November 7th, 2014
Get Your Science Students to Gobble Up Reading

girlreadAs sci­ence teach­ers, we all want our stu­dents to become life­long learn­ers. We want our cur­ricu­lum to give them a bet­ter under­stand­ing of what is going on in the real world. One way I have tried to accom­plish these goals is through a vari­ety of read­ing tech­niques.  Teach­ing kids to read about sci­ence gives them a much needed skill they can use in the future.

But wait, this isn’t Eng­lish class! How many sci­ence teach­ers (or math, or his­tory, or any­thing other than Eng­lish) have heard this from their stu­dents? Read­ing is not some­thing that should be lim­ited to one period a day. It cer­tainly won’t be when they leave school! So here are three read­ing tech­niques that I use in my high school biol­ogy class­room to give stu­dents a bet­ter under­stand­ing of how sci­ence hap­pens in real life. Once your stu­dents get used to them, the com­plaints will go away. Who knows, they might even enjoy your class more!

Tech­nique #1 -Biol­ogy Read­ing Days

Prepa­ra­tion: I put together a list of books (both fic­tion and non-fiction) that have a strong tie to biol­ogy. I find a vari­ety of top­ics at a range of dif­fi­culty lev­els. I also make sure that the books are avail­able through our library sys­tem so that stu­dents can check them out.

Imple­men­ta­tion: Once a week I give my stu­dents an entire class period to read their book. Stu­dents also have to com­plete a weekly read­ing slip to bring in some of the Com­mon Core Stan­dards. We also do group dis­cus­sions towards the end of the semes­ter. I love walk­ing around the room and lis­ten­ing to my stu­dents have con­ver­sa­tions about what they read!

Read­ing Rec­om­men­da­tions: A few of our favorites from the list are “Peeps” by Scott West­er­field, “Your Inner Fish” by Neil Shu­bin, “Stiff: The Curi­ous Life of Cadav­ers” by Mary Roach, and “Crash­ing Through” by Robert Kurson.

Tech­nique #2 — Cur­rent Event Articles

Prepa­ra­tion: There are tons of great news arti­cles out there. One of my favorite sources is the New York Times sci­ence sec­tion (if you haven’t checked it out yet, GO NOW… then come back to this blog, of course). I assign arti­cles from there at least once a week.

Imple­men­ta­tion: I have my stu­dents turn the arti­cle in with the impor­tant infor­ma­tion high­lighted and they write a one para­graph response (what they thought about what they read– NO sum­maries allowed). This shows them real world exam­ples of what we are learn­ing about in class.

Arti­cle Recommendations:

Tech­nique #3 –Col­lab­o­ra­tive Reading

Prepa­ra­tion: One thing that always both­ers me is that when I give my stu­dents ques­tions to answer, they just skim through to find the answers instead of actu­ally read­ing. I also find that they have trou­ble lis­ten­ing (which I’m sure is shock­ing). So here’s my solu­tion: I take an arti­cle and spilt it into two parts, going para­graph by paragraph.

Imple­men­ta­tion: The stu­dents take turns read­ing and have to answer ques­tions about the sec­tions that their part­ner reads. This means they have to LISTEN! Let me be hon­est, they hate this at first (“why can’t I just read the whole thing myself?”). But if they’re strug­gling, it means they have to actu­ally apply them­selves and WORK! It’s worth the time and effort it takes to plan it out.

Hope­fully these ideas are use­ful for your classes. What tech­niques do you apply to improv­ing sci­ence literacy?







Aubrey Mikos is a LifeSc­iTRC Com­mu­nity Mem­ber, Scholar, and Fel­low. She teaches Biol­ogy and Anatomy and Phys­i­ol­ogy at Ser­ena High School in Ser­ena, IL.


October 10th, 2014
What’s the Constant in Your Teaching?


That’s a sin wave. It’s my pre­cious graph, I try to sound like Golem from Lord of the Rings when I intro­duce it. I draw it on the board after my stu­dents try to bal­ance a meter stick with one fin­ger (they wear gog­gles, of course).  I have the stu­dents draw the sin wave and we talk about how the meter stick moved one direc­tion, and they moved their hand the oppo­site direc­tion and we laugh about how dif­fi­cult it is to bal­ance the meter stick and at how irri­tated the class below us must be after hear­ing all the dropped meter sticks. I don’t label the y-axis, but I call the x-axis the set-point, which rep­re­sents the meter stick stand­ing in per­fect bal­ance. As long as the meter stick doesn’t go too far to the right (above the line) or too far to the left (below the line), we can keep it on our hands, if it goes too far (past the curve), the meter stick falls.  We then label the peaks of the curve and dot­ted lines par­al­lel to the set point line and we call the dis­tance, nor­mal limits.

