I updated my cat dissection guide this year to include all the body systems. In previous years, I would do cat muscles in the first semester and then the cats would go into storage until the spring. This year, the students dissected that cat at the end of the spring semester.
I also added a component where students would tag the cats as they went and upload photos to Google classroom. I feel that this really helps them remain on task. This also helps engage students who are not as likely to touch the specimen. They can do the labeling and uploading. This year, I gave them student whiteboards as a way to label the cat. You can also buy pins with numbers or just give students colored pins and they can color code their key.
Student Dissection Guide
The full dissection guide starts with the muscular system, then moves to the circulatory system. Finally, students examine the main organs of the body cavity, which is mostly the digestive system. The guide walks students through the steps of the dissections and has them perform tasks along the way, like measuring the length of the small intestine.
One student in the group can complete the packet while others do the dissection. Here is another opportunity to engage someone who might be a bit squeamish about touching the cat. Other tasks include sketching the organs or writing down observations.
A final image shows organs for students to label, which includes the stomach, pancreas, small intestine, spleen, and colon.
Assessment and Study
Periodically, throughout the week, I’ll pause to share photos on the overhead to explain what students are seeing. There are some structures that are difficult for students, like the location of the pancreas and the arteries that branch from the aorta. I keep photos stored in a Google Album.
I also have a practice set where structures are pinned and students can advance to see the answers. This set could also be used for an assessment, or you can download a more secure document from TpT. The test is a set of photos displayed on PowerPoint. Students write the answers on their own paper, which can be differentiated for honors (no word bank) and regular track students (with word bank.) You can download the blank answer sheet for free. (Reminder: when accessing shared files on Google drive, make sure to copy it to your own drive if you want to make edits.)