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

http://uswest.ensembl.org/index.html

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

http://www.sosq.vcu.edu/videos.aspx

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

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/

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.

http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/

4.]Thingdom

http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/educators/classroom_and_homework_resources/resources/thingdom.aspx

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

http://www.stolaf.edu/people/giannini/biological%20anamations.html

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

http://www.genome.gov/glossary/index.cfm

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

http://www.pbs.org/kcet/shapeoflife/index.html

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

http://www.tolweb.org/tree/

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

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/sci_edu/waldron/

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

http://biologyinmotion.com/index.html

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

http://www.exploratorium.edu/imaging_station/index.php

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.

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How Twitter Has Changed How I Learn

I was looking through my Google Reader today and ran across another tweet from an athlete that has made the news. James Harrison apparently got himself into more trouble over a suspension when he “LOL’d” it over twitter. This seems to be a common theme in the news and its hard to go a week without hearing about something along these lines happening.

I’m not going to lie, before this semester, this was one of the main reasons why I used twitter.  I thought twitter was something I could use to have a laugh every once in awhile and following guys like Conan, I’ve been able to.

From there my use of twitter evolved to serve as a method for acquiring news.  I have found that if something happens it is on twitter, and if it is important it is usually a trending tweet.  In this way twitter allowed me to have a laugh and also know what is going on.

Over the course of this semester I have found that I was not wrong in how I’ve used twitter before, a lot of people use twitter for just those reasons.  What I have come to understand, however, is how twitter is probably one of the largest networks available to me.  I was one of those people who said, “Oh, Twitter, that’s silly, I don’t care what you had for lunch.”, but now I understand how much I can learn on twitter.

Twitter has allowed me to connect to people on #edchat who have been teaching for decades.  I can learn through them and what they share on twitter and their blogs.  Twitter has also been a resource with other things I’ve wanted to learn or explore.  This is what twitter has become for me.  I still use it to have a laugh and keep up to date on current events but now I also use twitter to learn.  Who would of thought?