The graph forms the basis of how we study phys­i­ol­ogy in my class. I intro­duce a new fac­tor every week and stu­dents have to explain how it relates to the graph. Some­times the fac­tor is a min­eral or a vit­a­min, some­times it’s a vari­able like heart rate or breath­ing depth. We relate every­thing that has some sort of home­o­sta­tic con­trol to this graph. Blood sugar, pH, salt lev­els in extra­cel­lu­lar fluid, hor­mones, nutri­ents — they all have to relate to the graph. Every organ has a func­tion related to the graph, and stu­dents write about this graph in rela­tion­ship to daily expe­ri­ences such as get­ting too much or too lit­tle sleep or hav­ing too much or too lit­tle space between them­selves and whomever they are talk­ing to. Even­tu­ally stu­dents come to see how this graph relates to neg­a­tive feed­back and main­tain­ing the end­less cycles that the human body expe­ri­ences in a life­time. Some­times the graph is not sym­met­ri­cal and some­times it’s two waves sep­a­rated in time to exam­ine cause and effect. Some­times the graph seems like a nat­ural fit, some­times it’s forced, but the point is its con­sis­tency and the frame­work it pro­vides for ask­ing ques­tions. It teaches my stu­dents to expect that what­ever hap­pens to raise a vari­able, will be coun­ter­acted in some way to bring it back down. This graph is a sin wave, I did not invent it. This graph was never my idea, apply­ing phys­i­ol­ogy to this graph was not my idea (I truly can­not remem­ber who taught me this), but using it, and using it reg­u­larly, has impacted my teach­ing as much as design­ing cur­ricu­lum, exam­in­ing scope and sequence, using read­ing strate­gies, and even using tech­nol­ogy. What’s more, I am com­pletely open to my sin wave not being the best idea or the best tool in the shed — it’s just what works now, it could very well change.

I’m curi­ous, what’s your graph? What’s the con­stant in your teach­ing, that lit­tle tool, or pro­to­col that helps you com­mu­ni­cate the mate­r­ial and helps your stu­dents under­stand it?  It may be as sim­ple as what a pop­u­lar sixth grade teacher does on her white­board every morn­ing  “if it’s in blue, it’s what you must now do…,” but share it with your col­leagues, share it on this blog, because col­lec­tively these lit­tle algo­rithms and ideas become what we call best prac­tice, and our stu­dents deserve that.


Dan Bartsch is a National Board Cer­ti­fied biol­ogy instruc­tor and depart­ment chair at Billings Senior High School in Billings, MT. He has served as a LifeSc­iTRC Scholar and Fel­low. Dan has been teach­ing for over 20 years and feels blessed to be part of such a great endeavor.


August 29th, 2014
Using the Interactive Notebook in a Secondary Science Classroom

This past school year, I com­mit­ted to try­ing a brand new strat­egy for my Anatomy & Phys­i­ol­ogy and AP Biol­ogy classes — the Inter­ac­tive Note­book (INB)! This is some­thing that I have wanted to try for some time, but I could not wrap my brain around how to put it all together in my class­room. The sum­mer of 2013, I had the oppor­tu­nity to attend an Advance­ment Via Indi­vid­ual Deter­mi­na­tion (AVID) Sum­mer Insti­tute in Dal­las, TX where I was exten­sively trained in how to imple­ment the INB for sci­ence teach­ers. Let me begin by say­ing the INB is not an orig­i­nal AVID strat­egy, but it is a won­der­ful strat­egy to use to help stu­dents stay orga­nized, but I am get­ting ahead of myself!

What is an INB?


Other than being a life-saver in my class­room, an INB is a method to help stu­dents (1) stay orga­nized, and (2) process the infor­ma­tion you are giv­ing them in the class­room. There are two com­po­nents that are non-negotiable, in my opin­ion, when devel­op­ing an INB. First off, stu­dents need a table of con­tents to help them stay orga­nized. Some teach­ers choose to have one long table of con­tents for the entire note­book that is posi­tioned at the begin­ning and filled in as you progress through­out the year. I chose to put a new table of con­tents with each unit (see Fig­ure 1, left). I wanted my stu­dents to be able to orga­nize infor­ma­tion accord­ing to the unit. I also used the table of con­tents as their grad­ing cri­te­ria. I assessed them on writ­ing their warm up ques­tions and answers, hav­ing all of their assign­ments present, and com­plet­ing stu­dent devel­oped ques­tions and sum­maries for the Cor­nell Notes they took for the unit. There are many ways to assess an INB, but that needs to be saved for another blog!


Fig2The sec­ond non-negotiable of an INB is deter­min­ing what goes on the right and left side of the note­book.  The right side is reserved for what stu­dents should know, and the left side is reserved for how stu­dents process the infor­ma­tion that you want them to know.  I dis­cuss this at the very begin­ning of the year with my stu­dents and pro­vide them with the two pages shown in Fig­ure 2 (left). I will often use the “clock exam­ples” (shown on the left side of the fig­ure) as a way for let­ting stu­dents choose how they will process the infor­ma­tion. For exam­ple, after giv­ing notes that the stu­dents have writ­ten on the right side, I will ask the stu­dents to choose from clock exam­ple num­ber 1, 3, 5, or 7 to com­plete on the left side to process the infor­ma­tion they just wrote on the right side. This allows for dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of instruc­tion because stu­dents choose how they are pro­cess­ing infor­ma­tion based on how they learn.  Some­times the infor­ma­tion that is put on the left side is very delib­er­ate and all stu­dents do the same thing, such as com­plet­ing a mind map as shown in Fig­ure 3 (below). Other times, infor­ma­tion that is placed on the left side is a home­work assign­ment, as shown in Fig­ure 4 (below).












