Our Nobel Ceremony

Today I bring you one of my favorite projects of the school year! My Bio 2 classes have our own Nobel Prize ceremony on the last day before Thanksgiving break. Students work in groups of 2 or 3. Each group chooses a different winner of the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine. They research the lives and accomplishments of their chosen scientist(s), complete a research paper. Then the day of our “ceremony” each group gives a brief presentation of their winner(s). They have to be able to describe why they won the prize (which is not always easy, even though I try to pull the tougher to understand ones off the list).

They also must create a 3D model to represent the work of their winner(s). The first year I did this, I graded each model myself (which meant staying late the last day before break). Then I went to a lecture at the ISTA convention about having students grade each others models….. and that’s what I do now. I put a sheet next to each model and each student makes a tally mark next to the score they think it deserves. Then I average the scores for each group, and that’s their grade!I was afraid they would all just give each other 100%, but they actually grade pretty fairly! Of course I tell them that I am the ultimate judge and if they give the model an unfair grade (high or low), I will change it. I also think they try a little harder (well, most kids) when they know they are being graded by their peers.

And of course, since the real Nobel Ceremony is a fancy dinner…. we eat! It’s a good warm-up for Thanksgiving! Each student brings in something. Some get very in to it, one year a girl brought a fully baked lasagna and garlic bread, but usually it’s a smorgasbord of salsa and cookies. And since this is a black-tie event (well, the real one is), I give extra credit to students who dress up. Try it. I get more comments from other teachers and administrators than on any other day. And the more you buy into it, the more the kids enjoy it. I dress up too. I group my desks and put table clothes over them. I make them Nobel Prize medals. It’s a piece of paper stapled to a ribbon. Sounds corny….. they wear them around ALL DAY. And these are high schoolers I am talking about!! It’s hilarious, but again it gives other kids in the school a peek at the cool things we do in Bio 2!

So here are some examples (and the doc with all my info)!

Invitro Fertilization. I love this poster so much I hung it in my room.

I love this poster so much I hung it in my room.




Heart transplants…. using Jello!


This one was about immunity. They cut off the “flies” who were not immune because they died. =( (And notice their amazing Nobel medals!)


And finally…. here’s the Doc: Nobel Prize Project  Enjoy! If you try this out in your class, let me know how it goes!





Making Biology Real

Long time no see, blog world! This school year got very busy, very fast! But no worries- it’s summer break and I’m back to share my ideas and resources with the word!
Today, I have a whole pile of articles. I’ve collected these over the last few years, mostly from the New York Times science sections (which if you haven’t checked it out yet, GO NOW!… then come back to my blog, of course). I assign articles at least once a week. Usually, I just have my students turn the article in with the important information highlighted and they write a one paragraph response (what did they think about what they read- NO summaries allowed). This shows them real world examples of what we are learning about in class.

Highlighting the important information is a whole lesson in itself! At the start of the year, kids basically color the entire page. So we will read an article or two together as a class, while I put the article on the screen using my ELMO. After every paragraph I ask them what they highlighted and why it is important. (This is also going to be important on the upcoming PARCC tests, which will ask them to highlight certain parts of reading passages). Try telling them they cannot highlight entire sentences- they’ll freak out!

Sometimes, I give them specific questions to answer about what they read. If I’m in a CCSS mood, I will have them “cite specific evidence from the text” to defend what they believe is the main idea or the author’s purpose. Both are standards for reading in science.
OK…. on to the goodies. Here are some of the articles I use by unit of study:

Environment:  Chinese Air Pollution Article               Paying Farmers to Welcome Birds

Global Warming At Wost Article         Mammal Extinction Article

Anatomy & Physiology:   toxic sugar article   Hair Growth Article

Fecal Transplant   Preemie Resp. Meds Article

Disease & Microbiology:  HIV vaccine article    Gonorrhea article      Gel Protects Monkeys   

                                 Feece eating bacteria article             Cholera Outbreak article

Cells:   Mole rat cancer article            Mitochondria replacement article

I hope you find this helpful. If you have other ways your use real world articles in your classroom, please share!