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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Free Monohybrid Genetics Practice Problem Worksheet


Gregor Mendel

Who Doesn't LOVE Genetics?

In my many years of teaching, it has been a very rare occasion to have a student in my class who did not enjoy my genetics unit.  It is such a fun and interesting topic to teach!  My students always love to discover if they have a widow's peak, a hitch hikers thumb, or a crooked little finger.  And, of course, what kid hasn't been rolling (or trying to roll!) his tongue for most of his life?


Thanks to the work of Gregor Mendel, the very scientific Austrian monk, the study of genetics began in his abbey garden in the mid-1800's.  By spending many years in the patient breeding of pea plants, Mendel provided the world with the basic laws of genetics that we still use today.

I would bet that every biology teacher today begins with the story of Mendel.  From Mendel's work we can teach such vocabulary words as trait, hybrid, gene, alleles, dominant, recessive, segregation, homozygous, heterozygous, genotype and phenotype.  As soon as these terms are mastered, we jump into Punnett squares and probability.

For some teachers, this is where our trouble begins.  No, it is not that the material is hard or that students fail to master it.  The problem lies within the biology texts that are commonly used today.  It seems that they have precious few practice problems available to our students.  Having spent many, many years in the biology classroom, I have collected quite a few great genetics problems that I use for practice material.

One of my favorite worksheets is called Monohybrid Mice!  (FREEBIE!!)  Before more complicated problems can be attempted, the student must be able to complete a very simple one-factor problem... the monohybrid cross.  This simple worksheet has just four problems.  The student completes the Punnett square, fills in a chart of genotypes, phenotypes and probabilities, and finishes the problem by answering a series of questions.   I called this Monohybrid Mice! because all of the problems deal with the coat color of mice.

You can download this worksheet for free from my store on TeachersPayTeachers.com.  Once your students have completed this exercise, they will, no doubt, be ready to master more complicated problems.






Enjoy the freebie, and good luck with your teaching!


Related products include:

Genetics Complete Unit Plan Bundle of Products
Genetics PowerPoint and Notes
Dihybrid Problems
Incomplete Dominance
Codominance and Multiple Alleles
Sex Linkage


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Muir Woods National Monument: The Coast Redwood Trees





Guest Blogger:  My Own Daughter!
I am blessed to have the two most wonderful daughters in the whole, wide world!  My oldest, Faith, just returned from a trip to San Francisco.  While there, Faith had the opportunity to see one of the things on MY bucket list .... the Coast Redwood trees.  She graciously agreed to write a blog post about her experience in the Muir Woods National Monument.  So without further ado, here's Faith!

Faith with Kate (dear friend and
awesome roommate!)

This past week, I went on a trip with my scholarship group to San Francisco.  We toured all over the city for four days and saw all the sights from the Golden Gate Bridge to Chinatown to Berkeley and more.  We had a blast everywhere we went, but I think my favorite part of the trip was visiting Muir Woods. 

As you can tell from the rest of my mom’s blog, we’re pretty big on nature in this family, so I was pretty psyched that this was included on our trip.

Friend Zack









A few facts about Muir Woods: Muir Woods is a remnant of the ancient coast redwood forests that covered much of the northern California coastal valleys before the 1800s.  Today, it is located twelve miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.






150 million years ago, redwood-like trees covered much of the Northern Hemisphere. Due to climate change, the range of the redwood tree is much diminished.  Today, there are two species of redwood in California, the coast redwood and the giant sequoia.  The coast redwoods are found in Muir Woods and on a thin, discontinuous strip of land 500 miles long from southern Oregon to Big Sur.  The giant sequoias are found in small groves on the west slope of the Sierra Nevada.