Fig­ure 5 and 6 (below) demon­strate how to incor­po­rate lab­o­ra­tory inves­ti­ga­tions into an INB. Fig­ure 5 shows that the stu­dents com­pleted their pre-laboratory ques­tions on the right side, and their data tables, graphs and ques­tions on the left side. Notice that the stu­dents taped their graph over the top of their data table. In Fig­ure 6, stu­dents were to design their own exper­i­ment based on the results they obtained in Fig­ure 5. They wrote their hypoth­e­sis, mate­ri­als, and pro­ce­dures on the right side, and the left side was for data col­lec­tion, graphs, and conclusion.













 Why use an INB?

Not only is the INB a great orga­ni­za­tion tool for stu­dents, it is also a valu­able orga­ni­za­tion tool for edu­ca­tors, as sup­ported by Eagle­ton and Muller. “This orga­ni­za­tional tool works most effec­tively where the teacher plans lessons as part of a unit in which student-centered activ­i­ties are struc­tured to build learn­ing over time. These activ­i­ties focus on the student’s pro­cess­ing infor­ma­tion in order to build strong men­tal con­nec­tions.” The key is to focus on how the stu­dents are pro­cess­ing the infor­ma­tion. Are you going to let stu­dents choose from var­i­ous clock exam­ples based on the stu­dents’ learn­ing style?  Are you going to push them to try some­thing new and out­side of their com­fort zone? Eagle­ton and Muller devel­oped a model for whole brain learn­ing of phys­i­ol­ogy. Their research “alerted to the impor­tance of incor­po­rat­ing learn­ing strate­gies that make pro­vi­sion for the per­son­al­ity, infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing, and envi­ron­ment and instruc­tional needs of dif­fer­ent stu­dents.” I feel it is impor­tant that stu­dents know their learn­ing style and how their per­son­al­ity fits into their learn­ing. It is up to the teacher to pro­vide an envi­ron­ment and instruc­tional needs to reach all learn­ing styles of his/her stu­dents. In my opin­ion, the INB is the per­fect tool to reach all stu­dents, if the teacher uses it correctly.

How to start an INB?

As you may know, when incor­po­rat­ing a major new sys­tem into your class­room, it’s some­times like tak­ing off a band-aid – you just have to rip it off and go for it! Once I decided I would trans­form my class­room using an INB, I began by look­ing up exam­ples online and talk­ing with other edu­ca­tors that had been using this method. Using an INB forced me to think about my instruc­tion in a new and dif­fer­ent way.  First off, I had to deter­mine how to give my stu­dents infor­ma­tion that could fit on one page. This really allowed me to pare down con­tent and get rid of some of the “fluff.”  Some­times I would give my stu­dents mul­ti­ple pages of notes that they glued on top of each other on the right side. I also had to deter­mine how I was going to have my stu­dents process the infor­ma­tion. Was I going to use a clock exam­ple, or would they com­plete an assign­ment or activ­ity that is the same for all stu­dents? I added extra items such as unit cal­en­dars that they put oppo­site of the table of con­tents, and unit exam reviews which they placed on the right hand side and then com­pleted a study guide on the left hand side.

After hav­ing used the INB for a year, there are a few changes I am going to make for the next school year, but that is what we do as teach­ers – reflect and revise! I am still going to assess my stu­dents’ INB on com­ple­tion of their warm up questions/answers, com­plet­ing their stu­dent devel­oped ques­tions and sum­maries for their notes, but now I am going to incor­po­rate giv­ing stu­dents’ stamps for com­plet­ing cer­tain assign­ments, rather than col­lect­ing each assign­ment. In addi­tion, I am adding a par­ent feed­back page at the end of the note­book. Stu­dents will be required to show their par­ents their note­book, dis­cuss what they learned dur­ing the unit, and then the par­ents will be required to write a feed­back sen­tence and sign the paper. I will also have a ref­er­ence sec­tion at the begin­ning of the note­book, which I did not do last year.

If you decide to take the plunge and use an INB in your class­room, it is impor­tant that you under­stand to make it your own! I can give some sug­ges­tions that worked for me, but it might not work for you. You must design it in such a way that helps sup­port your instruction.





 Jen­nifer Giannou-Moore is an edu­ca­tor, depart­ment chair, and instruc­tional coach for the sci­ence depart­ment at Austin High School, Austin Inde­pen­dent School Dis­trict, TX.  Jen­nifer lhas taught a vari­ety of sci­ence courses over the past 13 years includ­ing Anatomy & Phys­i­ol­ogy, AP Biol­ogy, and Inte­grated Physics and Chemistry.

July 9th, 2014
Teach with Case Studies

boredclass“Why are we learn­ing this?”

