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Genetics Complete Unit Plan Bundle

Everything you need (and more!) to teach this unit!

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that Gregor Mendel is my favorite scientist and I love teaching genetics to my biology students.  Who wouldn't? Students love learning about genetics, which makes teaching genetics wonderful.   

Interested Students + Lots of Awesome Questions = FUN TEACHING!
This was one of the first unit plan bundles that I posted in my store. It contains everything you need to teach this unit to a biology class... A PowerPoint, notes for teacher and student, 3 labs, 7 practice problem worksheets, 5 quizzes, a review game, a crossword, and a unit test. I have learned a lot since those early days, and the facelift on this bundle has just been completed. Graphics have been improved, a few typos have been corrected, and more complete answer keys have been added. This bundle has received such great feedback, and I am most appreciative to all who have purchased it. Be sure to go back to TpT and download the new version. It is a free download to those who have previously purchased it. 

Feedback:  "This has great resources and it is amazingly interactive."

Feedback:  "It's always great to get new ideas and problems for students to do."

Feedback:  "This lesson plan bundle deserves an helpful when teaching students about gentics!!"

Feedback:  "This material was excellent. It saved me time and covered everything I needed to cover for my mid term exam."

Feedback:  "Very organized and sequential. A great resource."

"I cannot tell you enough that your Complete Units are Wonderful!! I am in my first full year of teaching and it has given me ample opportunity to focus on my students abilities rather than being stressed. Thank you so much!"

Click here to view my Genetics Complete Unit Plan Bundle.

Recycling in the Science Lab!

Let's do our part to save the Earth!

I tend to get on my "Save the Planet" soapbox a lot.   No matter what the biology or chemistry topic I am currently teaching, I try to find a way to remind my students that we live on a fragile planet and that it is our responsibility to take care of it.

This school year, I reminded myself that actions speak louder than words, and I made a concerted effort to use recyclable items in my science lab.  I started by bringing a few items from home and using them for various purposes.  My students started to notice, and they began to bring in items as well.

Here are just a few examples of how we are using recyclable materials:

How many ways can you use the Styrofoam meat trays that you get from the grocery store? The tray seen above is the 2-lb hamburger meat tray!   I have a recycle bin at my house, and I am an avid recycler.  Finally, it occurred to me that these trays have many uses in my lab.  When I am setting up a lab, I line up 15 of these trays.  I add the lab supplies needed to each tray.  Students simply pick up the entire tray and carry it to their lab station.  I especially love to use these trays when stains are needed in the biology lab.  It keeps my lab tables clean and the stain washes right off the Styrofoam.

Our school had a HUGE stack of these paper book covers.  They are actually a slick, magazine type of paper.  These were about to be thrown away when I grabbed up 100's of them and hauled them to my lab.  I use them like place mats.  Students do their lab work on top of the paper mat.  It keeps my lab tables clean and minimizes the amount of clean up at the end of the class period.  When they are dirty to the point of no longer being usable, they go into the recycle bin.

This container came home from the grocery store full of strawberries.  It is the perfect size to hold all of my lab scissors.

The blueberry container is a bit smaller than the strawberry container.  It is perfect for smaller items such as these C-clamps.

I am very proud and excited to report that these small efforts have really increased awareness about recycling amongst my students.  Students are brining me items from their homes with ideas of how we might use them in our lab.  

This is a bit of a double-edged sword, though.  Kids are bringing me a lot of trash, and there are only so many uses for their recyclable items.  So when I received too much stuff, or when I cannot find a use for an item, we can always resort to this!  

I am super excited that every single room in our school has one of these!!

Here are a few links to sites that have awesome ideas about recycling in the school environment:

If you have other ideas, I would love to hear them!

Dichotomous Classification Keys: Science Students Love Them!

Dichotomous classification keys are often used in field guides to help the user quickly and easily identify trees, flowers, insects, frogs, etc.  They are also a very effective teaching tool in our science classrooms.  They can be used to teach scientific terms and characteristics of any type of living organism.  But I think one of the most important uses in our classroom is the fact that they reinforce observation skills, and strengthen problem solving and critical thinking in our students.

