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Teaching AP Biology With Guest Beth Hines [Episode 125]


Click below to hear about teaching AP Bio:


As we move forward with focusing on the different AP science classes, this week, we’re focusing on AP Biology. This class comes with a lot of content, material, reading, and prior background knowledge to help students succeed and prepare for the end-of-year AP exam. I’m so lucky to have guest Beth Hines be the expert on this class since she is a veteran teacher and has been teaching AP biology for 3 years. In today’s episode, Beth shares so much information, wisdom, and encouragement, and how to keep your students accountable and truly prepare them for the course and final exam.

Since there’s so much content to cover with AP Biology, I jump right into it with Beth. Her ability to be open about what she loves the most and her opinions on labs, homework, grading, and textbooks will help listeners get an idea of what’s most important when teaching AP Biology. Beth also answers the most common and pressing question of how to get through the content and effective ways to prepare students for the final AP exam. One way she serves her students is by having high expectations for them and holding them accountable for their actions and learning the content, which will benefit them in the class and future life skills.

No matter how long you’ve been teaching, teaching an AP class can be intimidating and a lot to handle. So, if you’re in this situation, Beth shares advice and what resources to become familiar with to feel prepared before your students arrive. Whether you’re a teacher of an AP science class or not, I know you will gain beneficial information to use in your own classroom. Stay tuned to next week’s episode as we highlight another AP science class!

Topics Discussed:

  • How Beth prepares students for the exam, gets through all her content, and her philosophy on grading
  • The level of expectations, accountability, and rigor that’s needed when teaching any AP science course
  • An overview of what topics students struggle with, how to use your review time, creating unit tests with the AP exam in mind, and advice for new teachers teaching AP Biology 
  • One way Beth is simplifying her life right now

Resources Mentioned:

Meet Beth:

Beth has been teaching biology for 36 years, everything from middle school to being a TA in undergraduate and college labs as her first job. She has a BS in Biology/Microbiology, an MS in Biology, and an MAEd in Secondary Science Education. She is also a National Board-certified teacher. Her MS in Biology research involved the maturation of sperm and sperm/egg interactions. She worked for many years in microbiology research, in a lab contracted by NASA to work on killing bacterial spores for the water recovery system on the space station, fungal lung diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases. 

She worked for 5 years writing curricula and providing Teacher Professional Development for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and she really loved helping teachers! She has taught Biology and Anatomy and Physiology, among other things, in the public school system for close to 20 of those years, and this is her third year teaching AP Bio. She was selected to be an Exam Reader this upcoming summer.

Connect with Beth:

Related Episodes and Blog Posts:

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More about Secondary Science Simplified: 

Secondary Science Simplified is a podcast specifically for high school science teachers that will help you to engage your students AND simplify your life as a secondary science educator. Each week Rebecca, from It’s Not Rocket Science, and her guests will share practical and easy-to-implement strategies for decreasing your workload so that you can stop working overtime and start focusing your energy doing what you love – actually teaching!

Teaching doesn’t have to be rocket science, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to simplify your secondary science teaching life so that you can enjoy your life outside of school even more. Head to itsnotrocketscienceclassroom.com/challenge to grab your FREE Classroom Reset Challenge.

Rebecca 0:00
Welcome back to week two in our AP science teacher interview series. If you missed last week’s conversation with AP Physics teacher, Laura Pricer be sure to go back and give it a listen. Even if you don’t teach that specific AP course, she gives such great wisdom in general just for teaching an AP class, and I feel the exact same way about this week’s episode with AP biology teacher Beth Heinz. Beth has been teaching biology for 36 years, everything from middle school to being a TA and undergraduate in college labs as her very first job. She has a BS in biology, slash microbiology, and MS in biology, and an M Ed in secondary science education. She’s also a national board certified teacher. She has worked for many years in microbiology research and worked for five years writing curricula and providing teacher professional development for the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. She has such vast experience and she truly loves helping teachers you will hear that in this interview, she has taught biology and anatomy and physiology, among other things in the public school system for close to 20 of her 36 years in the field. And this is currently her third year teaching AP Biology. She was selected to be an AP exam reader this upcoming summer, which is also super exciting. In addition, Beth also teaches dual enrollment biology. So she shares in this episode, the distinction between AP Bio and dual enrollment. And she also helps to answer the question of how do we get students to take AP Bio when dual enrollment is an option for them. And it kind of feels like more of a sure thing. In terms of college credit. After that conversation, we dive deep into all things teaching AP Bio, and Beth just honestly share so much wisdom and encouragement for how to hold the line of expectation high for your students. In order to truly prepare them through this course. She talks about giving yourself all of the grace, not working harder than your students and serving future you with how you audit your lessons after you’ve done them. Like I said at the top of this episode, there’s just so much in here that is helpful whether you teach AP biology or not. Even for you non AP science teachers, she shares some goodness here for you. So I hope you will listen to this episode in its entirety. Okay, so now let me just Stop gabbing about it. And let’s just get to it. Okay, here’s my interview with AP Bio teacher Beth Heinz. This is secondary science simplified a podcast for secondary science teachers who want to engage their students and simplify their lives. I’m Rebecca joiner from it’s not rocket science. As a high school science teacher turned curriculum writer, I am passionate about helping other science teachers love their job, serve their students, and do it all in only 40 hours a week. Are you ready to rock the time you spend in your classroom and actually have a life outside of it? You are in the right place teacher friend. Let’s get to today’s episode.

Hi, Beth, how are you? Doing? Great. How are you? I’m great. And I’m so thrilled to have you because when I reached out to my audience, looking for help talking about these AP sciences, one of the main things that came through was people asking questions about AP biology, but also dual credit biology. And so when I saw that you taught both, I was just thrilled, because I feel like you’re gonna be able to help us we need help. That’s

Speaker 1 3:34
one of those things that people don’t understand dual enrollment quite as well. And I think I can clear up.

Rebecca 3:41
Okay, so let’s start with why don’t you just tell us, for those who maybe are going to be new to teaching AP Bio in the coming year, or just they may not ever teach it. But just for context? What do you feel like the focus is of the AP Bio course? Its major themes, and how is that different from what you see with your dual credit bio class? Okay,

Speaker 1 4:02
so AP Biology has traditionally been the equivalent of the freshman biology class that you would take as a major. And that’s the biggest difference, because a dual enrollment class. I mean, I don’t know if this is completely universal, but it seems to me and what I’ve found what I’ve people I’ve talked to that a dual enrollment class is really for non majors. That’s how we do it like the school that we go through. It’s a class for non major. So it’s a fantastic class, because a kid that is going to major in accounting or interior design or English or something like that, they have to take a science class with a lab. And so this is the perfect class for it. Now, as far as the AP Biology class goes, that is really going to be for majors. So if you are going to major in science, pre med, biology, chemistry, you know any bit any area of healthcare, specialty type science, they’re going to want you to take the general for I spent biology course. And that’s what AP is. So some people will say, You know what I don’t, you know, my kids don’t need to take you I can’t decide whether they should take AP or dual enrollments like, well, it really has to do with what do they want to do with it. Because if you take the AP class, you do have to take the exam to get credit. But if you take dual enrollment, and I know this from experience, my own daughter did this to me. She took dual enrollment, her high school because she’s liked the teacher better. And then she majored in science. And we found out hey, that doesn’t really work that way. So she had to go back and take freshman biology.