Ahh, the quin­tes­sen­tial query of all stu­dents. Per­haps hear­ing this phrase gives you a pit in your gut; after all, hav­ing to defend your inves­ti­ga­tion of a topic with your stu­dents implies that they’re miss­ing a core con­cept at the start, the why behind the what. So how can you make sure you never hear this ques­tion again?

Teach with Case Studies!

For those unfa­mil­iar with case stud­ies, one of the most com­mon types, and that which I’ll be dis­cussing in this post, is the “inter­rupted” case study. In this for­mat, stu­dents are pre­sented with a mys­tery or prob­lem that must be solved. Stu­dents are then given infor­ma­tion in a piece­meal fash­ion, includ­ing data, graphs, and charts, and must con­tin­u­ally assess and reassess the avail­able infor­ma­tion to make a deci­sion on a course of action. This for­mat of problem-solving is a phe­nom­e­nal way to incor­po­rate real-world sci­ence skills in the day-to-day work­ings of your class­room. These cases are often com­plex, requir­ing stu­dents to develop ana­lyt­i­cal and decision-making skills for ques­tions that are messy, com­pli­cated, and fun – just like most good sci­ence ques­tions are! Teach­ing with case stud­ies allows you to rein­force the sci­ence con­tent you’re learn­ing in your class­room, but more impor­tantly, allows your stu­dents to expe­ri­ence how the process of sci­ence works. Many true cases also impact pub­lic pol­icy, pre­sent­ing an oppor­tu­nity to dis­cuss the need for sci­en­tific lit­er­acy among the gen­eral public.

A Few Pointers

Whether you’re new to teach­ing with case stud­ies or have been teach­ing with them for years, a few point­ers on how to make the most out of each case:

  • Be pre­pared! Make sure that you’re famil­iar with the case and have con­sid­ered areas stu­dents might get lost or con­fused. A solid foun­da­tion with the case your­self will make for a much more pro­duc­tive experience.
  • Have them turn in a prod­uct! Cases often inspire excel­lent dis­cus­sions; how­ever, most stu­dents feel more secure in their learn­ing if they are required to turn in some sort of prod­uct by the end. This can be as sim­ple as a sum­mary of the case, or can be spe­cific ques­tions and/or reflec­tions on actions that should be taken in the case.
  • When pos­si­ble, include var­i­ous media! Par­tic­u­larly when using true case stud­ies, it is often pos­si­ble to find video clips from news orga­ni­za­tions or tele­vi­sion shows that high­light the case. Includ­ing these in your les­son adds another layer of real­ity and depth for your stu­dents, mak­ing them real­ize that these are real peo­ple and real cases, not just some activ­ity their teacher is mak­ing them do. All cases listed below have coor­di­nat­ing media avail­able on Youtube and Vimeo.
  • If you can, jump in full force! The more cases you do, the more com­fort­able you and your stu­dents will be with the process. This will, in turn, allow you to have more pro­duc­tive dis­cus­sions and get the most out of each case.

A Few Examples

Cases I’ve used in my own expe­ri­ence, by topic:

  • Car­dio­vas­cu­lar System/Bioethics — “Dennis’s Deci­sion”: This par­tic­u­lar case is a true story about Den­nis, a boy with leukemia whose reli­gious beliefs are dis­cor­dant with his treat­ment options. I left my stu­dents hang­ing over Spring Break with this case, and as they left my room that day for a week off, I heard no less than three times, “Spring break needs to be over so we can find out the rest!”
  • Meio­sis – “You Are Not the Mother of your Chil­dren”: This case addresses the true story of a woman who almost lost cus­tody of her chil­dren when a DNA test indi­cated that she was not the bio­log­i­cal mother of her chil­dren. This case was intro­duced at the begin­ning of our meio­sis unit; stu­dents then learned the basics of meio­sis, and we came back to the case study a week later. Through­out the entire week between the intro­duc­tion and res­o­lu­tion, the first ques­tion asked at the begin­ning of each class period was, “Are we going to find out what happened?!”
  • Osmo­sis – “Water Can Kill: Explor­ing Effects of Osmo­sis” : This case fol­lows the true sto­ries of three indi­vid­u­als who all die as a result of ingest­ing too much water in a short period of time. In my class, we focus pri­mar­ily on the case of Jen­nifer Strange, who died after par­tic­i­pat­ing in a water-drinking con­test to win a video game con­sole from a radio sta­tion. Being that so many stu­dents are ath­letes, this often inspires many con­ver­sa­tions about safety in prac­tices and training.
  • Cel­lu­lar Res­pi­ra­tion – “The Mys­tery of the Seven Deaths”: This true case study explores the Chicago Tylenol mur­ders that occurred in 1982 when cyanide was added to Tylenol cap­sules. When I intro­duce this story, I don’t tell them up-front that it’s true; the shock they expe­ri­ence when they find out that seven peo­ple actu­ally died under such bizarre cir­cum­stances is enough to keep them guess­ing for the rest of the case study.
  • Any topic of your choos­ing National Cen­ter for Case Study Teach­ing in Sci­ence (NCCSTS) and CASES Online from Emory Uni­ver­sity : There are lit­er­ally hun­dreds of more cases in every life sci­ence sub­ject area found at these two web­sites. All of the pre­vi­ous cases listed above came from the NCCSTS, but I have also used quite a few from CASES Online as well. Both are truly excel­lent resources.

