If you are not using the ABT cover images and their captions, here are a few ideas on how to implement these captivating, teachable moments. Although initially teacher-directed, they can easily turn into some nice inquiry by your students and usually take just a few minutes. We can use as examples the image and caption on this issue and also reflect on what could be done with the chromosome scan on the April 2012 issue.
First, show the May cover to your class, perhaps standing in the middle of the room and aiming it around slowly so that students get a chance to study the image. If you will be in a large lecture room, take a digital image of the cover and display it with a projector. Ask, “What do you see?” The obvious answer will be a turtle, and you can follow with “What do you think is the habitat of this turtle?” Have volunteer students slowly read two or three sentences of the caption. Some appropriate questions from you are (1) “What does sexually dimorphic mean?”; (2) “If this is a male, what could the female look like?”; (3) “What is the environmental issue for turtles in general?”; (4) “How can the issue be addressed?”; and (5) “What research questions could be asked about the Texas map turtle?” Always leave a minute or two for additional comments by your students.
Some of the ABT cover images can lead to much more than a mini-lesson, and the April chromosome scan is a great example. You can show the image (very slowly), asking “What do you see?” Have three or four volunteers read portions of the caption as before. Then ask the following questions, some of which are suggested in the caption: (1) “What surprises you about the structural detail of all these chromosomes?”; (2) “What is their most striking feature?”; (3) “What questions does this raise?”; (4) “What concepts do they suggest?”; and (5) “How could a researcher utilize the information on this image?” Another appropriate question may be “Would you like to read the Flammer article in this issue?” And finally, “What more would you like to know about the chromosome structure of the human, chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan?” and “What does this chromosome structure suggest about the expression of the gene loci shown here?”
Of course, student responses may vary widely with different classes. Feel free to modify the questions for each caption and invent your own to further the level of inquiry. I encourage you to regularly use the ABT cover images and captions as teachable moments. Let’s make full use of these wonderful images!