Rebecca 5:34
Okay, that is so helpful. Because I’m, I’m remembering this exact same thing happened to me, because at Clemson where I went, there’s biology, 101, and 102, which is, like you said, it’s two different semesters, but it’s just for biology for non biology majors. And then there was biology, 110, and 111. I accidentally took one on 1102. And it was like my junior senior year before about to graduate, and that my advisor realized, I took the wrong freshman biology and I was a biology major, but somehow, like they got it signed off. But you’re right. So that’s a great distinction to make. And I’m so glad you did that. Because again, one of the recurring questions I got was teachers having a hard time convincing their students to take AP Biology over dual credit, because dual credit feels like a sure thing. But that’s a great distinction to make.

Speaker 1 6:23
It is Yeah, same issue with us, too. We have to be really, really intentional with our kids. And I’m as intentional as I can be, you know, in the first day PowerPoint, if you think you are majoring in science, this is not the class for you. But as far as the content goes, they really are different content too, because the AP Biology class since 2019, since the the big change, right? Yeah, yeah, big rewrite, they are very much more molecular. And so cell biology, molecular biology, as opposed to what me as a, you know, let’s say veteran teacher is accustomed to as far as the general, you know, the walking through the kingdoms and the taxonomy, which I still love. I love all that. That is what you’re doing in dual enrollment, because that is your basic general biology class, you know, what you would want someone to know, that wasn’t a major that was going out in the world to be a productive voting citizen, what do they need to know about biology? And so great classes, and it’s just a different, you know, a different mindset for a different specific goal.

Rebecca 7:26
That’s such a great distinction to like you said, because I love that concept of thinking, dual credit, or, you know, bio, one on one. Yeah, like we’re trying to, they need to understand the environment and ecology, they don’t need to worry as much about the cell bio stuff. But that is like the most critical for those students going on to do a biology science major or any other, if they’re gonna go on to be biochem, whatever. So Oh,

Speaker 1 7:48
yeah, you’re gonna it’s gonna have to be molecular, as much that you know, dearly love taxonomy. And marching through the kingdoms. It just is not best gotta be picked up earlier in biology. Because if you’re an AP, you got to be prepared for all those upper level biology classes.

Rebecca 8:03
And those are a doozy. Okay, so that’s so helpful to start us off. So what would you say then you love about the AP Bio, like the EDI and what the exam has? And maybe what do you not love so much about it?

Speaker 1 8:15
I am a fan of the CTD, the course and exam description guide there, if you are a new AP biology teacher, it is really going to be your playbook. It’s very specific. It’s very detailed. It looks like a lot I can remember you a few years ago, when I started teaching AP thinking I will never remember this, I will never understand this. But now of course, I do mean just with everything, it there’s a learning curve. I love that it lays out everything that you need. And it lays out the standard. I’m a standards girl. I mean, if you’ve got standards, like hit them hard, and stay with that, and I even I even give my kids like the list of the standards, and we and we walk through it and we check them off, you know, as we do them, because I want the kids to see this is what you’re expected to know. And we have learned that we have mastered that. So we you know, go through and check it off. The CD provides, you know, descriptions, and it has some ideas for lessons. But that’s all you have. If you’re brand new, and you’re you’re walking, you know, and that’s all you have. I think it’s great. After a while though, sometimes you look back a little more examples here. But I wish there was a little more detail. Because there’s a lot you have to figure out on your own. So it’s not a detailed curriculum. It’s not definitely not teach this on this day, or here’s how to teach this concept. I mean, you really have to find those resources yourself.

Rebecca 9:38
For sure. But I think you’re right, like, I remember when I first started teaching AP Bio, and people would ask me like, will you ever make, you know, like a cheat sheet summary of the CD? And I was like, No, I feel like you literally need to read it yourself. You need to read every page of it. I can’t make you a SparkNotes version like no all 100 pages are important.

Speaker 1 9:58
Yes, it is. It is very important. And like I said, Now you I’ve been to this is my third year teaching AP Biology and I feel very comfortable to see ed I can flip through and find exactly what I need. But I think that it may take about that long to, to really get super comfortable with it. And the first time you see it, you do think I’ll never learn this,

Rebecca 10:14
you got to give yourself a lot of grace, when you’re getting started, for sure. Absolutely. And

Speaker 1 10:19
I’m really big on giving yourself grace, you’re getting you do the best that you can do. And there is a Facebook group called National AP biology teacher and they help tremendously. And they’re really gonna say the same thing. You know, don’t beat yourself up, you know, wherever you are, you start there. And also give your personal experience. So let the kids know, like, I have a varied background research and, and in teaching and so I feel like I bring you know, a lot to certain topics and certain topics I just didn’t this is one of my field, right? So you know, play to your strengths. And and don’t don’t beat yourself up when you’re not as good. There are definitely topics that I just never wasn’t ecologist, that ecology chapter is was kind of the hardest for me, because it’s just, it just wasn’t my thing.

Rebecca 11:06
Well, an ecology is fun when I felt like when it’s ninth grade bio, but then AP Bio, and they’re making you do all this math, you’re like, This isn’t fun anymore. Come on. So

Unknown Speaker 11:14
is that not the ecology I was thinking of? Right,

Rebecca 11:16
exactly. And I think you’re right to just give yourself grace, and that this course is covering so many different topics of biology, like there’s not going to be one person that’s going to love or excel at every single one of these, like all of us have a lean towards loving evolution or loving heredity or, you know, loving molecular or loving, like you said, ecology or hating it. And so giving yourself grace in that. Now, like I just said, there’s so much in this. And I think the resounding theme, I mean, I hear this from every AP discipline, but I feel like especially AP Bio, how do you prepare them for the whole exam and the time you have without just assigning hours of homework, like I think that used to kind of be the traditional AP route is like, if you take AP, you’re going to be reading and studying for hours every night. But nowadays, kids are taking four or five APS at a time. So what advice do you have for getting through it? And also, what are you kind of doing for homework? Oh,

Speaker 1 12:14
homework is a is a divisive issue. In some districts, some districts are really opposed to it. Some teachers are opposed to it. I don’t like homework for homework sake. Right? I like it to be more sometimes I’ll offer an optional, like, here’s an extra set of problems. Do you want your Hardy Weinberg? Right, get that? Are you gonna do you know, if you need some extra questions, you know, here’s some extra questions, I posted the key. So there’s, it’s really low stakes, you can you can work the problems out and don’t, you don’t have to raise your hand in class and get it wrong or anything. Just check yourself against the game. The class in and of itself is still a lot like that. I mean, it’s just a hard class. And I tell my kids at the beginning of the year, this is one of the hardest AP classes, there is a lot of work and a lot of reading, I know what I’m doing. I know what that you know, I’m showing you what the CD is, is saying, and you know, I can’t make the class easier for you. I’m not, I’m not serving you, I’m not doing you any favors. So you’re gonna, if this class is hard, you’re gonna have to step up to me. And instead of me, now, again, I’m a very veteran teacher, maybe that’s a, you know, a battleaxe teacher kind of mentality, but that’s shown from the beginning, it’s gonna be a lot of work. And I do have a few kids that dropped the class here and there, you know, kids, some kids have, you know, like a family issue emergency or they work or they just, they feel like you’re, I just can’t put that kind of effort into it. But if you do put the effort into it, there’s gonna be a good reward. The the subject matter is, is vast, it is hard to get through all of the material. I hear teachers all the time, say, you know, gosh, the year is almost over. And I’m only you know, a little over halfway through. But you gotta do a lot of backwards planning with that, that leave time to review. But then you have to look at the CD and it’ll tell you how many days you should spend on each lesson. And like, absolutely spend those days and then that’s it, like plan within those days. And I know there have been times I had another week we probably could really nail this down but I don’t have another week. We’re gonna have no week and you know, so that took a whole week out of my curriculum, but you just got to keep moving. I give assignments and class out. Fortunately, in my school, we are on the block schedule. And I have it’s it’s actually AP Biology the whole year, but it’s honors biology, the first semester and AP Biology the second semester, so I do have a pretty good bit of time.

