Senior Project Journal: Teaching Biology & Anatomy

For his Senior Project, Nick Viennas chose to shadow and teach alongside Mrs. Pat Abrahms. Nick also decided to journal each of his days to give us insight into his Senior Project. This is his first entry, detailing his first week teaching Biology and Anatomy.

Day 1

May 1, the first day of senior project. I arrived at school around 7:20 trying to be early, but as soon as I walked into the room I was bombarded by students waiting for help with their DNA labs. Before 8 AM I had already helped about five students. The first day of classes I spent most of the time shadowing Mrs. Abrahms. When I was not observing, I was busy grading Mrs. Abrahms’ freshman biology homework or running off labs. As school came to a close I was left with a feeling of excitement, I could not wait to become more hands on in the classroom.


Nick Viennas helping students in Mrs. Abrahms Anatomy class.

Day 2

The second day of Senior project there was a little less to do. A few late assignments came trickling in that were due yesterday, but that only took me a few minutes to grade. When grading these late assignments I had to take off 10 points, so they start off with a 90. It was very interesting being the one to grade the assignments. A part of me wanted to grant mercy to the students, but the other part of me knew that they did not put much effort into it. Most of the day was spent studying the Cardiovascular system PowerPoint and finding videos for my lesson starting on Thursday. As the day progressed a few biology students would ask me to either answer a few questions they had on a in class assignment or they asked me to tutor them. Tomorrow I will really start to get hands on. I will be helping Mrs. Abrahms lead the online frog dissection with her Freshman classes, and I will also finish my prep for next weeks fetal pig dissection.

Day 3

The third day was a very relaxed day. St. Joe had a half-day, due to the Freshman presentation of their Solutions Showcase projects. With only 25 minute periods I spent most of the day working with the biology class.  In the biology classes I assisted Mrs. Abrahms with the online frog dissection and checking their homework assignments. With the anatomy classes I usually spent the time looking over the Cardiovascular systems PowerPoint for tomorrows class, just making sure that I was ready. When I was not doing that, the class was watching a Crash Course video to summarize their lesson. Tomorrow I will start my lecture, I am very anxious to start getting hands on.

Day 4

Today is the day that I begin teaching. First period is anatomy, so I can get started right away. The first anatomy period was a little shakier than I wanted it to be. I was not confident with what I was teaching, trying to be perfect and trying to teach like Mrs. Abrahms. Mrs. Abrhams took some pressure off of me once she filled in all of the areas of the Cardiovascular system that I missed. As the day progressed I began to get a hang of teaching and was less reliant on Mrs. Abrahms helping me in the class.


Students dissecting fetal pigs in Mrs. Abrahms class.

Day 5

Today was a very slow day, my lecturing only lasted a few minutes. The rest of the time the students were doing their homework assignments or asking questions about blood flow in the heart. Mrs. Abrahms’ biology classes had tests. During the free periods we had, Mrs. Abrahms taught me how to run the tests through the scantron machine and put the grades in the grade books. Monday we will begin the fun part, the fetal pig dissection.

Day 6

Today was the beginning of the fetal pig dissection. I have been waiting for this day since I found out that is what I was going to be leading. First period today was the H period anatomy class, so I was able to begin right away. All the anatomy students had to do today was to begin examining the oral cavity of the fetal pig. I was very impressed with all of the class’s willingness to examine the pig; usually there is some hesitance in the beginning. For the biology classes, they began their lesson on evolution and Darwin’s theory of evolution. I am very excited for tomorrow with the anatomy class to proceed with the dissection.

Day 7


Senior Nick Viennas helping students examine the fetal pig.

Today was my favorite day of the Senior Project so far. The fetal pig dissection progressed dramatically; the students got the opportunity to examine the pig’s thoracic and abdominal cavities. The students removed the liver from their pigs and proceeded to examine the small and large intestines, gull bladder, spleen, and pancreas. After they examined these organs Mrs. Abrahms and I instructed the students to dissect out the heart and identify the four chambers, aorta, pulmonary artery, and pulmonary veins. The biology class’s day was pretty easy, Mrs. Abrahms had the class watch a video about Darwin’s five year expedition where he started to developed his theory of evolution.

Day 8


Senior Nick Viennas looking over the dissection manual.

Today the anatomy class’s finished up the fetal pig dissection. There was nothing left to technically dissect, but they had to examine their pig’s urogenital system. This meant that; depending its gender. They had to identify the genitalia of the pig. After each group did this, they had to throw away the pigs and start to finish their labs. For the biology class’, Mrs. Abrahms moved away from the Darwin video to continue her lecture on evolution.

Day 9

Today Mrs. Abrahms had a doctor’s appointment which kept her from coming in today. She told me yesterday that I would not be needed for the day. I spent this day making sure that I was prepared for my presentation tomorrow and finishing up a few things. It is crazy to think how quickly senior project and this year flew bye.

Day 10

Today is the final day of senior project, and I have mixed emotions. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to St. Joe after four years, but I am extremely excited for my new chapter at Mt. St. Mary’s. The anatomy classes took a test today, so I actually spent most of the day with the freshman. At the beginning of each class I spoke to the biology students. I tried to give them words of wisdom, and let them know that they need to start taking school seriously. The rest of the day I spent working on my presentation with Mrs. Abrahms.

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