The tallest redwood in Muir Woods is 252 feet tall, but the tallest in the world is 379.1 feet tall and is located in Redwood National Park.  This makes the redwood the tallest living thing in the whole world.  The tallest redwood is also up to 2,000 years old (though the average mature redwood is 600-800 years old)!  Its bark is a foot thick and its diameter is up to 22 feet.  The reason the redwood trees reach such incredible age and size is largely due to their incredible bark.  The bark grows from six to twelve inches thick and protects the tree from insects, fungi, and even fire.  Repeated hot fires can burn through the bark and cause hollows in the tree, but even then the redwood survives.

Fire actually plays a fairly important role in the life of the redwood.  Fire clears the forest floor of smaller plants and debris so that new redwood seeds can reach the ground and take root.  Furthermore the forest fires recycle nutrients and turns debris into ash.  In the 1800s, local towns and cities began suppressing these fires and upsetting the natural cycles of the forest.  The wildfires that would occur every 20-50 years were an integral part of the life cycle of the redwoods.  Nowadays, the National Park Service conducts prescribed burnings in order to re-establish fire’s natural role in the forest.

Redwoods are conifers and reproduce via cones.  If a cone finds purchase in warm, moist soil it may germinate and root.  A seedling may grow two or three inches in its first year of life.  However, in well-established forests such as Muir Woods, burl sprouting accounts for most reproduction of the redwoods.  A burl (pictured below)  is a mass of dormant buds that grows at the base, roots, or sides of the tree.  When the tree is injured or the burl is affected, the burl may sprout which gives the redwoods great competitive advantage over other trees that reproduce by seeds only. 


Another fun fact about redwoods is that they occasionally grow in family circles.  This process that takes hundreds of years.  When a redwood is fatally damaged, it will send up hundreds of burl sprouts.  Over time, only a handful of them will reach maturity.  These mature surviving trees often take root in a circle around the old, dying tree, forming “family circles.”


Muir Woods is a specialized forest environment that provides the habitat for a range of flora and fauna adapted to low light and moist conditions.  Such undergrowth includes redwood sorrel (pictured to the left), sword ferns, and mosses.  Bay laurels and big-leaf maples find purchase in rare patches of sunlight.  Douglas firs are interspersed among these other trees.  The animals of the forest include deer, spotted owls, bats, raccoons, warblers, kinglets, thrushes, garter snakes, rubber boas, and California giant salamanders.  The most common are Steller’s jays, Sonoma chipmucks, gray squirrels, and slimy bright banana slugs (in the rainy season).




Though we were there on a dry day and did not get to see any banana slugs, the woods were simply amazing.  We had spent a hot day in San Francisco the previous day and were shocked to find that the woods were downright cold and very wet.  We thoroughly enjoyed our two mile walk through the woods, and I highly recommend it to nature enthusiasts young and old alike!






For more information visit the Muir Woods website.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Free Graphic Organizer for Comparing Groups of Living Plants


Click photo to see all of my
plant products in my TpT store.

One of my goals of late has been to spruce up, improve and update the quality of my teaching materials on plants.  No changes had to made to the content.  I love teaching plants, and I was already doing a great job with the content.  I just wanted to make my materials more attractive and more visually appealing for my students.

So what's new?  I have made a very picture-ific 97-slide PowerPoint presentation, added some crossword puzzles, a set of PowerPoint review questions, and some new daily quizzes.   I have plans for new homework assignments, study guides, and a few new labs I want to try out.  My problem is that I have more ideas than I have time to carry them out!  All in good time, I guess.

At any rate, one of the new things I have just created is a graphic organizer for comparing and contrasting the major groups of living plants. When a lot of new material has been covered, my students sometimes struggle with remembering all the details.  A teaching tool that never fails to work is a graphic organizer. When the content is logically organized and put into place, studying by the student becomes much more effective.

I have listed this new graphic organizer for plants in my TpT store.  It allows the students to compare the liverworts, mosses, ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms.  It is a freebie, so be sure to click the links below and grab a copy for yourself.  I hope you find it useful.










Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Preparing for the **New** AP Biology exam



This post is going to be extremely short!  I recently received a newsletter from Carolina Biological that had a great article called, "Earning a 5: Successful Test Taking Strategies for the New AP Biology Exam."  I thought the article was great, and I immediately shared it with all of my students.

If you are a teacher of AP Biology, I think you might find the article useful.  Click here for a link to the article.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Enjoying Nature!

We had a gorgeous Saturday in my neck of the woods.  It was sunny and 70 degrees.  I spent the day doing a cemetery clean up project with a local ladies group.  My high school aged daughter joined us, and I enjoyed spending the lovely day out of doors with my daughter and friends.  We raked up many months worth of magnolia leaves from our local historical cemetery.

As we raked, I discovered a very pretty patch of bracket fungi....


The bracket fungi are also called shelf fungi.  They belong to the phylum Basidiomycetes, along with the mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, jelly fungi, smuts and rusts.  Shown in the photos are the fruiting bodies.  They are generally tough and sturdy and produce their spores within pores of the fruiting body.  Most shelf fungi, like many of the fungi, are decomposers, and can easily be found growing on dead trees and other dead plant matter. Other shelf fungi are parasitic, and grow along the sides of living trees.



Also spotted were some lovely lichens growing on the sides of some very old trees.  Lichens are composite organisms.  Two species live together in a lichen in mutualistic harmony.  One of the organisms is a photosynthetic alga, and the other is a species of fungus.  The alga carries out photosynthesis and provides the fungus with food.  The fungus has the ability to absorb water, and provides the algae with an adequate water supply.


Lichens can be found in nearly every habitat on earth.  They are particularly susceptible to environmental changes and are often an indicator of air pollution in an area.  If the lichens are not thriving, there is sure to be a reason.  Lichens are also used to make dyes and perfumes.






Thursday, March 7, 2013

Who Doesn't Like Free Teaching Materials??




Free!
Free!
Free!

As teachers, this is music to our ears! Every teacher I know, spends part of every pay check buying materials for school.  We buy school supplies such as pencils and paper for those students who never seem to have either.  We buy workbooks, textbooks, and fictional books for our classroom libraries.  We buy snacks and hand over lunch money to the student who "forgot" his.  We pay to take classes and to go to workshops to make ourselves into even better teachers.  For the lab, I am constantly purchasing soap, paper towels, graph paper, colored pencils, seeds, potting soil, plants.....well, this list is never ending.


So what can you get for free??

There are quite a few blogs that offer free teaching materials for teachers.  I would like to tell you about a few that offer free materials for all ages and all subject areas.  I know that there are sure to be many more than those listed here.  But these are the ones I have been personally involved in.

1.  <------  May I start with my own freebies?  Just take a look to the left side bar.  I have a long list of items that you can download for free from my TpT store.

2.  Take a look at the blog called "The Cornerstone".  Angela puts together a monthly link up of free materials.  They are organized by grade level so you can easily find the materials you need.

3.  "Creativity in the Common Core Classroom"  features free materials that are aligned with the common core standards.  A new list of freebies is posted each and every Friday.  These, too, are organized by grade level.

4.  I am proud to be a contributor to "Classroom Freebies."  There are 100 teacher/authors contributing to this collaborative blog.  Everyday, there are so many ideas being posted.  Many are for elementary classrooms, but keep scrolling down because there are quite a few middle and high school contributors.  This blog was so popular that Charity started a second, little sister blog, called "Classroom Freebies, Too!"  It also has a hundred contributors and a tons of freebies.

5.  Next, check out "Taking Grades for Teachers."  Margaret generously features everyone's freebies, but her own, I think.  Each week, Margaret searches and finds great free, downloadable materials and features them on her blog.

I am so grateful to all of these wonderful friends who have listed many of my free items on their blogs.

Now for the biggest source of free materials??  Well, that would be TeachersPayTeachers.com.  As of this writing, there are 85,319 products that are listed for free.  Click this link, then click the big button that says "FREE".

Enjoy!  And Have Fun Teaching!!