Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lesson Planning

Although I haven't really done any "planning" or "teaching" up to this point it is encouraging to see that we've already begun several of the activities I was hoping to get into as we study biology this year:


Activity (Purpose)



Further Activities


Pet care

Aug 08

Released into wild

Hermit Crab

Pet care

Aug 08


Aquarium maintenance

Spring 08

Backyard Field Survey

Enter and analyze data

Sept. 08

Learn Excel to record data

Studying Bryozoa

Using the microscope

Sept. 08

Discovered exotic life form


Pond Water

Using the microscope


I made up this chart so that I can post it downstairs by our homeschool work area. The idea is that the kids can see what upcoming projects we can do and take charge of doing them. The chart continues with:

Growing Triops
Brewing Root Beer with Yeast
Making Yogurt (live bacteria)
Cheese making?
Separating out DNA
Testing Antibiotics
Luminescent Bacteria Lab

I got most of these experments from The Science of Life: Projects and Principles for Beginning Biologists by Frank G. Bottone, Jr. The last time we covered biology, in 2003, I was shocked to discover that the Plant/Animal classification system I had been taught (and which was also used as an organizing principle in the homeschooling guide The Well-Trained Mind – with the addition, as I recall, of humans as a separate category for those uncomfortable with the idea that humans are animals) was completely outdated. Instead, there were (depending on who you read) at least five “kingdoms:” Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia. The Science of Life had all kinds of interesting and do-able projects for each classification. We did a few, including watching mold grow (systematically, not on the stuff in the back of the refrigerator) and growing carnivorous plants. When I pulled the book out again this summer, though, I found Post-its on many pages for projects we never got to. Happily, the book is written at a high enough level that it still looks like a good guide for high school.

Oh, about the kingdoms above: apparently scientists don’t use that way of classifying living things anymore, either. According to Wikipedia, modern taxonomy systems generally begin with a three-domain system of Archaea (originally Archaebacteria), Bacteria (originally Eubacteria), and Eukarya, depending on whether the cells have nuclei or not and categories of cell exteriors.

Anyway, on our first go-round we covered taxonomy, biomes (for which we put together different terrariums and aquariums), and the human body. There are a lot of websites about biomes; I’ll post the ones I’ve found as time allows. The human body resource we used was a book and see-through model combo from Andrews McMeel. (Out of print but available used.) While the model was on the flimsy side, the book was short but well-written (elementary to middle school level), nicely illustrated and had do-able activities for each body system (for instance, testing muscles or optical illusions).

I seem to have gotten off the topic of what books I am in the process of using now to develop this year’s teaching plan, so look for more soon.

No comments: