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Invertebrates: How To Get It Covered When You Are Running Out Of Time!


Help!  I am running out of time, and I still have the animal kingdom to cover!

This happens to me EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR!!  I really can't think of any topic in my biology class that I don't enjoy.  I am a biology nerd and I love teaching! But there are certain topics that I REALLY love and I spend too much time on them.  Cell physiology, biochemistry, cell division, photosynthesis, respiration, genetics, DNA, evolution ..... I get so excited about these, and I love the labs that go with these topics, and well, I just spend too much time on them!  Which brings me back to the purpose of this article:  I need to get the invertebrate material covered, and I have very little time to do it.

It's time to flip my classroom.

For most concepts, I prefer a traditional teaching approach. Flipping my classroom means that I am shifting the responsibility for teaching and learning to the student. The idea is that the student must study and learn the material at home, and class time is used to answer questions and clarify any misconceptions students might have about the concepts.  As I said above, I am a traditional teacher, and I prefer to teach most topics "the old-fashioned" way.  But I do believe that certain topics require less instruction from the teacher, and these topics can be covered quickly and efficiently by shifting some or all of the responsibility over to the students.

Like the invertebrates!  I want my biology students to be well versed about the origins of the animal kingdom.  They need a basic understanding of embryology, body form and symmetry, and the unique characteristics that place an animal in a particular phylum.  After a few really good lectures on embryology, I usually shift the rest of the learning over to the students. There is nothing difficult about the characteristics of each phylum, and my students often are relieved and excited for things to be a little different in the classroom.

So how will I cover the invertebrates? You are probably already familiar (hopefully!) with my warm ups and interactive notebook pages.  I use them all year long as warm ups, homework assignments, and for review and reinforcement.

For the invertebrates, I use them as a tool for flipping the learning over to the students.  Students are placed in cooperative learning groups - (groups of my own choosing, and not theirs!) - to complete the interactive pages on all of the invertebrate phyla.  I give them class time to work, but some of the work will have to be completed outside of class.  Each day, I devote time to answering questions the students might have, and focusing their attention to a few concepts that might need a little more traditional instruction.

I have my students prepare a notebook on the invertebrates.  You can get an idea of how this works from the photos below.  Click on any of the images below to view these products in my TpT store.



 

Each set can be purchased individually (click on each image above) or you can save money by purchasing them in a big bundle.  Use this link to view the big bundle.

I hope this gives you a few ideas of ways cover some topics quickly when you are crunched for time. Good luck in your teaching!


Teacher Appreciation Sale and giveaway!


It's a glorious time of the the year!  Spring has arrived with warm, beautiful weather, and teachers everywhere are eagerly looking forward to summer vacation.  It is a time to recharge and begin planning for the next school year. And most importantly, it is a time for teachers to receive much deserved appreciation for the hard work they do EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!!

In order to celebrate teachers, TeachersPayTeachers.com throws an annual Teacher Appreciation Sale.  It is one of the best sales of the year because you can grab great lessons and activities to get you through the end of the year, and you can also stock up on materials to start the next school year..... all at fantastic savings to you.



Everything in my TpT store, Amy Brown Science, will be 20% during the sale days of May 3 and May 4.  Be sure to use the discount code CELEBRATE at check out to receive an additional 10% off everything in your shopping cart.  That's a lot of savings!  My big bundles are discounted everyday, so during a sale, they are truly a bargain.  Click here to view all of my bundled units.




In addition to the great sale prices, I would like to give a lucky winner a $20 gift card to Teachers PayTeachers.  Be sure to enter to win in the Rafflecopter below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enjoy the rest of your school year, 
and Happy Teacher's Appreciation Week!

NSTA Convention

My lovely daughter (left) is a great
helper and my biggest fan!
My First Time as an Exhibitor!

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  Thank you so much to all of the amazing teachers that stopped at our booth at the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) Convention in Nashville! This was my very first time to attend NSTA as an exhibitor, and I was completely blown away by the experience!  I met so many wonderful people from all over the country and even from Italy, Mexico, Australia, and Puerto Rico!  All were excited about teaching science, and looking for new ideas for their classrooms.  

