Protists

This is a high school Biology post, if you didn’t figure that out from the title. I realized most people don’t know what a “protist” is. It is a eukaryotic, usually single celled, organism that just doesn’t fit in any other kingdom group. These guys are a ton of fun, b/c you can see them in the microscope fairly easy, unlike bacteria which are just too small to see in a regular microscope.

For our protista module (module 3 in the Apologia Biology book) we put together pond jars, but they were a bust. We couldn’t find anything in them and they do start to stink. In the book, these are for the bacteria module, but we had much better results with the petri dishes. And, yes, these are worth doing, I’ll explain how in a future post.

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what you don’t think bacteria cultures are really cool?

So, I decided to go ahead and get some ready made protists from homesciencetools.com (I am not an affiliate, but so far this is the best place I’ve found to get specialized supplies. Carolina.com is another place, but they are better for teachers who have a class of 30 students.)

This is what you want:

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please ignore all the other stuff, and notice the “mixed protozoa” container

This stuff is the bomb. We found all 4 of the organisms that are suppose to be in there easily, and I kept hearing “It’s moving!” “Wow, that guy is fast.” and other such explanations.

And I have plenty of it left over, and no microscope at home to enjoy it with. :::pouty face::::

This is much cheaper than buying the set of 3 protozoa cultures, and you get 4 organisms. Yes, you have to pay the $13.95 drop ship fee, but that’s because these are living specimens. And yes, it comes from carolina.com, which I just said was better for teachers with a full class. Homesciencetools.com is acting as a go between for us, they get us the good deals (or something like that…). You set the date for them to be delivered, and they come by UPS. And even with the $13.95 drop ship fee, these are still a better deal than the Basic protozoa culture (the set with cultures for 3 organisms).

Now to grow fungus…..

 

Projects for 10th, 11th and 12th grade

In my biology class, I’m requiring upper level students to do an additional outside project. I came across a few ideas on homesciencetools.com. I’ve fleshed them out for students here.

First, a leaf collection is a possibility. Here are options for preserving your leaves. You should preserve and label each leaf with name of tree, scientific name of tree, date and location of collection, and method of preservation. You should collect at least 25 examples of different trees (as in 25 different trees), though you may have more. I recommend putting together a journal or book of your collection.

Next, an insect collection is an option. Here is an article that gives you a good outline and many directions for collecting, preserving and displaying. You should plan to collect at least 25 different insects, identify them and label them with common name, scientific name, and date and location of collection.

Last, a rock collection might be what interests you. Here is an article that gives a good description of how to go about collecting and identifying rocks and minerals you find. Again, plan to collect at least 10 different types of rocks, label with type of rock, date and location of collection. Display as you desire.

There are so many projects that a big kid could undertake, and I think it’s worth it for big kids to take on these projects. They will learn about planning, getting supplies and following through. I suspect there will be other aspects of character formation, depending on your students general character, disposition, strengths and weaknesses. These kind of projects will help prepare your student for a more formal lab setting or field setting opportunities that will, hopefully, come along later.

I am open to other ideas, should a student have an area they are particularly interested in. Please, present those options, and lets talk about it!

Class Time Routine

I have found, and heard from others, that a basic procedure that is followed for class time makes planning easier and then students just know what is coming and happening. Co-op classes start this Friday, so I gotta get my button gear and start planning class time. This structure should make it easy to plan several weeks out (which helps make sure I’ve got the supplies I need).

Each class is 50 minutes. And, of course, the very first class will be a bit different just because it’s the first class. But, in general:

  • 10 minutes: Group narration of the reading.
  • 10 minutes: Questions from students about reading and/or socratic questioning from me
  • 30 minutes: activity time. “Centers” style: 3 to 4 activities set up in different parts of the room that students can move between. OR dissection time!

I struggle with keeping track of time, so I’m thinking I’ll set up alarms on my tablet (since I ain’t got a smartphone!) for each transition. When doing an activity at home your time constraints might not be as tight, but to make sure we get to everything I’m going to have cut off narrations and questions after the 10 minutes. To make sure we don’t go too long on any one subject, here at home, we use a timer. Alarms means I don’t have to reset the timer and the specific time isn’t going to change week to week (unlike at home, where one day we start at 830 and next day we start at 845…)

There are weeks/topics that don’t have any sort of activity to take from the book (I tend to either use the activity from the book or upgrade it, not come up with some new activity). If I can’t come up with anything, we will spend the “activity” time discussing the topic, with structure in the form of a bit of extra reading, alternative viewpoints and questions.