Rebecca 14:33
I do you’re getting 90 minutes all day every day all year. Yeah.

Speaker 1 14:37
Oh, I know that’s a luxury I know. So many teachers are gonna say oh my gosh, well, if I had 90 You know, 80 minutes every day. Of course I could get through the material but

Rebecca 14:48
so when you’re saying that they have not taken like a bio one as a prereq, though, they have

Speaker 1 14:53
they have taken one we have an honors bio one mostly it’s kids have taken honors or that took right Geller. This year we piloted on pre AP. And I think that’s super helpful. I think that I think there’s going to equal kids who are really, really well prepared to come into the class and ready to go. So if you if you know that they’ve got the basics down, then I think it can be a little faster for you to get through the curriculum, especially if you’ve if you’ve really planned ahead, and you know, you have to say, Okay, well, I’m gonna assume you know, the basics of meiosis or mitosis, you know, we’re gonna move from there, we’re gonna, here’s the part that applies to AP biology. And the whole thing of AP Biology two is critical thinking. So we have to work on getting past the D. Okay, and Bloom’s Taxonomy level, one question. So, you know, I show him this is a level one question, you know, what is mitosis? You’re not going to get that, yes, you got it, we move up to two. And then you know, we sit there and then delve into level three, some. So what I’m saying is, you’re not helping anybody, by giving them you know, quizzes or activities that are D, okay, level one, because that’s just not where it’s get when you have to start there for a minute, and then move to the higher order thinking as far as preparing them for the exam, I feel like if you will keep your questioning at that level, every single thing you do, that they are going to be very much more able to understand the questions because AP Bio questions, you know, I don’t write those questions that the College Board does. And they rely on critical thinking, and the kids will say, Oh, these questions are so tricky, but not tricky. They’re getting at do you understand the buying difference between this definition and that definition, or this process, and that process or this chemical versus what that chemical does. So it just is what it is, you got to teach them at that level every day. And I know that that’s difficult. I know, sometimes you think I look out there and think, oh, they don’t really know this, you Brian Lee as I would like them to do, but you do your best to get them there. And then you really got to move on to the next topic. Because otherwise, you won’t get finished. And you’ll be at the end, and you won’t have covered two units. I mean, I hear that all the time, like, well, we never didn’t even get to ecology. Well, that’s about, you know, 15 to 18% of the rice that you didn’t even really you didn’t get a chance to cover. So look at I mean, I get it, I get the struggle, right.

Rebecca 17:20
And you have such a like that is such a gift of time you have I felt like that’s how it was originally intended to be with AP Biology, because if students get a four or five on the exam, they’re getting usually two, I mean, eight hours of credit, you know, two different levels of biology, the whole freshman year biology track, which is amazing. So it should be given that time, but like so many schools don’t do that. And some even now, are not even having students take like a biology one. They’re just going to AP Biology, what do you think about that?

Speaker 1 17:49
I don’t really see how that could be easy to vote at all or possible for the kids, you would have to be really, really self motivated. I think as a student to make that happen. I guess it certainly could be done. If you were addressing the lower end of the of the understanding the basics. You know, when you get to say ninth grade, you know, when you’re taking biology, you’ve had a little bit here and there in middle school, maybe you know if you can build upon that quickly and get to the higher order thinking. But I don’t think that’s the best idea. Like I said, my school teaches pre AP now. And I think that’s a wonderful thing, I think, right? I think there’s going to be a huge help to kids coming into AP, just having that background.

Rebecca 18:32
For those people who have asked that question. I think that’s like a conversation you need to have in the counseling department and with admin to be like, do you want kids actually be successful on this? Because you gotta set them up for success? Yeah, like that is just a crazy setup. Okay, so what about these students who are coming in? And like there’s not getting a great foundation? They took the biology one, but they’re coming in and you just feel like they’re at a deficit? How much time would you spend trying to catch them up? Or would you give them summer work? Do you do summer work for your AP bioglass?

Unknown Speaker 19:02
Summer Work that sector?

Rebecca 19:04
That’s another hot topic?

Speaker 1 19:06
That’s a hot topic. Yes, it is at summer work depends a little bit on your school culture. I’ve heard cultures where they feel absolutely like every every subject has to have summer work. And if that’s the case, if your school is requiring summer work, and you feel like your kids might not be quite prepared. That’s an excellent opportunity for you to get some basic, you know, biology concepts underway. Our school culture is not real in favor of summer work as far as just sort of maybe busy work, Thai summer work. They’re not really about that. I think something should be done in the summer. So what I do, this is what I’ve done in years past and it’s only mildly successful. I had one summer where you had to make a PowerPoint with all of these vocabulary terms. You had to like define it, but then you had to take a selfie or a picture of something related to that with In the PowerPoint, and it was for a grade, I had a few kids do it, but not nearly as many as I thought would do it. And so again, I just think it’s part of our school culture, it’s just not a big thing, you know, they didn’t build necessarily obligated to do it. The other thing that I did this past year, I asked them to read a book that was either related to the topic, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, or beak of the Finch, or something like that, saying, Oh, your inner fish, or a book that would help them with studying like one, there’s a book called Brain Rules, and atomic habits, and atomic habits turned out to be really popular. Again, I didn’t have a vast number of kids take advantage of that. But I think that might have been a little bit of a maturity issue, too. Because kids, like you didn’t have any extra chance to do it. You either do the summer or not. And toward the end of the semester, some kids think, Gosh, I wish I’d done that. Yeah, that would have probably that would bump my grade up just a little, too, then I did something similar between the quarters that I had a whole lot more kids opt in. Yeah, Poppy. And so I think that that’s what I’ll do is, you know, something that’s kind of good for you like atomic habits, it seemed to be seemed to really resonate with the kids. But I think I’ll sign something like that. But as far as having a, you know, define these chemical terms and work out these metric system problems, I just don’t think that’s really necessary, or all that helpful, or all that likely to be done. Yeah,

Rebecca 21:30
absolutely. I agree. Okay, so, back in terms of preparation, one more kind of question related to that, for any teachers listening, who don’t teach AP, but maybe they teach honors bio, or they teach chemistry? Is there anything you wish they would hit harder, or do better to prepare students who are going to later walk into your class, like, for example, I remember when I stepped in to teaching AP Bio, I immediately went and started teaching Hardy Weinberg and honors bio, I had not covered any calculations and honors bio, and I was like, they need to see this. Like, before I have to see them. You know, I don’t want this being the first time. So is there anything you would recommend to those teachers?

