Updates to Biology Reading Days

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A while back, I wrote a blog post about my Biology Reading Days. When I started this project, I wasn’t quite sure where I was going with it. I now love it. You can read the original post here.

I will admit, not all my students share my enthusiasm for scientific literature. And that’s fine. What I really want them to get out of it is an exposure to this type of writing. Some of the books on the list are fictional stories (that are scientifically accurate). Some of the books are non-fiction explaining scientific ideas and events. Some of the higher level students actually struggle because they have never read something like this before. I don’t need them to have a Ph.D after reading the book, but just want them to come away with a greater understanding of the concept than they went in with.

So here are my updates:

1. Updated Book Lists: I now use this project with my freshmen bio and my jr/sr A&P….so two lists. I am always looking for new books to add, and taking off any I feel are too hard/boring based on student feedback. I post this for the students as a GoogleDoc, so I put positive student reviews in the comments.  AandPReadingList      BiologyBookList

2. Final Project: I still use the weekly reading sheets (found in the original post), but at the end they have to choose one of the following projects. This is a great way for me to see what their take on the book really was.  FinalBookProject

My final word of caution when doing this project: it is very much about you. This school year, I had a baby. I left reading days as a project for my sub thinking it’d be the easiest one. They pick a book, read it, and answer questions. Easy, peasy…. WRONG. I didn’t realize how important the conversations I was having with the students along the way were. When I returned the last week of the project, a lot of them were so confused, frustrated and bored with their books. They didn’t see the real world connections. And this is not a slam on my sub; she was great! But she hadn’t chosen and read the books (I’ve read about half). Those discussions about how awesome the author/story/concept is weren’t happening. Students weren’t getting productive feedback. And so a lot them felt lost. My point is don’t use reading days as a chance to catch up on grading/paperwork/endless other tasks we have to do. At least not the whole period. This is a chance to make real connections with your kids and get them excited about science (and maybe even reading!). I hope you AND your students love it as much as I (and most of my students) do.

Questions? Suggestions? I’d love to hear them n the comments! And don’t forget to Like me on Facebook!

Techie Tools for Teachers

Last month I was fortunate enough to attend the Illinois Science Education Conference. It is always one of the highlights of my year (seriously)! I have so much good stuff to share with you, but haven’t had time to get to it just yet…. here’s a start.

   One of the sessions I attended was on useful tech tools for teachers. This was presented by a technology director for a much bigger school district than I work in. These are all just general teaching sites, not specific to science. (I will add those in later.) I have no experience with most of these sites, but they sound great! If any of you have info, let me know!

Www.symbaloo.com.  Creates one screen with buttons for all your links. Can be shared with your students.

Qrstuff.com.  Creates free QR codes

Goo.gl.com.  Put in a web address and it creates a shorter link to it. Would be useful if you’re giving it to the kids, less likely they’ll type it wrong.

Multiurl.com.   For webquests or assignments when you are giving them multiple links, this combines them all in one link.

Tubechop.com.   Put in a YouTube link and you can cut just the part you want.

Safeshare.tv.    Plays YouTube videos without all the ads and comments and other (possibly school inappropriate) stuff around it.

Weblist.me   Combines multiple urls into one link. Similar to multiurl, but is one allows you to include videos, Jpgs, and documents

Snapguide.com and instructables.com   Step by step instructions (with pictures)on how to do/make just about anything. Instructables allows you to download them as a PDF.

Demonstrations.wolfram.com. Videos and pictures of lots of demonstrations, mostly science but also some math…

Moviesheets.com.  Free teacher created worksheets for tons of videos.