Pam Barnhill of https://edsnapshots.com/blog talks about ‘procedure lists’ and even offers neat looking forms for writing out procedures for your subjects in the Plan Your Year set. She talks about using these in history, geography and all sorts of subjects.

If you are doing a more formal science course this year, at home or elsewhere, what procedures do you foresee needing? I’m planning to write out procedures for

  • activity stations
  • dissections
  • microscope use
  • cleaning up

And I’ll have that procedure list out for students to reference each week.

 

Biology Class Syllabus

Here is my syllabus for the high school Biology class. Remember that we meet once per week, September through April. There are a few weeks we skip due to holidays, but it ends up being 28 weeks.

The Apologia textbooks are all 16 modules. So, most modules get 2 weeks while 2 modules get only 1 week.

The Syllabus

1. Each week, I expect you to read the assigned readings before class, and narrate them, either to yourself or someone else. Here is a video that explains narration really well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ubrs3cSHpw

2. Your nature journal is an important part of your education. Bring it to class every week, as we will add to it every week. You are welcome to add to it during the week, on your own.

3. As you can, take a walk and work to notice the living things around you. Trees, grass, bugs, birds. NOTICE them and aim to really see them. See how they interact with their surroundings. For example, you most often see dragonflies around water. See what you can add to your nature journal after that walk.

4. I will not tolerate cheating of any sort. There are times you will work with a partner, but you each must do the work. If it is something to be done alone, I expect you to do it on your own. If it is to be done without access to book, I expect you to respect this.

5. If something doesn’t make sense, ASK! I cannot read your mind, and I don’t know when you don’t understand. Exposing your ignorance is the best way to rid yourself of that ignorance.

6. For students in Grades 10, 11 and 12: You will do an additional outside project. You may chose from doing an insect collection or a leaf/flower collection. If you have another idea, ask me about it. Students in grade 9 may do this additional work, but it is not required.

7. I will post addition resources on my blog: mamarachael.wordpress.com. Follow the link ‘Science CM-Style’ at the top.

8. If you are late to class, there will be a consequence according to the frequency of your lateness, the extremity of your lateness, and the general effectiveness of the consequence according to your character and personality. In other words, don’t be late.

Book: Exploring Creation with Biology, 2nd Edition (by Wile and Durnell)

Assigned readings (pages) Topic
Sept 8 1-32 The Study of Life
Sept 15 37-53 Monera
Sept 22 53-62 Monera
Sept 29 67-79 Protista
Oct 6 79-92 Protista
Oct 13 97-120 Fungi
Oct 20 120-138 Chemistry of Life
Oct 27 139-156 Chemistry of life
Nov 3 161-176 The Cell
Nov 10 176-189 The Cell
Nov 17 195-222 Cell reproduction/DNA
Dec 1 Cell reproduction/DNA
Dec 8 227-256 Genetics
Dec 15 Genetics
Jan 12 261-280 Evolution/creation/the start of life
Jan 19 280-294 Evolution/creation/the start of life
Jan 26 299-324 Ecology
Feb 2 Ecology
Feb 9 429-462 Plantae
Feb 16 463-494 Plantae
Feb 23 392-360 Invertebrates
Mar 2 Invertebrates
Mar 16 361-376 Arthropoda
Mar 23 376-392 Arthropoda
April 6 393-403 Chordata: fishes
April 13 403-428 Chordata: amphibian
April 20 495-518 Reptiles, Birds and Mammals
April 27 518-530 Reptiles, Birds and Mammals

General comments

Do you like my late policy? This gives me the flexibility I need when it’s not the student’s fault they are late, e.g. an older sibling is dropping them off and older sibling is the one running late.

I don’t list all the activities of that day because I found students don’t really read/remember those bits anyways. And this gives me the flexibility to set up each week as I feel is most helpful. This will change, likely, as the year progresses and I learn more of who these students are, their academic levels and personalities.

