Tom Volk's Fungi--- Suggestions for Teachers for class activities

I thought I'd let you know how I use my web pages in my class and give teachers some suggestions on how to use my pages in the classroom.

Activity 1: Birthday pages

To be sure students have read my web pages and know what's available on them, I give my students the following assignment. Judging by the responses I get, students seem to really like this assignment.:

Internet Assignment (15 pts) Due date: xxx

Please visit Tom Volk's Fungi web page at

Look around and see what you can find! There are many pictures and descriptions of the fungi we'll be talking about in lecture.

For your assignment, determine the "Fungus of the Month" for YOUR birthday month. In all cases you will have several choices for that month, since I started the Fungus of the Month in January of 1997.

Then after reading about the fungus of the month for your birthday month send me an email at your email here with the following things in it:

Subject heading should be "Internet Assignment" so I can organize the emails in my inbox

Body of email
1. Your name and code number you are using for the course
2. Month of your birthday
3. Fungus of the month for your birthday month
4. What is the food source for that species? Is the fungus a saprophyte, parasite or mutualist?
5. To which phylum does that fungus belong ?
6. Write a few sentences about why that fungus is interesting.

Find the phylum

Search through the fungus of the month pages and find all of the fungi that belong to a given phylum. Or find 5 members of a particular phylum. Or find 5 members of each phylum. As a teacher you can pick two of the four phyla for this exercise, including Basidomycota, or Ascomycota (there are only 2 Zygomycota so far, and I don't have any members of the FotM yet. I suppose I should do something about that...). You can also search for members of the "deuteromycetes," which have no known sexual state, but most of those seem to have affinities with Ascomycota.

John Clausz of Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin has online a Manual of Laboratory Experiences Using Fungi from the Mycological Society of America's teaching committee. The manual contains explicit directions for lab activities. Very well done!

There are a whole series of activities for students at the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) website, including:

Preserving mushrooms for the classroom.

For preserving mushrooms and other fungi for eating, simple drying (with a food dehydrator or just air drying) is usually good, although some mushrooms, like chanterelles, lose their flavor. Drying is also fine for scientific specimens-- you can rehydrate the parts of the specimen you want to observe with the microscope. However, for display purposes you want to maintain shape and size. Some fungi, like polypores that are already hard, dry well and look exactly as they did when fresh. For fleshy fungi, 50% ethanol in a glass jar works well for some things, although color is often lost. Freeze drying preserves color and shape, but the resulting specimens are often fragile. A cheap way to freeze dry is to place the specimen uncovered in a frost-free freezer and wait several weeks. Then handle with care.

If you have any other suggestions on using the internet, or assignments for students on the internet please let me know.

or you can write to my snailmail address at:
Tom Volk
Dept. of Biology
3024 Cowley Hall
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
La Crosse, WI 54601 USA

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