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Living books approach to 9th grade biology?

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I thought something had been posted about this before but I can't find it in a search.

 

Has anyone used a living books approach to high school biology instead of using a text book? I've seen some book lists online but has anyone done it? I think this way would work so much better for my oldest but for some reason I'm afraid to make the leap. It feels so out-of-the-box.

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Thank you! That is helpful. I came across another plan here: http://www.gracefulthought.blogspot.com/p/biology-w-living-books-guide.html

 

I bought the Apologia biology about five years ago because I got it for such a great deal but now the thought of using it makes me want to cry. Lol Yesterday ds was asking why we couldn't read several good books like we do for other subjects.

 

Sadie, are you taking this approach with other sciences (chemistry, physics)?

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This is an interesting idea. Do you plan to add in a lab component?

Yes. The plan I linked has a lab day every other Friday, along with keeping a nature journal (which we already do) on the opposite Fridays.

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I have no first hand experience with it, but this plan of study has always looked appealing to me:

High School Biology with Living Books by Jamie McMillin. The resources used are listed here and include Hoagland's The Way Life Works: The Science Lover's Illustrated Guide to How Life Grows, Develops, Reproduces, and Gets Along.

 

ETA  ~  See live links in my post dated 9/23/2017 below.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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My ds did a living books approach to biology using many of the books already listed in this thread. Wanted to add I am Joe's Body. It's out of print, but you can find it online if you poke around a bit. I think I've heard there's a girl version of the same book titled I am Jane's Body.

 

Another title my ds enjoyed was Microbe Hunters.

 

HTH

 

 

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I think some of these will repeat books mentioned in previous posts, but here is our list:

 

 

  • The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
  • The Nature of Life: Readings in Biology
  • Exploring the Way Life Works: The Science of Biology by Hoagland, Dodson and Hauck
  • Our Natural World edited by Hal Borland
  • The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker
  • Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif
  • Mosquito: The Story of Man's Deadliest Foe by Spielman and D'Antonio
  • Microbes and Man by John Postgate
  • Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped Our History by Dorothy H. Crawford
  • The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean
  • The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013 by Mukherjee and Folger
  • Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy by Hazen and Trefil
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Thanks for more suggestions! Has anyone read Anatomy of a Rose: Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers? It has good reviews on Amazon. Just wondering how it would work for botany. It seems very interesting. It was cheap on Amazon so I went ahead an ordered it but I haven't seen it on anyone's list.

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From reading lists, here's what I have so far:

 

The Nature of Life: Readings in Biology (selected chapters)

Exploring the Way Life Works by Hoagland and Dodson

The Voyage of the Beagle by Darwin (selected chapters)

Microbe Hunters by De Kruif

Dark Life: Martian Nanobacteria, Rock-Eating Cave Bugs and Other Extreme Organisms of Inner Earth and Outer Space by Taylor

The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Stewart

Fabre's Book of Insects by Fabre

Life in Cold Blood DVD

Anatomy of a Rose: Exploring the Secret Lives of Flowers by Russell

The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher by Thomas (selected chapters?)

The Biology Coloring Book

Cats Are Not Peas: A Calico History of Genetics by Gould

In the Womb DVD

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Brand and Yancey

Human Anatomy Coloring Book

Finding Darwin's God by Miller

Test of Faith DVD from Faraday Institute

 

This is what I have ordered and found online as free texts. I tried to cover the different kingdoms as well as observation and the scientific method plus genetics and reproduction and the cell. Also evolution including the debate/theological concerns since we are Christian (and are friends with lots of YECers!). I don't have anything on fungi though. Dang it, or protista unless that is covered in Dark Life. I might do The Life of Mammals DVD. I have a few things on hold at the library and still need to look over everything when it gets here. Then figure out how to schedule it all in. And add labs.

 

Any glaring gaps?

 

ETA: We will never get through all this!

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I think some of these will repeat books mentioned in previous posts, but here is our list:

  • The Violinist's Thumb by Sam Kean

 

Oh, we MUST read this! I live w/ two violinists, and we love the Paganini Caprices. Thank you for this. 

