Each week students were expected to do work outside of class.
Outside of class:
- Read the text
- Complete the Famous Science Series
- Complete the Show What You Know
- Lab Reports: not all labs are good lab report labs. Check the Teacher’s Guide t labs I o see which labs I recommend having students write lab reports for. As a former college professor, I strongly recommend having students learn this important skill now. Lab reports are very formulaic to write and yet many college students cannot write them. If a student has trouble with the actual writing of them (separate from what to put in the content) have them get help from a parent. Fine motor skills issues are an example of what I mean.
At the end of each unit
- Unit Test
By the end of the school year
- Research Paper from chapter 28
As you know from the introduction I am relaxed about who is doing the work outside class. I do however give preference in class when asking questions to those students who have read the material and done the work. At the start of class I have students give me a show of hands as to who has gone over the material. Those are the students I want to hear from when I ask a question, because they are giving me an informed response based on the material that they were responsible for. I wasn’t upset with any student who didn’t do the week’s reading, but I was honest with the students as to why I preferentially called on the students who had done it.
I will only discuss the Theory when I have something to add separate from what is in the Teacher’s Guide.
Terms in this document: Lab refers to general labs that are NOT microscope labs. When referring to microscope labs I specifically call them microscope labs.
Unit 1: Chapter 1
The Theory: Assign the reading before coming to class. It makes for a good introduction. The plot study can take some time to do. You are going to want to get right on it.
The Labs: There are two great labs in Chapter 1. Start with the plot study lab. I think that every general biology class should start with a lab outdoors looking at what’s out there. Take the microscope lab and combine it with the microscope labs from weeks two and three, so that for the second week of class you are working on microscope technique.
Unit 2: Chapter 2
You will be devoting this week to microscope work instead of doing the canning experiment which is difficult in a classroom setting. I suggest buying 2 containers of processed applesauce. Open one and leave the other sealed. Compare the two samples weekly until the opened one needs to be thrown away. Come back and fill out the lab sheet for this lab then.
The Labs: The microscope work for the first three weeks focuses on basic microscope techniques. Take your time with these. I learned that even kids who think they are experienced using microscopes often fall down in the area of making good slides. Just remember THIN SLICES!!! Discuss drawing microscopic specimens on their lab sheets. Demonstrate how to make these drawings by drawing one. Make the drawing while looking at the slide. Have students look at your drawing, and then look at the view of the slide. Have them all draw one of the specimens from one of their slides today.
This is the time to go over rules about microscope care and handling. I have included an explanation in the text. You want to make sure students read it over. You could send a sheet with the rules written on them separately to parents and students and have both the parent and the student sign the sheet saying that they have read them and will respect them. All of the students that I had in my co-op class were careful with the microscopes. Kids are kids though, and sometimes they just didn’t think. That’s why it’s good for them to know that there is a policy for microscope handling and care in place, and make sure that they know what those policies are.
Unit 2: Chapter 3
The Labs: I let students decide if they wanted to make the plant cell model or animal cell model. Plan ahead how you are going to make the organelles. If using Sculpey you need an oven. You might need to make the organelles outside of class. If that is the case you will need to know ahead of time which type of cell students want to make.
Unit 2: Chapter 4
Have students do the activity before coming to class.
Students need access to a computer for today’s lab.
The Labs: Start with the microscope lab. Pay attention to students’ slide making technique. Demonstrate how to make a slide for them before they make one of their own. When the microscope lab is completed have students begin the lab. This is one of the most important labs that your students will do all year. It deals specifically with their nutrition and health.
Unit 2: Chapter 5
The Labs: Start by having students set up the lab so they can monitor it over the course of the two-hour period. After that discuss what it was like following the menu they made last week, and what they learned from it. Next discuss the material for this week. Then do the microscope component. The lab should be monitored for 24 hours or more. I don’t know for sure, but an entire week might be too much time. Optimally, each student should take it home and continue to make observations over the course of 48 hours. If you feel that students will not do this, you should take it home yourself and e-mail your observations to students.
Unit 2: Chapter 6
The Labs: I love this lab. It was inspired by a middle school student who I was tutoring in biology. He’s the adopted son of a friend of mine. LOL, I only teach co-op classes that my son is in, and I only tutor the children of really good friends of mine. My husband would divorce me otherwise. He set these rules a few years back. 🙂 Go over the material as briefly as possible while making sure that kids understand the chemical process. That way you will have more time outside. You might choose to wait and do the microscope lab next week. Do the microscope lab after you do the regular lab to make sure you have enough time for the regular lab. There is enough time to get through everything this week unless somebody is having trouble with the chemistry for photosynthesis and cellular respiration. It took my son more than once through this material to understand it, so I know it can happen.
