Ellen Wisner: Using InTeGrate Materials in General Biology II at University of North Carolina at Charlotte
About this Course
An introductory course for biology majors.
Two 1 hour and 15 minute sections
I used material from three different Integrate modules in my General Biology II course. This is the second biology course taken by majors at UNCC, and covers evolution, animal and plant structure and function, and ecology. As a part of the course students do a service learning project related to sustainability. These modules helped to incorporate more discussion of topics related to sustainability in the course, and helped to better link their service learning project to the material covered during class.
The in-class activities were fun and engaging for the students, and challenged them to interpret real data.
My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterials
For the unit I used on Ocean Acidification, I modified it very little. However, for the other two units I made changes in both the content in the module, as well as the activity's instructions.
Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course
This course is a semester long course that meets twice a week. The course is broken into four units: evolution, plant biology, animal biology, and ecology. I used the module on the geological timeline at the beginning of the unit on animals. I incorporated the carbon cycle and the ocean acidification units in the ecology section of the course.
All of the modules had built in formative assessment. For example, with the geological timeline activity students had to organize themselves in the correct order in front of the class. This allowed me, and the entire class to see what the misconceptions were. In addition, I added in a "clicker" question in this activity, to check in and see what order students put a few important event. For each module, they included formative assessment where students shared what they learned. I also made sure to include exam questions that focused on whether or not they understood these activities. In general students did pretty well on these exam questions.
I really had two goals: 1) incorporate more sustainability into my classroom, and 2) include some new unique activities into my class. The InTeGrate units I used did help to infus more sustainability into my course. I did an introduction to sustainability on the first day of class, emphasizing that it is on the the reasons why we are interested in studying biology, because understanding biology can help to achieve some of the goals of sustainability. In particular, the activity on the geological timeline helped me add some sustainability discussion (6th mass extinction) into a portion of my course where we typically do not discuss topics related to sustainability. I already do a lot of active learning with my classroom, but I am always looking for unique ideas and activities to use in the classroom. The carbon cycle game was really great for this, because it was quite different from other activites I use in my classroom. I will definitely be using these materials again in my course.