Speaker 1 22:09
Yeah, I definitely say the Hardy Weinberg was a good idea. And I believe that the pre AP Biology does kind of include some of those things. I think that’s a good one, I think any kind of statistics that you could throw in, because there are statistical evaluations that you do. And then the, the needs sistex Why you do it. So like the underlying idea of, you know, scientists use these statistics to see how efficient the experiment was, or you know, whether the experiment whether you accept or fail to reject failed or reject the null hypothesis. So I think some of that some of that null hypothesis, see, er, claim evidence reasoning, I think that would be really huge. And I know that our school Meyerhold PLC, our whole science department does add that but if they if you’re not adding that, in your basic biology class, definitely do that. It’s just the new scientific method, you know, making a claim, provided the evidence and the reasoning or justification. And I think that alone, and I definitely do that in my dual enrollment biology class, too. Because I think that thinking that mindset is a really good way to look at any situation, you’re thinking about, like, Okay, well, what am I what am I trying to answer here? What was the evidence I have? What could I what information can I legitimately get from that evidence? So I would say if you are teaching us a standard, or an honors biology that might feed into AP, definitely hit that. So the statistics are important, so that they have some idea and then, you know, the experimental design, and CTR Yeah, gosh,

Rebecca 23:36
this is test sticks, those are killer and every student is going to have to take if they go to college is gonna have to take some sort of general stats class. So it’s, that’s something I wish I’d hit a bit harder, because it just comes up so much in science.

Speaker 1 23:48
It really does. So that’s something I’m really glad to I try to hit that as much as I can I tell the kids you know, every field you’re in is pretty much gonna make you take some stats. So truly,

Rebecca 23:57
okay, so we haven’t talked about a textbook, but we did kind of mention more time at homework. So do you have a textbook you like? How you’re using your textbook? If you do, like, do you make your students read it? How are we getting students to read? What’s the we’re all just like, what are we dealing with textbooks? Yeah, and

Speaker 1 24:13
textbook is another, you know, hot button topic in AP, some textbooks are really difficult. So the top of the line are the one that sort of that’s usually been considered the gold standard, just because there probably wasn’t much else to compare it to, is the Campbell, right, then that’s the one that you’re mostly going to see in college real freshman biology courses. And so I personally kind of like that because it is an intense book. It’s got more than they really need. But it also, you know, it doesn’t hurt to learn a little more than you absolutely need to. I asked them to read that just with a reading guide, you know, just an outline of you know, hey, this is the things in this topic. You know, we won’t need to know you won’t need to calculate this part or you won’t need to know this. And let’s see Edie, that’s another thing of the CD, he’s really good about saying you don’t need to know this, this is not within the scope of the course. So I can say, you know, read this topic, and here’s what you’re going to do in the future. So read over that. But other than that, you know, I don’t, I can’t guarantee they read. But right, I do have a guide and think it’s a little credit for doing it. So it’s not really a homework grade. I call it an ELL and evidence of learning. What I do is I give them an in class assignment. So we call the classwork checks. It’s not really a quiz, it counts as a classwork grade, but it’s going to be over that material. So I don’t really have to take up that sheet and see, did you really do that sheet? I can just look at it and say, you know, okay, you know, you get one point on the test for your ELL. So if you did it, you get one test question? Correct. If you didn’t do it, you only lost one test question. So I liked that balance between whether or not you really had time, I have almost 100% You know, adherence to that though I have very few kids that don’t do that. And then the classwork check is based on what was on that guide. And so I give a couple of week they count as a classwork grade, it’s fairly low stakes, but they do get pretty nervous about it. If I do have some, like some Dlk, or Bloom’s Taxonomy one questions on there, just because I’m trying to get them to introducing the topic, getting the basic information down. But that way, I do that on Schoology on our LMS. And I’m not constantly grading things, I listen to your podcast about savage grading, Jesse and I were worth money we were we were listening to it together on our lunch one day, and she was like, he likes that Bethany gotta be savage about

Rebecca 26:44
you do if you want to have any sort of life outside of this, you absolutely did.

Speaker 1 26:49
That was a really, really impactful podcast. Because if you are really grading every literally every single thing, rethink what you’re doing, because use your LMS as much as you can, even if you have to get some professional development from your school on all the little tips and tricks. You know, I’m all about learning everything Schoology can do for me. But because of that they they get, you know, like a short little assessment, it’ll formative assessment two, maybe three times a week, depending on what’s going on. And that kind of keeps them honest.

Rebecca 27:19
Well, not it sounds like to me, what you’re saying is, you’re telling them, Hey, here’s extra practice you can do here are things you should read and reading guides you should do. But at the end of the day, you’re leaving that choice up to them. And I think I think a lot of teachers are that’s like the ideal for AP, but it’s so hard because their kids are just so apathetic right now. But I feel like what I’m hearing you saying is you just got to hold the line on that the kids are either gonna do it or they’re not. And I appreciate you holding the standard. But do you have any other tips for motivating, like, have you noticed that since it sounds like you’ve been teaching AP Bio, basically, since the pandemic? So you don’t really remember life doing AP Bio pre pandemic?

Speaker 1 27:56
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it was the pandemic year when I started, the only thing I can say is that, alright, here’s a quick story. My son was a Math Science Kid, and he took all the math science, you know, AP, and he took AP Language, I was like, Oh, son, really, I mean, you don’t have to take AP everything, because he’s been liking those, you wouldn’t gonna read a book, you know, he didn’t want anything to do with that. And he got a five on that test. And like, what happened here, I need to know, you got a five and the subject that you don’t even like. And he said, that teacher from the day we walked in every word out of her mouth, every assignment, everything was geared towards getting us to a five. And I just took that with me, because now I feel like you know, I dress it every day. So you got to hold the line with the rigor, you got to hold the line with the standards, you got to hold the line with you’re preparing them. So if you are emphasizing them every day, we’re preparing, you’re preparing you are you are getting ready to do something hard that will benefit you. But you know, ultimately, it’s your choice to do it. And again, I do have kids that drop out that say, Look, this is just this too intense. You know, I just don’t, you know, I thought I wanted to go to med school, but maybe I did, you know, that sort of thing. So I just think that really keeping it to the forefront of their mind that this is you can’t go home and not look at your homework is to study. So yeah, I try to make it like this. It’s not like you have to fill out this sheet and towards the end because they can cheat on that like crazy. But you have to fill out this sheet so that you know the information because you’re going to have an assessment on it when you get in class. So there’s little benefit to cheating and nothing but encouragement to you know, keep up with the class.

Rebecca 29:40
I think that’s great. I feel like at the end of the day, it’s like, I’m going to do everything I can to prepare you for that so you can pass but worst case scenario, you don’t pass but look at all of the skills you’ve built. You’re going to be so much more successful going into college. I think one of the hardest things for me, my most recent teaching years full time I did move to a pro arrive at school. And so there was a lot more of trying to say this politically, there was a lot more of lowering the bar to accommodate the desires of the families than there was holding the standard. And it hurt me to have so many students come back after college and say I was so underprepared. Because we had done that to accommodate the parents wishes. Whereas I felt like when I taught at public school, we could be a little bit more ruthless about really holding the bar, because this is free education. And, and then the students don’t go to college and be like, I was so prepared. Like, I haven’t remember, I retook AP, I took AP Chemistry passed the test that I took chemistry, again, in college, because I had to take that higher level one. But it was so much, it was so easy, because I take an AP Chem, so it’s like worst case scenario, you don’t get the college credit, who cares, you’re going to be so prepared, if you do what I’m telling you to do. Absolutely.

