We concluded our Biology End of Course review by watching the PBS video Your Inner Monkey. The video does a nice job of bringing together the key concepts from our units on evolution and central dogma. Tomorrow, students will sit for the EOC.
All three episodes of the movie series are listed below:
- Your Inner Fish
- Your Inner Reptile
- Your Inner Monkey
With several students in each of my classes absent because of the Algebra EOC, we used the class period to review a variety of concepts up through Unit 4. Students reviewed the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles by reviewing posters they had made earlier in the school year. For students who were absent, an example of one poster is provided below:
We also reviewed genetics (vocabulary, single-trait Punnett Squares, and dihybrid crosses) along with mitosis, meiosis, and fertilization.
Students in attendance also received a copy of the EOC-style writing prompt called Research and Explore. We spent a few minutes discussing the prompt and looking at the rubric, and students are welcome to practice working through the prompt as homework. The prompt will not be collected as homework.
With multiple students scheduled to take both the Algebra and Geometry EOC exams tomorrow and Wednesday, followed by the Biology EOC on Thursday, today was the final day available for a whole-class content review. We used the class period to play a special biology edition of Jeopardy! Students partnered with one or two other students and they worked together as a group to answer questions using white boards. With only 45 seconds to answer each question, students had to draw primarily from content they have already mastered. Several of the questions came directly from previous Biology EOC practice exams, with the intent to prepare students as well as possible for what they will experience on Thursday (although they will not have notes available to consult during the exam).
With an extended advisory scheduled to support the Pirate Pride work party, we used our 30 minutes of class time to sprint through the key learning about ecology. Some of the content originated previously during the Harmful Algal Bloom portion of Unit 1 as well as during the energy and metabolism unit (Unit 2). The notes below highlight the key learning about ecology that students should commit to memory prior to the Biology EOC Exam.
Class today was divided into two parts: a review of Unit 3 followed by practice with an EOC writing prompt called a Test Solution. Our review began with students drawing a cell and labeling the organelles, weaving in key vocabulary terms. The review ended with students drawing out the process of Central Dogma, with an emphasis on vocabulary and a refresher on the connection between DNA, RNA, proteins, and the subunits that comprise them. Pictures of notes from today are shown below.
Our focus today was to become familiar with and practice responding to the Criteria and Constraints biology EOC writing prompt. The practice prompt asked students to consider the scenario of 3D-printed coral reefs, so to help students better understand the prompt and formulate some ideas, we watched short segments of three different videos:
Students then had at least 15 minutes to respond to the Criteria and Constraints example prompt. After that, we came together as a class and shared out ideas. A selection of student ideas are listed below:
- Materials could dissolve / erode / cause pollution
- Algae may not grow on the materials
- Ocean acidification is dissolving the shells of marine organisms, and the artificial reef will not prevent that process
- Intentional placement / size/ shape of reefs
- Access to skilled workforce and heavy machinery / power requirements
- Could affect the life cycles of coral reef organisms
- 3D printing process may not produce detailed enough coral
After the share-out, the remaining few minutes of class time were spent addressing some of the student-provided constraints by watching a video detailing one sculptor’s efforts to create an enormous coral reef habitat in the Bahamas.
With the Biology End of Course Exam less than two weeks away, we used the short Friday class period to work through one of the types of writing prompts that students will need to prepare for. Students received a writing prompt asking them to brainstorm and then explain two unintended consequences of mosquito eradication to help prevent the spread of malaria. During the final 10 minutes of class, students shared out their ideas, and their most thoughtful responses are summarized below:
- Food web disruption – organisms that rely on mosquitoes for food will have less to eat, causing populations of organisms to decline
- Pollution – soil and local waterways will accumulate large concentrations of insecticides, causing dead zones that affect current and future populations of organisms
- Off-target effects – the use of an insecticide that kills insects in addition to mosquitoes may negatively affect the food web. For example, if the insecticide kills insects that pollinate flowers, birds that rely on nectar for food will have less to eat and their populations may decline.
- Bioaccumulation – the insecticide may be ingested by organisms eating insects killed by the insecticide, causing it to build up to toxic levels in the larger organisms. Toxicity may prevent reproduction or result in birth defects.
- Selection for resistant mosquitoes – mosquitoes not killed by the insecticide may carry genetic mutations causing them to be resistant. Overuse of the insecticide may select for insecticide-resistant mosquitoes which are more efficient at transmitting malaria.
- Loss of sickle cell allele – humans have co-evolved with malaria, resulting in the preservation of the sickle cell allele in the human population. Without malaria, the frequency of sickle cell allele may decline, leaving the population at risk should malaria once again return to the area.
- Over-population – diseases like malaria maintain human populations at a level that may greatly increase in the absence of malaria. The increased consumption of natural resources by growing populations can have negative effects on the ecosystem.
- Bad precedent for future generations – the idea that mass killing of an unwanted organism may be short-sighted. For example, wolves are predators of livestock, and yet most humans value the human-dog relationship. Given that dogs and wolves share a common ancestor, imagine if mosquitoes represent the common ancestor of a future organism that may be viewed as more favorable to humans.
We took a break from the Infectious Organisms projects and evolution in general to focus on conclusion writing practice. Students received a Biology EOC-style conclusion writing prompt and had the entire class period to complete the writing. Most students finished early and used the remainder of the class period to work on their projects.
Here are the documents available for review prior to the Biology EOC this Thursday:
Key areas of review using information previously learned in class this year:
We wrapped up the Field Study mini-unit with a conclusion writing exercise. In preparation for the biology end-of-course exam scheduled for May 28, students practiced writing a conclusion based on some actual field study results obtained by students in one of my classes. The field study scenario and slides for today, including a reminder about turning in the field study work, are available for review.