My cohorts and partners in crime (errr, fellow science teachers) were Erica Colon of Nitty Gritty Science and Tracey Graham of Smart Chick Teaching Resources.  All three of us are sellers on TeachersPayTeachers.com (Amy Brown Science) and we were delighted to be able to spread the good word about TpT.  

This journey started almost a year ago, and the three of us spent many a day texting, emailing, messaging, and chatting on Google chat to prepare for our first convention.  Erica and Tracey were an absolute joy to work with, and I am happy to have made friends with them through TpT.





What was the biggest highlight of this exhibiting experience?  There are two!


1 - Getting to see Bill Nye!  











And 2 - Meeting the people who have been using my lessons!!

There were many, many testimonials from teachers of how my materials had worked in their classrooms. A few were such fans that they wanted pictures to take back and show their friends at school!  It was touching and heartwarming and humbling.  I couldn't be happier to know that the materials and lessons I have developed in my 31 years of teaching are helping teachers in other school districts.


The NSTA exhibit hall is an amazing place, and you never know who will be strolling the aisles!



Congratulations to the following people who were winners in my giveaway drawing.  TpT gift certificates were won by Emily D, Rhonda W, Kimberly O, Kathryn D, and Mandy H.  The following people won CD's packed with teaching materials:  Beth V, Kristin K, Amanda H, Michaela Y, Anitra H, Becky S, and Nancy D.  You guys will be hearing from me soon!  Congratulations!

So..... would I like to do this again?   YAAASSSSS!  Los Angeles 2017, here we come!



Zoo Wild!

"Zoo Wild" is a free game found on Google Play.  I love the way it teaches conservation to budding young scientists (ages 3 - 10) and fosters a love of nature and the environment.  This project has been a labor of love for Clint Clark and his entire family. Below, Clint describes the game and how its development has impacted his family.
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When my son was born, my wife and I desired to be parents that empowered our children, built empathy and encouraged creativity. This has sent us on quite a wild adventure which has led to our latest creation Zoo Wild, a free mobile game on Google Play.
As parents, we are put off by the amount of ads and purchases in kids mobile games and vowed not just to make a free game, but one without ads and purchases. Not just that, but we desired to have learning embedded amongst all the wild fun. If you teach any kids between ages 3-10 or have children of your own, install it and join in on our adventure.
We desired to set our animal game apart from the other million or so that have been made.
  • First, we opted for realistic depictions of the species. Not smiley, big-eyed animals.
  • Second, we focus on learning facts about the species including their classifications, diets, the world regions in which they live, and most importantly their conservation status –- how endangered they are.

  • Third, we decided to create five different “mini-games” as opposed to one play style to keep kids engaged that build a variety of skills. There are opportunities to learn and apply their knowledge.
  • Fourth, we found a tremendous lady to provide narration for the game so pre-readers can still play and learn.
  • Fifth, we wanted to include more species than just the familiar favorites that are included in every zoo, animal book, bedspread and backpack.

We have taught our children a great deal about endangered species and conservation and we’ve found it is a tremendous empathy builder. The idea that an animal might die and not exist anymore, really hits kids. We share how conservation efforts are made and together we’ve learned about deforestation, pollution, global warming, poaching. All before they went to kindergarten.


In addition to the mobile game, my wife has built hundreds of resources around each species that are available on TPT.  (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Zoo-Wild). We also had some fun and Kickstarted an animal conservation card game, Zoo Webs.
All the while, we’ve included our kids through the entire process so they can learn they can make a difference for animals and our environment. Our kids choose all of the species, critique the art, look up the facts and decide where to donate the profit. They eagerly await choosing the next animal.
We hope our game can help some kiddos learn about different species, about conservation and perhaps activate a passion for the next generation of zookeepers, wildlife biologists and environmental activists! 

Nature Works Everywhere: Virtual Field Trip to Coastal Peru



Witness the Amazing Biodiversity of a Coastal Ecosystem

The next LIVE virtual field trip is just around the corner!  You are not going to want to miss this exciting trip into the most productive marine ecosystem in the world.