Speaker 1 30:49
I tell kids that all the time, some teachers focus on you know, get that five, get that five, and I said, you find a great goal, that’s wonderful. But if you don’t get that five, then you still have had a wonderful experience in here you are so far ahead, I definitely have kids that are not going to make a five, or really anything close to it. And they stick with the class, they may even have a C average in the class, but I tell him, you know, a c and this college level class is a good thing. And so when you take that test, you’re gonna take it anyway, take the test. But then when you get to college, and you retake this, you’re going to ace it, because you have good study habits, you know, you studied at the rigor of a college class, most of this material will come back to you while you’re going over it. So yeah, I absolutely recommend kids who are not, you know, not the highest honors, you know, not the 4.05 point, kids, you know, the kids that are just want to learn, and I definitely have some of those. And I treasure those kids too, because they’re really learning a lot as far as just how to take a college class, I feel like they’re going to be tremendously well prepared for college. So yeah, that’s another thing. Don’t make up. Don’t make them feel like a five, you know, it’s five or nothing, because it’s absolutely.

Rebecca 32:01
Okay, so let’s talk labs because the AP Bio Labs and lab manual, there’s like 13 of them. I think a lot teachers, it’s hard because like in an ideal world, yeah, we would do all these perfectly. But we have limited time we have limited resources. Are there any that you think should be a priority? I don’t know. What are just your thoughts about the AP Bio Labs, AP

Speaker 1 32:21
Bio Labs, they seem a little complex. Sometimes

Rebecca 32:27
they’re almost like cerebral. They’re not like a practical to me. But okay, that’s

Speaker 1 32:31
exactly what I was trying to say, yeah, they aren’t necessarily as practical. And I don’t use as many of labs directly from the lab manual. And I don’t think most teachers do. So I mentioned the the national AP biology teachers group, they there’s tons and tons of people who will help you and give you some good ideas. They have a repository of free materials that they have on their website, and I’m your once you join that site, you’re welcome to use those. They have other ideas out there, lots of organizations like Howard Hughes Medical Institute, they provide some some good labs, you can take any lab and adjust it accordingly to however much time you have however much equipment you have, and however much experience you have with that topic. Because sometimes, you just might not be very familiar with a particular topic. So the ones that I think are super critical, are unfortunately, they’re the most expensive and the most difficult. And the ones that people might have the least experience with is the molecular labs. I know that my kids came back last year, after the AP exam, as you know, there was so much on there about those molecular labs. And you know, I work in a pretty affluent school district, we have a lot of materials and supplies, but I don’t mean I don’t have everything. And so we can do some of the genetics labs. And then some are kind of simulated, but because I taught in a COVID year, my first year, we also subscribed to pivot interactives, which is an online site of like, I love it, those labs are so good, they have little video clips. So a lot of times we’ll do a lab, like they have a lab about the brine shrimp and the algae and stuff will do that you will grow some brine shrimp and algae. And of course, it’s not gonna work that terribly well. But on the pivot Lab works perfectly. So the kids would get an idea about it, but then they go to that. So I am a big fan of pivot labs, they’re not really all that terribly expensive to access the site. And I think that they provide a lot of variability, you can make it a little harder you can make it you can give them hints, you can change the number of times that they can attempt it so you can really customize it to your your own student population. As far as simulated labs, there are a few out there. I’m actually hoping to create some of that type of content because some of those labs are things that I’ve had trouble finding things for. And so I’m working on trying to produce some of those labs and I’ll be publishing those Soon I’m on my website is called mitochondria ality we want to be the powerhouse of biology that love it. Yeah. So um, that is one of the things is labs that you can do with any amount of time experience. I have a lot of molecular experience, I’m very comfortable, but some people don’t have Right. Right. If you were, if you were an ecology major, that’s just maybe not something you did at all,

Rebecca 35:22
no, but I think that’s great wisdom, like you said, go into the Facebook group find alternatives, you can look at the lab manual and see what they’re getting at. And you don’t want to do it exactly as it is. And I think like you said, maybe pick the one and see if your school invest in the kit, or whatever you need for the one lab that you’re really going to focus on or don’t have a great alternative for because that’s, I had multiple questions come up people saying, you know, units, four and five, the cell stuff, the heredity stuff, not having great labs. So that’s really great advice.

Speaker 1 35:53
Right? The equipment that you need is expensive. I’m a big one for grant writing, too, you know, and all they can say is no, my school system has a Educational Foundation we can write grants to but there’s lots of other places, you know, beat the bushes look and see, you know, who might be able to help you even consider sharing with another school. So some of the equipment might be that, you know, if you have a nearby school that teaches AP Bio, you could you could share the equipment. That is a tough one. It really is because that’s fairly expensive. And they are expecting you to do or at least strongly address that taught me last year’s questions really hit that hard that

Rebecca 36:30
bacterial transformation Mehta, and that was so hard because of the timing of it. Like it’s just, it’s a tricky lab.

Unknown Speaker 36:37
It’s a tough lab. It really is.

Rebecca 36:39
Those are some great alternatives. Okay, so we kind of already talked about you know, savage grading, but especially for AP Bio people like what are you having kids turn in for labs? Are you have in them keep a lab notebook? Like that was kind of the tradition for a while now, people aren’t doing that? Are you having them write full reports? I just think I mean, some people, I don’t even know how you haven’t said how many students you have in your class, or how many sections but

Speaker 1 37:00
I have two sections. And between the two sections, I have about 40 students. So and but that’s about I’ve lost a few. I mean, that’s a good, that’s a good class size. Yeah, a few along the way, I know for a fact next year, our enrollments a little higher, I’ll have a little bit higher, because I’ll have dual enrollment biology. With that as to so I’ll have pretty high enrollment next year, there was a time I really thought that, you know, prying that formal lab report out of my cold dead hands, the only way I would ever give that up. But I have really changed my tune on that it doesn’t feel like that is as emphasized anymore, I do a lot of digital projects with them, where I sometimes I’ll emphasize a certain portion, like, for example, the introduction. So like one of the first labs we do like I really want the introduction to be really, really thorough, and then you know, maybe it doesn’t have a ton of data to go with it. So definitely they do the data. But that’s not as data driven a lab as say, the introduction and the the banana lab is the one that I like to do with that, because they you know, they’re just looking for the little starch filled granules, and there’s not a ton of data, so much is a little more qualitative. And then different ones, I’ll emphasize, you know, obviously, if there’s a lot of data, we’re gonna, we’re gonna do a chi square, we’re going to do some statistical analysis. And that’s going to be the main part. So we’ve done posters, I’m a lot more interested in them, like making a scientific poster, which really is a lot like formal lab report, it’s just going to be a lot more applicable to what they are going to see. Because yeah, I just don’t think they turn in a lot of formal lab reports anymore in college, you know, according to my daughter’s they just really didn’t, it was a lot of fill in the blank or digital, you know, kind of things. So, yeah, as far as like turning in a literal, actual type, right. lab report. I’m just not as much about that. Right.