I receive many requests for classification keys on different topics.  Over the years, I have developed quite a few activities that use the dichotomous classification key.  

My newest is called "Dichotomous Key to the Genus Smiley."  In this simple key, students first learn how to use a dichotomous key.  But the best part of this activity is that students are also required to develop their own dichotomous key to key out 6 different insects.  This requires a higher level of thinking and problem solving that provides excellent practice of these skills for our students.
Dichotomous Key to the Genus "Smiley"
Additional products that use the dichotomous classification key are:

Dichotomous Key to a CRAZY Animal Kindgom

Freebie!  This is one of my favorites: Dichotomous Key to Holiday Giving and Community Service

Let's Build a Cladogram!

Let's Learn to Use and Build a Dichotomous Key!

Lab: Use of Dichotomous Key in Classification

Click here to view all of my classification/taxonomy products.

Matter and Change Task Cards

Provide great review and reinforcement using these "Matter and Change" task cards!

I freely admit that I am relatively new to the development and use of task cards for my high school classes.  But in the last year, I have become a convert and a die-hard fan.  I have used many review and reinforcement techniques when teaching my students and preparing them for a final assessment, but for some reason, my students have really taken to the use of these task cards.  My favorite method of use is to set up stations in the lab and have the students rotate through the stations.  My kids like this method, mostly because of the physical nature of the activity.  They have to sit in a desk all day long, so my students are very happy when I allow them to be up and moving about the room.

Another reason I think this technique is so successful is that each card has only one task or question.  For students who quickly become overwhelmed by TMI (too much information), the task cards are manageable and very goal oriented.

This particular set of task cards covers the topic of "Matter and Change" and are currently being used by the physical science and chemistry classes at my school.  The cards cover the following:

There is a varying range of difficulty in the set of 64 cards. For our physical science classes, we pulled out and used the easier task cards, and for our chemistry classes, we included the more difficult cards.  By picking and choosing, we are able to create the perfect and most appropriate review for any given class of students.

Preparation time is a minimum.  The task cards are printed 4 to a page. Simply print, cut the cards apart, laminate the cards, and you are ready to go.  I like knowing that I will be able to use the same cards year after year.

We are now nearing the end of our first grading period and we have a 9-week exam coming up.  I love having multiple sets of task cards on all the different topics for review purposes.  I keep them stored in plastic boxes and have the students select the set they feel they need to review the most.  I also provide before and after school tutoring sessions.  Task cards are fabulous for tutoring!

Click on any of the photos/pictures above to see the listing for these task cards in my store.

Task cards on other topics can be viewed by clicking this link.

I hope you are having a great school year!

Need Help with Organization? Try "The Ultimate Science Teacher Binder!"

An organized teacher is a happy teacher!

I have learned so many things in my 30 years of teaching, but probably the most important lesson has been in the area of organization.  A school day for a teacher is a harried and frenzied day under the best of circumstances.  From the moment we enter the school house door, we are bombarded with questions, requests, emails, phone call messages, announcements over the PA system, upset children, happy children, sick children, overly excited children, meetings, more meetings, IEP's, notes from parents, and let's not forget the GAZILLION papers that cross our desk in the course of just one day!!  Oh yeah, we also have to teach the students something, don't we?  So let's not forget the lesson planning, the xeroxing of materials, the studying we must do to be prepared, the incorporation of Common Core standards into the lesson, the designing and setup of the lab activity, the re-teaching, the differentiation of the lesson to meet the needs of each individual student ........ and many in the public community think we are overpaid!!

It is a wonder we survive the day!! Early on in my teaching career I realized that if I was not highly organized each and every day, I would never survive in this profession. I had two things going for me already..... I LOVE kids, and I LOVE biology and chemistry.  But, as a kid right out of college, I did struggle a bit with organization.  Now fast forward thirty years later .... Every single aspect of my day is super organized and planned.  Now when the unexpected happens during the day (which happens every single day, right?) it is not a total disruption.  If I am organized then the disruptions are just minor ripples in the day that do not turn into catastrophes.

