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Monday, February 23, 2015

TpT First Quarter Sale!


Click image to view my store.

This only happens once each quarter!  It is time for the site-wide sale on Teachers PayTeachers.com!

Wednesday, February 25

Everything in my store will be 20% off.  Use the promo code "HEROES" at checkout and you will get an additional 10% off all purchases.



Check out all of these fabulous secondary teacher/authors.


Many thanks to Danielle Knight for putting together this fabulous image!

Thank you, teachers, for all you do!!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teaching Fungi? Interactive Notebook Pages and Warm Ups Will Help!

What have I learned about interactive notebooks, warm ups and bell ringers during my first year of using them?




  • Time management is so important!  If you are not careful, this can consume way too much of your class time.
  • Utilize to the best of your ability, the first 5-10 minutes of your class.  Don't get bogged down in classroom chores.  Get your students right to work every single day.  A short warm up or bell ringer each day will get students working, while you are taking care of "stuff."
  • Reviewing a small amount of information each day has increased retention of information for my students.
  • The best comment ever from a student?  "These have really helped me remember the information for the test."
I began this journey at the beginning of this school year, and I can honestly say that I wish I had started this years ago.  Each year our class time seems to get shorter, and we have more information we are required to cover.  It seems to me that each year brings more and more interruptions to my class time.  

My goal at the beginning of the school year?  I wanted to find a way to better utilize each valuable minute of instruction time.  These activities (interactive notebooks and bell ringers) have accomplished that for me.  And added bonuses include:  (1) My students actually seem to enjoy them!  (2) The pages make great homework assignments.  (3) I can leave them in my sub folder for emergencies.  (4) The completed warm up notebook provides a perfect way to review for my semester exam.


Note:  This is just the latest in a long line of blog posts on this topic.  Use the search bar at the top of my blog to search for the other posts about interactive notebooks.



OK, so I need to get the topic of this particular blog post.  I have just finished using this technique to cover my unit on the Fungi.

I developed a set of 16 bell ringer pages to use with my unit.  Some of the pages were used at the beginning of my class as bell ringers, while other pages were used for homework assignments.  But all pages went into the warm up notebook that I require each student to keep.  Here are the highlights:





I have uploaded this set of interactive notebook pages on the fungi into my TpT Store.  



All of my interactive notebook sets can be view by clicking this image.


What's next? We are studying the protists now in my class.  I am am building a set of bell ringers to cover the algae and the protozoans.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's February ... And That Means Daphnia Love is in the Air!

This is the PERFECT lab for a high school biology class on Valentine's Day!

I soooo look forward to this lab each and every year.  Measuring the heart rate in Daphnia is FUN, is fairly easy to do, allows our biology students to work with living organisms in the lab, and perhaps most importantly, it provides an outstanding situation for having our students design and implement their own experiment.

Are you nervous about "student-designed experiments"?  Don't be!  If properly trained and instructed on the front end, the students will surprise you with their creativity and passion for designing an experiment.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me go back to the beginning....

Daphnia are tiny crustaceans, closely related to a shrimp. They are often called "water fleas." They are small, but not microscopic.  They can be seen with the naked eye, but you will need a dissecting microscope to view the beating heart. Since Daphnia are arthropods, they demonstrate the three major arthropod characteristics:  exoskeleton, jointed appendages, and segmented body. The exoskeleton is clear, allowing the student to easily view the heart. Daphnia are ectotherms and their body temperature changes with the surrounding environment.  This further means that there is a direct relationship between the internal body activities and the external temperature of the water in which it lives.

I love this short video made by Samantha Ward!   I came across this on instagram.  I am delighted to be one of Samantha's followers on instagram (@wardbiology).  Samantha teaches 7th grade life science in Northwestern LeHigh SD.   From Samantha's posts on instagram, I can tell that there are some very lucky 7th graders in SD! Her class looks amazing.  You can also follow her on twitter  @wardbiology.  Thanks so much, Samantha, for allowing me to use your video!


