menu   Home About Me Home freebies My Store  
 photo 3am_AB_f1_zps652b0c0f.png    photo 3am_ab_gplus_zps3ab6fefc.png    photo 3am_ab_pin_zpsbfebd6d2.png    photo 3am_tpt1_zpse91e0740.png   photo 3am_ab_email1_zpsebc98a17.png

Search My Blog

Excellent Resources for Teaching the Protists

Excellent Short Videos of Protists

Just as my school was getting out for the Christmas break, I was finishing up a unit on the Protists with my biology classes.  I am very fortunate to have the use of an extremely well equipped high school lab, but before I took my students to the lab to complete my protist lab, I wanted some short video clips to use in the classroom during my lecture.  Most sites that host video are blocked at my school, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find several sites that I could access and use in my classroom.

Here are a few of the sites that I found.  What I liked the best was the short length of each clip.  With each of these sites, I could show 20-30 seconds of one organism and then move on to another organism.

Each of the sites listed below are free and the quality of the video is excellent.

Nikon Microscopy:  This was my favorite site.  Not only did it have the clips of the protists I was looking for, but it also has video clips of annelids, cnidarians, crustaceans, etc.  I'll be going back and using this site again and again.

Fun Science Gallery:  This site has 38 movies of bacteria, protists and freshwater multicellular organisms.  This site gives a few short sentences on particular structures to watch for as the video plays.

Natural History Museum Microbiology Video Collection:  All I can say about this site is just "Wow!!"  If you can't find what you are looking for here, it probably doesn't exist!

After teaching the about the protists in my classroom, I took my students to the lab for my 3-day lab on the protists.  Having used the short video clips in the classroom made my lab run smooth and easy.  I have already written a blog post about this lab.
You can access it and read about it here:   The Living Protists Lab

Happy Holidays and Happy Teaching!

Scientific American "Citizen Science" - A Fantastic Resource

Turn your students into scientists!

Your students can actually help collect data for actual scientific research projects!

Hardly a day goes by that I don't check the Scientific American web site.  Not only does it have great news stories for me to share in my classroom, but it has a section called "Citizen Science" that is just a fantastic way for us science teachers to involve our students in actual, ongoing scientific research projects.  This explanation comes directly from the Citizen Science section of the web site:

Currently, there are two projects available that particularly interest me.  Both of these can be done with students at school, or can be done by children with their parents at home during the holidays.

This project is called "Christmas Bird Count".  "The National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count(CBC) is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of citizen scientists across the US, Canada and many countries in the Western Hemisphere, go out over a 24 hour period to count birds.
Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 24-kilometer diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. All CBC’s are conducted in the period from December 14 to January 5 each season, and each count is conducted in one calendar day.
The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years."

You have to sign up for this project through the link above to find out if this is being done in your area.  You will be assigned a specific route to follow.  

This project is called "The Whale Song Project - Whale FM".  

I particularly like this project because it can be done in the classroom or at home on your computer.

"Through the Whale Song Project, citizen scientists are presented with a whale call and shown where it was recorded on a map of the world’s oceans and seas. After listening to the whale call citizen scientists are asked to listen to a number of potential matching calls from the project’s database. If a match is found, the citizen scientist clicks on that sound’s spectrogram and the results are stored.
The dataset generated by this project should help scientists to answer a number of questions regarding whale communication."

There are new projects being added to Citizen Science all the time.  This is a fantastic opportunity for the students in our science classrooms to participate in current scientific research projects.

Happy Teaching!!

P.S.  I am adding this little tidbit of information.  After my blog post was published, I was made aware of this site:  SciStarter.  It has a wealth of information on projects that you can join.

Celebration and Freebies!

Over 500 Facebook Followers!
Over 500 Twitter Followers!

It's Time for a celebration and some giveaways!!

Thank you so so so much to all of my followers.  What a great year I have had!  I am excited that for some time now I have had over 500 twitter followers, and just yesterday I soared past 500 facebook followers.  (If you are not yet a follower and would like to be, click the links in the right side bar.)

In appreciation I would like to offer a couple of freebies to you.  The two items listed below are normally for sale in my TpT store, but for the next 48 hours I will have them listed as free.

The two products are called:  "Let's Build a Cladogram!"  and "Measurement Madness!"  Here are the links to the two products:

Click picture to download product.

Click this picture to download product.

At the end of 48 hours, these two products will return to being "for sale" products, so grab them while you can!  Clicking on the links above will take you to my store.  There the products can be downloaded for free.  While you are there, go ahead and download all of the 14 products I have listed that are always for free.  A list of these products can be found in the left hand sidebar of my blog.  If you feel compelled to become a follower of my TpT store, I would appreciate that also!  Science Stuff Store on TpT

You will need to sign up for an account on TpT to complete the downloads, but there is certainly no obligation to buy anything.  In fact, TpT has over 16,000 FREE items.  You can literally find tons and tons of materials for any subject and any grade level for FREE on TpT.

