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I need some wisdom here. I know some of the good online options fill up in May, and I can't seem to pull the trigger on anything for fall, and my biggest hang up is biology.

I cannot decide about Biology for next year for DD

  1. Dual Credit (either a non-majors class which might be enough to prepare her for SAT subject test, or a class for science/ engineering majors). Likely teacher for non major class is known to give crazy-hard tests compared to course content. Prof for majors class is good, but it would basically be AP Bio in a semester.
  2. Local high school "honors" class. Wouldn't prepare for subject test or anything else other than being biology with a real lab. I suspect it would be an easy "A" for her. She would have a friend in class and teacher is well-liked. Would need to deal with the public school (and it's block schedule) and drive into the school 5 days a week in the Spring Semester. Bonus for having same spring break as probable online English class.
  3. or an online class. Any "must not miss" biology courses? I have a good potential AP course, but am totally open to great ideas I've overlooked. Is there a "Derek Owens" for biology? I really don't care for 1.) OpenStax books and 2.) the QSL regular biology Lab kit since she's done most of the labs in it.
  4. or doing it at home. I have the materials on the shelf for both Holt Modern (SAT 2) and Campbell (AP) biology. I could do the Advanced QSL Lab. I'm not sure I could be the most enthusiastic teacher.

 

Edited by MamaSprout

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How about Blue Tent Honors Bio? I haven’t heard much about the course, but the feedback on BT generally is very positive. I like the way the course is set-up and am strongly considering it for DD after Clover Valley Chem.

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I've been back and forth with Blue Tent's teacher, and she sounds great.

We've done so many dissection labs already, I feel like there should be a "next thing". I really didn't think there was a lot of dissection in intro biology anymore, but so many on the non-AP course seem to have a lot of it.

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Was your plan originally to do all AP level sciences in high school after doing regular first year classes in 6-8th?  If so, maybe start with another AP first? How about Environmental Science? 

I'd avoid doing Bio as her first DE class. A lab science has more moving parts than a comp or history class and it would be easy to drop a ball for a new student. AP has the advantage of being a high school class that's going on your transcript. The worst that can happen is that you realize it's a horrible fit and need to withdraw and do it at home with you as the teacher. The high school class might be a nice idea if it gives her access to extracurriculars at the school. Could you schedule so that she could do band or choir or a sport back to back with the class? The driving is a pain, though, so really think through if that is worth the hassle.

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Thanks I'm definitely going in circles here.

I think we did kind of plan on APs for high school science, but it was more of "teaching the kid I have" at that time with the best options available each year (lab co-op, etc). I think I had some idea about doing the MIT Open Courseware when the time came, but I've spent a lot of time with it, and I'm not sure it's complete enough. Maybe I should look again. I know the Scholar course isn't even close.

She probably does need to do biology this year since her last pass was 6th grade. I tried to talk her into a different AP or something like Astronomy, but she might graduate after Junior year so wants a biology along with AP or dual credit chemistry and physics before then.

I hear you on not taking Bio as the first class. My plan was/ is to take the DC Biology spring semester with something painless in the fall to get acclimated. Now, I'm unsure about that plan because there is no way to know the schedule, professor or anything until after the fall semester starts. If the school doesn't offer the biology class, or it's a stinker professor (there is only one section of the non major class), or something else goes wrong, I'll be pulling double-time biology out of my hat.

So thanks for letting me bounce this around. I'm open to non-conventional resources or ideas. I'm beginning to think just teaching at home might actually be easier... or maybe I'm just letting perfection get in the way of "good enough".

Edited by MamaSprout

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I'd personally knock DE biology right off the list, too many variables. 

What did she use for her basic biology course? Both of mine took high school bio for the first time in 9th. My youngest used Holt Modern and I thought it was a very solid course and there were lots of online supports available. My oldest used Campbell Reese Essential Biology and it was like, okay, on to med school! Maybe not, lol, but it had an incredible amount of information and I was very glad I was not the one taking it. 

Are you sure that the local honors class wouldn't prepare her for the SAT subject test? It really should (as should any college prep course).  What text are they using? Bio is generally considered the easiest of the science tests (not to say it's easy) and you can even choose the biology concentration you prefer. 

