Atypical Beginnings

The beginning of this school year has been anything but typical. Generally, the week leading up to the commencement of classes would be a slow flurry of activity as I preapre my room, print syllabi, order materials, and plan classes; Followed by a couple of solid, first days of class during which the community of my room would begin to establish a predictable rhythm governed by a couple of key routines.

This year ...

I watched the first couple of days of school from the window of Durham Regional Hospital. My son (Misha) had recently been born and we were doing our best to survive an extended hospital stay. So, I was not present for the first 7 days of class. Rather than an "in-person" teacher, my students began their experience with video recordings of me and lessons constructed using Blendspace (Teachers, check it out). My deepest compliments go out to all of the students of AP Biology. In my absence they did their very best to make sure that all work was completed to my specifications and to begin to form some sort of community in the classroom. But, it just wasn't the same.

Certainly, you can imagine their excitment when I finally reappeared during the second full week of school. I am sure that many students would not be so happy to see their teacher reappear, but mine seemed genuinely pleased to have me back in the room (or they did a really good job of faking it). We got to spend a wonderful (though coffee-fueled) full-week together then I disappeared again for a second week of paternity leave. Babies are hard ...

As has been, and will continue to be, the tradition of Lab207, each week a student will be responsible for reporting on the week's events. Our first AP Biology reporter is Taylor Byers. Ms. Byer's did an incredible job of capturing my first week back. Enjoy!

Taylor Writes:

This week marks the second complete week of school, but the first week with a real life, 3-D teacher. Students in AP Biology breathe a sigh of relief when the beloved Mr. Kite returned from his paternity leave (well, for this week at least.) The first unit of this class started off with biochemistry. Finding molarity, describing the properties of water, and understanding the basic building blocks of life are just a few of the subjects that we AP Bio kids are tackling.

Many new things have been introduced this week: first Jeopardy review game, first Knights at the Round Table discussion, first investigation (What is Sickle Cell Anemia and what causes it?), first test, and the founding of AP Biology Fight Club. APB Fight Club is a way to earn extra credit by competing against other students in the class. Ways to earn points include winning the Jeopardy review game, getting the highest score on a test, having the most improved score on a test, writing exemplary lab reports, and so and and so forth.

At the end of the week, we AP Bio kids were given our 9-week project. The goal? Teach the public about a specific genetic disorder via the TED ED platform. Some of the disorders that will be highlighted include Sickle Cell Anemia, Huntington’s Disease, Down Syndrome, and Color Blindness. Although anyone can submit a learning module, it is a great honor to have one’s lesson featured.

Finally, we began performing formal labs complete with lab reports. Our first lab focused on the interactions between black markers and various solvents. One of the key concepts in AP Bio is understanding how to correctly set up an experiment, so we were given free reign to perform whatever experiment we wanted as long as it involved black markers and solvents. Upon completion of the lab, we were given the task to write a simple lab report to state our findings.

This week in AP Bio was very productive and interactive. We are all excited to move forward in the class and gain a better perspective of the amazing world of biology.