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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Secondary Smorgasbord: A Buffet of Resources for Secondary Teachers

The Secondary Smorgasbord Theme of the Week??
Free and Fabulous!!

I am super excited to be participating in a new monthly blog hop / linky for secondary teachers.  This terrific idea is the brainstorm of two friends Darlene Anne Curran (The ELA Buffet) and Pamela Kranz (Desktop Learning Adventures).  I was fortunate enough to finally meet both new friends this past summer at the TeachersPayTeachers convention in Las Vegas.

The idea behind this blog hop is to provide you secondary teachers with some new ideas, tips for your classroom, free teaching materials, and anything else we can think of.  So welcome to the first installment of the Secondary Smorgasbord!  The theme for this month is "Free and Fabulous!"  Be sure to click on the links in the first paragraph of the post so that you can grab all of the awesome free teaching materials.

What is on the smorgasbord menu from Science Stuff?  I have decided to highlight two freebies that I have in my store.  Both are simple one-page references tables, but I have used both of these in just the last week!  If you are a biology or a chemistry teacher you know that both of these play a very important role in our classes.  I know you already have these tables, but I have spruced them up to make them attractive for our students.

For the Biology teachers:  Here is a chart of all 64 mRNA codons and the amino acids they code for.  This is a must-have during your unit on DNA, RNA and Protein synthesis.  (Click image or red text to download freebie.)

For the Chemistry teachers:  This is a table of electronegativities.  This is a must-have during units on the periodic table and bonding.  Click image or red text to download freebie.)

Again, be sure to check out all the posts / freebies by clicking the links in the first paragraph.  I hope you find something you can use!  Be sure to watch each month for the Secondary Smorgasbord Buffet of Resources!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Evolution and Classification Warm Ups and Interactive Notebook Pages

Do you love teaching about evolution or dread it?

I am the biggest biology nerd ever, so I love ALL of biology.  But I really, really, really love teaching about evolution, followed up with classification.  My first year biology students have very poor (and uninformed!!) ideas and knowledge about evolution.  For many of them, it is the first time they have been taught about it.  Others come with a lot of misinformation.

This makes for such a fun teaching situation!  Just for kicks, ask your students about their opinions on the topic of evolution BEFORE you teach them the unit. I am always amazed at their misconceptions and poor knowledge base.  When you have finished teaching your unit, ask the students again about their opinions.  I love that over the course of a couple of weeks the opinions of many will be changed, and the knowledge level of all has been increased.

And the best part?  There is never a dull moment in class.  I love the discussion and the questions and the arguing!  I love to see the wheels turning in their brains.

Since this material tends to be new for most of my students, I developed a set of 61 warm ups / bell ringers / interactive notebook pages to use during the unit.

There are so many ways to use these pages.  I have my students keep a "Biology Warm Up Notebook."  It is a perfect way to review and reinforce material from the previous day, and it is a fantastic classroom management tool. 

My students come in, grab the warm up and get right to work. By the time I have finished taking roll, answering questions, dealing with the "stuff" that we teachers always have to deal with, my students are settled down and are already hard at work. There are too many pages to be completed in class, so I often use them as homework assignments, and review guides for the unit test.

Keeping a "warm up" notebook provides a perfect way to
review for the semester exam or end of course testing.

Below is a table of contents.  The 61 pages include all of these titles.

Here is a look at format.....

As always, I hope you are having a terrific year with your students.

Links to all Warm Ups / Bellringers/ Interactive Notebook Topics:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

DNA and RNA and Protein Synthesis: Warm Ups or Interactive Notebooks

There are so many possibilities for these interactive pages!

The concepts involved in a unit on DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis are difficult and complex. Although this is one of my most favorite topics to teach, I fully realize that some of my students will struggle and will have a hard time "visualizing" the information.

I began "dabbling" with the use of warm ups / bell ringers / interactive notebook pages at the end of last school year.  I was pleased with the results, but wished I had started my students on this path from the start of the school year.  So this year, I did.  I love the flexibility of the different ways they can be used:  Interactive notebooks, warm ups, bell ringers, exit slips, homework assignments, or short daily quizzes.

This set on DNA and RNA is actually the 5th set of these activity pages that I have completed. If interested, here are the previous blog posts on the other 4 sets:
Introduction to Biology: Great Classroom Management Tool
Biology Interactive Notebooks (Cell Structure and Physiology)
Ecology Warm Ups
Genetics Activities for Interactive Notebooks

I ended up with 35 student pages in this set on DNA and RNA.  They have a really good range in difficulty.  When taken in order, the first few pages are very basic, and they increase in complexity as you move through the entire set. Teachers of middle school students will find plenty of pages that are suitable for their students, and the high school teachers will find the advanced topics they need to move their students to a higher level.