Daphnia can be purchased from any of the companies that sell lab supplies and equipment.

This sets the stage for the first part of our experiment.  I have my students carry out an experiment where they measure the change in heart rate when Daphnia are exposed to different temperatures.  I provide the procedure, and the student simply follows the instructions and carries out the lab.  The Daphnia are exposed to three different temperatures, and the student counts the number of heart beat per minute in each environmental condition.


Students carry out my procedure, graph their results, and answer my questions.  On Day 2, the fun begins!  It is time for the students to design their own experiment!  They are asked to design an experiment to test the effect of caffeine and alcohol on the heart rate of Daphnia.  The students must state a hypothesis, describe their experimental and control groups, carry out the experiment, collect their data, graph their data, and come to a conclusion based on their data. 

The student-designed experiment will take some time.  I require my students to write their experiment and submit it to me for approval before they begin. Once approved, they carry out their experiment and write a formal lab report. The best learning occurs as the student is carrying out their experiment.  They invariably realize that their procedure is flawed, and they must revise, revise, and revise until they get it right.

For my honors and AP students I require that they also complete a worksheet on how to calculate the Q10 temperature coefficient.

And this is what we do to celebrate Valentine's Day in my biology classroom.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

In my TpT Store: "Measuring the Heart Rate of Daphnia" contains handouts for all parts of this experiment, including the student designed experiment and the Q10 worksheet.  Teacher Guide included. 


I am pleased to take part in the "Holiday Blog Hop for Secondary Educators."  Be sure to check out all the other great blog articles in the linky below.








Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Latest eBook for Science (and Other) Teachers


These are the simple truths:  Teachers are busy, busy, busy! Teachers spend WAY too much of their own money for materials for their classroom.  Teachers are always on the look-out for something new and innovative for their kids.

Well, the teacher/authors of TpT are here to help.  This is the latest of the FREE eBooks that you can download.  These eBooks (there is one for each subject area) will provide middle and high school teachers with instant resources that can be used immediately in the classroom.  Simply print and teach!!  

The Science eBook has 30 contributors, so that is 30 FREE resources for your classroom.  Each science teacher submitted two pages:  The first page tells you a little about the teacher, and the second page is a resource that we hope you can use ... and use ... and use!




You'll find pages from all of these amazing science teachers!

There are four eBooks, one for each subject area.  You can download them all at the following links:


Thanks goes to these amazing ladies for their hard work in compiling these fantastic resources for our fellow teachers:  Brain Waves Instruction, Literary Sherri, Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy, and Lindsay Perro.

Remember, all of these eBooks are free downloads, and I have no doubt that you will find plenty that you can use in your classroom

Have fun teaching!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord #3 Out of the Deep Freeze: Revisit My Planet Earth Awards


Secondary Smorgasbord 
January Blog Hop 
(Month #3) 

Once again it is time for the Secondary Bloghop event.  The theme for this month is "Out of the Deep Freeze" and is about an idea whose time has come (could be something we are currently working on), or a product that doesn't get the attention we'd like it to get and should get because, darn it, it's really good! 

I'd like to tell you about one of my products that I would like to see get more attention.  It is called "The Mother Nature Awards for the Planet Earth."

Over the years of teaching I have come to realize that some topics are very difficult for my students.  I find that the students learn and perform much better if I teach in spurts.  I teach a new concept for 15-20 minutes, and then I give my students a "brain-break".  

A "brain-break" is a 2 or 3 minute break away from the topic currently being taught.  It is a couple of minutes where the student can relax, and it relieves the tension of a very complex lesson.  I am still a teacher who wants every minute to count.  So during a "brain-break" I usually throw out a bit of science trivia.  These are just fun and interesting facts that teach the student about the amazing natural world we live in.  Over the last few months my "brain-breaks" have consisted of the Mother Nature Awards for Planet Earth.