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Oh, we MUST read this! I live w/ two violinists, and we love the Paganini Caprices. Thank you for this.

 

You're welcome! :)

 

BTW, I love the quote in your signature!

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You're welcome! :)

 

BTW, I love the quote in your signature!

LOL, thanks. I keep saying this to my DH, but I don't think he believes it. (We do have plenty of bookcases, though. So I can't complain!)

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Thanks for more suggestions! Has anyone read Anatomy of a Rose: Exploring the Secret Life of Flowers? It has good reviews on Amazon. Just wondering how it would work for botany. It seems very interesting. It was cheap on Amazon so I went ahead an ordered it but I haven't seen it on anyone's list.

We haven't read this but I have it on my wish list.

 

Chrysalis Academy has used this with her daughter and recommended it.

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My 5th grader read Anatomy of a Rose last year along with her botany studies - we used Ellen McHenry's botany program.  She liked it ok, but I don't think she "got it" all, she was too young.  I thought it was lovely, and I think it would be good for a 9th grader.  

 

I just picked up What a Plant Knows, and there is a Coursera class of that name starting this week . . . it might make a nice botany unit!

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We originally started out this year with Miller Levine Dragonfly, but I’m not really happy with how things are working out. Ds loves it: read the chapter, Cornell Notes (easy to do because all the key topics are highlighted), complete workbook for that chapter, take test. I wanted something more living, so this is what I’ve come up with.

 

Living Books Biology

 

Barron’s AP Biology

Differentiating Instruction with Menus: Biology

The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms by Clare Walker Leslie

Biology Coloring Book

Human Anatomy Coloring Book (Actually using for Health)

 

Exploring the Way Life Works by Hoagland and Dodson

The Nature of Life: Readings in Biology

Microbe Hunters by De Kruif

Silent Spring by Carson

The Violinist’s Thumb by Keen

The Cartoon Guide to Genetics by Gonick

Cats Are Not Peas: A Calico History of Genetics by Gould

On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation by Keller

The Island of Dr. Moreau by Wells

Hot Zone by Preston

Wicked Plants...by Stewart

Wicked Bugs...by Stewart

Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Saved the World by Kurlansky

The Burgess Book of Animals by Burgess

All Things Great and Small by Heriot

Stiff by Roach

Your Inner Fish by Shubin

The Best American Science & Nature Writing 2013

 

Netflix-

Alien Planet

Ecology-

Wings of Life

Vanishing of the Bees

Tropical Rainforest

Carbon Nation

Insects-

Microcosm

Evolution-      

Human Family Tree

Genetics-

Cracking Your Genetic Code

Virology-

Defying Disease

 

 

 

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Then figure out how to schedule it all in. And add labs.

 

Any glaring gaps?

 

ETA: We will never get through all this!

 

Hi Cricket,

 

I am so please that you are looking for something that will actually work for you student.  I love helping people tailor out-of-the-box science classes, so I am happy to help if you want.  My main impression right now is that you have focused on resources which are only one piece of the puzzle as you know.  So the gaps I see are:

 

What are your goals? 

What specific skills do you want to improve?

What are your labs?

How will your student synthesize what he has learned?

What kind of output would be most effective for him?

How will you assess him?

 

I also would expect biology to enhance numeracy skills. You could use genetics, and you could do some elaborate graphing with some of your labs.

 

I do agree that you have too much, so you will need to pick a topic per month, and chose 1 book and 2 videos or something when you schedule.

 

Because your approach will be using many resources, my main focus would be on making sure that there is some synthesis between and within topics.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

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Hi Cricket,

 

I am so please that you are looking for something that will actually work for you student. I love helping people tailor out-of-the-box science classes, so I am happy to help if you want. My main impression right now is that you have focused on resources which are only one piece of the puzzle as you know. So the gaps I see are:

 

What are your goals?

What specific skills do you want to improve?

What are your labs?

How will your student synthesize what he has learned?

