Final lesson – respiratory system

Due to a last minute change in timetable, I was left with an extra week of teaching that I had not been expecting.

Having covered everything I could within the topic, including drawing our lovely large bodies and putting in all of our learning, the only thing I felt we had left to do was to actually look at hearts and lungs, so students didn’t think that they were just like the plastic ones we had been working with previously.

I was very fortunate that for both classes I had a teaching assistant who was more than up for the challenge, and so I procured four sets of hearts/lungs from our local butcher. One of them also had the tongue and voicebox still attached.

I’m not a biologist, and don’t recall any dissection training during my PGCE all those years ago. My aim is not to be perfect, but to give students an idea of what the insides of their bodies actually look like.

All of the students wore gloves, aprons and goggles, and we were fortunate to be able to split into smaller groups, with the TAs following my questioning and directions with their own groups. We first identified lung, heart and windpipe (trachea, rhymes with shakira! got to love special teaching). We felt the cartilage keeping the windpipe hard and discussed why that might be, comparing with the oesophagus running alongside. One set of lungs were successfully inflated.

All students then had a chance to feel the lungs and hold the heart. With support and care they all used a scalpel to cut into the lungs and feel how spongy they were, as well as looking for the bronchioles and alveoli. The heart had the same treatment, fingers into vena cava and aorta, identification of the chambers and a look for valves.

All of the students appeared to enjoy the lesson and time flew!


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