Senior Projects

It's nice to know they're listening....

It’s nice to know they’re listening….

My biology 2 class is a mix of sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  We study human anatomy & physiology 2nd semester and their final exam grade is broken into a project (75%) and the actual in class test (25%). But when final exams come around in the spring, my seniors are not there (they graduate a week before the end of the year). So I give the seniors a “special” project. I let them choose any topic they want, as long as it relates to biology (could be something from Bio 1 or Bio 2, allowing them to pick something they are really interested in). They come up with 5 questions to base their research on and turn in a written portion (again, I let them choose how they want to do this- most do a typical research paper, but I have had students turn in stories, and one even turned her research into a magazine which included a mix of articles she read and ones she wrote herself!).

The stages of fetal development painted on my lab table. An original art piece!

The stages of fetal development painted on my lab table. An original art piece!

The last part of this project is “something to remember them by”. Meaning it has to be a visual aid that can be left in my room. Some make posters, one made a power point, but the one pictured above is one of my favorites! Her topic was fetal development, so she painted the three trimesters on one of the lab tables in my classroom. She did a great job! And I had several students (including my freshman) ask when they can paint on my walls! “When you take Bio 2 your senior year”. Four years of science- woohoo!


An Idea From My Students


As much time as we (teachers) spend looking for ideas, sometimes what we’re looking for is right under our noses! Here’s an example from my classroom….

We cover the environment at the very end of the year in my biology 1 (freshman) class. By this point in the school year, they are DONE with taking notes and listening to me. So I turn my class over to them. Students work in groups of 3 or 4. This year, for the first time, I assigned them to groups. I LOVED IT! They did not. haha! I always thought that they should work with people they get along with and see outside of school so they will get the project done. I put them in groups based on their abilities, not necessarily their grade in my class. And guess what? They complained for about 5 minutes, then got to work. All of them, not just one person per group. And, for the most part, the results were really good.

Anyway, back to the amazing student work I want to share. The assignment was to teach the class about an environmental issue. They had to explain the topic (cause, solution, impact on the US and the world). Then come up with a hands on activity for the rest of the class to do. They also had to build a visual aid that could be displayed to raise awareness on their topic. The picture above is from a group presenting about water pollution. They built a landscape with a hill and building out of a box and foil. They wanted to demonstrate how land pollution (ie. pesticides, oil, garbage) gets into the water. They put different colors of dry jello around the “land” to represent different pollutants, then sprayed the top with “rain” and let it run down the “mountain”. What the students saw was that all the colors ran into the “river” in the middle and mixed together to create dirty water.


Simple. Creative. Students could SEE the problem. Bravo students!

Anatomy Shirts

Two of my sophomores proudly displaying their shirts at the end of the year... Not the best examples (notice one of them drew his diagram EXACTLY... wit a spine on he front!), but you get the idea!

Two of my sophomores proudly displaying their shirts at the end of the year… Not the best examples (notice one of them drew his diagram EXACTLY… with a spine on the front!), but you get the idea!

This is a project that I have been using in my Biology 2 classes for the past two years. Each student starts with a white long sleeve t-shirt. Then as we go through the different systems of the body, they draw them on their shirt. We include the bones, heart, major arteries & veins, and the digestive organs.

Students can either bring in their own shirt or buy them from me (I put in a group order from our school’s business class). You can use fabric markers or any permanent markers (I have asked students to bring in fabric markers for extra credit once). Make sure you put newspaper inside the shirts when they are drawing or the markers will bleed through to the other side.

Some students love this project, others not so much. But for the more artistically gifted students, they really do a great job! I also let them wear their shirts on test days for extra credit. This does two things- they have to remember when the test is (which you would think they would do anyway, but let’s be real….) and they walk around school with the shirts on. When I get a new class in the fall, they always ask “when will we draw our shirts?” So right from the start, they’re interested!



And so begins my journey into the world of blogging…. I will be the first to admit I am in no way tech savvy. I can check my email, Facebook, and pintrest. You know, the essentials!

So why start a blog? I  am about the start my 5th year as a high school biology teacher. In the past 5 years (6 if you count my student teaching!), I have collected a lot of worksheets, activities, labs, quizzes, and on and on. Almost all of them came from the internet. And it dawned on me that I cannot be the only one doing this; endless Google searches for “Mitosis activity”.

So I am going to put my work all in one place with the hopes that it might help someone else. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that collaboration is so important to being an effective teacher. I might be the only one in my classroom, but I am by no means alone! There is no sense in trying to come up with everything from scratch. It’s a waste of time. Everything you need is out there in one form or another. I’m not saying just take other people’s work verbatim, but it’s a great building block! We all have different students, needs, and restrictions. Make it work for you!

So each post I will focus on a different lesson or topic. I will post anything I can that goes along with it… maybe even a picture or two of my kids in action! If you have suggestions or other ideas, by all means share them!