The 35 pages have a good mix of question types.  Some pages require drawing, while others require more problem solving and critical thinking skills.  But the key element of every page is reinforcement and review of the concepts and details of protein synthesis.

Below you will find the titles of the 35 pages included in this product.

DNA and Replication Titles (14 pages):
·    The Early Experiments
·    The Basics of DNA Structure
·    Nucleotides
·    DNA: Label It!
·    Complete the Drawing
·    Can You Draw It?
·    DNA Structure
·    DNA Replication
·    A Detailed Look At Replication
·    Proofreading the DNA
·    Repairing the Damage
·    The Genetic Code
·    Deciphering the Code
·    Thinking Critically About DNA

RNA and Transcription Titles (8 pages):
·    Differences Between DNA and RNA
·    RNA: The Big Picture
·    Types of RNA
·    Overview of Transcription
·    Steps to Transcription
·    Transcription: Complete It!
·    RNA Processing and Editing
·    The Genetic Code

Translation and Protein Synthesis Titles (5 pages):
·    Overview of Protein Synthesis
·    Translating the Code
·    Translating the Code 2
·    Mutations
·    Mutations 2

Gene Expression Titles (3 pages):
·    Gene Expression in Prokaryotes
·    Gene Expression in Eukaryotes
·    Cancer

Genetic Engineering Titles (5 pages):
·    Changing the Living World
·    Manipulating DNA
·    Cell Transformation
·    Transgenic Organisms

·    Thinking Critically About Genetic Engineering

These are fantastic for your interactive notebooks.  

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  I hope you are having a wonderful school year!

Links to products in my TpT Store:
Introduction to Biology Warm Ups
Cell Structure and Physiology Warm Ups
Ecology Warm Ups
Genetics Warm Ups
DNA, RNA, and Protein Synthesis Warm Ups

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Meet and Teach" with these Fabulous Teacher/Authors!

What is the "Meet and Teach" eBook?

This is one eBook you are not going to want to miss! Recently, Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, and Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy combined forces to compile three separate eBooks that are packed full of "ready to teach" lessons and pages.

Specifically, there are three different eBooks:  One for Science and Math, one for ELA, and one for Humanities.  Each eBook has contributions from 25 teacher/authors.  Each author was asked to submit two pages to the eBook. The first page is the "Meet" page.  You will find fun information about each teacher, such as their favorite things and why they love teaching their subject. The second page is the "Teach" page.  This page is a ready-to-print and ready-to-teach free item.  It has everything you need!  Simply print the page and start teaching.

Here is a sneak preview of the two pages I submitted to the eBook;

As you can see, the "teach" page above is ready to be printed and passed out to your students.  The pages are sample pages from my biology interactive and warm up notebooks.

There are some really fabulous ideas and free resources included in all three eBooks.  You will not be disappointed in this free download!

Ready to download your free eBooks?  Click on the images below to download the book of your choice, or all of them!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Preparation of Chromosome Squashes

Chromosome Squashes:  
How Students Can Prepare Their Own Slides Showing the Phases of Mitosis

When you can smell the onions on my end of the hall, you know it is time for studying cell division and making slides called chromosome squashes! This remains, after 3o years of teaching, one of my favorite labs.  I think that the reason this never gets old for me, is that my students always thoroughly enjoy this lab.  They experience a range of emotions, from utter disappointment at being a slide-making failure, to giddy with delight when they peer into the microscope and realize they made "a good one."

What exactly is a chromosome squash?  A chromosome squash is the procedure of using cells from an onion root tip to show the different phases of mitosis.

How long is this lab?  This lab does take some time.  It takes a short amount of class time to start the roots growing.  After about 5 days, you will spend part of a class period cutting the roots.  And you should probably allow at least 2 days for slide making.

Are there safety precautions that should be followed?  YES!!  The lab does require the use of concentrated hydrochloric acid.  You will need a lab that is well ventilated and has a fume hood and eye wash fountain.  Students MUST wear their safety goggles and lab aprons.

Tell me how to get started!  You will need to purchase onion sets from a local feed and seed store or from a biological supply company.  Just for the sake of entertainment, I buy all three colors:  red, yellow and white.  The color of the onion does not really have any affect on the lab.  But the kids love to grow them, and they look pretty when my lab tables are full of growing onions!

The next step is to "plant" the onions.  As you can see in the photo, you will need small plastic cups and toothpicks.  A 50-mL beaker works well, also.  The student will stick three toothpicks in each onion to form a sort of tripod.  The onion is then suspended over the cup, which has been filled with water.  All of this takes about 20 minutes of one class period.  It will take around 5 days before the root tips are long enough to use.

