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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!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ecology Warm Ups, Bell Ringers, or Interactive Notebook Pages

Click on image to view this product in my TpT store.

You've been asking for them.....
..... and here they are!

Ecology Warm Ups and Bell Ringers

Thank you for your patience as I completed this set.  I kinda got all wrapped up in this.  Just when I thought I was finished, I would think of something else I wanted to include.  So it kept growing and growing until it ended up being 80 student pages, 80 pages of teacher answer keys, a 6-page teacher guide, a template for creating cover pages for your interactive notebooks, and a template for creating your own warm up / bell ringer!  WHEW!!

In case you don't already know, this is the third set of warm ups / bell ringers that I have created.  The first set was "Introduction to Science," and the second set was "Cell Structure, Function, and Physiology."  There are two previous blog posts detailing each of these.  You can read the previous blog posts here and here.

All of the student pages look like this.  The pages are printed landscape style and each activity is 1/2 page.  Two identical warm-ups are printed per page in order to conserve paper. 

In this time saving classroom management strategy, all you have to do is print the pages and cut them in half.

A wide variety of skills and question types are used throughout the student pages.  Many of the activities require the student to draw, color, diagram or graph, while other pages are more traditional and require the student to explain, define, compare or analyze.

How can these pages be used?
  • Warm Ups or Bell Ringers
  • Exit Slips
  • Additions to Interactive Notebooks
  • Homework Assignments
  • Tutoring and Review
  • Completed notebook is perfect for semester exam review. 

These half-page activities can be collected and quickly graded, or you might want to have your students keep a daily warm-up notebook.  The warm-ups will make excellent additions to your interactive notebooks.  An added benefit is that the completed warm-up notebook makes an excellent review for the semester exam!

The topic is ecology.  It is such a HUGE topic that I broke it up into 6 categories.  Each category has between 9 and 18 student pages.  Each has been saved individually so that you can print only the ones you want to use.

Unit 3 Ecology includes warm ups for the following categories: 
(1) Introduction to Ecology, (2) Population Ecology, (3) Community Ecology, (4) Energy Flow and the Recycling of Matter, (5) Biomes, and (6) Humans and the Environment

Introduction to Ecology (12 pages):
·    Introduction to Ecology
·    Today’s Environment
·    Graph the Data 1
·    Graph the Data 2
·    What Affects Climate?
·    The Ozone Layer
·    The Greenhouse Effect
·    Levels of Ecological Organization I
·    Levels of Ecological Organization II
·    Biotic and Abiotic Factors
·    Habitat and Niche
·    Thinking Critically About Ecology

Population Ecology Titles (14 pages):
·    What is a population?
·    Dispersion Patterns
·    Survivorship Curves (Patterns of Mortality)
·    Life History
·    Introduction to Population Growth
·    Exponential Growth
·    Carrying Capacity
·    Logistic Growth
·    Limits to Growth
·    Density Dependent Factors
·    Density Independent Factors
·    Human Population Growth
·    Age Structure Diagrams
·    Thinking Critically About Populations

Community Ecology Titles (11 pages):
·    Community Interactions
·    Competition
·    Predation
·    Parasitism
·    Symbiosis
·    Name That Relationship!
·    Properties of Communities
·    Disturbances
·    Succession Part 1
·    Succession Part 2
·    Thinking Critically About Communities

Energy Flow and the Recycling of Matter Titles (16 pages):
·    Introduction to Energy Flow and Matter Recycling
·    Feeding Relationships
·    Food Chains
·    Productivity
·    Ecological Pyramids 1
·    Ecological Pyramids 2
·    Matter and Energy Cycles
·    The Water Cycle
·    Water Cycle Drawing
·    The Carbon Cycle
·    Carbon Cycle Drawing
·    The Nitrogen Cycle
·    Nitrogen Cycle Drawing
·    Nitrogen Cycle Summary
·    Phosphorus Cycle
·    Thinking Critically About Energy Flow and Matter Recycling

Biomes Titles (18 pages):
·    Introduction to Biomes
·    Tropical Rain Forest
·    Temperate Deciduous Forest
·    Savanna
·    Desert
·    Temperate Grassland
·    Chaparral (Woodland, Shrubland)
·    Taiga (Boreal Forest)
·    Tundra
·    Name That Biome!
·    Marine Ecosystems
·    Ocean Zones 1
·    Ocean Zones 2
·    Ocean Zones 3
·    Hydrothermal Vents
·    Estuaries
·    Freshwater Ecosystems
•  Thinking Critically About Biomes

Humans and the Environment Titles (9 pages):
·    Humans in the Biosphere
·    Resources
·    Forest Resources
·    Air Resources
·    Fisheries and Water Resources
·    The Ozone Layer
·    Carbon Dioxide Levels
·    The Biodiversity Crisis
·    Thinking Critically About Humans and the Environment

More warm ups have been included than can be used for this unit.  This gives you the flexibility of choosing which topics are most important to you and your students.

The idea of using warm ups or bell ringers is one that has worked well for me. I love that my students start working immediately upon entering my classroom, and that it give me a few minutes to get organized while the students are working.  

Thanks for making it to the end of this really long blog post.  I hope you are having a wonderful school year!

Links to warm up products:
Introduction to Science
Cell Structure, Function, and Physiology