Teaching Biological World LO #1 – The Cell

Just before midterm I was focusing on the biological world learning outcome #1 Students should be able to investigate the structures of animal and plant cells and relate them to their functions

Looking at the action verbs

Investigate – observe, study, or make a detailed and systematic examination, in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions

Relate – make or show a connection between

Here are a few things I did with my students…

To get to know the microscopes and investigate the variety of cells our there we started by looking at prepared histology slides. There is a site called Histology Guide that has some lovely images of human cells and tissue I used this to start a discussion on why all cells are not the same, relating structure to function.

For a closer look at microscopes and how they work we used this Meet the Microscopes activity

We then took a closer look at plant and animal cells  – for this I had drawn a plant and animal cell making sure structures that are common were the same colour eg. nucleus was black, cell membrane was brown etc. Purely by observation (no names yet!) we looked at the similarities and differences between the structures. I then introduced the names of each part asking students to ‘Think, pair, share’  why they thought that bit was important.

Finally we made up our slides, I used my mobile (our students are not permitted mobile phones in school) to take pictures of the slides the students made and printed them out so they could stick pictures of their work them into their copy.

I placed some anonymous examples good and bad up on the board; some where full of air bubbles, some had not been stained correctly / at all, some were not focused correctly or had too much or too little light. (I have two classes so this is a bit easier). I asked the students to what may have gone wrong and suggest how would they improve it.

Linking to Nature of Science

#1 Students should be able to appreciate how scientists work and how scientific ideas are modified over time  and #7 Students should be able to organise and communicate their research and investigative findings in a variety of ways fit for purpose and audience, using relevant scientific terminology and representations 

We watched and then discussed this video from TED-Ed  on The Wacky History of Cell Theory. I also have a simple timeline of cell theory activity, we look at the work of scientists such as Hooke, Van Leuwenhoek, Turpin, Schleiden , Schwann and Virchow in groups students will take a scientist, research their scientist discovery and discuss how their discovery contributed to what we know about cells. Each group presents their work  on an A3 poster in chronological order forming a timeline.






Teaching LO #1 LO#2 Physical World

LO #1 Physical World Students should be able to select and use appropriate measuring instruments 

LO#2 Physical World Students should be able to identify and measure/calculate length, mass, time, temperature, area, volume, density, speed, acceleration, force, potential difference, current, resistance, electrical power

I decided that I would deal with the measurement of length, area, temperature, time, volume and mass; there are others but I will return to them in second and third year.

Below are some of the resources I used (feedback is always appreciated)

To introduce units I started with a Think, Pair, Share  about quantities we come across everyday.

We looked these YouTube clips on the metric system

TED-ED – Why the metric system matters

Bill Nye – Introduction to the metric system

To try to emphasize the importance of units I placed a recipe on the board with the units taken out. We discussed why it is important to include units and the errors that can occur without them.

We then did a picking the right tool matching game for measuring length. I gave out the equipment, let the student ‘play’ with them and then placed a list on the board, my student has to suggest the right tool and justify their choice. This was done in a number of different parts over a few classes.  1) length and area 2) mass and volume 3) time and temperature

They then split into groups and did a measurement hunt. To assess their ability to choose and use the equipment as they where working on the task I went around the room and ask students to demonstrate how the would measure random object.

Here are some other resources I came across

Length and Distance ‘Build a Shed’ game

Worksheet Converting and choosing units




Science Songs for Class

During the break I have been looking to expand my resource collection (tip: Pinterest is a brilliant way of quickly saving those really neat resources you come across).

One thing I feel I have really underutilized in class are science songs, I have gone through Youtube this and here are some of my favorites.

1. Its a Family Thing – A song about the organic families, i have used this one in class with senior chemists and it goes down a treat


2. The New Periodic Table Song – I am a big fan of Tom Lehrs periodic table song however I also like this one by ASAP Science which lists the elements in order of how they appear on the periodic table.


3. Photosynthesis – This is a classic ideal for senior biology or junior science


4. Rock me Avogadro – This song outlines the kinetic theory of gases


That is just a taster I have pinned lots more on my science songs pinterest board at http://www.pinterest.com/Kookychemist/science-songs/




Teacher Resource – Coursework B Feedback form

I am in the middle of correcting Coursework B write-ups at the moment. I get my students to write-up on a template first which I check; this is to make sure they haven’t sabotaged their own work by writing too much or too little (also to check for plagiarism…it happens!).  I give them feedback without actually contributing to their write up.  This year I am using this sheet to give feedback which I fill out and staple to the front of their write-ups.

Here is the form Coursework B Feedback form

You could use it in conjunction with this  marking scheme I made up using the 2013 DES marking scheme.


Higgs Prediction Awarded Nobel prize – Resources for class

Today Peter Higgs and Francois Englert were awarded the 2013 physics Nobel prize for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson.

Here are some resources you can use in class to explain the Higgs in class

One of the best has been this great video from PhD comics

Cern director general Rolf-Dieter Heuer gave a brilliant talk just a week after the discover at ESOF2012 in Dublin you can watch it here http://youtu.be/yRu3yJM8J2A

3 Things the Higgs Boson can teach you about physics

The national STEM centre have this single page fact sheet

Finally there is this great infographic from livescience.com