Rebecca 38:53
I remember, I just had them keep a lab notebook, but I would spot check it just to make sure they were doing steps. But I was also you know, absolutely winging it. And I was just trying to, like you said, like, every lab was a learning experience for everybody involved. And we were just trying to learn from it. You mentioned earlier, like, we would get trashed data, and then have to go get the digital one to get something good that then we can do the math with you know, and I just think you got to give yourself so much grace teaching these classes. Absolutely.

Speaker 1 39:20
And don’t beat yourself up over that getting trashed data is more common than not? Absolutely. Having worked in research, getting trashed data in real life. That happens every day. That’s the norm. Yeah. I mean, if you got nothing but fantastic data that matched your claim every day, everybody be a scientist because it’d be fulfilling you every day. Absolutely. It is tedious. It takes perseverance.

Rebecca 39:48
Absolutely. It’s a good skill to practice now. Okay, so how then do you manage this is also always a big question with AP Bio because it’s so much content plus labs plus review what One teacher wrote in said, you know, I want to get my students practicing more with Fr Q’s, but finding the time between teaching content and labs is a challenge. She said, I use poll goals, which helped but the struggle is real. She said, I always seem to be caught rushing at the end through unit seven evolution unit eight ecology. I know some teachers put unit seven first, the after the COVID pandemic, when AP board only tested units one through six, I’m just hesitant to change up the order. And this teacher has 50 minute class periods all year. So basically, you know, 30 to 40 minutes less a day than you do. So just kind of what would be any advice there,

Speaker 1 40:35
fr Q’s are hard to get in. Because they’re time consuming. The only thing that I can say is that again, try to hit them a like a little bit every day, like maybe not a whole entire FRP. Or sometimes I’ll just give them one part of it. One day, another part another day, kind of thing. I tried to end the unit with the FR Q’s, which I mean, I guess that would kind of go without saying, but toward the end, when I’m reviewing we are reviewing mostly through f4 keys. So at the end of the year, like in like in late April, where it’s different Q and every day, that is a tough one, I admit, because they are sometimes labor intensive. But I also timed them. And again, that’s maybe another, you know, savage teacher strategy is that, that you’re gonna have approximately 10 minutes to do this, we set a 10 minute timer, and I also I bought these triangular, whiteboards, and then we did it pairs. And so they answered, they do their FAQ, and then they switch and grade each other’s fr Q’s and the gallery walk around the room. So I think that’s super helpful to to see the other ways that that kids have done it. So like they have 10 minutes to work on it, but then they have, they can walk around, and then they can correct there. So that’s one of the things that I think is super effective, the kids are really used to doing it now because we do it all the time. But it gets them talking and asking questions, and they have little post it notes that they can put on there that ask a question, you know, are you know, are you sure this is what you meant to say? Or, you know, for every question you have, and you got to be respectful, you know, you have to put something nice, you have to say, you know, your your introduction is really clear that I

Rebecca 42:08
which is also a great life skill to learn. That was some of the first feedback I ever got from a principal, I worked under his he taught me he said, When you write an email to a parent, I know you’re trying to be efficient that you need to sandwich positive critique positive and I was like, Okay, that wasn’t me. I wasn’t doing, you know, it’s good for them to learn that. Yeah,

Speaker 1 42:29
definitely. So if you’ve only got 50 minutes, so you have to be really, really on top of it. And um, typically, some of the FR Q’s are not released for public, you know, so you can’t give those for homework assignment or something. But once they are released, sometimes I will give them a question and say, Alright, this is what’s going to be like on your board work tomorrow. Sometimes I do board work, sometimes I just do a roll call question. And it’s just one question. Sometimes it’s something fun or personal, you know, and they never really know. So sometimes it’s gonna be it’s gonna be like that if our key questions, so you’ve given them time to look at it, to think about it. And one of the things what problems I have is getting them to cut it down, like the right is perfect, you know, AP English paragraph. Quito, right? That way insights you got, thank

Rebecca 43:16
you. That was one of my anthems was like, I want you to answer every question with as few words as possible, exactly. Like when they’d be like, how many words? Is this research paper, whatever need to be? I’m like, as little as possible. Like, I don’t want to sit here and read your fluff, you know? Yeah,

Speaker 1 43:31
I don’t need a thesis sentence. concluding sentence, I need a sentence that tells exactly what the answer is, and nothing more well,

Rebecca 43:40
and I think that timing it when you’re on short on time, I think requiring the time limits is helpful. I’ve isolated that even with homework, you know, those questions that are really say, your homeworks nice to do this fr Q set a 10 minute timer, do it come back in, that’s where I just check an API for like, all I do is check for completion, because so much of it is I want you to just be trained, trained, trained, it’s all like you have to put in the effort. Now we’ll come talk about the accuracy of it. And I think for some of these APKs, they actually giving them a time limit as a gift for them. Because they’re such, you know, overachievers, saying, you know, I want you to go do these go to do these 20 Multiple Choice practice problems, but you only give yourself 25 minutes, and that’s just what you do. And then we’ll talk about it

Speaker 1 44:23
later. Those classwork Jacks I told you about they’re timed. Right. I think that’s super windy seconds per question. And that’s it. I mean, of course, I make adjustments, you know, for kids on IEP s or five or fours. But, you know, typically, it’s, I mean, it’s 90 seconds per question. That’s what I mean about hitting it hard every day. It’s got every day, day one with that timing. And I know Believe me, I know some days, I just want to I just want to help them. I want to make a little easier on him today. I want to take a break but you’re just not helping them. You’re not doing any favors that way. You gotta you gotta stick with the rigor of the AP class. and the rewards I think are great at the end that we’ve discussed. You gotta push

Rebecca 45:03
them. Okay, so for your tasks, your your, like unit tests that you’re doing. Are you writing this question yourself? I know you said at the beginning, you’re like me, I think we just like to use exactly what they give, because so much of it is learning the language. But are you doing all of the tests in one class period? You have long periods? Are you splitting it up? Are you doing multiple choice? And fr Q’s? How are you kind of making up your unit up

Speaker 1 45:23
just because that is a little easier on them? You know, I know the AP test time is going to be long and I do some practice. So some weekends, I’ll come in with them if they know the few the handful that want to do it. And we’ll practice that exam day, you know, they don’t really have an exam, like between semesters like we did, we took whole one, but I split it up. So it’s two different mindsets. And that’s nice. Yeah, that’s one way that yes, I definitely should. And I fully support teachers who say, Nah, I think it’s important to give the multiple choice and the eparchy. On the same day, I just don’t

Rebecca 45:55
you split it up. Okay. Any topics you see students traditionally struggling with? And what do you kind of do to combat those? Or is it just kind of different every year? Definitely,