I continue to learn more organizational techniques each day, and am constantly looking for ways to make my school day run more efficiently.  I have attempted to pass along my experience and organizational techniques along to you in my "Ultimate Binder for Science Teachers."

The "Ultimate Binder for Science Teachers" is packed full of forms, tables, organizers, and calendars to help you get organized and stay organized.  There are over 100 pages included in this product.  The pages look best when printed in color, but look fantastic if printed in black and white.  Use these pages to start your teacher binder, or you can add these pages to your already existing binder.

All forms are completely editable!!  You can print them out and write on them, or you can type on them before printing.  I have included the Word documents so that you can edit them to meet your specific needs.

I use a binder like this every day.  I love a little fun/color on each page for my own entertainment.  Pages are colorful, attractive and include science-themed clipart.

The binder will last you your entire teaching career.  Reprint pages each year to include new students, new plans, etc.

Benefits Include:

  • No need to spend money buying a new teacher binder from the office supply store each year.
  • Use this binder year after year.
  • Simply reprint the pages you need for the next year.
  • Only print out the pages you need.
  • Print in color or in black/white.
  • Completely editable:  Make it the perfect binder for YOU!
  • Includes Word documents:  Write on them or type on them.
  • Calendars will be updated each year.  You download the updates for free.
  • Each form is accompanied by a “Read Me!” document that explains how you can best use the form.

What is included in this Science Teacher Binder?

I have divided all of the pages in this product into the following categories.  Under each heading is a list of forms and pages that are included.

Forms Related to Science Teaching:

•  Lab Inventory Form – 2 versions
•  I Need to Order these Lab Supplies for Next Year!
•  Purchase Order Form
•  My Favorite Labs – 2 versions
•  Lab Safety Contract
•  Lab Station Assignments
•  Lab Fee Payment
•  Lab Manual Payment

•  My Year At A Glance
•  My Month At A Glance
•  My Week At A Glance – 2 versions
•  Monthly Calendars With Important Dates in Science History

Grading and Lesson Planning:
•  Unit Plan Organizer
•  Lesson Planning Grids – 3 Versions
•  Grade Recording Sheets

•  Professional Learning Community (PLC) Minutes – 3 versions
•  Faculty Meeting Notes
•  Science Department Meetings

Getting Organized:
•  Textbooks
•  Student Rosters
•  Locker Assignments – 2 versions
•  Parent Contact Logs
•  Student Information Form
•  Final Failure List
•  Exam Exemption List
•  College Recommendation Forms
•  Interactive Seating Charts – 2 versions.  You can move and edit the seats to look just like your classroom set up.
•  My To-Do List

Substitute Lesson Planning:
•  Three-page document for you to leave for your substitute teacher.  Includes a page for general daily information, a page for specific daily assignments, and a recording page for the sub to leave notes for your return.
•  Comes in three different versions:  Plain black and white, Color male science teacher clipart, and Color female science teacher clipart.

Cute and Fun!
•  Sets of Teacher Note Cards for writing thank you notes, notes of encouragement, jobs well done, etc.  All cards have clip art with a science theme.
•  Hall Passes (Science Themed)

Cover Pages and Section Dividers:
•  There are 10 science themed cover pages for you to choose from for the front of your notebook.
•  There is a section divider for each of the above categories.

Each form in the binder is accompanied by a "Read Me!" file for that form.  In the "read me" file I have described how I use the form in my classroom, and how it might best serve you.

Here is a freebie for you!  One of the forms that I use all the time is the "Lab Inventory Form."  We are required to turn in our lab inventory every single year.  This has become an easy task for me.  I invested time in completing a very complete and organized list of lab supplies.  Now all I have to do is add the new items I buy each year, and delete the items that get used up or broken each year.  You can grab my lab inventory form from my TpT store for free.

Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you have a very successful and ORGANIZED school year!

How to Teach Your Students to Design an Experiment

It is time-consuming and exhausting, but well worth the effort!

The bottom line here is that students must learn to write and carry out an experiment of their own design.  Major problem:  A truly well designed experiment takes time.  It takes time for the teacher to teach the student "HOW" to design the experiment, it takes a lot of time for the student to actually design the experiment, and then it takes more time for the student to carry out the experiment.

