Curriculum Corner Launch!

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With the help of Brad Williamson, I am happy to announce that we now have a “Curriculum Corner” on the KABT website. My goal with the Curriculum Corner is to be a place for you as a biology teacher to have access to free and customizable curricula. My hope is that the Curriculum Corner will meet your needs whether you’d just like an idea for a single lesson on a given topic, or you’re in need of an entire curriculum. The great thing about having these curricula on the KABT BioBlog site is that each document allows for teacher feedback. Since these curricula are entirely electronic, the documents can evolve as better ideas come from you using the documents and providing thoughtful feedback. With the help, input, and better ideas of the KABT community, my hope is that the Curriculum Corner will evolve into a resource that will be of great utility to teachers in Kansas and beyond. I would also like to see the Curriculum Corner expand with the addition of Anatomy & Physiology, Zoology, Environmental Science, Genetics, Botany, etc. The usefulness of this resource will grow with contributions and feedback from teachers like you.

I have uploaded documents for the three classes I currently teach at De Soto High School: General Biology, Kansas Natural History, and AP Biology. To help see if any of these curricula can be of use to you, I’ll describe a bit about each class below.

General Biology– This curriculum focuses on the Kansas Science Standards and is arranged into 6 Themes and 11 Units within those themes. Most of the worksheets were created by me to be given to students without much, if any, prior background. Last year I used many of these, and I would give them to students and tell them that they can use any of the textbooks available in the classroom to help answer the questions. These worksheets cause a lot of frustration with students, because they cannot sit back and listen passively to a lecture and must actively pursue the information. I was astounded when I changed to this format, because I had students asking me incomparably more questions than when I was lecturing. The second half of last year, using this method, the only time I lectured was when students PLEADED with me to help clarify something at the whiteboard, which I was glad to do. Most of these worksheets take content directly from the standards, but were created with the intention of helping students to see the big picture, and not merely add to a pile of stones. The nice part about having students use different textbooks to answer questions is that you can differentiate with students based on which textbook you recommend. Many of my more advanced sophomores used the AP Biology books to answer their worksheets, which gave them great practice with difficult material.

Kansas Natural History– My wife, Kylee, and I have created this curriculum together over the course of a decade or so. In the last year, we have taken over 5000 pictures of native plants and animals to put in PowerPoints to help teach about the organisms. This course is divided into 13 units covering native arthropods, reptiles, turtles, birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish. It also covers the way we interact with land, interdependence of organisms, etc. We are so excited to make this curriculum available to teachers all over Kansas with the hope that we could have a natural history-type course in every school in Kansas. A big impediment to teaching these courses is a lack of materials, and with the help of the KABT community, I hope to see the quality of this curriculum increase dramatically over the next few years. To complete the labs in this curriculum, titled LUTS(XXX) or LFAS(XXX), you would need to purchase Learning Under the Sun and Learning for all Seasons, by William Klein, which costs a little over $60 including keys.

AP Biology– I have included my syllabus, 48 Guided Readings (42 of which were modified from Lynn Miriello with 6 created by my students and myself), 49 Chapter Essentials, created by me and based on the Preparing for the AP Biology Exam book that went along with Campbell’s 7th ed. I’ve also included a Pre-Lab Write-Up I created that I have found to be ESSENTIAL to having students understand what they are doing before they ever set foot in the classroom for a particular lab. Lastly I included a contract for students and their parents to sign at the beginning of the year agreeing to the workload and rigor, and then an evaluation for students at the end of the year, to reflect on their experience in the course. I hope that you can find something useful here.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions on ways to make the Curriculum Corner a better resource for teachers. With your help, I think that we could have something really special here!

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