Knowledge comes from learning; learning happens where there is a proper understanding. Understanding a complex process like respiration for children of class 7, needs simplification and focus on teaching the contents by exploration using hands on inquiry connecting to the real life of children. In the class various questions were asked, to brainstorm their prior knowledge on human respiration. They knew that human beings breathe using lungs and nose, but now how we breathe and why exactly we breathe; they knew what we breathe but not that which happens inside the body when we breathe.
Initially children were asked, what are the different characteristics of living organisms? Different responses came from children like walking, playing, breathing, respiration, digestion etc. Then they were asked what is breathing? Is breathing and respiration same? Children actually had conflicts and confusions on deciding the answers. Most of them were under the notion that both terms are same. Then to rectify this, a scenario was given, a living cell will respire, does it breathe? Then children did realise that, respiration and breathing are basically not same.
SEEING WHAT HAPPENS
Children have always enjoyed learning through videos. The chosen video was on knowing how a respiratory system functions. It showed them what happens once we breathe in till we breathe out. Children seemed fascinated and impressed with their own body and now wanted to know more. Creating interest in children is very essential. This develops curiosity in them enabling them to develop as self-learners.
LEARNING IS FUN
Classes get much more active when children are given an opportunity to explore things themselves and for the same reason an activity was given to them. Activity was to predict their own breathing rate and pulse rate and then to check the same during rest and various other activities like walking, running etc. Initially they were failing to find their pulse on wrist,
later they learnt to identify it after multiple attempts and this was fun. Discussion went on to the importance of knowing one’s breathing rate and pulse. They were so excited and wanted to find the pulse and breathing rates of their family members and neighbors. A data sheet to record their observations on breathing rate and pulse rate enabled them to compare the differences between different age groups, weight, physical work etc.,
IMPOSSIBLE UNTIL DONE
Students were given an experience of exploring a real specimen of lungs of a goat. Children initially were a little hesitant to observe and tried to stay away. Later when the lungs were blown through the open wind pipe children were astonished
to see the huge expansion of the lungs. Now they could see how their lungs expanded when they breathe. What is the requirement of a wind pipe? Why should a trachea have C shaped cartilages? Where does the trachea differentiate into bronchi? What was the need for lungs to expand?
When such questions were asked children could relate to what they saw and answer. This triggered an interest in them and then they volunteered to do more themselves. Children who initially felt it disgusting, wanted to experience it themselves, so gloves were given to all and children touched and examined the specimen. This gave them an understanding on how and why respiration occurs. This activity kept children quite engaged and added a chance of clarifying doubts. Showing the real life specimen of another mammal helped them visualize the structure of organs and the link between them. This helped them establish a strong connect between the form and function of organs leading to a healthy life.
HOW BIG IS MY LUNGS?
While observing the expansion, a question was raised, how much air can lungs hold? They answered as much air we blow, until it breaks. How to measure this? Next activity was for understanding one’s lung capacity.
Children were grouped into five. Each group was given materials for the setup. They had to device their experimental setup. Initially they struggled, but again they revised their setup to arrive at an optimal setup. Children carried out the
activity and found out their lung capacity. The average lung capacity of the class was around 2.5 litres. Children were quite active and it was interesting to see the little ones devising their own activities and measuring etc.
It is always very essential to check how much of teaching have been grasped by the students, so class ended with some few fun activities to test their learnings. Children were asked questions, they were made to draw and label human respiratory system, an organ name was given and they were asked for its functions.
Teaching children through hands on inquiry using real specimen has brought a significant change in their learning which was evident in their responses.
Ms Mahalakshmi J TGT GHS Mangalam, Mr Stephen S TGT GHS Mangalam
Term: Term 2