Virtual field trips provide the perfect way to travel with your students to exotic destinations without having to leave the classroom.  Brought to you for free by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Works Everywhere, these virtual experiences combine science, history, culture and geography into a integrated unit of study that truly packs a punch.  The resources being provided to classroom teachers by Nature Works Everywhere are truly incredible.  Use this link to view videos with accompanying lesson plans, as well as the five previous virtual field trips.

Now for the essential information about the upcoming field trip:

Title:  How Nature Works in Coastal Peru - The Amazing Biodiversity of a Coastal Ecosystem

Date:  Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Time:  12:00 noon Eastern Time

Length of virtual event:  45 minutes

How do I sign up?  Use this link to register now for the live virtual event.

What if I can't watch on March 16?  Register anyway to receive the YouTube viewing link.  This will allow you to watch anytime after the live event has concluded.  The virtual field trip will also be posted at a later date on the Nature Works Everywhere web site as well as on Vimeo.  Once these versions are ready, you will be sent the links in a newsletter.

How much does it cost?  FREE!  Participation in the live event and all of the high-quality downloadable lesson plans, worksheets, and activities are absolutely free!

Tell me more about the upcoming field trip!  Your host will be fisheries scientist, Matias Caillaux, from The Nature Conservancy.  He will lead you on an exploration of the Humboldt Current Ecosystem off the coast of Peru.  The Humboldt current is a cold ocean current that flows north along the west coast of South America from the southern tip of Chili to northern Peru.  It is one of the major upwelling systems in the world, supporting an incredible abundance of marine life.

The Humboldt Current Large Marine Ecosystem is the most productive marine ecosystem in the world, as well as the largest upwelling system.  Because of its high rate of primary and secondary productivity, approximately 18-20% of the world's fish catch comes from the Humboldt Current Large Marine Ecosystem.  This forms the basis of a unique and abundant ecosystem of fish, sea birds, penguins and marine mammals.

Students will learn about biodiversity, explore ancient island carvings, examine the region's fishing industry, and discover what is being done to conserve this valuable and vulnerable ecosystem.

In additional to the virtual field trip, take advantage of the free downloadable teaching materials, videos, and interactive web sites to prepare your students.  These materials will enhance the field trip experience and provide excellent resources for your students.  Two interactive web sites include:

Click image to view this interactive web site.


Click image to view this interactive web site.

Free downloads for your classroom include:

Click image to view this interactive web site.
In these activities, students will explore sustainable fishing through a specific case study in Peru.  The lessons include interactive story maps that explore the Humboldt Current, El Nino, and artisanal fishing.  Students can complete a fisheries management activity using data and a socratic seminar that explores the challenges of open access fishing areas.

As a science teacher, I love that these exceptional field trips, videos, and teaching handouts are made available to us for free.  Thanks to The Nature Conservancy and NatureWorks Everywhere for providing us with these outstanding opportunities!  


Supplement Your Lessons on Plant Structure and Function

What does it take to teach about plants in your biology class?

It takes determination, fortitude, and as many top-notch materials as you can find!  One of my Dad's favorite sayings was, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."    This saying runs through my head each year when I begin to teach my units on plants to my high school biology students. I'm pretty sure that if I asked my students at the end of the year which topic was their least favorite..... they would all say plants! As biology teachers, we have to cover this material.  Our very existence depends upon these lovely living organisms.  I have found that my students love growing plants, and labs involving living specimens, germination of seeds, growing plants under various conditions helps to raise the interest level among my students just a bit.