Final Thoughts

So, why do I use case stud­ies? I could say it’s because it increases their problem-solving abil­ity, their cre­ativ­ity in explor­ing approaches, their skep­ti­cism in con­sid­er­ing solu­tions, and their expe­ri­ence with the “dirty work” of sci­ence – all of which are incred­i­bly true! But… you want to know the real rea­son I teach case stud­ies? It changes their ques­tion from “Why are we learn­ing this?” to “When are we learn­ing this?” When that is the ques­tion your stu­dents ask, you can be con­fi­dent that they under­stand the why behind the what – and finally, the real work is ready to begin.

What are some of your favorite cases that you use in your class­room? If you haven’t used any yet, what ques­tions or con­cerns do you have? Leave your comments/questions/ideas below!


The fol­low­ing arti­cles were used in my research for this blog post. They are all authored by Clyde F. Her­reid, Direc­tor for the NCCSTS.






 Caitlin Schecker has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sec­ondary Sci­ence Edu­ca­tion, spe­cial­iz­ing in Biol­ogy edu­ca­tion. She has absolutely loved teach­ing at Bishop McLaugh­lin Catholic High School in Spring Hill, Florida for the past five years. She has served as a LifeSc­iTRC Scholar and Fellow.


June 11th, 2014
Six Steps to Flipping Your Classroom

Ask any teacher what they need to improve stu­dent achieve­ment, and you’ll likely hear, “MORE TIME!” Because this is pre­cisely the answer I would have given, I decided to give the flipped class­room a try, and found that it enabled me to spend more time facil­i­tat­ing inves­ti­ga­tions and projects, and less time in direct teach­ing mode. This is my first year to flip my sci­ence class­room, so I am still read­ing arti­cles and books and attend­ing train­ing to improve the tech­nique, but I am very pleased with the extra time I have with my stu­dents since I started flip­ping.  My stu­dents now come to class ready to apply what they lis­tened to and watched at home, which allows me to inter­act with them dur­ing the school day. This was my ulti­mate goal in flip­ping– to be able to build rela­tion­ships with my mid­dle school stu­dents while they were cre­at­ing prod­ucts and con­duct­ing exper­i­ments based on the infor­ma­tion from the flipped assign­ment. I’m also able to quickly clear up any mis­con­cep­tions they have as they are apply­ing the knowledge.


Here are the 6 steps that I took to flip my sci­ence classroom:

Step 1: To get started, I read Flip Your Class­room by the flip­ping gurus, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, and attended train­ing offered by my district.

Step 2: Next I cre­ated a web­site devoted only to the flipped class­room, and linked it to my dis­trict teacher web page. At our open house I showed par­ents the web­site which includes a sec­tion of FAQs along with the ratio­nale behind flip­ping, which gar­nered much support.

Step 3:  It was impor­tant to find out how acces­si­ble tech­nol­ogy was to my stu­dents so dur­ing the first week of school I gave a tech ques­tion­naire as an exit slip, ask­ing them to check what was avail­able to them out­side of school (Smart phone, Inter­net access, com­puter, iPad/tablet, and DVD player/gaming sys­tem with DVD player). I could burn a DVD for stu­dents if that was their only access, but that hasn’t been necessary.

Step 4: In the class­room, I cre­ated a lap­top work­sta­tion for stu­dents who did not com­plete the assign­ment at home, which has been the biggest strug­gle in the whole process. Before they were able to engage in the hands-on activ­i­ties, they had to com­plete the flipped assign­ment.  I’m very con­scious of the fact that many of my stu­dents will not com­plete lengthy assign­ments, so I have tried to limit each flipped assign­ment to 5 min­utes or less, includ­ing a short fill in activ­ity for account­abil­ity. The pur­pose of flip­ping a class­room is to gain more time, so avoid spend­ing time going over what the stu­dents were required to do at home, even if they didn’t do it! Before long they will real­ize that the flipped assign­ments are manda­tory, and will have them com­pleted when they enter the class­room.  The five minute video at home has given me an extra 15–20 min­utes in class because I do not have time spent redi­rect­ing dis­trac­tive behav­iors or tran­si­tion­ing between activities.

Step 5: I have found that some very cre­ative teach­ers have already made (and posted to YouTube and SchoolTube) some awe­some videos that I posted to my site so I didn’t have to rein­vent the wheel. To do this, I down­loaded Screen Cast-O-Matic. This soft­ware enables you to record what you are show­ing on your screen. For exam­ple, if I want to move the mouse and high­light some­thing impor­tant on a web­site or pre­sen­ta­tion, it is recorded so that I can upload it to my web­page as a video.

Step 6: Be your­self! Your kids know you and your teach­ing style, so when cre­at­ing your own video, don’t worry about it being per­fect. Chances are the kids will pay more atten­tion if there are a few “bloopers”!

