Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Legs and wings

What part of your body is the leg?

Wait . . . think carefully before you answer.

If you said the long limb below your waist (or equivalent), you'd be wrong!  Well, okay, it would be correct in everyday conversation.  But it is not anatomically correct.

In anatomical terms, the lower limb (lower extremity) is made of up of the thigh, leg, and foot.  Anatomically, the leg is only that section of the lower limb just below the knee.

The same sort of thing happens with the arm.  In anatomy, the entire upper limb (upper extremity) is not the arm.  Only the section above the elbow is the arm.  The section just below the elbow is the forearm.

One way to help you remember this is think of pieces of chicken.  I realize that not everyone is a meat eater. But those who eat chicken know that it's often served in pieces.  A chicken leg is not the entire lower limb--there's another piece just proximal to the leg: the thigh.  Remember that, and it may be easier to keep the distinction straight in human anatomy.

Likewise, one can think of the two types of pieces often served in an order of chicken wings.  The "drumette," which looks like a mini drumstick, is the arm.  The "flat" or "wingette" is the forearm.

diagram of chicken parts

human parts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Star power

I continue to be amazed at how many students let a phrase such as, “when you see something like this on the test . . . “ from their professor go by without notice.


Don't they know that this is an intentional statement of what will be on the test?

Professors do this because we know that it's important and that we will be testing you on it.  And we're giving you this obvious hint so that you know that you will encounter it again.

I think it takes some training and practice to listen for those hints and respond to them in a way that helps you in the long run.  So what's a good way to do that?

Leo Malone, one of my chemistry professors, required us to put a star in our notes next to any concept or fact that he introduced with any statement hinting that we'd see it again on a test.  He even stopped class occassionally when he made such a statement to see if we’d put a star in our notes!  This habit has stuck with me for decades.  I still put a star on notes that I take in workshops, courses, meetings, and my other work. When I review my notes, I start with the stars.  I know that these are things that I really need to know or to act on.

In the classes that I teach, I put a star on the whiteboard when I want to emphasize that a point I’m making really is worth remembering.

Why don't you start practicing star power?  I'll bet that by listening for verbal cues and making note of them, you'll find better success in your performance.

It works for me and my students—I’m sure it will work for you!

This pencast shows you what I mean.

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Want more hints about note taking?