For those of you who have been waiting, I have just put the final polish on the warm ups and bell ringers that I use with my students.  This set contains 28 student pages and covers everything they need to know about plant structure and function.  Here are some highlights in pictures:





In more detail, these warm up pages will cover the following concepts:
  • Introduction to plant anatomy: Main organs of the plant, specialized organs of the plant.
  • Types of plant cells: Parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma.
  • Tissue systems of a plant:  Dermal tissues, vascular tissues, and ground tissues.
  • Vascular tissues:  Xylem, vessel elements, tracheids, phloem, sieve tube elements, companion cells.
  • Meristematic tissues, apical meristems, lateral meristems, primary and secondary growth.
  • Roots:  Functions of roots, taproot system, fibrous root system, meristematic region, region of elongation, region of maturation, epidermis, cortex, endodermis, pericycle, root hairs, root cap, adventitious roots, differences in monocot and dicot roots.
  • Stems:  Functions of stems, nodes, internodes, buds, bud scales, terminal and lateral buds, epidermis, vascular bundles, pith, cortex, differences in monocot and dicot stems, cork, cork cambium, heartwood, sapwood, bark, vascular cambium, tubers, bulbs, corms, and rhizomes.
  • Translocation and transpiration.
  • Leaves:  Functions of the leaf, petiole, blade, veins, differences in monocot and dicot leaves, epidermis, cuticle, palisade cells, spongy cells, mesophyll, stomata, guard cells, gas exchange in leaves, simple and compound leaves, types of specialized leaves.
  • Thinking critically:  One page of critical thinking and problem solving questions about plants.
  • 6 pages of review:  Short answer, Modified True False, Multiple Choice, Fill in the Blank, Review the vocabulary, and What’s the relationship?
Use this link to view these materials in my TpT store.  Thanks!

Amp Up Your Unit on Plants!

Ginkgo

It's time for your unit on plants.  Excited or dreading it?

As I sat down to begin the writing of this post, my initial thought was to lead with, "I just love teaching plants!"  And then it occurred to me that I begin almost all of my blog posts on biology topics in the same way.  But the truth is.... I am excited to begin teaching almost any topic in biology. I love them all!  I am sure that I have a least favorite unit to teach, but I would have to give that some thought to determine which unit it is. That is probably a topic for another blog post.....

So back to plants.  Having taught school for over 30 years, I have taught thousands of students and have interacted with many, many teachers during this time.  What I know is this:  Students don't like studying about plants (too boring!) and teachers don't like teaching about plants (students don't like it!) As a result, I have noticed that many middle and high school life science and biology teachers will either:

  1. Leave plants out of the curriculum entirely, or ...
  2. Skip through it too quickly, leaving out the depth that this unit deserves.

I find plants fascinating.  And because I do, I look for ways to make it interesting for my students.  Not the topic of this blog post, but have you ever tried the C-Fern labs from Carolina Biological?  My students literally shout with excitement when they see (using a microscope) the sperm cells swimming to the egg and the frantic mob of sperm that ensues around the egg.


Students love lab work and it definitely helps makes the class more interesting and exciting, but we all know that the "down and dirty" classroom days are needed to teach the information to our students.  I developed this set of 34 warm up / bell ringer / interactive notebook pages to use with my students while teaching about plant evolution and classification.  I am really excited about this set, and I feel that it is one of the best sets that I have written.


  • If you complete these pages with your students, I guarantee that your students will come away with a solid foundation and knowledge base about the evolution and classification of plants.
Click image to view product in my TpT store.

  • These pages are NO PREP for the teacher!!  I have done all of the prep work for you. You can spend more time concentrating on your teaching.
  • Don't use these pages the same way everyday.  Use some as warm ups, and others as homework assignments.  Some will make great quizzes.  I like to add a page or two of these as a lab station while carrying out our plant experiments.  While lecturing, I will break up the lecture time by having my students complete one of the pages for review and reinforcement.

What topics are covered?  These 34 warm up pages cover the topics commonly found in an introductory unit on plants.  Highlights include: Characteristics of plants, the plant life cycle, alternation of generations, the evolution of plants, the transition of plants to land, classification of plants, nonvascular and vascular plants, the bryophytes, the liverwort life cycle, the moss life cycle, the fern life cycle, the seed plants, gymnosperms and angiosperms.

What topics are not covered?  Plant structure and function, plant responses, and plant reproduction will be covered in future warm up sets. Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by, and have fun teaching!