I will con­tinue to hone this tech­nique because I have wit­nessed the ben­e­fits of flip­ping for me as a teacher, and for my stu­dents. Flip­ping has given me a huge advan­tage of spend­ing time inter­act­ing and teach­ing kids as they are apply­ing con­tent, instead of teach­ing and hop­ing they “got it” so that they can com­plete assign­ments at home. Flip­ping is a win-win for my stu­dents and me.






Anne Joy has a Bachelor’s Degree in ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion from Texas Tech Uni­ver­sity with a spe­cial­iza­tion in his­tory and a Life/Earth sci­ence cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, grades 6–12. She has taught in Texas for over 10 years and has spent the last 8 years teach­ing 7th grade sci­ence. Anne has served as an APS Fron­tiers in Phys­i­ol­ogy Fel­low and Men­tor. To read more about Anne’s expe­ri­ence flip­ping a 7th grade sci­ence class­room, visit her web­site.


May 13th, 2014
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): An Overview

The Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards is cur­rently a hot topic in K-12 edu­ca­tion with a num­ber of states who are debat­ing adopt­ing or have already done so. This month the LifeSc­iTRC invited Com­mu­nity Mem­ber Geor­gia Everett, who is a high school and under­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tor with hands-on NGSS expe­ri­ence, to explain these stan­dards to our K-12 Edu­ca­tor Community.

 What are the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Standards? 

The Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards (NGSS) are built off of the Frame­work for K-12 Sci­ence Edu­ca­tion which was devel­oped by the National Research Coun­cil.  The stan­dards progress stu­dents on top­ics in Life Sci­ence, Earth Sci­ence, Phys­i­cal Sci­ence and Engi­neer­ing & Tech­nol­ogy through­out ele­men­tary, mid­dle and high school.  They involve 7 con­cep­tual shifts that include mak­ing con­nec­tions to real world and prepar­ing stu­dents for col­lege, career, and cit­i­zen­ship while also mak­ing con­nec­tions to Com­mon Core State Stan­dards in Math and ELA. They focus on a pro­gres­sion of learn­ing while putting a spot­light on the sci­ence prac­tices that have fallen by the way­side over the years.

What are the Goals of the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Standards?

A major goal of the NGSS is to approach sci­ence learn­ing from three dimen­sions; Dis­ci­pli­nary Core Ideas (focused on life sci­ence, phys­i­cal sci­ence, earth & space sci­ence, and engi­neer­ing & tech­nol­ogy), Sci­ence & Engi­neer­ing Prac­tices, and Cross­cut­ting Con­cepts (focuses on things that can be seen across all dis­ci­plines not just sci­ence as well as across grade bands).  By effec­tively using these three dimen­sions, stu­dents work towards mas­tery of per­for­mance expec­ta­tions which are the stan­dards.  Each per­for­mance expec­ta­tion includes clar­i­fi­ca­tion as well as assess­ment bound­aries to keep con­sis­tency when inter­pret­ing what is and is not being inferred in the standard.

 Who is Using the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Standards?

Twelve states have already agreed to adopt the NGSS, and are plan­ning on slowly work­ing towards incor­po­rat­ing the stan­dards into their state cur­ricu­lum.  (It is impor­tant that I note: NGSS are not cur­ricu­lum. They are the final goal and out­come, but do not tell how to get there.) Achieve has encour­aged states to take their time when decid­ing if and when to adopt.  They do not want to see the same issues that were faced with the Com­mon Core State Stan­dards when they were released. They also want to have teach­ers, admin­is­tra­tors, and state lead­ers to be edu­cated on how to prop­erly work with and use the NGSS.

Where Can I Find More Infor­ma­tion about the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Standards?

If you would like to find out more about how to read and get famil­iar with the NGSS there are a vari­ety of tools out there. The Con­cord Con­sor­tium has a web­site that helps teach­ers cre­ate a path through NGSS.  For you apple users, there is an NGSS app that allows you to search the stan­dards using the Dis­ci­pli­nary Core Ideas, Top­ics, Con­cept Pro­gres­sion, or Domains. You can also find other resources related to NGSS in the LifeSc­iTRC.

Any Addi­tional Thoughts on the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Standards?

With the amount of time and effort that teach­ers across the nation (includ­ing myself) have put into read­ing, revis­ing, and work­ing on resources for NGSS, I hope that they are a huge suc­cess! When prop­erly uti­lized the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards can help us strengthen the edu­ca­tion of all our future sci­en­tists, espe­cially the next gen­er­a­tion of physiologists.






Geor­gia Everett has taught var­i­ous lev­els of life sci­ence classes in Indi­ana rural schools for the last 12 years at the sec­ondary level. For the last 8 years, she has also been an adjunct fac­ulty mem­ber with Ivy Tech Com­mu­nity col­lege teach­ing Anatomy & Phys­i­ol­ogy.  Geor­gia has served on a review team for the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards and helped deliver pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment to other teach­ers about the NGSS. She has also pre­sented at NSTA about teach­ing inquiry and sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis in the sci­ence classroom.