Unit 3: Chapter 7
The Theory: Be prepared. This unit gives students and their parents so much trouble. Genetics is where biology is at these days. This is not going to go away. To be literate in the field of biology you have to know genetics. Parents find it difficult because most of them did not have it when they studied biology. In part this is because this area of biology has been growing in leaps and bounds as the testing, equipment, and methods have become more and more sensitive and advanced. Don’t let students get discouraged. Prepare them that it’s going to be challenging. If you are going to offer office hours this is the four-week period to do it in. Do not lose sight of the forest for the trees, though. It is not expected that most students will have 100% mastery of this material. At the end of the four weeks your students should have an understanding of the basic vocabulary and knowledge in the area of genetics. Assign videos you like for the class. For some reason for these complicated topics, students and their parents tend to use videos put together by college professors to help their college students. These are not helpful to a middle school student who is struggling with middle school material. These college tutorials discuss vocabulary and concepts that are not discussed in a middle school text.
Chapter 7 has coloring and drawing sections within the chapter. I sometimes hear these called coloring pages by parents. Ironically, when I explain these pages to educators they get excited by this sort of interactive text because when kids interact with the text, like happens in this chapter, it leads to what educators call ownership of the material. I recommend working your way through the chapter with the kids. Ask them to read the text and work through it. Tell them that if they get stuck on anything they can e-mail you, or they can take a Post-it note and write their questions on the Post-it note at the location that stumped them. Give high praise to anyone who seems to have some level of mastery over the material. I would work through the Show What You Know in class. Have students bring it to class completed and go over it, or complete it in class.
The Labs: Do the lab this week and the microscope lab next week.
Unit 3: Chapter 8
The Theory: Use the same system that worked last week, assuming it did work. If it didn’t work and students seem to be struggling with the material try tweaking your system. Don’t forget to assign videos for this week’s material.
The Labs: The lab for this unit is to make a poster. I like having students make their poster over the week and bring them to class. It’s really fun to see the level and energy that some students put into making their poster. Between the theory and looking at posters this should leave about an hour for the chapter 7 microscope lab, which is about the right amount of time. The microscope lab for chapter 7 requires students to go slowly and be careful with their technique. The chapter 8 microscope lab will be done next week.
Unit 3: Chapter 9
The Theory: If you are doing a lot of explaining with this chapter, have students do lab 9 at home. If not it can be done in class. Don’t forget to assign videos for this week’s material. Warning: Students who found mitosis challenging really struggle with meiosis.
The Labs: Do Lab 9 or discuss the work for Lab 9 that students did at home. The two microscope labs that will be done this week use prepared slides. One has students find the phases for mitosis; the other has students find the phases of meiosis. This might seem like it will be a quick pair of labs. It takes time to find the phases. I would set up two microscope stations one for meiosis and one for mitosis. You could pull students aside so it does not get too backed up at the microscopes and go over their Show What You Know work to make sure they understand the two processes. Make sure that the prepared slides come from a good source. Do not use slides that are plastic and not high-quality. Home Science Tools has very nice prepared slides. That is where I got mine.
Unit 3: Chapter 10 – today’s class is jam-packed! It might go over 2 hours. Take your time with it. You could add an extra week to the course for this chapter if you want.
The Theory: On page 211 of the student text is a box with a representative of a chromosome in it. Do this in class together. Make sure students can do the Punnett Squares individually as students are doing the microscope lab. You could have a mini session after class re-doing the Show What You Know Punnett Square, then assign the Extra Practice Punnett Square to students who are having trouble with them. You could even give students extra credit toward the test for the Punnett Squares.
- Have student’s come to class with the family traits questionnaire on pages 219-220 already completed.
- Assign each student a strand of hair to bring to class. During week 9 ask about hair colors at home with students, such as who can get a white hair, who can get a red hair, etc.
- It is up to you whether students do the qwitekutesnute activity at home or in class. If they do it at home have them bring their qwitekutesnute and share it. If they are doing it in class, end the day with that activity. The qwitekutesnute activity is a favorite of students. You might be tempted to drop it. I do not recommend that. It does a good job of demonstrating Mendel’s Principles of Genetics.
You will do the lab sheet, page 221, together in class. Give kids time to discuss what they learned. It is fun to discuss the results. Have each student make a slide with the strand of hair they brought.
