Sweet Rewards

candyforchildren_003It's that time of year. AP Bio is in the thick of preparing for their AP Exam. In years past, I've always spent the last couple of days before the test throwing as much information at the students as I could. The idea was that if I could remind them of everything they had learned during the class, some of it would stick well enough to be used on the exam. This year, as has been the case with every other thing in AP Bio, I tried something new. Throughout the course the class has been developing the skills necessary to be responsible for their own learning. If you read the One Hour Challenge post, or really if you've followed their progress at all, you are well aware of the capabilities and creativity possessed by this class. Since they've spent the year functioning as independent learners, it would only make sense that I would put them in charge of their final review.

So, 6 groups were formed, each group was given a set of learning objectives and with the the responsibility of running a full 90 minute class period. I am sure that all of the students found this to be an initially daunting task. Most adults are intimidated by the prospect of running a 90-minute session. As with most things this year, however, they overcame masterfully. For me the last week has been spent sitting in the back of the room watching them run full-on review sessions. The students have done an excellent job covering the material while doing their best to keep their classmates awake. I learned a couple of things from the project. First, my belief that students can do anything was confirmed. Second, large chunks of information can be digested if presented well. Third, candy is the great motivator of high school students. To this last point, sometimes I tell myself that they are above being bribed, but let's be honest, none of us are above being bribed. You should have seen how the students attacked the tasks when they knew that there might be candy involved. So, while the class enjoyed their sweet, sugary rewards I was allowed the sweet reward of watching a student centered classroom functioning at its highest potential. Below you will find reflections on the proceedings from Abbi Williams, Shiya Shoyoye, Autumn Brown, and Toni Madugu.

Abbi Begins:

Time has flown by in AP Bio this semester, and I’m finally wrapping up my sophomore year! It’s crazy how fast everything moves once you get to high school. As we wrap up the year, in Mr. Kite’s class, we are beginning exam review through our quarterly projects. The whole ordeal kicked off Monday, when we reviewed the chemistry and cells unit. On this day, the famous activity was “Name What You Know,” where in a group, we collaborated on previously learned knowledge on a given topic and wrote down as much information as you could remember. The big briber was candy, as Thomas, one of our oh-so-smart AP Bio students begged for candy. On Tuesday, my group reiterated the DNA, genes, and genetics unit. As sophomores, we had a challenging time preparing this lesson, but an even harder time attempting to deliver it to the hardest headed students EVER, who are currently experiencing “senioritis” to the max. Wednesday, as always, Bumidang blew us all away with his awesome presentation, and the rest of the week was devoted to evolution, which was taught by Justin, Auon, and Thomas. Friday was field day, so the last portion of the evolution unit was crammed into a thirty minute class period. Overall, a great week of vital review, all in preparation for the 13th!

Toni Continues:

It’s getting towards the end of the year and towards AP Exam time so what better way for my AP Biology class prepare for the end than by getting ready for our final assessment in the class and by getting ready to present final quarter projects that are structured around review for the AP Exam? (Wow that was a mouthful).

This week we started off the week making children comics/stories on a topic covered in our ecology unit (nitrogenous wastes I believe was our topic), continued and completed (thank God!) our Ecology unit and finished off the week with our ecology test. While the test was difficult–as tests in bio are always difficult for me–i must say I had an even bigger relief than I usually do after completing tests. (What better reassurance of life being great than someone being cool calm and collected about failing huh?). In all seriousness though, senioritis is running its complete full course. The end is near and i don’t care.

But my nonchalant-ness was short lived for as I took on the full laxity of not having any more biology tests to worry about until the AP Biology exam that I’ve surprisingly actually been putting quite some effort in preparing for, a horrid realization came upon me–my final project is due in less than a week and I have basically not started on it. Knowing myself I will probably not actually start doing anything to counterfeit my procrastination until two or three (or one) night before my presentation but the panic is a bit of a motivation for me.

While this week seems and feels like the last week of AP Biology and high school for me, we actually have like two to three weeks left before I say goodbye to my fellow bio comrades and teacher and I must say it feels a bit bittersweet. I’m going to miss the activities and even the stressful tests and quarter projects in ap bio. They gave some spice to my life. I’ll especially miss my extremely diverse AP Biology family (from the most quietest to the loudest). I am very eager to see what these last few weeks bring in AP Biology and am ready but sad to finish the “roller coaster ride” I got on way back in the beginning of the year. There were quite a few bumps. There were twists and there were turns but then again the most boring roller coasters are the ones that are the most still. Despite the struggles, I genuinely loved AP Biology this year and am glad I “mistakenly” took the course.

Autumn Contributes:

This week in AP Biology it was all about REVIEW!!!! Yes, it was that time of year again were everyone was stressing out about finals and AP test! The great thing about it, is that many of us did well and didn’t actually show it J

To start off last week, we began the student lead teaching sessions. Beginning with Chemistry and Cells and finishing off the week with Ecology, everyone did an excellent job! One thing that I can say, and I speak for all of us when I say this, is that filling Mr. Kite’s shoes is NOT an easy task (0_0) It’s one thing to review the material and it is another thing to understand it and try to reteach to your classmates and make sure they have it too, especially when they may have forgotten it over the course of the year…

On that note, preparing for the finals really bought to our attention that the school year is about to be over L It has been a great year and I think I can speak for everyone again when I say that we will miss our second period AP Biology class!

Good luck and happy early summer everyone!!! (if it isn’t too early to say so…)

Shiya Concludes:

This week in Biology we have been cramming to the fullest degree. We’ve been assigned a project where we teach the class based on the learning objectives we are given. Three groups presented various topics including DNA, Genes and Genetics, Chemistry and Cells, and Evolution. All of the topics covered the learning objectives we need to know for the AP exam. Some of the things we re-learned include the following:

Group 1 (Cells and Chemistry): I remembered that this topic had a lot to remember. For one thing,  the final electron receptor in the electron transport chain is oxygen, which my group got wrong, and lost the prize (which I’ll mention later). We briefly went over the structural units of life, and then we went into the processes (yikes!). Glycolysis begins with the oxidation of glucose with the purpose of oxidizing glucose into carbon and water. First there must be an energy investment, which is glucose and 2 ATP. Energy must then be “payed out”, which would be 4 ATP & 2 NADH. This results in 1 glucose molecule entering, 2 ATP used, 2 molecules of pyruvate exiting, 4 ATP and 4 NADH (which carry electrons to the electron transport chain).

Group 2 & 3 (Genes and Genetics): Cell signaling begins at the reception site, where a ligand binds specifically to the receptor and causes a shape change (which is its active form). There are a few categories of receptors, including g-coupled protein which are turned on and off via GTP and receptor tyrosine kinase, which multiplies the effects by forming a dimer and turning into a phosphorylated machine when activated. We learned that the Hardy Weinberg equilibrium analyzes genetic drift and the effects of natural election on evolution. Some of the factors of equilibrium include a larger population, no migration, and an absence of natural selection. From that, I remembered that it’s impossible to see all of these factors in a population, which is why H-W shows a population’s phenotypic ratio if conditions were perfect.

Group 4 (Evolution): This group taught us the factors that include Evolution are natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift, mutations, and sexual selection. We were once again taught the Hardy Weingberg principle. Speciation is the process by which one species splits into two or more and we learned why this resulted. Some of the factors include temporal isolation, habitat isolation, and geometric isolation. We learned that the early earth hypothesis was most notably formed by the Miller-Urey experiment and we were also taught the Murchison Meteorite hypothesis.

All the learning we did was not without reward. Each group provided us the ultimate incentive for children everywhere: Candy. Lots of it.