I think this is an important skill and well worth the effort.  But if you decide to go this route with your students, be prepared for the fact that it will take much preparation and teaching on your part.

Okay, so where do you start?  The first step is to make sure that the student is well-grounded in the scientific method.  This means the student has to be able to do more than write down the steps to the scientific method.  They have to be able to APPLY the scientific method to a problem or a question.

I can help with that.  I have a free PowerPoint, complete with notes for the teacher and the student, that you can download for free.  Click this link for FREE download:  Scientific Method PowerPoint and Notes.

The next step is to have the students practice writing a lab procedure.  I love this activity:  Give the students some building materials.  They can be old legos, tinker toys, paper clips, styrofoam peanuts.  Any type of items will do.  Each student takes their building materials and builds some sort of structure or device.  They then have to describe, in writing, how to build their device.  The students swap written descriptions and try to build their lab partners device from the written description.  This activity is also a free download.  Click this link for FREE download:  Can You Write A Lab Procedure.

Now it is time for the student to design their own experiment from beginning to end.  Start with something simple....something VERY simple. For our first effort, I had my students design an experiment to test the effect of different quantities of water on the germination of radish seeds. Simple , right?  It turned out to be such a great idea!  There are limited options for the students and no advanced knowledge about the topic was needed. 

Radishes were a great choice!  They germinated within 24 hours, and I allowed my students to observe their germination rate every day for three days.  I had my students complete a lab report in which they had to design and complete the following:

  • State a hypothesis that is testable.
  • Write out detailed steps to their procedure.
  • Determine the independent and the dependent variables.
  • Include a description of their control and how it served as a control.
  • Include a description of their experimental groups.
  • Identify factors that must remain constant throughout the experiment.
  • Design a data table.
  • Graph their germination rates.
  • Form a conclusion based on the data gathered.
Below are a few pictures that I took during the lab activity:

Our science students need to develop this skill.  Take the time in your class to teach experimental design.  It is well worth the effort!

Here are the links to the radish seed experiment as well as a few other labs I do in which the student must design their own experiment.

Middle School Bundle of Products!! Great for Back to School!

Are you really ready for Back to School?  So many things to plan for... reading, writing, math, science, social studies, the arts!  Well, I have teamed up with some other amazing sellers and Educents to help you get ready with this amazing deal!

27 Back to School items for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade range students!  

Here's my contribution the bundle:

Cell Structure and Function PowerPoint with Notes for Teacher and Student

This product is perfect for any biology or life science class.  The lessons cover all aspects of cell structure and function.  Great photographs and fun graphics keep the students engaged.

All together there are over 900 pages in this bundle to keep your student/s learning throughout the year!   
Check out all the other great bloggers and what they are offering by clicking on their links below!

Click here to head on over to Educents to take advantage of this limited time bundle to get your 6th, 7th, and 8th graders ready for success!

Significant Digits Help!

What can you do when kids don't get it?

Each year when I teach significant digits to my chemistry classes, I feel like I am banging my head against a wall!  Most of my students will diligently learn the rules for determining the number of significant digits in a measurement.   They can look at 50.00 and tell me that it has 4 significant digits.  But I always get the feeling that some of them never really understand why they are learning these rules and what they mean.

In an effort to help my students grasp the concept, I started doing this significant digit lab each year.  The materials list is super simple: a wood block, three different balances, and three different rulers.  Students begin by measuring the length, width and height of their wood block using a diagram of three different rulers.

They are frustrated by the first ruler.  They don't like having to estimate!  I quickly get the students to understand that the first ruler has only one significant digit, the second ruler has two, and the third ruler has 3.  They use the measured length, width, and height to determine the volume.

Next students get the mass of their wood block using three different balances.

Now that the volume and the mass is known, students must calculate the density of the wood block to one significant digit, two significant digits, and three significant digits.  We then calculate the percent error, using our three-significant-digit density as the true value.  Wow!  Kids quickly realize how important significant digits are to a measurement.

Throw in an additional page of practice problems on rounding and calculating with significant digits, and I'll call this day a success!  I hope you are off to a great school year.  I'd love to hear your ideas on significant digits!