April 2nd, 2014
Introducing the New Life Science Teaching Resource Community

lifesci-box-highresNew Com­mu­nity

We are pleased to wel­come you to the new Life Sci­ence Teach­ing Resource Com­mu­nity, pre­vi­ously the Archive of Teac­ing Resources. Our goal is to pro­vide you with a free online envi­ron­ment where you can share ideas and exper­tise with fel­low edu­ca­tors to trans­form sci­ence edu­ca­tion for your stu­dents. We will con­tinue to offer our online library of free, peer-reviewed teach­ing resources, but will now pro­vide you with more.

New Tools

The Life Sci­ence Teach­ing Resource Com­mu­nity (LifeSc­iTRC) offers a num­ber of tools that allow edu­ca­tors to share their ideas and teach­ing exper­tise including:

  • Com­mu­nity Pages with news and rec­om­mended teach­ing resources
  • Blogs focus­ing on class­room and sci­ence top­ics rel­e­vant to educators
  • Forums for educator-led discussions
  • Resource Rat­ing and Com­ment­ing areas that allow edu­ca­tors to share their expe­ri­ences of using resources
  • Monthly Newslet­ters high­light­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers, news, and resources


New Part­ners

In addi­tion to the new name, the LifeSc­iTRC will fea­ture three new sci­en­tific soci­ety part­ners: The Phys­i­o­log­i­cal Soci­ety, Genet­ics Soci­ety of Amer­ica, and Amer­i­can Soci­ety of Plant Biol­o­gists. These soci­eties will join the cur­rent part­ners: Amer­i­can Phys­i­o­log­i­cal Soci­ety, Human Anatomy and Phys­i­ol­ogy Soci­ety, Soci­ety for Devel­op­men­tal Biol­ogy, Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Anatomists, Mass­a­chu­setts Soci­ety for Med­ical Research, and North­west Asso­ci­a­tion for Bio­med­ical Research in offer­ing over 6,000 free, sci­en­tif­i­cally accu­rate teach­ing resources to the community.

Our new part­ners will be adding their resources to the LifeSc­iTRC over the com­ing months, so keep an eye out for their mate­ri­als on the LifeSc­iTRC home page and in upcom­ing newsletters.

Visit Us Today and Enter Our Drawing!

To cel­e­brate the launch of our new com­mu­nity, we will be hold­ing a draw­ing for free prizes dur­ing the month of April. All you need to do by April 30 is:

  • Visit the Com­mu­nity Forums
  • Select the Forum most appro­pri­ate to the grade level you teach
  • Post a brief intro­duc­tion to the com­mu­nity and share what you hope to gain by participating

Once you have done so, you will auto­mat­i­cally be entered in our draw­ing. We hope that you will visit the LifeSc­iTRC soon and dis­cover all that we have to offer!

March 10th, 2014
Women’s History Month
Photo by George Joch / courtesy Argonne National Laboratory via Flickr.

Photo by George Joch / cour­tesy Argonne National Lab­o­ra­tory via Flickr.

March is Women’s His­tory Month and what bet­ter time to intro­duce your stu­dents to some excep­tional female sci­en­tists? Here are some short, infor­mal video inter­views of female scientists:

  • TanYa Gwath­mey – TanYa is a Post­doc­toral Fel­low at Wake For­est Uni­ver­sity School of Med­i­cine. Find out what inspired her to study phys­i­ol­ogy and what some of her other inter­ests are.
  • Car­men Tron­coso Brindeiro – Car­men is a Postodoc­toral Fel­low at Dart­mouth Med­ical School. Orig­i­nally, she didn’t like sci­ence but now she stud­ies cys­tic fibrosis.
  • Johana Vallejo – Johana is an Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor at Mid­west­ern Uni­ver­sity Col­lege of Osteo­pathic Med­i­cine who stud­ies insulin resis­tance. She pro­vides infor­ma­tion on her research and career in both Eng­lish and Spanish.

If your stu­dents get inspired and want to read about more female sci­en­tists, point them to these two Archive col­lec­tions:  Biogra­phies of Female Biol­o­gists I & Biogra­phies of Female Biol­o­gists II.

Share with the Com­mu­nity: Who are some of your favorite female sci­en­tists? Are you doing any fun activ­i­ties with your class to intro­duce them to women in STEM careers? Leave a Comment!

February 3rd, 2014
5 Pieces of Career Advice for High School Students

83893360High school is a unique time in life.  I vividly recall my high school days as a period of immense per­sonal growth, tinged with a bit of fear and uncer­tainty about the future.  Many deci­sions in life are made not because we feel we are ade­quately pre­pared to make them, but because it is time to do so.  But that is life.  If you are a junior or senior, you’ve likely started get­ting ques­tions from friends, fam­ily, and teach­ers about your future.

As a high schooler, you are at a stage in which you are gain­ing increas­ing amounts of inde­pen­dence, and you are begin­ning to think seri­ously about what you want to do with your life.  Of course, that includes pon­der­ing where you will go to col­lege, what you plan to major in, and what career you hope to pursue.