Speaker 1 46:04
the molecular Unit Six is just really hard. I see students really struggle with that. And you were talking about teachers who change up the curriculum, I don’t do that either, I tend to straight through, I don’t have any reason to think that, you know, College Board would cut it off at you know, just one through six, but they did that one year. So I totally get that. Some teachers feel like starting out with seven or starting out with eight, you know, like ecology might be a little bit easier. I don’t necessarily agree with that. I say, and I asked my kids every poll, let me know. Alright, so some teachers start out with ecology, do you think that there’s no, if you don’t start out with that biochemistry, that’s so hard, then they’re not going to understand how hard this class is, you have to start with that chapter. So I do the biochemistry, it’s kind of hard for him, I do have some kids who’ve taken AP Chemistry, I don’t know that it’s a lot easier, because they don’t really do biochemistry a lot. And they’re either, so that is just a tough chapter for them as a jumping off place. But then I tell them, you know, when we get way over here, you’re gonna think that was super easy. And they did, you know, but I think that the biochemistry part is the at the front end is difficult, because they’re not used to AP style questions. And I use only AP questions. I never write my own question. Because I would do it so simple. I would get such basic questions,

Rebecca 47:24
and then get to the test and be like, This is insane. So you

Speaker 1 47:28
know what? They’re asking crazy questions here. You know, I give 100% Questions from the AP I don’t let them out. We do it on right ology, I keep it closed. The classwork questions are the only ones I use questions from the textbook on that, and a lot of these questions are out there. I mean, if you have kids who are going to go to the trouble to search out all these questions, I’m just philosophical about that as well. You know, I mean, there’s number one they’re studying number two, there’s hundreds of questions. They can’t memorize them all. If they’re studying the point where they remember and understand this question. They understand the material, right?

Rebecca 48:00
And that’s, I’m kind of with you at this point. Obviously, don’t be ignorant, but at the same time, cheaters are gonna cheat. I’ve said it 1000 times, like you cannot prevent these kids. They are scrappier, they are more tech savvy than us. So at the end of the day, you’re like you said, you just gotta serve the students that are going to do the work themselves and just the rest will fall into place eventually, you know? Okay, something we haven’t even talked about. I can’t even brought it up is you as an AP reader.

Speaker 1 48:26
Oh, yeah. Well, I haven’t done it yet. I’m doing it this summer. That’s exciting.

Rebecca 48:29
But I don’t know if they’ve given you any training or what that’s going to look like but I feel like it gives you a little edge I mean, AP reader but any insight you have now that you’re into that or and or just in general, what are you doing for reviewing for the exam? Kind of what do you think is best to use that review time for

Speaker 1 48:46
I’m super excited about being a reader because I think that that is going to help me tremendously and understanding and understanding better and as time goes on. I feel like I do understand better the way they ask questions but I just feel like I’m gonna get a lot more insight. And I think it’s going to you know, help in my classes tremendously. So I am super excited about that. Reviewing there is a teacher who provides a lot of review materials, it’s AP Biology penguins. Her name is Tiffany Jones and she’s awesome and she gives out a lot of wonderful information but AP Bio penguins is her Insta page and she has all kinds of reviews I’d send my kids there all the time. Until then we call her the penguin lady. She provides a lot in the way of reviews AP provides review videos and the notes that I have where the you know the kids check off the standards um, she’s provided some some questions some practice FAQ, things like that. So the kids work on those I mean, some kids come up show me work they’ve done ask me questions. Some probably haven’t done it but I but we are going over those. So I’m actually finishing unit seven right now and I’m eight usually goes pretty quickly for me. And it’s, you know, mid March at this time that we’re talking. So I will get finished with eight and have plenty of time for me. mainly FAQ practice, because that is where I feel like the kids need the most amount of practice. But there are resources out there, I tell the kids to, to keep those packets and I work that packet really, really hard, like really intensely with all the notes, they possibly can even page numbers from the textbook, things like that, and then keep it and that’s a gift to their future selves. Because then when it’s time to review, you’re going back over and you’re reading your own notes, you’re reading your own definitions, you know how you answer the question, you’re looking at the page number and say, oh, yeah, that was on this page, I can go back, I barely remember this topic, let me go back and, you know, refresh my memory on that. So during this time, we have a lot of testing going on. So sometimes I don’t see the kids all day at different times. So that’s a really good way for them to have that stack of review papers that they can work on on their own. Right, you really have to stay underwater, which can’t make them thing. I think that’s

Rebecca 50:50
like truly the theme of this. And for these AP teachers, I think so much of us are trying way harder than our students are. And at some point, you just got to stop doing that, you know, you can’t take the exam for them. Yeah, you

Unknown Speaker 51:04
don’t need to work harder than they are.

Rebecca 51:05
Absolutely. Okay. So what advice would you give that teacher who so this we’re recording mid March, so come out, though, early April, so a lot of times it’s contract season, so people are finding out like I’m teaching AP Biology? What would kind of be your advice for that new day, download

Speaker 1 51:19
the CD, download the labs, look over them, um, start getting used to the terminology, you know, make sure that you understand the four big ideas, and then they have, you know, sub headings, and then they even have a central knowledge. So they have like, this is what exactly what we need to know. So start looking at that, I would say start with what’s your favorite or what’s your most, you know, experienced in? Because you’re going to retain that the most, you’re going to understand that one the best? And then if there’s a particular topic you’re not crazy about or isn’t your high area of interest, you know, take a look at that a little bit later. Get yourself some confidence and some experience under your belt before you necessarily go to that one. I’d say join that AP group on Facebook, because they are super, super helpful and kind and funny, and, you know, super helpful. I could not have done this without asking questions and other people’s questions. And it’s so funny, I’ll have a quarterback Oh, I don’t know, you know, I don’t know what I’m gonna do about this. And I’ll open Facebook, and some will say, hey, what am I supposed to do? It’ll be the exact question. Well,

Rebecca 52:20
and that’s a been going in the same order, too, because you’re all kind of struggling through it at the same time. Yeah, I’ll link all those that group and everything you mentioned in the show notes, because those are helpful. What about for like the teacher who’s just so nervous about the content? Do you have any one you recommend or any books or videos for kind of refreshing themselves in the content?

Speaker 1 52:38
Well, the Bozeman videos are fantastic for AP biology. And I learned a lot, I think that they’re really good for reviewing. So some of the topics that I didn’t really remember, like, when I first looked at Hardy Weinberg, I barely remember that even. Like, I went back and watch that was like, okay, all right. Yeah, I recall that in the one ecology class. So I would say, you know, get a copy of the textbook, see what your textbook there are other textbooks, they’re ones that are aligned specifically for AP, and they are not as complex as Campbell, if your school has gotten one of those books, you know, go through and make sure you understand the basic material, again, you can look up something, and even still, I’m always looking at something, you know, like, crispers, not really in there. But I looked up just some information about CRISPR. So that we could talk about it, because I feel like if you’re gonna study molecular biology, you know, go to that topic, topics that interest you the topics that you feel like I’m not super prepared for, find whatever resources you can to help build up your content. So I can’t really necessarily name a specific book, but I will say I did buy some textbooks off thrift books, you know, that were on one ontology about one on right, oh, biology and stuff, just to see what the college level texts are talking about. And sometimes I try to throw in things that the kids will be setting later. Like, if you’re, you know, if you’re going to take a upper level cell biology class, you’re going to actually study this, right? I like to give them some direction. I got an organic chemistry book too, because that’s one word. I’m the worst. I got an organic chemistry book so that they could see what organic chemistry was, and you know, with that first part of the year, so I look, I feel like I have their back. Like, I know what their struggles are, I know what their strengths and weaknesses might be. And, you know, I try to give them every opportunity. But if you’re a teacher, and you feel like the content, you know, might be something you’ve had a million years ago, service, you know, definitely make the effort and and reach out to those people who will help you I definitely will help you know, anybody, anybody that wants to email me, especially if you just need like, my love language is words of affirmation. And sometimes I just need somebody say, you know, sometimes you’re doing a good job, because you didn’t work day in and day out and you just earlier dryland getting the stuff out of the kids. And every so often, you know, somebody just needs to say, Yeah, I think you’re doing this well. So yeah, if you need that email me I’ll give you some words of affirmation. Exactly.