Many, many thanks for your support during this year.  I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season!

The Living Protists Lab

Click here to view product.

The microscopic world is fascinating to students. Students of all ages love to look at living organisms under the microscope. 

I just spent the last three days in the lab with my biology students observing a variety of living protists.  I use this lab for both my standard Biology I students as well as my AP Biology students.  No matter what the age or the ability level, kids love this lab!  

This lab provides an extensive look at many different species of living algae and protozoa. 

To complete this lab as written, you will need to order the following protist cultures from a biological supply company. 
1) Spirogyra
2) Algae Survey Mixture (Contains 6 representative algae)
3) Diatom Mixture
4) Protozoa Survey Set (Contains 6 representatives: Ameba, Euglena, Paramecium, Spirostomum, Stentor, and Volvox)
5) Marine Dinoflagellates
6) Preying Protozoa Set

This lab was written with a high school biology class in mind, but it is so easily adaptable to younger ages.  This is one of those labs that just gets kids excited about science.  I have not had a student yet who did not enjoy watching these amazing organisms under a microscope.  Even students who have shown no previous interest in your class will perk up during this lab.  

Happy Teaching!

Teach Classification and Make It Fun!!

What is this organism?  

What characteristics does it have?  To what other organisms is it similar?  Is it a vertebrate or an invertebrate?  What does it eat?  What role does it play in an ecosystem?

All biology teachers have particular topics that they really don't like to teach, and topics that we LOVE LOVE to teach.  Teaching classification is a topic that I LOVE!

Classification involves problem solving and critical thinking.  Basically a taxonomist is a "living organism detective".

I have two really fun activities that my students always enjoy.  The first is called "Let's Learn to Use and Build a Dichotomous Key".    This product teaches students all about dichotomous classification keys.  Students will learn why classification is necessary, the definition of a dichotomous key, and how to use a dichotomous key.  Students will analyze the included pictures of 7 different cone-bearing plants, using the included dichotomous key to classify them.   

Finally students will learn to construct a classification key of their own.  Students are given pictures of 12 different primates and asked to make their own classification key.  There are also 10 follow up questions for students to answer.

The second activity that I love to do with my students is called "Let's Build A Cladogram".  Cladistics is one of the newest trends in the modern classification of organisms.  It shows the relationship between different organisms based on the presence or absence of characteristics called derived characters.  In this activity, students will look at pictures  of 7 different animals to determine if they possess certain derived characters.  This data will then be used to build a cladogram.

There are just so many fun things to do when teaching classification.  I always have to make myself wrap up the unit and move on to a new topic!

How Do You Get Students to Read the Textbook!!

Does anyone have science students who will freely read their textbook?

In my many years of teaching school, one of the things I have struggled with the most is how to get my students to read their textbook.  Most are content to "get by" with the notes they take in class.  When test day arrives, the student is hoping to score big just because they listened in class, or took a few notes each day.  Many are disappointed in their test grade, and will quickly tell you, "I studied for this test!!"  (We really have to teach them what "studying" means!)  

I feel that my job as a teacher is two-fold:  
1.   Teach a great, fun, and interesting Biology class.
2.   Teach my students how to be great students.

So when the student wants to know what it takes to get an "A" in my class, I tell them this:
1.  Listen in class attentively each day.
2.  Ask good questions.
3.  Take notes during class.
4.  Do your homework every night.
5.  Study for a short amount of time each night, rather than cramming the night before the test.

And the one that is the topic of this blog article.....
6.  Read your textbook!!

This year I have been determined to get my students to read the chapters of their textbook.  I have put together "Chapter Reading Guides" for each chapter of the text.

These "Chapter Reading Guides" are given out on the first day of a new chapter.  The handouts consist of pictures that need to be labeled, questions to answer, graphs to interpret, etc.  As the student reads the chapter, he/she will fill in this reading guide.  Reading guides are due on test day, and a "nicely completed" reading guide earns the student extra credit points on my test.   If a student does not complete it, they will lose points on my test.

I have refined the system over the last few months.  
1.  The reading guide needs to look fun and attractive.  You don't want for it to become a task that the student dreads.
2.  Include a variety of question types.  Some questions can be "Define this term", but other questions need to be "What do you think....."
3.  Do not make the reading guide a substitute for taking good notes in class.  If a student does not take good notes in my class, the reading guide will not provide enough information for them to score well on my test.

The lessons I have learned from this?
1.   It takes a LONG time to make these out for each chapter.  But once they are done, you can use them year after year.
2.   My test grades have definitely improved.  It is a win-win situation for the students.  Completing the chapter reading guide earns them extra credit points, and in the process they are studying, thinking and analyzing.  Even if no extra credit point were awarded, test grades would be higher because they spent the time reading their textbook.

This is just one system that has worked for me.  If you have ideas or tips for getting your students to read the text, I would love to learn from you.  Leave a comment with your tip!

Happy Teaching!!