Category Archives: biology

Science in the Classroom

Science in the Classroom from AAAS collects a variety of annotated research papers and provides teaching materials to help students better understand the structure and purpose of scientific papers. You can currently find one chemistry article and two biology articles- I’m assuming more resources will be coming soon.

Seems like an excellent resource for high school science teachers- these also provide nice resources for the Common Core State Standards focus on research and complex text.

WA Science: Biology EOC Performance Level Descriptors Alternate View

I was scanning the Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) for the Biology End of Course assessment here in Washington state, and I had this urge to rearrange them (because I’m a dork). I thought I would share this alternate view in case others are interested. I wanted to be able to see how student life science ideas developed from a Basic understanding up to an Advanced understanding.

Click HERE to see the original Bio EOC PLDs.

Click HERE to see them arranged in a table format. I did this quickly so I apologize for any typos or other errors of layout.

Looking Back to Look Forward

On Monday I found myself working with a group of science education leaders from around Washington state. Craig Gabler from ESD 113 brought an old copy of Science in the Elementary Grades from the Centralia School District written in the early 1960s. I opened the document to the first page and found the following text.

Science education has three facets. The one is content, the other method, and the third is attitude.

All too frequently, teachers of science become too involved in the content of science.  In reality, science taught in this fashion becomes just another reading or lecture course. Hence, the methods that lead the learner to develop hypotheses from observation, checking these hypotheses or guesses for validity, and eventually arriving at a conclusion, are important. Finally, the accepting of a proven conclusion, even though it is apparently contrary to fact in the attitudinal area is a necessity. Therefore, content, method, attitude assume different roles in science than in teaching history, reading, etc. Content is arrived at through method to change attitude. Science becomes a way of thinking, a method for solving problems, a retreat from the thoroughly emotional plane of living.

This text made me think of how we are still struggling to meet this vision for science instruction 50 years later… We may not use the same terminology but the gist is the same.  So as we embark on the next generation of science standards, how will these standards be different? How will they help us to change and grow and improve our instruction? Or will someone just stumble on a dusty tattered copy of the NGSS document in the year 2062 and think, “We are still trying to do that”.

What is Systems Biology?

A few weeks ago I was leading some middle school science professional development on Systems Thinking. We were focusing on the Systems EALR of the WA Science Learning Standards and the Systems Handbook I assembled. During the session, a teacher was very concerned about this approach and expressed that “this (systems thinking) is not what real scientists and researchers do”. The statement caught me off guard a bit.. as I tend to think that a systems approach is a core part of what most scientists and engineers do.

The video embedded below, What is Systems Biology?, shows Dr. Nitin Baliga from the Institute for Systems Biology, in Seattle, discussing the importance of a systems approach in biology.

This clip could be a useful addition to your instruction on systems in high school biology or for use in a workshop or meeting on systems thinking. Any high school life science teachers should also visit the Baliga Lab Systems Education Site.

Science Talk Report Card- Benchfly

First of all, if you teach science then you should really visit Benchfly. If you work in a lab or are a graduate student in any lab science, then I’m sure you already know about Benchfly 🙂

Benchfly is a FREE video platform for sharing video tips, protocols, etc on common lab science practices. The Benchfly Blog is beautifully eclectic and while it contains some references to mature topics- it paints a compelling picture of the nature of science. The most recent blog post features The Scientific Talk Report Card. See image below.  Might be cool to show high school students that even real lab scientists seek feedback on their presentations.

For an example of a Video Protocol, see Pouring an Agarose Gel.

Nature Works Everywhere

Nature Works Everywhere is sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and the goal of the site is “to help students learn the science behind how nature works for us…and how we can help keep nature running strong.”

You will find:

Biology EOC Study Guide 2012 (WA only)

The first Biology End of Course Assessment is about to be administered here in Washington state. Luckily, our friends at Seattle Public Schools have modified some existing tools from OSPI to create a handy study guide/review tool for teachers and students.

The Biology EOC Study Guide Contains:

– Performance expectations written as “I can” statements

– embedded links to online review tools

– essential questions and review of core concepts

REMINDER: this guide only contains life science concepts from EALR 4 you will also want to review Systems, Inquiry, and Application performance expectations.

You may also want to check out the Seattle Public Schools High School Science Wiki for other resources