Rebecca 54:59
I’m gonna put your email in the show notes. And we’re gonna put your website and all that once you get it all up and going, if it’s not ready by the time this airs, but I agree, like, I just feel like I’ve never been more humbled than when I taught this but in a good way. And then also just, I was a scrappy, like, Scavenger. Like I was just not one thing that I did teach AP biology was like an original thought or an original resource. Because people always ask me, whatever make AP Biology resources, I said, Absolutely not. I was just a leech, like taking everyone else’s stuff, because you just kind of have to just survive. And if you can get to one of those summer Institute’s, they won’t give you so much free stuff. And I remember all those, yes, all those textbook companies, they were all there. And they were giving us all free teacher books so that we would hopefully buy their books, and they let us keep them all. And so I have like five different AP textbooks that I could use. And it was great. You know, like, I think getting, that was like a non negotiable for me. It was getting to one of those. Yeah,

Speaker 1 55:57
yeah. But see, I was in a COVID year, so I had to do it. That’s not the same. It’s not the same, but it was still wonderful. It was a good, I didn’t think you were I don’t think you were allowed to teach AP without having an app. So you haven’t gone through one,

Rebecca 56:10
apparently, back in the day that I think now, they don’t make you which is insane.

Speaker 1 56:15
That game changer for you. Those are you’re talking to somebody who’s an expert in AP Biology, the last one. And I actually took a second one, because we had a we have a group in Tennessee where I live, that gives out grants to teachers to take take AP C’s, they do online AP classes for kids in really rural areas, or areas where they don’t even have a you know, an AP teacher for a subject. And they were given grants. And so I did a second one. And it was just as powerful it was, but it actually ran it like write some of the questions. He’s a botanist, and he said, yeah, there’s a plank push on there, you can guarantee I wrote that question. And that was

Rebecca 56:50
my teacher was someone who was a part of the rewrite of the CD. So she was like, just such an expert, and you’re just gonna get such a wealth of knowledge there. It’s just a game changer.

Speaker 1 57:00
I can’t even emphasize enough how critically important that is, and how much information that you get out of that, that will help you and don’t, if you’re a teacher that’s having to pull resources from everywhere, and you don’t feel like you’re creating something original. Don’t beat yourself up for that. I mean, that is that’s not even a thing.

Rebecca 57:18
It’s not even a prerequisite to be a teacher, you know, you can be a Content Curator, and then you can the teacher. Yeah,

Speaker 1 57:25
so see, that’s kind of where I am with starting this business is like I see the need for some of these AP Biology resources that I feel like I can I’m deploying, I feel like I can write some original things with some of the original things I do in class, you know, that I’ve sort of started doing, I’m planning to write up and you know, hopefully share with with other teachers, I did work in teacher professional development for a while. And I love that I love to, I love helping other teachers, I love writing resources, I love going into the classrooms, and you know, helping the teacher with the materials. So that’s something I really hope to be able to do more of in the future.

Rebecca 58:02
Well, I’m so excited to share your stuff when you have it all finalized. So definitely share that with us. But before I let you go, I always like to ask one last question. This is the secondary science simplified podcast. And that would be what’s one way that you’ve simplified your life recently? Well,

Speaker 1 58:16
I mentioned with the kids about giving a gift to your future self. And I use that a lot. And I’m used, I use it with myself too. So my advice is give a gift to your future self, the in that when you are doing a unit and something it goes well or goes a little bit wrong, or you think you should do it differently next year, like document that immediately Yes, so I have digital files, but then I also have like a file folder. And I have mine divided by you know, by topic. And then so for each one I can put in there, this lab takes longer than you think yes, because that has happened to me all the time I pull out, you know, to get started on the test, right? Dang it, it took took a day and a half last year. So do that, you know, keep up with all of those things, keep it organized, keep it efficient. And I know that’s a lot on the front end. But there’s a lot of things that you do, you can do on the front end that are a gift and one of them is your board work. Like if you keep it on your LMS like you make it once and then you don’t you don’t have to make it again. So I make these class work assignments. You know, I make it once I just pull them up for the next year. But then I have to you know, have the note I have a copy of that and I have written on their questions. Seven is a little difficult, you know, give them some hands or be prepared for

Rebecca 59:33
a lot of future you absolutely yeah,

Unknown Speaker 59:36
yeah, gift your future self. So

Rebecca 59:38
you think you’re gonna remember and you just don’t know. You do not. And I also loved my I loved when I would pull up a lab and I would see that past me had like saved the data from the previous year just in case like you said, there’s a snow day or for us there’s a hurricane day. And it’s like, oh, well we didn’t get to finish and now our bacteria is moldy. But at least I saved this. I am a black trash bag energy type of person, but I can get hoarder, ask when it comes to those things and I think it’s a

Speaker 1 1:00:09
good thing. Well, that’s another thing too. Like, when you’ve got that folder, don’t be a hoarder like don’t keep everything go keep multiple copies of anything you like, but clear that like when I’m done with a topic, I’m so done with that topic, I just want it to go away, I want to go to the next one. But stop, take some time go through the folder, throw at it. Yes, audit everything that’s in it. Sometimes if I’ve got a kid that did a really good job before I get that paper backup copy that, yes. And they take their name off of it. But like, here’s an exemplar of a kid that really killed this. I asked kids if they do a project is really good. I keep a couple of so that you can see. But here’s another word of advice that I read years ago. And it sounds so crazy. But don’t leave on Friday without everything being ready for Monday. That’s so true. That’s the last thing you want to do on Friday. But if you’ll erase your board, write your new standard, you know, clean off the desk, copy your hand out, you will do that on Friday, then it will make a whole lot of difference in your weekend and your Sunday scaries 100%

Rebecca 1:01:11
like to know your Sundays carriers will be so different to know you’re at least prepared through Monday, you know, to get you started. You got

Speaker 1 1:01:18
to start you don’t have to come in and hit the ground with racing your board quick and riding you know, putting a calendar up you know, you’ve got that at least handled. So.

Rebecca 1:01:27
Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for your time that this has been so helpful, and I can’t wait to share a conversation. Awesome.

Unknown Speaker 1:01:34
Glad talking to you. Appreciate it.

Rebecca 1:01:36
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. In my interview with Beth, you can find all links mentioned in the show notes. It’s not rocket science classroom.com/episode 125. And if you’re listening and you teach AP Biology and you’ve not left a review yet for the podcast, Now is your turn. Please leave us a five star rating and review I would love to hear from you. And be sure to tune in next week when we hear from an AP environmental science teacher. All right, teacher friends. That wraps up today’s episode. If you’re looking for an easy way to start simplifying your life as a secondary science teacher, head to It’s not rocket science classroom.com/challenge to grab your classroom reset challenge. And guess what? It’s totally free. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you here next week. Until then, I’ll be reading for you teach your friend


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