This Biology course will be unlike ANY science course you have taken before. It is different because we actually DO science instead of just reading and memorizing it! Science teachers from across the country have been collaborating in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. A student-driven biology curriculum has been designed to enable students to grow and become self-directed learners through real-world problem solving. The aim of this shift in teaching will make them better learners.
Instead of your typical units that are separated by topics, the topics will be integrated into a storyline. Students will be determining relatedness among lions based on actual genetic evidence. Students will be figuring out where lions live based on their genes. They will track poachers from the DNA evidence in smuggled ivory. They'll be calculating metabolic rates, so they can design a biologically appropriate diet for animals at the zoo. This is just the first unit of several we will be covering this year!
These phenomenon-driven units involve students in making sense of the natural world through the use of authentic data while integrating different areas of science together when necessary to solve a problem. This allows for much deeper and longer lasting learning because everything is taught in context. The students genuinely excel at a much higher level because of their deeper understanding.
Will students come home frustrated some days because they "just want the answer?" Absolutely. Will students want to memorize facts because that is what they've become accustomed to? Many will. However, the productive struggle that is part of science is critical to them growing as learners. The Next Generation Science Standards clearly state "Students need to be able to make sense of the world and approach problems not previously envountered-- new situations, new phenomena, and new information. To achieve this level of proficiency students need a solid grasp of key science concpets and the ability to relate that knowledge across disciplines." This is at the heart of this class where students will be pushed into the driver's seat of their own learning.