What kind of output would be most effective for him?

How will you assess him?

 

I also would expect biology to enhance numeracy skills. You could use genetics, and you could do some elaborate graphing with some of your labs.

 

I do agree that you have too much, so you will need to pick a topic per month, and chose 1 book and 2 videos or something when you schedule.

 

Because your approach will be using many resources, my main focus would be on making sure that there is some synthesis between and within topics.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Sorry i missed this. we were out of town for awhile and I haven't been checking the boards. I'm realizing that I'm a bit over my head so your advice would be useful!. :-) For the first few weeks I want to focus on what biology is and the scientific method. Last week we read a few chapters from Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. That is a fascinating read! We laughed a few places because his brain seems to go where my ds's does. Darwin sometimes seems to "humanize" the animals he is observing.

 

From what I've seen we definitely need to cover the cell and its various processes. My ds is interested in anatomy but is a bit hesitant about dissections (although if we do some I think he will be fine once he sees it is not the same thing as cutting open a freshly killed animal). He mentioned that biology would be good because he wants to know how his body works. (He's very athletic!). I want to cover evolution but that doesn't seem to be an issue since it permeates most of the books I have. We know many young earth people so it is also important to me to spend a little time on the theology and evolution question although I suppose that would be counted under theology credits.

 

This is our oldest child and not very academic. His math skills are a bit weak. He has zero interest in attending a four-year college but may want to go to a junior college--if they will let him play baseball. I plan on having him do some oral presentations (his strongest area) as well as some written work. I haven't finalized any lab plans yet. We still do nature walks and he keeps a nature journal.

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I'll give your comments some thought tonight.  There was another thread like this one back in January titled 'science with living books and not textbooks can it be done at the hs level?' and I posted some things to think about on posts 37 and 38.

 

 http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/450466-science-with-living-books-not-textbooks-can-it-be-done-at-the-hs-level/

 

Ruth in NZ

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I'll give your comments some thought tonight. There was another thread like this one back in January titled 'science with living books and not textbooks can it be done at the hs level?' and I posted some things to think about on posts 37 and 38.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/450466-science-with-living-books-not-textbooks-can-it-be-done-at-the-hs-level/

 

Ruth in NZ

Thank you for the link! Definitely good things to think about.

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Yesterday ds was asking why we couldn't read several good books like we do for other subjects.

 

I actually think that's very difficult to do in ANY subject for high school. You are expected to cover very specific skills and areas of knowledge, and the amount of material and output is far higher than it was in middle school.

 

 

<snip>

For the first few weeks I want to focus on what biology is and the scientific method. <snip>

 

This is our oldest child and not very academic. His math skills are a bit weak. He has zero interest in attending a four-year college but may want to go to a junior college--if they will let him play baseball. <snip>

My dd took bio last year, and the the definition of biology and the scientific method were disposed of in less than half a day. There is definitely not time in a high school science class to spend several weeks on these topics. Also, you talked some about dissections, how the human body works, and other things that were very familiar to me from MY high school bio class. However, modern bio classes are much more focussed on molecular biology. That's one of the reasons I think most of us need a text, to at least outline what should be learned. You could conceivably 'convert' that entire text into a living books course, but honestly, if you do, you will be doing far more work than he will!

 

Weak math skills won't be a huge stumbling block for most high school texts; I wouldn't worry too much about that. I would not plan courses around a very young teen's current lack of interest in going to college.

 

We are trying a hybrid method for chemistry this year that might interest you. We chose a text that would be fairly easy for her to handle; this way, we know that the essentials are getting covered in a systematic manner, and we can schedule some great supplements as well (scheduling them is key, lol). The upside is that, yes, we are able to get out of the box a bit in a way that we couldn't if she used the most demanding text. The down side is that the day-to-day work in the text is not as interesting as it would be in a more challenging text. She may have been nearly eaten alive by her bio book, but it never bored her ;p

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Here is an x-post of the things you need to think about.  You have a bunch of resources, but you really need to think about the big picture and output/evaluation in order to make a workable plan.  For a high school biology class you cannot just read and discuss, there has to be more. 