The root tip is an area of rapid cell division.  The root grows because the cells of the root are dividing to produce more and more cells.  Once the root tips have reached a length of one inch, take a razor blade and cut the roots away from the bulb.  The roots are placed in 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.     The cells are killed and preserved by the alcohol, and since the cells are dividing, many of them will be "stopped" in one of the phases of mitosis.  Before a slide can be made, the roots must soak in the alcohol for at least 24 hours.

Day 5:  Roots are long enough to be cut.

Ready to make the slide?  You need to be forewarned that this procedure is not perfect.  Students may have to try several times before they get a slide that is decent enough to see cells clearly in the phases of mitosis.  A root tip is removed from the isopropyl alcohol and placed in a solution of hydrochloric acid and ethyl alcohol.  After a given amount of time, the root is transferred to Carnoy's solution.  Finally the slide is placed on a microscope slide and covered with aceto-orcein stain.  While in the stain, the student will chop the root tip with a razor blade.  For best results, the more chopping the better!

The last step is the "squash" part.  A cover slip is placed over the chopped onion.  Place your thumb on top of the cover slip and apply gentle pressure. This spreads the cells out over the area of the slide.

Place the slide under the microscope, and keep your fingers crossed that you got lucky.  As stated above, it is not a perfect procedure, and several attempts may have to be made in order to get a decent slide.

But....when the students peer into the microscope and realize they have a good slide, the excitement in the lab grows and is contagious.  I have my students take pictures with their cell phones.  I have never mastered the trick, but the kids are really good at it!

Have fun teaching!

Link to my Chromosome Squash Lab.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Genetics Problems and Activities for Biology Interactive Notebooks, Warm Ups, and Bell Ringers

Genetics is the name, and warm ups, bell ringers and interactive notebook pages is the game.  

This idea is on fire in my standard biology classes!  I admit that my students were dubious (at best) at first, but now all are on board, and I am loving the daily routine.  I would call what I am doing a "warm up notebook."  The short review that each page provides for my students each day is proving to be invaluable.  But there are so many other uses for these activity pages.  They make fantastic homework assignments or short daily quizzes.  They are perfect for your science interactive notebooks.  And my students are starting to realize that their notebook is going to be awesome in December when it is time to study for my semester exam.

In earlier blog posts, I wrote about how to set up the notebooks, and pretty much exhausted the topic of the merits of these warm up /bell ringer activities.  You can check out the earlier blog posts by clicking these links:

The latest topic to be added to my bell ringer arsenal is Genetics.   Here's a preview of what is included:

I have divided the pages into three different categories:

There are 34 pages for the student.  Each printed page has two identical warm ups.  The only thing you have to do is print the pages and cut them in half.  Complete answer keys are also included.

A couple of examples of student work....

I hope that I have given you some new ideas for your classroom, and I hope you are having a wonderful school year.  Here are the links to the warm ups I have posted to date:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Secondary Teacher Labor Day Blog Hop

What will you be doing on Labor Day?

Teachers in my district are in their 4th week of school already.  It is time for a break!  I am teaming up with a fantastic group of middle and high school teachers to participate in the Labor Day Labor Saving Products for Teachers blog hop.   Here is the idea behind this secondary blog hop.  We want you to have a restful Labor Day, so each of us is featuring a "no prep required" product or lesson.  We have already done the work so you don't have to!

My friend, Tammy of Teaching FSL, made the button above.  She is Canadian, thus the spelling of "labour."

I debated what product to feature.  I finally decided that I could not choose just one product.  So I have decided to feature one free product and one paid product.  Let's go with the freebie first.  

I would think that almost every science teacher will mention the scientific method during the first week of their class.  

Be sure to grab my FREE Scientific Method PowerPoint.  It has 26 slides and comes with a set of notes for the teacher, and an outline for the student.  The student will fill in the outline as the lesson is being taught.  This lesson goes behind just listing the steps to the scientific method. Students will be taught how to practice and apply the scientific method to a question or problem.

It doesn't get more labor-saving than this!  Simply download this freebie, print the handouts, and you are all set to go.

Another labor-saving product that I would like to feature is my Cell Organelle Mix-Match Game.  It comes with 25 organelle cards and 112 answer/description cards.  Students have to match up the answers to the correct organelle.

The beauty of this product is that it can be used with a WIDE variety of grade levels and ability levels.  The answer cards range in difficulty from easy to hard.  You simply select the answer cards that are best suited for your students.  This game can be used with beginning life science students all the way to AP biology students.

You can be ready to use this with your class in a matter of minutes.  Simply print, cut, laminate (if you want to be fancy!), and distribute to your class. The kids will love it and you will love how much they learn!
Happy Labor Day!