Here is an example:


These are PowerPoint slides.  I insert one of these slides into a PowerPoint on cellular respiration or photosynthesis or enzyme-catalyzed reactions.  My students have come to expect these little surprises and they get excited when one of these pops up into my otherwise overly technical lecture.  This is fun, it teaches a bit about the wonders of nature, and best of all, it gives the student just a minute to relax and get focused again before I launch back into the real topic of the day.

After a slide has been viewed, I print it, laminate it, and place it on the wall in my classroom.  I have been very pleasantly surprised at how often students stop by the wall to look at the Mother Nature Awards.

I have put together a group of 20 of these awards and placed them in my store on TeachersPayTeachers.com.  There are two product listings, one for Grades 2-5 and a separate listing for grades 6-12.

The listing for grades 2-5 comes with a set of activity worksheets (42 pages) for the students to complete as the PowerPoint slide is being viewed.  The finished worksheets can be put together to make a great Mother Nature Award book.






The listing for grades 6-12 comes with a worksheet for students to conduct their own research to develop a PowerPoint slide for a Mother Nature Award of their own choosing.  This makes a nice homework assignment for a grade, or for a great extra credit opportunity.



Don't forget that Earth Day is coming up soon.  The Mother Nature Awards are a perfect Earth Day activity.

Did you miss the first two months of this fun blogging event?  Those posts can be viewed by clicking these links:
Month 1: A Buffet of Resources
Month 2: Favorite Holiday Traditions

Be sure to check out all of the other participants in our monthly blog hop. Thanks to Darlene Anne Curran (The ELA Buffet) and Pamela Kranz (Desktop Learning Adventures) for hosting our monthly blog hop event!

Have fun teaching!



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Insects: A Dichotomous Classification Key Activity

Dichotomous Classification Keys:  KIDS LOVE 'EM!

There is just something about working through a classification key that is fun.  I love them, the students love them .... and the result is a classroom activity that is stimulating, educational, and ... well, it is just FUN!

In my 30+ years of teaching biology, I always look forward to my unit on classification and taxonomy. As a result,  I have developed quite a few teaching materials and lessons on this topic.  After posting these materials in my TpT store, I began to get more and more requests for additional activities that use a dichotomous classification key.  Well, here is the newest addition to this type of activity.

Click on image to view in my TpT store

There are actually two activities in this product.  Students begin by using the included dichotomous key to the insects to identify 9 different insects. Second, students are given pictures of a representative organism from each of the five classes of the Phylum Arthropoda.  Students are asked to make good observations and develop their own dichotomous key for these arthropods.  The dichotomous key and the two pages of pictures can be laminated and used year after year.  Student handouts include 2 pages for their written work.  Analysis and follow up questions are also included to extend the activity.

I wrote this activity in response to requests from many upper elementary and middle school teachers.  Therefore, I feel this activity is most appropriate for grades 4-7.  However,  my experience teaching high school tells me that my first year biology students will love this as an introduction to classification.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed developing it.

Links to this and related products:

Insects: A Dichotomous Classification Activity
Dichotomous Key to a "Crazy" Animal Kingdom
Dichotomous Key to the Genus "Smiley"
FREE Dichotomous Key to Holiday Giving and Community Service
Classification and Taxonomy Task Cards

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Giant Bundle of Interactive Notebook Pages and Warm-Ups

The feedback I have been receiving on my biology and life science interactive notebook pages has just been phenomenal!  Thank you so much!  I have received numerous requests to bundle all the sets together.  So for those of you who have been waiting, the "Bundled Set Part 1" is ready!

This bundled set covers an entire semester of topics taught in a typical high school biology class.  There are over 300 student pages, and teacher answer keys are included very every student page.

Yes, there will eventually be a"Bundle Part 2", but it is not likely to be seen until the summer of 2015.

So without further ado, here is a preview of the first bundled set of warm-ups, bell ringers, and interactive notebook pages.  Click on any image below to view this product on TeachersPayTeachers.com.