If you break chapter 10 into 2 weeks:
Week 1 of 2: Family Traits Lab and the microscope lab
Week 2 of 2: Punnett Squares, the qwitekutesnute activity, and a review of the material from all 4 chapters. This is the best plan if you are having students take the end of the unit tests. This is the Unit Test that is the hardest for most students.
Unit 4: Chapter 11 – A dissection!!!
The Labs: Of the nine students in the co-op class I taught, only one made it to the end of this dissection. Only six were willing to even try to do the dissection. The one who made it to the end loved every single minute of it. This student was also an avid fisherman. The five who started the dissection but didn’t finish became nauseous and felt like they would faint; to be honest I began to feel nauseous just watching them try to hold it together. Be prepared for this. Have people bring their laptops so they can do a virtual dissection on-line. There are many, choose one or several before class. Some of your students won’t even want to do that. Those students I had watch a video.
Unit 4: Chapter 12 – Another dissection!!!
The Labs: Do both labs. Poor plants, no one faints when it comes to chopping them to bits. I suggest buying the plants for students and having them work singly or in pairs. It depends on the ratio of students to microscopes. The reason for you buying the plants is so you can make sure you have the right number of plants, and that they will be good plants to dissect. Choose a plant with leaves that make a good slice. I used one plant for each group of three students.
Unit 4: Chapter 13 – And yet another dissection!!!
The Labs: The instructions for this week are the same as last week except for flowers and seeds. While doing the dissection discuss the process of fertilization for angiosperms with students. If you have them in your area, you could bring a pine cone and a leaf from a fern for students to examine.
Unit 4, Chapters 14 – 19: I strongly believe that at the end of middle school biology a student should have a basic working knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and epidemiology. The epidemiology part has been infused through the text to this point and will continue to be where it is relevant. Now the text brings in the anatomy and physiology parts. That is why other than in chapters 11 – 13 humans are the organism of focus for anatomy and physiology. I had my students download and play with the App, http://www.cdc.gov/mobile/applications/sto/. This is an epidemiology game from the CDC. We all loved it including me. Throughout this unit, I assigned extra reading to students focusing on epidemiology topics. You should choose topics that interest you and your students. For example, my husband has rheumatoid arthritis. When we got to the chapter on the immune system, I had my son read about rheumatoid arthritis.
To deal with before you get to Chapter 16: Chapter 16 has the reproductive system in it. You should talk to parents and the group you are running the co-op thorough to decide if you are going to teach this section or have parents teach it at home. The co-op I taught through chose to have parents teach it at home. I explained this to the parents, with a strong recommendation that it be taught. I realize a lot of parents are uncomfortable with this material but people REALLY need to know it.
Most of these weeks have two organ systems in them. It is quite a bit of material to get through each week.
Unit 4: Chapter 14
The Labs: Chapter 14, Lab 1 is fun to do with a partner. Do both Labs. I had students do a bit of research for Lab 1 before class so they could make the best battery possible.
Unit 4: Chapter 15
The Labs: There are 3 labs this week, if you want to make sure you get through them all this week, warn parents you might run 15 minutes over.
For Chapter 15, Lab 1: You need to have the set-up ready for students before class, so that lab doesn’t take much time.
Next go to Chapter 15, Lab 2: I had students do a bit of research for this lab before class so they could make the best filter possible. I made a contest out of the lab. I sent them a sheet of materials that would be on hand for their use.
Finally do the microscope lab. If you run out of time, start next week with this. It can be hard to get a good sample for this lab. Have one you made on hand in case no one gets one. If you are not teaching the reproductive system then definitely do the microscope lab next week.
Unit 4: Chapter 16
The Labs: Do Chapter 16, Lab 1 as explained. Students should work in groups of two or three, with each student doing all parts of the lab. It helps to have one person doing the experiment, one person writing down the results, and one person timing. Even if you do go over the reproductive section in class, have students do Chapter 16, Lab 2 at home.
Unit 4: Chapter 17
The Labs: There are 3 really good labs this week. Do the microscope lab and Chapter 17, Lab 2 today. Have students work in pairs for Lab 2. Make sure they get results for both students. Some students will struggle with the math for this lab. Go over it after students have gathered results for both people. Remind students NOT to share balloons. As crazy as that sounds some will share if you do not remind them! Students will do Chapter 17, Lab 1 in two weeks.
Unit 4: Chapter 18 – it’s another dissection!
The Labs: Once again not every student will be able to complete this lab. Some students are just not able to handle dissections. That is too bad. This lab is awesome for showing how the skeletal and muscular systems work. You should get a good feel for which students are getting the hang with their microscope technique with this lab. You have to make sure no one hogs the microscope though. there is a lot of cool slides to be made in this lab. If you have time have students play the Game. Otherwise have them play it at home. I had students play it while waiting to use one of the microscopes.
