August 26, 2012

August 26, 2012

August 26, 2012

Welcome to a new school year!  My name is Brad Graba, and I am your child's accelerated freshman biology teacher.  I will be using this blog as a way to communicate with you throughout the year so that you have a good idea of what is going on in our biology classroom.

Events of the Past Week

Thursday - Monday was a day to get ourselves organized and ready to go for the year to come.  After checking schedules and handing out textbooks, we started to do some activities to become more comfortable with each other and high school.  By the way, the students were instructed to write their names in ink in the inside front cover of their textbooks, and also to write down any damage they noticed to their book.  Please check to see that this was done if you have the opportunity.

The first activity was for the students to place themselves in order by birthdate without speaking.  This allows me to see who might be willing to think outside of the box to solve a problem.  Most people simply hold up fingers to try and communicate, but this takes awhile and can be misinterpreted.  I did see some students start writing their birthdays on the whiteboard, and others typing it into their phones, all of which were fine with me!  After that, the students were placed into their seats by the way they arranged themselves.  The final activity was a people search, where the students looked for members of their class with different interests and hobbies as a way to get to know each other.

For homework, the students had to read a brief fictional account called "Look Out Below!"  They then were to type a short hypothesis explaining why the events they read about in the article may have occurred.  Many of them had a little bit of fun with this, I believe.  Also, the students were to read the prelab introduction for our first lab, and then read 4 hypotheses.  They were to identify the hypotheses as well-written or not, and then to re-write the bad hypotheses to make them better.  Due on Monday is a signed lab safety contract.

Friday - We began class on Friday by discussing our "Look Out Below!" homework.  Lab teams were then chosen.  Each student received a strip of paper with a word on it, such as Ford.

The students then had to find three other people in their class who had words that belonged in a group with their word.  For example, the other choices that went with Ford were Chevy, Dodge, and Honda.  The tricky part was that there was another group with four presidents, which made it a little more challenging!

We then spent some time talking about what makes a hypothesis a good hypothesis, and discussing the homework on hypotheses that the students had completed the night before.  We jumped from there into discussing the elements of a well-designed experiment that would effectively test a good hypothesis.  We then determined how we were going to test the effectiveness of antibacterial soap versus regular soap in lab on Monday.  The homework for the weekend was to get the lab safety contract signed if it was not already signed, and to study for a prefix quiz scheduled for Tuesday.  The quiz will be 20 matching questions, using the students knowledge of the prefixes listed under "Quiz #1" on their study guide.

Upcoming Events

Monday - We will be running our experiment to test the effectiveness of different types of soaps in removing bacteria from our hands.  The students will be taking before and after washing swabs of their hands, and then growing bacteria on petri dishes in an incubator overnight.  Once that is completed, the students will be given a worksheet that will have them apply their knowledge of the criteria for a good experiment to seven different scenarios.  They will have to determine what is wrong with the experiments described in each of the different scenarios.  Homework will be to complete the worksheet and study for the prefix quiz on Tuesday.

Tuesday - Class will begin with our prefix quiz.  We will then check the results of our experiment by counting the number of bacterial colonies on both of their petri dishes.   We will record our data, then discuss the importance of statistics in examining data, and then try to draw some conclusions from our data.

We will also be looking at the homework and discussing the students answers to the questions regarding what was wrong with the seven different experiments.

Class will conclude with the students setting up an experiment involving some "Mystery Matter."  The "Mystery Matter" will be placed into four different Erlenmeyer flasks with some sugar and warm water.  A balloon will be placed over the mouth of the flask, and the students will come back the next day to observe the balloons.  This lab will be used to lead the students to a discussion of the characteristics of living things.

Wednesday - We will observe the results of our "Mystery Matter" experiment, and then discuss the characteristics shared by living things.  We will also discuss the levels of organization in the living world, starting with the atom, and moving all the way up to the level of biosphere.

Thursday - We will review the scientific method, characteristics of life, and levels of organization in living things.  The students will be reading a passage about how scientists solved the problem of yellow fever, and then answering 11 questions regarding the use of the scientific method in solving that problem as part of their review.  Homework will be to study for our first test on Friday.

Friday - We will be taking our first test of the year on the topics of the scientific method and the characteristics of living things.  When the students are finished with their test, they will begin a webquest that will help them review some of the characteristics of the periodic table.  Homework will be to complete through the third page of the periodic table webquest packet.

Interesting Tidbits

Throughout the course of the year, I will be choosing one student a week to be the "Graba Geek of the Week."  This award will be given to students who do something particularly outstanding in class, or who show a lot of improvement.  As part of the Geek of the Week award, I like to post a picture of the winning student.  If you would rather I not post a picture of your child, please e-mail me at to let me know.  I typically write this blog on Sunday's, so if you could let me know by next Sunday, it would be appreciated, as I would like to start handing out the Geek of the Week award next week.

Please feel free to leave any comments about this blog!