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Title: AP® Biology Daily Lesson Plans
Author: Kristen Dotti
Course: Biology
Abstract/Summary: AP® Biology Daily Lesson Plans is the brainchild of AP teacher Kristen Dotti. She has put together an "in-depth course . . . driven by student-centered learning" that is "diverse and kinesthetic." She hopes that students will, rather than try to memorize facts from lectures, "create their own memory [of the information] through personal experience," which will last much longer. This entire course outline can be purchased as a CD with PDF files for downloading or as a printed notebook copy.

A calendar shows the topic and work for each day of the week (including outside-of-class work); the author goes so far as to suggest using a kitchen timer to help stick to time allotments and offers suggestions on making up for lost days. Materials' lists for demonstrations and labs are meticulous in detail: there are lists of all handouts to be run off (all masters are supplied in PDF files) plus lists of the AP Central essay questions and scoring guidelines. Note: Materials needed for the 12 AP labs are not indicated. The "Daily Lesson Plans" section makes up the majority of the program packet and provides day-by-day instructions using a very specific format: title of the lesson, warm-up activity (5 to 10 minutes), first activity (15 to 35 minutes), and following activity including:
  • Objectives
  • Materials list
  • Procedure description
  • Socratic questions including answers
  • Notes to teacher
  • Homework assignment with notations
Most exercises are well thought out and composed to help inexperienced teachers.

From the beginning, students are told they must view some videos outside class and be responsible for the materials; they also may be quizzed on these at any time. The program relies on students reading and working outside of class and coming prepared for the day's lesson. There are many good leading questions throughout the lesson plans to get students thinking and engaged. A teacher who is not used to this practice will need some time and patience to master this teaching technique. The program leads teachers to become continually more demanding in their questioning of students as everyone becomes familiar with the system. Much later, students are expected to provide their own analogies to explain biological processes.

Student activities include role playing and simulations of various processes to increase student understanding and retention. Many of the "models" are scripted to help novice teachers until they are ready to write their own. This program offers many worksheets to help the students master the material: student copies are in PDF files, and there are also copies for teachers with all the answers supplied.

Every fifth day is an "Extended Period Day," often the laboratory work period. A quiz is provided for each of the 12 AP labs (some good, some trite). Additions include an egg osmosis activity to Lab 1 for those who did not use this in first-year biology, a seed and a plant hormone lab, and work with mammal skulls.

Going through the daily calendar, a few things of note:
  • Three days on the "hot" topic of cell signaling
  • Previous knowledge of genetics expected, not much time spent on basics
  • Small biotechnology section
  • Very quick review of animal taxonomy
  • Five weeks of animal anatomy and physiology including a field trip, some guest speakers, and some dissection work
  • Three weeks on plant taxonomy/anatomy and physiology
  • Seven class days of time for exam review
The author suggests frequent quizzes, which "teach the students to come to class ready to perform." Some are five-minute, self-graded quizzes, but once-a-week teacher-recorded quizzes are considered important, and she offers suggestions on how to add some "zing" to the format. For every test date, the author provides a suggested essay and rubrics. Many of the questions are much narrower in scope than real AP essays, and some are not well written; other questions are excellent. No multiple-choice questions are included; teachers are expected to find their own from textbook resources.

For a new teacher, or a more-experienced teacher looking for new ideas and more "hands-on" activities, this program may be a great help. This is not a lecture notes package! This is a program of teaching strategies and specific guides through questioning sessions and a different way to approach covering the massive amount of material in AP Biology. Kudos to Kristen Dotti for thinking outside the box.

The price of the program is $520 for the CD, $590 for the notebook paper copy, and $100 each for individual units ("Review," "Cell Biology," "Genetics," "Evolution," "Anatomy," "Botany," and "Ecology").
Publication Data: Catalyst Learning Curricula, 2005
59 Clemmons Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Type: Other
Cost: $520.00
Vendor Name: Catalyst Learning Curricula
Vendor Phone: (828) 687-0807
AP Specific: Yes
Link to More Info: http://www.catalystlearningcurricula.com
Resource Includes: Student Activities, Lesson Plans, Experiments, Homework Activities, Teaching Tips, Assessments, Problem Sets, Discussion Questions
Reviewer Name: Carolyn Bronston        
Review Last Modified: Jul 10, 2006 3:32:51 PM


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