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Billie Button

The Story of My Life
by Billie Button


Billie Button Life History:

Hand out copies of The Story of My Life by Billie Button and assign one student reader to each of the excerpts marked.

Introduction: This story was published as a promotional advertisement for the Wisconsin Pearl Button Company of La Crosse sometime between 1910 and 1920. The language used was standard for that period of history. The story is told from the perspective of a button. This is an example of anthropormorphism (attributing human characteristics to something not human).

Following are comments and/or demonstrations/simulations which can be used after each excerpt is read to enhance understanding (referenced by excerpt number). The students could also be provided a copy of the mussel's life cycle to keep track of which stage of the mussels life cycle is being discussed.
Billie Button excerpts 1 and 2
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Billie Button excerpts 3 -7

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Billie Button excerpts 8 and 9
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  1. This is the introduction to the life cycle. Point out siphons and foot.
  2. Describe a "crow foot" and how it was used.
  3. Do "Genetic Contribution Demonstration".
  4. Note the "hooks" on the picture of the glochidium in story or refer to the life cycle diagram for an enlargement of a glochidium. These hooks are what enable a glochidium to attach to its host.
  5. Just read
  6. Just read
  7. Describe importance of fish host in the life cycle of a mussel.
  8. Point out that some mussels (Higgins' eye and fat pocketbook for example) have special adaptations of their mantle flap which resembles the appearance and movement a small fish. They use this adaptation to "lure" fish in close. When the fish try to eat the "lure," the mussel shoots its glochidia at the fish, thereby increasing the chances that it will infect the fish.
    Broken-rays mussel - Lampsilis reeveiana
    Broken-rays mussel - Lampsilis reeveiana
    Click here for larger scale

    Many people ask about the difference between a mussel and a clam. In general (although there are exceptions) mussels require a host for glochidia development, while clams do not. More precise anatomical differences are also used to differentiate the two. The Mississippi River is home to 49 species of mussels and only 4 species of clams. Therefore, the majority of the "clams" found in the river are actually mussels.

  9. The mussel is now considered a juvenile and will have to grow up before reproducing.
    At this point, do the "Host and Substrate Demonstration".

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Last updated on June 8, 2006