Life Science

Researched Based Class

I am a second year teacher at a small high school with no curriculum for any life science class. I have developed a biology curriculum, but I am having problems with the "identity" of my advanced biology class (not an AP biology). I want to continue onto what they learned in Biology, but I only have about a semester worth of topics to cover in the advanced class. My thoughts were to teach that semesters worth of material, and then have more a researched based 2nd semester. Anyone have any other ideas? Thanks!

David Blackburn
David Blackburn
70 Activity Points

I like your idea of using the 2nd semester for research projects. You could allow students to develop their own individualized projects focusing on the topics you have previously covered or delving into things you haven't done in detail. From my experience this would require quite a bit of structure - specific expectations and deadlines for their project work. At the end of the semester students could have quite alot of work in a portfolio. You could also use this time to focus in on current issues in biology - reading whats in the news, researching those issues further, developing scientific arguments about those issues, etc.

April Wallace
April Cartwright
1320 Activity Points

That's great that you can develop your own curriculum. Your question reminded me of this inspiring video on secondary science in Finland. https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/high-performance-in-science

Mary Ann NG
Mary Ann Ng
3360 Activity Points

I agree that I like the idea of research, but it needs to be structured. My sophomores are in "Houses" (same students in the core subjects) and we work on a Genetics research project in our third quarter. I teach the science aspect of it, while the Language Arts teacher works on the research paper- the students pick a mutation topic (that we've narrowed down to a list) and write a structured research paper (thesis, 5 paragraph theme, conclusion, MLA formatting, etc). It takes a lot of time! :) You may want to see if an English teacher in your grade level is willing to share lessons on how to write a research paper. Another idea is to work on argumentative topics so that your students can practice for the Common Core (sorry, assuming your state is in the Common Core Consortium). I've found it very useful to have them practice taking notes from short video clips and summarizing: both aspects of the Common Core.

Lynn Yamada
Lynn Yamada
3020 Activity Points

We used to have a Biology 2 course that was research based. The first semester students learned about the biology of several model organisms (fruit flies, nematodes, fast plants, yeast, C-Fern), as well as a deeper exploration of environmental issues. By the end of the semester they had to submit a research plan, using one of the model organisms to explore an environmental issue of some sort. The 2nd semester they worked on the project, and had it ready to enter in our regional ISEF-affiliated science fair in the spring. After that they worked on a short paper exploring questions their research had raised, and the paper was their final exam grade. This went away when we switched to trimester courses, got new graduation requirements, and added AP Biology. Insufficient enrollments to run the research-based course, so it turned into an independent study program.

Cris DeWolf
Cris DeWolf
11905 Activity Points

I, too, agree that research the second semester would be the way to go. I'm a little jealous, I would love to do that!

Devin Bowen
Devin Bowen
40 Activity Points

Research the second semester sounds like it could be invaluable. There are so many aspects of research and science writing that you could explore with your students. Even expanding the content that you have to incorporate writing skills could be worth while.  I don't know what kind of local resources you have, if there are any science, medical or post-secondary organizations it might be interesting to contact them about mentoring your students. At the least students could get a glimpse of how science, science writing and research are used in the real world. At the best students could gain experience in putting their academic knowledge to use. 

Rachel Haber
Rachel Haber
30 Activity Points

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