 

X POST-

 

To set out a plan you need to ask yourself some big-picture questions and find some answers:

Big Picture:

1) What does your state require for science to graduate? How many classes? Are any subjects specifically required? What counts as a credit ? Is it time spent? Are there any requirements for testing or evaluation? Are there any tests that she will have to take like SAT2 etc?

2) What are your overarching goals for science education? You are clearly interested in material that will help her in dance - health, physiology, etc. But what about general science from the point of view of a voter? Do you want her to have a general understanding of science in the news? If she needs 3 classes, I might suggest: human biology (anatomy, physiology, genetics), sports medicine and nutrition, and science in society (understanding the science behind issues in the news).

 

2) From a different post, but same idea : I think it would be worth your time to think about *why* your ds should learn science, because it would inform your course design. He does not need it for testing or for a STEM major. So why learn science at all? Yes, it is a requirement for graduation, but there are lots of different types of courses he could take to fulfil a science requirement. Are you a believer that everyone should study science because it is a part of being an educated adult? Or are you more practical? -- he should learn it because one day he will be a voter and he needs to have a science foundation to make educated choices. Perhaps, you are less society focused and have more personal goals for your ds -- for example he needs to know some biology to understand doctors, medical claims,etc, and basic physics so he can rewire his home one day. Think about these things and discuss them with him.

Details:

3) Resources: What kind of materials does she like to learn from: video, research, textbooks, non-fiction books, hands on? A mix?

4) Output and evaluation: You have mentioned your concern about evaluation. The purpose behind evaluation is 3 fold: to see if she knows the material, to motivate her to study the material, and to have records. Do you need all three? Most kids need to work with the material to make it their own -- this can be a test, research paper, presentation, illustration, etc. And any output can be used for evaluation. Does she have a specific way that she learns information? If so, definitely use that for evaluation. Is there a specific skill that you want to reinforce (like writing or public speaking)? If so, then make one of her requirements for evaluation use that specific skill.

5) Schedule: How much time will she have for the course? Does she like a block schedule or a little every day?

-----------

 

I would also mention that for Biology, I would suggest you pick one from each of these broad categories:

 

Within an individual - cell biology, molecular biology, physiology

Individual - Animal diversity, plant diversity, human anatomy, animal behaviour

Groups - genetics, evolution

Systems - ecology, conservation biology

 

I disagree with the pp that biology is now focused on cell and molecular, it is just a bigger focus than it was when we were kids.

 

Give me some answers, and I will help make a plan.

 

Ruth in NZ

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In our state, home school parents set the graduation requirements. Nothing is mandated by the state. Public school kids are required to have three credits of science "in preparation for proficiency at the high school level on" our state's mandatory testing for public schools. The large state university here requires proof of labs and three years (pick three different year-long courses) of either biology, chemistry, earth science, integrated science or physics.

 

My goal for ds is to have a basic understanding of how the world of living things works. I see it as a definite part of being an educated adult. I want him to have a good foundation in case he wants to learn more later. I don't think he will ever be a STEM major but he might want to go into physical therapy or work as an athletic trainer. I want him to be a good steward of the earth and see how living things are so connected.

 

For resources he prefers hands-on, non-fiction books and videos. For scheduling, he does better with shorter, more frequent blocks. He absolutely hates writing but I am looking to strengthen this skill.

 

Cell biology seems to be necessary so we will go with that. Of the other choices you listed, probably human anatomy since he has already expressed an interest there. Genetics because I think he would find that interesting and ecology.

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Thank you! That is helpful. I came across another plan here: http://www.gracefulthought.blogspot.com/p/biology-w-living-books-guide.html

 

I bought the Apologia biology about five years ago because I got it for such a great deal but now the thought of using it makes me want to cry. Lol Yesterday ds was asking why we couldn't read several good books like we do for other subjects.

 

Sadie, are you taking this approach with other sciences (chemistry, physics)?

