Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Biology Unit 1- Scientific Method Notebook Pages

One of the best decisions I've made in my teaching career was to start using interactive notebooks with my students. I've found that interactive notebooks are used in elementary science (where many of their activities are already cut-and-paste oriented) and in a lot of other subjects in secondary, but rarely in secondary science. I use notebooks for many of my classes, but I started with biology notebooks and they will always hold a place in my heart! I thought it might be fun to post the pages I used in my biology notebooks this year. For a bit of reference, I am a teacher in Florida, where our students take an end-of-course (EOC) exam in biology. We're on a 4x4 schedule, so I see my students for an hour and a half every day for one semester before classes switch. We have a ton of information to get through in that first semester to prepare students for testing!

Our first unit is always on the Scientific Method. We don't spend much time on it, usually only a few days, because I try to incorporate as much practice as we can throughout our other units, but it is important that they know the basics of the scientific method, graphing, and the difference between a theory and a law.

We start each unit with a title page for that unit. This template is from Math=Love- I like it because it's simple and easy for students to use! Students must fill in every page title but I allow them to pick the title that makes the most sense- you can see that they sometimes make some strange choices!

I always start the year out with an interactive activity that allows students to see the importance of an aspect of science- this year, we started with a lab on the importance of writing procedures. For this, we used a free activity from Amy Brown Science- I printed out her worksheets and put them in a page protector, then had students write their steps and answer their questions inside this booklet (the inside was blank).

On the next page, students took notes about the scientific method based off of a Powerpoint- I found these online somewhere. This is definitely not my favorite way of taking notes, but I had an out of school PD sprung on me at the last minute and figured this was the easiest option for the coworker that was covering for me!

Next, we took notes on observations and inferences and students worked through an observations and inferences stations activity- we took notes off of a quick PowerPoint then they rotated through the stations and completed the activities. This activity is available in my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Next, we completed a quick review of the scientific method and students created their own comic strip showing an example of using the scientific method in real life. This is something that I would like to refine for next year- I feel like I default to this every year but I'm never very happy with it! I pre-printed a comic strip template that I found through a quick Google search.

We moved into characteristics of science by working through this CONPTT foldable. After the foldable, students worked on sorting a variety of scenarios into "science" and "not science" based on these characteristics. 

We moved into covering the difference between scientific theories and scientific laws. Students created a pocket that they wrote their notes on. We completed a lab from Sunrise Science and students stored their lab reports inside the pocket.

Next, we moved on to my biggest nemesis as a teacher- graphing! It seems like students never fully "get" graphing, no matter how much we practice. I've started incorporating more graphing in other units instead of spending so much time at the beginning of the course. This year, I just gave them a quick mnemonic, my favorite for teaching graphing, and we did a booklet with 4 different types of graphs that students had to draw correctly. 

Our last part of the scientific method unit is talking about variables. We started by completing a quick foldable going over the meanings of independent variables, dependent variables, controls, and constants.

Finally, we finished the unit with a cut and past activity that incorporated all of the things we'd already worked on. This foldable was based off of a scenario I found in another worksheet. When students lift the scenario flap, there are a number of vocabulary words that we'd covered (for example: observation, hypothesis, dependent variable, etc). They had to determine what part of the scenario fit that word and glue it on the left, then find the definition of the word and glue it on the right. Students seemed to really enjoy this activity and it was a quick and easy way for me to see what they'd learned!

That's it! While I have never been truly happy with our scientific method unit, it serves as a good general overview of a lot of different topics and gives us a base to build on for the rest of the year! If you have any other activities that you like to use, let me know in the comments!

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