Unit 4: Chapter 19
The Labs: Do Chapter 19, Lab 1 and Chapter 17, Lab 1. Take 15 minutes at start of class to go over the procedure portion of Chapter 19, Lab 2.
Unit 5: Chapter 20, Class today will probably run over in time especially if you do a timeline outdoors.
The Labs: Have each student bring an insect for today, or you can collect them all yourself. Start inside with the microscope lab. For the lab you need to choose a location ahead of time. Your choice of location will decide whether you do this outside or inside on paper.
Unit 5: Chapter 21
The Labs: Have each student bring a sample for the microscope lab, or you can collect them all yourself. You can do Lab 21 with students in teams of two. Each setting up the lab for the other while you have the rest of the students performing the microscope portion. The lab is pretty lively. You are going to want to make sure it stays on track with no peeking from the super competitive students. Done without peeking, this lab does a great job of showing how natural selection works. You might want to ask another parent to help. That way you have one person helping with the microscope lab and another helping with the lab.
Unit 5: Chapter 22
The Labs: Do both lab and microscope lab. You might want to set the microscope lab up with the instructions, “Look at the view, but don’t mess with the microscope.”
Unit 5: Chapter 23
The Theory: This is a shorter day for labs. I suggest taking your time going over the material. Kids find it confusing. If you are having students take the test it might take some time to review the material today.
The Labs: Do both labs. Leave about 1 hour and 15 minutes for the two labs. That should be plenty of time.
Unit 6: Chapter 24
Have students complete the activity before class. This is a really good activity for this chapter. Briefly at the start of class ask what students learned from the activity.
The Labs: Start with the microscope lab. Have students decide on the biome they want to make before they come to class. You are going to need to have the materials on hand for making the biomes. If students do not finish have them take their diorama home to finish. While they are working have anyone who wants to share their Mad Libs poem recite it.
Unit 6: Chapter 25
The Labs: This is an outside lab. Go somewhere where there is a lot is going on ecologically. I live in Southern California. We did this lab at the beach looking at tide pools. Do the microscope lab next week.
Unit 6: Chapter 26
The Labs: You will need to collect or purchase the plants for the lab ahead of time. Do the Chapter 25 and Chapter 26 microscope labs today. Then do the lab.
Unit 6: Chapter 27
The Theory: After going over the material have a discussion about ways students could help themselves and their families reduce their carbon footprint.
The Labs: You will need to have each student do the procedure for the microscope lab the day before class. Before leaving for class, have them observe the differences between the two leaves. Have your own specimens ready to look at with the microscope. Do the microscope lab first. Start the lab today. Have students make the different solutions in class. Part of the goal with this lab is teaching students how to make solutions of varying concentrations, so you should focus on that during class. The results will be collected over the next week or two. Have enough plants for each student to take one home to water at home with 1 type of solution throughout the week. Each student will get one or two plants (depending on the number of students) and 1 type of solution per plant. Make sure students understand that they are responsible for watering correctly to the specifications stated in the procedure, and that they are expected to make daily observations. If they are not able to commit to this, have another student take their plants.
Unit 7: Chapter 28
The Labs: Today you will do both microscope lab and lab. You should go over the medium cladogram with students in class, and have them do the easy and the hard cladograms at home. Make sure students understand the concept of shared derived traits. If you are having students write the research paper, explain what you want from them during today’s class.
Unit 7: Chapter 29
Go over the cladograms from last week and the one from this week from the Show What You Know section.
The Labs: Use the instructions in the Teacher’s Guide to do this experiment in one day instead of two.
Unit 7: Chapter 30
Go over the cladograms from this week’s Show What You Know section.
The Labs: For the lab, have your class meet at the best nursery close to you or at an area with a lot of different types of vegetation. Start next week with the microscope lab from this week.
Unit 7: Chapter 31
Go over the cladograms from this week’s Show What You Know section.
Start the lab for chapter 32 at the end of today’s class. Make sure and tell parents not to throw it out during the week. This happened to over ½ of the students in my class.
The Labs: Start with Microscope Lab 30. You are going to need specimens for the labs this week. Have students collect them, or you can start collecting them early in the year so you have enough. In a pinch use one pair for the entire class. Do Lab 31.
Unit 7: Chapter 32
Go over the cladograms from this week’s Show What You Know section.
The Labs: Start by looking at the bananas. Discuss chemotrophy when you do. This is an unfamiliar feeding strategy for most students so some discussion of it is helpful. Do Lab 32.