Chemistry yes, physics no. Although I'd love to see an example of a living books physics program!

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In our state, home school parents set the graduation requirements. Nothing is mandated by the state. Public school kids are required to have three credits of science "in preparation for proficiency at the high school level on" our state's mandatory testing for public schools. The large state university here requires proof of labs and three years (pick three different year-long courses) of either biology, chemistry, earth science, integrated science or physics.

 

My goal for ds is to have a basic understanding of how the world of living things works. I see it as a definite part of being an educated adult. I want him to have a good foundation in case he wants to learn more later. I don't think he will ever be a STEM major but he might want to go into physical therapy or work as an athletic trainer. I want him to be a good steward of the earth and see how living things are so connected.

 

For resources he prefers hands-on, non-fiction books and videos. For scheduling, he does better with shorter, more frequent blocks. He absolutely hates writing but I am looking to strengthen this skill.

 

Cell biology seems to be necessary so we will go with that. Of the other choices you listed, probably human anatomy since he has already expressed an interest there. Genetics because I think he would find that interesting and ecology.

 

Ok, you have 9 months total? I'm thinking 2 months each topic, and 1 month for a research paper

 

months:

1, 2  evolution

3, 4 genetics

6,7 cell biology

7,8 ecology

9 research project

 

What resources (books, videos) will  you use for each unit?

What labs will you use for each unit?

 

He hates writing, so perhaps you want him to do an oral presentation (with either a poster or power point presentation) for each unit or a small writing assignment (or both, which is what I would suggest - first month oral, second month written for each unit).  Plus a larger research project at the end -- something controversial?  like cloning? or genetic engineering? where he provides the *science * behind the hype, and then provides an educated opinion.

 

Personally, I would like for him to reference a textbook for both the oral and written presentations.  He can read the 'living books' but then *also* use the textbook to draw a picture, give some specific examples, explain the complexities, etc.  Using  a textbook to augment nonfiction reading would be very good experience.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Chemistry yes, physics no. Although I'd love to see an example of a living books physics program!

 

Regentrude might kill me, but I could help you design a living books physics program too. 

 

Not all high school kids are university bound.  I would rather a student obtain an *effective*, *practical* study of the sciences, then do a survey with a bunch of textbooks and remember nothing.

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Thanks for getting my wheels turning in a more productive way, Ruth! Tonight at swim practice I'll be doing more paging through my stack of books!

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Chemistry yes, physics no. Although I'd love to see an example of a living books physics program!

 

 

Regentrude might kill me, but I could help you design a living books physics program too. 

 

Not all high school kids are university bound.  I would rather a student obtain an *effective*, *practical* study of the sciences, then do a survey with a bunch of textbooks and remember nothing.

 

*With props to regentrude, waiting for lewelma's living physics program!*

 

In the meantime, I killed this thread. It's a gift, being a thread killer, lol. 

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You've given me a great project.  I'm working on it, but it might take me a week to get it done as I have to do quite a bit of thinking. :001_smile:

 

Ruth in NZ

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Regentrude might kill me, but I could help you design a living books physics program too. 

 

Not all high school kids are university bound.  I would rather a student obtain an *effective*, *practical* study of the sciences, then do a survey with a bunch of textbooks and remember nothing.

 

 

You've given me a great project.  I'm working on it, but it might take me a week to get it done as I have to do quite a bit of thinking. :001_smile:

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

She did it! Here it is: Physics for Poets by lewelma

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Even if this isn't exactly what you are looking for, it might give you an idea of how it's done.

 

http://www.jamiemcmillin.com/?page_id=71

 

I used this for dd's biology year.

 

I'm resurrecting a dead thread. Is this a sin? :scared:

 

Anyway, I was wondering if you either know where I can find this list now or have a copy of it somewhere in your records.

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I'm resurrecting a dead thread. Is this a sin? :scared:

 

Anyway, I was wondering if you either know where I can find this list now or have a copy of it somewhere in your records.

 

If it's a sin, we'll both be guilty. 

 

(this is a really good thread, BTW).   :)

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