Introduction to these Materials
General notes
Throughout this site are many materials you will find useful in your classroom.  This introduction serves to clarify a few points in order to give you the most from these materials
Methods
For the most part, these exercises were composed for use in a constructivist-based classroom.  They were designed to emphasize learner involvement in the material and a minimum of traditional whole-class lectures by the instructor.  An informal description of how I used some of the question sets can be found in my article My Constructivist Approach.

These materials are built around the following principles:

  • Open-endedness.  Questions do not look for a single "right" answer (i.e., they acknowledge the multi-faceted nature of some of these concepts.  For example, "genes" can be defined on a number of levels, depending on the perspective from which you're approaching the topic.).
  • Discussion.  Related to the above, these materials are designed to facilitate discussion of the content among the class.  This fosters an attitude of engagement in the course content as well as transmitting learning laterally instead of simply "top-down."
  • Communication.  As a corollary to the principle of discussion, every assignment required learners to put their understanding into words, whether in the form of short answer questions, written reports, or presentations to the class.
  • The usual process was an exercise in recursion through the material.  This involved having learners break up the content on the notes sheets.  They presented this material individually to the class, and their peers took notes.  After this introduction, they were usually engaged in labs and/or other activities and demonstrations along with as much discussion as I could facilitate.  Once everything was covered adequately, I provided a study guide in order to have them work through the most important points in the material one last time before the assessment was given.

    Note, however, that many of these exercises emphasize very traditional skills.  Because I was teaching at a non-traditional school, I found many skills lacking in my students and so was forced to take a step backward, so to speak, in order to bring my classes up to speed in this regard.  For example, basic math skills such as calculating/converting ratios are sometimes brought into play.  Similarly, because their written communication was not where I needed it to be, there is perhaps an over-emphasis on having learners organize information from their research into written reports, etc.


    Curriculum

    These do not represent full curriculum by any stretch!  In my teaching, I drew from other resources and others' exercises and activities, so only a fraction of what we did over the year is represented.  The web has grown considerably in the time since I came up with many of these materials, so you should be able to find much more to compliment what I provide here.  As a result, some sections of these courses are not represented at all.  In many cases, the class or I were involved in demonstrations or activities that did not have a written component (i.e., they were used to promote class discussion only).  At some point I may take the time to write these up, but that is not my focus at the moment.

    Unfortunately, I don't have all the materials I generated.  Some of these were composed on a different computer when mine broke down, and did not make it into my archived files.  In other cases, I just don't have as many materials for some sections because I relied on other sources rather than composing everything myself.

    Conversely, materials were not all generated in the same year; some were created on subsequent years, so some areas may be "over-represented" because of this.  I placed virtually everything on-line in order to provide you, the teacher, with the greatest number of options.


    Using these materials

    I designed these to suit my methods, my teaching style, and the approaches promoted by my school.  Feel free to adapt these materials to your liking and to best address the needs and learning styles of your students.

    These materials are "stripped down" in terms of formatting.  In other words, I didn't use bullets or a lot of tables in these pages.  This is to facilitate the fastest transfer to your favorite word processor via "cut and paste."


    The contents of this web site are offered freely, but do require time and money to maintain.  If you find this site useful and/or entertaining, please help to defer the costs by donating to via a credit card through PayPal.  Thanks for your support.

    All contents copyright Alexplorer.
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