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This teacher got "schooled"!

In my 28 years of teaching high school students, I have spent the last twenty years teaching only the "cream of the crop".  Only students who take Honors Chemistry or Advanced Placement (AP) Biology walk through my doors.  Or so I thought until this school year.

Roll back to last summer.  It is two weeks before school is to begin.  The "letter" arrives from my school to let us know what we will be teaching and what day/time to report for teacher inservice.  I open my letter with the usual "I already know what this is going to say" attitude.  BAM!  In addition to the honors courses I always teach, I'll be teaching a........standard Biology I class!

Our school went to a new schedule this year, requiring most every teacher to pick up an additional class.  After a time of pouting and griping, I started planning fast and furiously.  I had no lesson plans, no materials already prepared and waiting in a filing cabinet;  I had nothing.  I spent the next two weeks preparing the first unit.  I prepared a powerpoint, notes, labs, quizzes, tests, worksheets, and homework assignments.  The first day arrived and I was ready.

The Biology I students walked into my room with great trepidation.  They knew my reputation around school.  I was the teacher that teaches all the smart kids.  They were scared as they walked into my room, and little did they know, I was just as scared to have them walk into my room.  I called roll, passed out textbooks, and started teaching.  My powerpoint "Introduction to Biology" was an immediate hit.  It was packed with cool pictures and the students got so excited!  They started firing questions at me and before I knew it, the class was over.  As the students filed out, a young lady came up to me and said, "Ain't nobody ever taught us like that before.", and she gave me a bear hug.  I cried.

I don't know how much the students learned that first day, but I learned the biggest lesson of my life.  All students deserve the very best we can give them.  All students have the capacity to learn.  All students need a teacher who is willing to work double time and triple time to teach them.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten this.  This has been the best teaching year of my life.  I have absolutely loved teaching my standard Biology I class, and have already asked my principal to let me teach it again next year.  I have re-discovered the joy of teaching.  This teacher got "schooled" !

Here is a link to that very first powerpoint:  Introduction to Biology Powerpoint and Notes

The Ramblings of a Veteran Teacher

Just recently I learned what a "blog" is.  I had heard the word bounced around from time to time, but just pretty much ignored it because it didn't seem like something that was worth my time.  I am a newcomer to facebook as well.  My teenage daughter, mustering all the patience she possibly could, showed me how to set up my facebook page.  She can't imagine life without facebook;  I can't imagine life with facebook.  She doesn't have a blog, but it only took her about 5 minutes to teach me how to set up my blog.  You gotta love the way kids jump right in to any new technology and completely master it in minutes.  If only it were so easy to teach them biology and chemistry!!

So what does this veteran teacher have to blog about?    LOTS!

I have a wealth of wonderful, fun and exciting ways to teach biology and chemistry.  I can look at a potential lab and immediately know which parts of it will work and which parts are best re-written.  I have labs, worksheets, powerpoints, videos, projects, a deep knowledge of my subject.....but most of all, I have a love for kids, and I am a science nerd.  I want my students to learn a lot of biology, but more important than that, I want my students to learn to LOVE biology.  It is just the neatest subject in the world!!  I want to instill in my students the same excitement for biology and chemistry that I have.

What will be the purpose of this blog?  I have things to share.  I have great ideas.  I have wonderful teaching strategies.  I have failures.  I have stress.  I have students who love biology so much they become scientists.  I have students who hate it so much they never take another science class.  My plan is to use this space to share the good times and the bad.  So let's begin.....

Here is a link to a worksheet that I just put together for my standard level Biology I class.  The worksheet provides practice on working simple monohybrid genetics problems.  I have just learned that even my high school students love clip art!  They found this worksheet fun.  I found that it did a great job reinforcing simple genetics concepts.  You can download the worksheet for free by clicking on this link:   Monohybrid Mice!