Teach Like a Champion – Lemov

Last week for ECS 350 we were given the first 28 pages of Lemov’s text to read.  Within these first few pages there were a lot of techniques and practices that both reaffirmed what I have been learning and also provided me with practices I hope to implement when I begin teaching.

One issue it seems with the curriculum at times, the old curriculum anyway, was that there was too much content.  Some of the suggestions that Lemov makes addresses this problem that teachers may have.  Lemov suggests that simply establishing an efficient procedure for handing out course materials could save you 20 minutes a day, that’s 20 extra minutes to cover content.  Another suggestion, something I am also learning in my assessment class, is to plan with the end in mind.  By evaluating the outcomes and indicators in the process in which you want to teach them and then choosing activities that best addresses these outcomes helps to plan lessons in a meaningful way.

Planning in this way allows you to plan for mastery as opposed to planning for content alone.  It is important that students are able to make a connection to material in a way that is meaningful to them.  By carefully designing lessons and classroom practices I can give my students the best chance to succeed that I can.


Biology Web Resources

Here are some great sites I found for teaching high school biology.  Thanks to @cybraryman1 who helped me out on #edchat and hooked me up with his biology page – a great place for me to start.

These are the ones I really liked with a quick explanation about them:

1.] Ensemble Genome Browser


This website catalogs the human genome as well as the genome of other vertebrates and makes it free on the internet.  The search feature is very easy to use and makes it

Picture by: Ethan Hein

possible to search for genes that have roles in certain diseases or even traits such as eye colour, growth, etc.  Good chance for students to go deeper into genetics and the genome; help express the complexity of genetics and its role in physical traits.

2.] Secrets of the Sequence: Video Series on the Life Sciences


Contains videos on a variety of topics including evolution, anatomy, DNA, genetics, even careers in life sciences although focusing mainly on the DNA aspect of those concepts.  If you’re looking for videos to relate DNA to a variety of topics this is a good place to start.  These videos are short and could be incorporated very easily into a lecture or activity.

3.] Learn. Genetics


A great site with interactive tours and videos on a variety of genetics related concepts.  There is a prezi type tour that helps students relate the size of the microscopic cells they are studying to some everyday items such as coffee beans and rice grains; there is also a build your own DNA molecule activity.

The Teach.Genetics companion site to this offers great lesson plans for teachers looking to incorporate activities into their genetics lessons.  This site is in beta mode so will only get better as new resources are developed.




A good-looking, interactive game where students need to know and understand how traits are inherited in order to accomplish the objectives of the game.  There is even a brief little aspect in regards to mating rituals throughout the game although the main focus is genetic inheritance and selective breeding.  The teacher’s portal through which the game is linked provides good ideas for how to incorporate the game and potential questions to ask afterwards.

5.] Biological Animations


Website with very good animations of cellular level processes such as protein folding, cell division, DNA replication, and metabolism.  This site would be a very good way to show students what you are talking about during an interactive lecture or something like that.

6.] Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms


Great resource produced by the Human Genome Research Institute where students or teachers can learn about potentially difficult terms.  The glossary provides a pronunciation and definition; even better sometimes a diagram, 3-D animation, and professional related to the term is provided as well.  This is a great way for students and teachers to interact with material they may find difficult in whatever way suites their needs.

7.] Shape of Life


Great site produced around the TV series on the way life has evolved over time highlighting different Phyla along the way.  This resource not only contains great videos on different Phylum but provides companion activities that could be adapted or used as is. There is also a section connecting the scientists to the different sections they were involved in providing students a face to the science presented.

8.] Tree of Life


This is an excellent visual tool depicting the phylogeny of all life on earth.  Students are able to look at a certain organism and see how closely related it may be to other organisms they have studied.  This resource would also be helpful to teachers needing to brush up on their classification.

9.] Hands-on Activities for Teaching Biology to High School and Middle School Aged Students


This site has lots of hands-on biology activities conveniently organized into a variety of different concepts.  Some of these activities could use a little bit more creativity however a lot of them such as the Diffusion Across a Semi-Permeable Membrane are already set up as a type of inquiry and include the student and teacher resources.

10.] Dr.Saul’s Biology in Motion


This resource is a very good looking website with some interesting looking animations.  The animations are an engaging way to explain some cellular processes and there is a simulation to help students see how mutations effect variation.  Some of these animations would help to show students what you are talking about in a humorous sort of way.

11.] Microscopic Imaging Station


This site has loads of different microscopic images.  This site would be useful to show students similarities and differences between different cells, cell stages, and organisms.  Would be good to add to a lecture or very important in a lab situation where there may not be microscopes or the slides you want.