 

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Interesting that you are getting negative feedback for the DE option. A DE bio for non-majors was dd’s first DE class as a 14 year old freshman. It worked well because her grade wasn’t just based on a few tests - there were online reading quizzes, a couple papers, and weekly lab work thrown into the mix. She loved the lab work. She also had a fun teacher. I’m pretty sure it was her favorite class of the year. Her only prep for the class was an online life science class taken in 6th grade.  Sounds like the teacher at your CC might be tougher than the one dd had though?

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I'm going to suggest ClutchPrep.com.  You can match their lectures to multiple textbooks.  We used Campbell & Reese.  I also purchased the study guide that goes with the book. ClutchPrep has PDF notes that can assist with notetaking, as well as practice sets for certain concepts, and even chapter exam review.  I used questions from the Study Guide to create tests. And the Campbell Biology connect has additional activities and helps as well. http://webs.bcp.org/sites/rwong/mwb/campinter 1.4/chapter0/deluxe.html  From there, you can study (or not) for an AP exam or the Biology SAT2.  We've found Educator.com a solid source for good AP Test Prep.  

Edited by LisaK in VA is in IT
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The course description for the honors class at the high school looks like environmental science with a section on animal and plant systems. The honors class gets better and more labs.

Katilac- your comment about Campbell made me laugh- so true! That is a seriously dense book.

LisaK- thanks for the ClutchPrep link. I'll take a look.

 

Edited by MamaSprout
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A poster here was happy with WTMA bio and I believe her kid took the SAT successfully afterwards. If she had a thorough high school level bio already, I wouldn’t repeat it but go instead for the AP course. 

For my kid, I would go for PS bio option, but that’s because mine would love to be in a classroom with kids given the opportunity. I wouldn’t go for a prof with a 2 rating (assuming it’s based on a lot of reviews). Read those reviews to see if any “theme” emerges. CC grades are permanent. 

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I can't make the WTMA class time work, and dd doesn't care for the book. It's so busy. That was my first choice when I started looking at online bio classes.

Good point about the "trends" in the ratings. There are not a lot of ratings and it seems mostly geared towards a higher level class. It's a younger professor, so dd might track her down to see if being successful in the class is possible.

At this point we've decided to roll forward with an Plans A, B, & C. (I feel like the military, but this is what Dd wants to do). Plan A is the CC class. Dd is going to front-load her year and try for the Biology for majors class in the Spring if the non majors class doesn't look workable. The majors class has 3-5 sections with all different professors and a lab teacher with 5 stars.

Plan B is the high school class, and we went ahead and started the process for that. If neither looks good, she'll start BYU Online AP Biology (self-paced) or begin a homegrown course using Holt in mid-October when we know the outcomes of plan A & B. We won't try to sign up for an AP test because it would be too late at that point. We will aim for the last SAT 2 test date in June.

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I have no experience with it, but I've heard that honors bio at Blue Tent is very good if you wanted another option to consider for online.

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I am surprised that bio for science majors is only one semester. It’s usually a two semester sequence. The one semester bio at CC here is equivalent to a high school course. 

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6 hours ago, MamaSprout said:

Good point about the "trends" in the ratings. There are not a lot of ratings and it seems mostly geared towards a higher level class. It's a younger professor, so dd might track her down to see if being successful in the class is possible.

 

I wouldn't worry about reviews that say a class is too hard for a higher level Bio class. It's likely that the other class is a weeder for their nursing and allied health students. (This is especially true if it's A&P.) I'd only look at the reviews for the non-major intro class.

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2 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

I am surprised that bio for science majors is only one semester. It’s usually a two semester sequence. The one semester bio at CC here is equivalent to a high school course. 

 

When I taught at a CC, I usually taught a majors biology course, although one semester I taught the non-majors course.  The CC majors course was different from the full-year majors course that I took in college - it seems like there are actually 3 different intro biology courses (although not all are offered everywhere).  There is the 2-course intense sequence that I took and TA'd that was very detailed.  There is the majors course that I taught, which was taken by the students going into nursing and other health-related fields.  It's a solid class that is actually a good match with what I teach as a 'rigorous but not onerous' high school class.  The college version moved more quickly and pretty much only did the molecular material.  I think that there easily could be a second course, but it wasn't required for the health science students and may not have been taught at the CC where I taught.  My high school class has 8 modules, and I seem to remember 6 of them being covered (in a bit more detail) in the CC course...a secound course would cover ecology, classification, and probably anatomy, species diversity, etc.  The non-majors course is one that I thought of as 'biology appreciation'.  It introduced students to a lot of biology topics but they didn't delve too deeply into any of them.  They might have learned the Central Dogma of DNA encodes RNA which encodes proteins, for instance, but they weren't trying to understand the lac operon.  

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It does look like the class for majors is a two sequence course, making the non major class a better fit for the SAT subject test.

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3 hours ago, MamaSprout said:

It does look like the class for majors is a two sequence course, making the non major class a better fit for the SAT subject test.

Take a look at the syllabus if you can - the non-majors class that I taught wouldn't have prepared the students for the subject test - there wouldn't have been enough detail.  But, unlike pre-req classes, there isn't as much need for non-majors classes to cover particular content there may be more variability between schools.  Where I taught, there was a standard syllabus that we had to use - we could tweak the schedule and assignments, but the content was the same for all classes.  The mid-level majors class would have been good prep, but they would have needed both courses in the sequence.  Or, you could do the first course in the sequence and then self-study the rest.  I had a co-op student tell me that my class (which aligns with the molecular biology part of the college squence, usually the first semester) covered all of the hard stuff for the subject test, so it was easy to self-study the rest from a prep book (since it was 'systems biology', many of our co-op kids take it in middle school and just need a refresher).  

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11 hours ago, ClemsonDana said:

Take a look at the syllabus if you can - the non-majors class that I taught wouldn't have prepared the students for the subject test - there wouldn't have been enough detail.  But, unlike pre-req classes, there isn't as much need for non-majors classes to cover particular content there may be more variability between schools.  Where I taught, there was a standard syllabus that we had to use - we could tweak the schedule and assignments, but the content was the same for all classes.  The mid-level majors class would have been good prep, but they would have needed both courses in the sequence.  Or, you could do the first course in the sequence and then self-study the rest.  I had a co-op student tell me that my class (which aligns with the molecular biology part of the college sequence, usually the first semester) covered all of the hard stuff for the subject test, so it was easy to self-study the rest from a prep book (since it was 'systems biology', many of our co-op kids take it in middle school and just need a refresher).  

There is actually another, lighter "biology appreciation" course than the non major one. It is super-light. I'm not sure who would even take it?

For the non major class, the book isn't listed, but in previous semesters it has been some edition of this one. https://www.amazon.com/Biology-Science-Life-Colleen-Belk/dp/0134675479/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Edited by MamaSprout

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@MamaSprout, I have an older version of that book on my shelf - I tend to hoard bio books so that I have appropriate texts for whatever I need. 🙂    It gives clear but concise explanations for a lot of the molecular material.  It doesn't include any of the systems material that is part of the SAT subject test (the endocrine sysetm, the nervous system, etc) and I'm not sure if it covers enough details of the replication/transcription/translation processes to be everything that she has to know (I skimmed through it quickly).  But, she'll see a lot of the material that she'll need. 

And, the super-light non-majors classes are usually for folks who just need to check a box.  I remember one of my kids' amazing preschool teachers was finishing up her degree in early childhood education? something like that - and was stressing over needing a science credit.  She was amazing with the kids but would have struggled with some of the science.  I'm guessing that the class is for folks like that.  

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Thank-you! This is super helpful. She's doing health this fall, including systems. We'll have a 2-3 weeks between the final and the last SAT subject test date to fill any gaps, so this could work.

Edited by MamaSprout

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On 5/15/2019 at 3:23 AM, LisaK in VA is in IT said:

I'm going to suggest ClutchPrep.com.  You can match their lectures to multiple textbooks.  We used Campbell & Reese.  I also purchased the study guide that goes with the book. ClutchPrep has PDF notes that can assist with notetaking, as well as practice sets for certain concepts, and even chapter exam review.  I used questions from the Study Guide to create tests. And the Campbell Biology connect has additional activities and helps as well. http://webs.bcp.org/sites/rwong/mwb/campinter 1.4/chapter0/deluxe.html  From there, you can study (or not) for an AP exam or the Biology SAT2.  We've found Educator.com a solid source for good AP Test Prep.  

 

Thanks for sharing these! 

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