On the other hand, I do have a good idea of what activities we will do over this year. I will plan these out more specifically over this next week. Baby-steps!

I’ll cover how I plan to run class time in a later post. But please, feel free to ask questions!

High School Biology, CM-style

This next school year (2017 – 2018), I’m teaching 2 classes at one of the local co-ops. We meet once a week, on Friday from Sept through April. I’m teaching high school Biology and jr high general science. For both classes, we are using the Apologia text, which students are required to obtain for themselves.

I plan to run this class as Charlotte Mason-esque as I can muster. I’m familiar with CM philosophies when it comes to teaching, but this is the first time I’m teaching a high school class and applying those philosophies. So, there will be some muddling through, because I still need the class to be rigorous enough to prepare these students for an AP-Biology class or a entrance level college class. I don’t think CM means it can’t be this, but when she was writing 100 years ago, science was a different animal. (ha! pun intended!)

I have set up a page that you can find the link to at the top that will have links to all my CM science class notes.

There are some supplies that are high dollar, but are also for long term use. Like a microscope. Really, you gotta have a microscope. You can get one on amazon for between $100 and $200, you can get a nicer one for $300 to $400. And this is the sort of thing you will use through out jr high and high school. This one is a good beginning scope, as you can use it for a greater variety of objects, and its less than $150.

I also have a sets of slides (for microscope use) purchased in previous years. Homesciencetools.com has slides specifically for Apologia Biology. They have sets designed for other curriculums also.

In fact, Homesciencetools.com has bundles with the basics of what you need to do the Apologia Biology. I’m not getting those for my co-op because I already have slides, and because of our schedule, I cannot just get all the dissection specimens at once. If you order the bundle, e.g. the dissection bundle for Apologia Biology, you will get the dissection kit (nice!) and the 4 specimens all in one bag (ooky!). Unless you are going to dissect all 4 in 1 month, you will want to get stuff separately. And don’t buy dissection specimens until you are within 6 months of using them. Yes, you get stuck with more shipping charges, unfortunately, but this is science. And you don’t want your child or students dissecting a partially decayed specimen. Of course, if you are doing this just within your family, you can schedule your time so that you do the dissections all in one month.

I will link to the items I’m getting for my class. I compared prices and availability between homesciencetools.com, amazon.com and carolina.com.

The advantage of doing a class like this in a class is that the cost of some items are shared across the class. I will (or have) purchase a set of petri dishes, agar (2 bottles), corral, sponge specimen, pond jars and protozoa mixture that the whole class will use. Scalpel blades and pins for dissection come in numbers for the whole class.

I want to get, for the whole class use, a frog hatchery kit, a root viewer kit and a carnivorous fungi kit. I think the supply fee will allow for these 3.

Per set of 2 students, I will get these items. Frog, crayfish, earthworm, perch, scalpel, probe and dissection tray. As funds and time allow, I’ll also get grasshopper, clam, starfish and pig. The pig is a higher priority than the others, so if it turns out that time or funds are tight, I’ll skip grasshopper, clam and starfish and just do a pig. And if I need to do it more as a demonstration, we can do that.

The ‘as time and funds allow’ items are things not specifically talked about in the book, but I think would add to the students understanding of the biological world. And should add to their ‘wow’ factor for the biological world. Because the biological world is just crazy awesome and worth going “wow” for.

And, of course, a nature notebook. I found ones I liked better on amazon, but the one offered here is a better price and still good enough for the beginning nature journaller. I have basic colored pencils, which I know are not ideal, but I’d rather spend more on the biology supplies than on the colored pencils. Yes, I know my CM priorities might be off, but we will deal. This will serve as their ‘lab notebook’ as they draw what they see in the microscope or on the dissection tray. This is another reason to have students work in pairs… one person works the specimens, the other draws, then they switch.

Don’t forget to get gloves. Any time you work with a live specimen or dead one, wear gloves. The formaldehyde that dissection specimens are in will stink up your skin horribly, and, really, you don’t want some random whatever on your skin. And always wash hands with soap well after dealing in these things.

There are books that will help along the way. There are dissection guides for anything you might dissect. There are good books and articles to round out the reading. I will talk about these as we reach that part of the year.

Are there supplies you’d add to this list? What is scary or overwhelming for you? How can I help you be a better biology teacher?