and shared them with Jefferson School first and second graders. “In order to teach the material you have to know the material thoroughly,” noted Jaxx Hillman, sophomore.
But judging by all of the smiles, there was plenty of fun in addition to the information shared. “I provide (my students) with a rubric and expected content, but how they present it and how detailed they get is up to them,” Maxwell said.
Partners have four class periods to research, write and illustrate the book, share it with their peers and present it to the youngsters. The books take the readers on a tour through major systems of the human body such as cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, muscular, skeletal, sensory or immune. They must present the major organs, functions and how to keep them healthy. “The purpose of the lesson is to gain a thorough understanding of vital body systems and communicate this with younger students,” Maxwell said. “This project works on developing several skills – interpretation, creativity, social skills, knowledge comprehension, as well as teaching. It pushes them to take their knowledge past the comprehension level and allows them to apply it.
“This is my favorite project all year,” she said. “I enjoy watching the high-school students interact with the elementary kids and seeing the excitement on the younger kids’ faces. “The buzz once we load the bus afterwards makes the entire project worth it,” she continued. “They all come back with so many stories and so excited about the experience. Most students are surprised about how interactive the elementary kids are. There are always some very entertaining stories.” This year, a couple of her students became stuck in a small chair and another was “mauled” with hugs before he left. The primary students really enjoyed seeing the big kids dressed in cheerleading and football uniforms since it was game day, she added. A full 100 percent of her students said that they gained a good understanding of the content material by doing this project. “You can’t beat that,” Maxwell said. “The only big complaint was they felt they were not given enough time, but, honestly, I feel this pushed them to better manage their time and every student presented a final project by the due date.” “I did enjoy this project,” said Brittney Weber. “It was an easier way to help remember the systems and I enjoyed getting out and reading to little kids.” “It was a great experience to read to little kids,” said Dulce Parra. “They were lots of fun. I did not know I could have so much imagination to write a book until I did this!” “I really enjoyed the project because all the children were well behaved,” said Johanna Pfeifer. “They listened and asked so many questions and they were so dang cute. I want to go back so bad.”