Concept Maps: Models, Strategies, and Methods for Effective Teaching – H.R. Lang & D. N. Evans

In all my courses this semester I have been learning about different assessment techniques.  One method I found could be very useful to myself, especially as a Biology major, and that is the use of concept maps.  Concept maps are a great way to get students organizing terms in a way that makes sense to them.  By doing an exercise like this the teacher is able to see how student understanding is progressing and what topics are unclear.

This is a concept map that I made to show what I took away from last weeks reading.  It was a very theory heavy reading however made a lot of important distinctions between the different needs my students will have and how I need to recognize these differences in order to accommodate them.

Instruction: A Models Approach – Chapters 1,2 & 3

For ECS 350 we were given the text book Instruction: A Models Approach by Estes et al.  This text lays the basis for everything from laying out a lesson to approaches to reach your students better.  The first three chapters sets out how to best structure my class and what the needs of my students are going to be.  The text then begins to discuss how to best begin structuring lessons to meet my student needs, the objectives required, and to do this at one of the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.

One large thing I took away, which reconfirmed what I have been learning, is the importance of putting the curriculum within a context my students can understand.  This made me think of Corey Ziegler today in my one class when he came in to share about some of the action projects he has done over the years in his biology classes.  At one school he was at he developed a tree planting and paper recycling program with his class.  They developed this program throughout the year and the students were responsible for researching things such as soil testing/ research, tree analysis, plant chemistry etc.; all topics in the science curriculum.

Picture by: outside2

What was difference with this class was that the curriculum was placed in a context they could understand; they could see how the curriculum related to them.   I think this was a perfect example of melding the objectives with the students needs, all things stressed by Estes et al.

Mr.Ziegler was also required to do something else that the text discusses and that was to chunk concepts together.  He said it was hard work, and “at the end I was tired”, but that the students had a more meaningful experience as a result.  Most people would say there is no way that you could teach a class this way and cover all the content in the curriculum.  Mr.Ziegler actually showed by grouping concepts together and putting in a little extra work it could be done.  He said he covered somewhere around 80% of the curriculum objectives in 70% of the time it would normally take.

It was nice to hear about theory in an actual practical setting and this has allowed me to gain some confidence that I may be able to do something of this magnitude when my time comes.  Science education is shifting it seems and I am excited to be a part of that process; to be able to apply some of the theory I am reading in Estes et al. in a practical setting.

My New Learning Project?

It has been awhile since I have posted anything in regards to my learning project where I have been adventuring to learn Japanese.  Since ECMP 355 my learning project has continued and Christmas helped me out in this regard.  I kind of got spoiled by my parents this year and was lucky enough to get an Ipad 2 for Christmas.  This has changed how my learning project has progressed as well as how I have been keeping track of my learning.

With my Ipad I was able to find an app called WordPower which has allowed me to learn a new word each day and also to compile a word bank of words that I have learned.  It has allowed me to record my voice and compare it to native speakers.  This has allowed me to take my learning project and keep it fun, more like a hobby, while helping me stay committed to it without sacrificing loads of time which I am going to need for quite a bit of ECS work this semester.

Once I started treating my learning project as a hobby it got me thinking of other things that I could possibly learn.  Could learning actually be one of my hobbies?  I figured there must be other things out there that I could benefit from.  By doing my learning project I learned that I received almost as much enjoyment from the process of learning as I did from the activity itself.  I want to understand how learning works in different ways so that I can better reach my students in the future.  I’ve decided that learning can be one of my hobbies and ECMP 355 introduced me to ways in which I can make this happen.

Since the start of December I have begun another learning project which is to teach myself how to swim.  I realize I’ll never be on Michael Phelps’ level but I want to get to the point where I can swim for 15-20 minutes. I have never been in swimming lessons but I can keep my head above water although only to the point where any lifeguards watching had to do so very warily.  I had to first work to make it across the pool and then after I was able to do that I had to work on doing it with my head in the water.  I used Youtube videos like this one to help me develop something that kind of resembles a swimming stroke and helped put the lifeguards relatively at ease.

I have also not been afraid to ask for help (one of the many things I learned in ECMP 355) enlisting some of my classmates to help me along the way.  I am currently continuing to improve and actually swam 12 lengths in a row today (my best yet).  I look forward to swimming everyday now and am constantly on youtube looking at how to get better.  Learning can be one of the most enjoyable things that you do as long as you find something you are interested in and learn in a way that interests you.  I am looking forward to adding to my list of hobbies in the future as I find other things I want to know how to do.