If you love sci­ence, you are for­tu­nate.  Oppor­tu­ni­ties for a career in sci­ence are numer­ous and var­ied.  From teach­ing, to research, to engi­neer­ing, to med­i­cine, to admin­is­tra­tion, to count­less other voca­tions, the options are many.  These fields all have merit, and each is unique and spe­cial in its own way.

I wouldn’t be sur­prised if you’ve had peo­ple tell you what career you should go into based upon your abil­i­ties.  That’s not what I plan to do here.

Below are five sim­ple, gen­eral words of advice that should apply to you no mat­ter what field you’d like to go into:

  1. Get involved early — If you’re inter­ested in research, find a lab­o­ra­tory at your local med­ical cen­ter and ask if you can observe or par­tic­i­pate in the work.  If you’re inter­ested in teach­ing, find an ele­men­tary or mid­dle school and ask teach­ers if they would be will­ing to let you be a guest speaker once in a while.  If you’re inter­ested in med­i­cine, find a doc­tor to shadow or a hos­pi­tal to vol­un­teer at.  These are just a few exam­ples of things you can do.  Be cre­ative.  Even if you don’t end up going into those fields, col­lege admis­sions com­mit­tees and future employ­ers will be impressed that you took the ini­tia­tive to get involved.
  2. Keep your options open – As stated above, there are many career options for those who enjoy sci­ence.  Cer­tainly it is good to have a clear goal, but know that just because you have your heart set on one career now does not mean you can­not or will not change your mind later.  Be open minded, espe­cially at your cur­rent stage, and be will­ing to explore new areas.
  3. Develop a strong work ethic – Hav­ing the desire and abil­ity to work hard will serve you well no mat­ter what you do in life.  Peo­ple take note of hard work­ers, espe­cially those who are young.  Strive to be one.
  4. Make an impact – You don’t have to be famous or old or wealthy to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of oth­ers.  Go visit elderly folks at a nurs­ing home.  Vol­un­teer at your local Sal­va­tion Army on the week­ends.  Join (or cre­ate) a school com­mit­tee that orga­nizes com­mu­nity out­reach events.  Again, be cre­ative.  Find ser­vice activ­i­ties that you enjoy tak­ing part in, and get a group together of those who share your interests.
  5. Love what you do!  It will show – Whether you are study­ing, work­ing, play­ing sports or doing some other extracur­ric­u­lar activ­ity, be pas­sion­ate about it and have a pos­i­tive atti­tude.  Peo­ple enjoy being around those who are hav­ing fun, and a pos­i­tive atti­tude is contagious.

If you’re a high schooler inter­ested in a career in phys­i­ol­ogy, which I hope you are, make sure you check out the Amer­i­can Phys­i­o­log­i­cal Society’s Careers in Phys­i­ol­ogy web­page at  Also check out the Archive’s Col­lec­tion on Biol­ogy Careers (includ­ing phys­i­ol­ogy):

Do you have any other tips from what you have learned?  Please share them in the com­ments sec­tion below.

January 15th, 2014
A New Year and New Science Education?

Happy New Year from the Archive of Teach­ing Resources!students desk

As a new cal­en­dar year starts, I like to sit and reflect on the hap­pen­ings over the past year and begin plan­ning for the future. One ben­e­fit of serv­ing as the Archive Man­ager is that I have the oppor­tu­nity to think about and see exam­ples of sci­ence edu­ca­tion from the kinder­garten to grad­u­ate level. This year has brought some BIG SHIFTS in sci­ence edu­ca­tion and the stan­dards that are rec­om­mended to be used in education.

This year, the Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards were released for K-12 edu­ca­tion and Vision and Change in Sci­ence Edu­ca­tion con­tin­ues to spread through­out under­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion. What makes me happy to see is that both of these doc­u­ments focus on mak­ing sci­ence student-centered, inte­gra­tive, and concept-centered. As a sci­en­tist myself, I am pleased to know that there is such a large push for the next gen­er­a­tion of stu­dents to expe­ri­ence all aspects of sci­ence and learn how it applies to their lives. How­ever, what makes me even more happy is to look back over the resources that have been sub­mit­ted by YOU, the Archive Users, and to see that you are already mak­ing sci­ence inter­ac­tive, inte­gra­tive, and applic­a­ble for the next gen­er­a­tion of stu­dents.

I tip my hat to each and every one of you for your fore­sight and vision for sci­ence edu­ca­tion. I believe the next step is to share your expe­ri­ence and wis­dom with other edu­ca­tors so we can con­tinue to improve sci­ence edu­ca­tion for all stu­dents. I hope that over the com­ing year we can work together to spread the “new” wave of sci­ence edu­ca­tion. Please con­tinue to share your resources, thoughts, and exper­tise with the Archive com­mu­nity and con­sider shar­ing this com­mu­nity with oth­ers. My New Year’s Res­o­lu­tion is to con­tinue reach­ing out to and sup­port­ing teach­ers like you.

What is your New Year’s Res­o­lu­tion? Com­ment Below.