Friday, 12 April 2013

Sandwich Mating (Activity to increase understanding of dihybrid crosses)


There is a little known creature that exists in Sandwichland.  It only comes out on cold winter afternoons, or when there’s large bowls of tomato soup around.  Some of these creatures have a best friend named ketchup, while others are more solitary.  They come in many different shapes and sizes. But they are not all about their fancy breads and toppings.  They don’t want to be noticed in a superficial way like all these Paninis nowadays, no, they hearken back to gentler time, a cheesier time.  This is the story of a few glorious members of the grilled cheese people, and their quest for a mate and the brilliance of the children produced.

Each grilled cheese sandwich has two genes – cheese and bread
Alleles are versions of how a gene will be expressed.  In Sandwichland, there are not so many varieties.  In fact, there are only two alleles for each gene.  But that’s o.k. (if you’re not o.k. with that, just back up off me)
1.       Bread Alleles – White or Brown – White is dominant (not for health reasons, but for taste reasons)
2.       Cheese Alleles – Cheddar or Kraft Singles (pretty sure it’s cheese, but not positive) – Kraft Singles – dominant
** Each sandwich, of course, has two slices of bread and two slices of cheese (no one ever puts one on there) **

A - Complete the following crosses.

For each cross there may be more than one possibility for the genotype of the offspring.  You must make the sandwich for each possible genotype. You also must show the crosses in full, on a separate page. (P1, F1, and phenotypic ratios)
1.       homozygous white, homozygous Kraft   X  homozygous brown, homozygous cheddar
2.       heterozygous bread, homozygous Kraft  X  homozygous brown, homozygous cheddar
3.       heterozygous bread, heterozygous cheese  X  homozygous white, homozygous Kraft
4.       heterozygous bread, heterozygous cheese  X heterozygous bread, heterozygous cheese

B Storytime, with a question

Within the annals of history of the Sandwichpeople, there is record of a tale filled with deceit and intrigue.  It fell in into legend but resurfaced recently on a popular daytime talk show.  The story goes as follows:  Icabod Von Holstein, one of the most influential and rich Sandwichpeople was married to a beautiful sandwich named Charlize Theron.  Icabod was away on business, trying to merge the cheddar company with Velveeta, and upon his return Charlize informed him she was with child.  Now, they had been intimate before his departure,  but Icabod had doubts.  Icabod had always had a nagging suspicion about Charlize’s intentions, she was his 7th wife after all.  2 months later(That’s the gestation. In sandwich time. In the story.)Charlize brought forth into the world, a white sandwich that had cheddar within.  Now, Icabod was from a long line of white breaded sandwich folk, but cheddar was not flowing through their veins.   However, Icabod’s family had a muddled past with rumors of an extra-sandwical affair where his great grandmother gretta von Holstein had taken to a stable boy from meager cheddar lineage.  Could Icabod have fathered the child? Charlize was homozygous white, heterozygous cheese.  Illustrate using punnet squares how Icabod could have been the father or not.  Choose one outcome from the squares and complete the story.  (one paragraph)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Jared's Weekend Homework Chopper

Everyone has had those nights where you wake up an hour and a half before your alarm goes off.  You try and go back to sleep, but we all know that "trying" to sleep doesn't work and you just end up tossing and turning, your brain going a million different directions, only to fall asleep about 15 minutes before your alarm goes off.  You wake up bitter.

Sometimes though, some of those thoughts you had while tossing and turning, even though born out of the random thinking of not enough sleep, turn out to be good ideas.  This was the time of day that I thought of something that is fun for me in my class.  It is a good idea for how I like to teach.

The idea is called Jared's Weekend Homework Chopper and it is a play on delivering the news from an "on the scene report" by a big city news helicopter (chopper).  My kids had received some money from their Grandpa for Christmas to buy a toy.  As we were on that shopping trip, I didn't want them to have all the fun so I bought an R/C helicopter for myself.  I was flying the thing around my house, ramming it into anything and everything so I thought I would take it to school.  You know, to fly around at lunch for a couple minutes just for a fun mental break.  Shortly after I took it to school I had a night of sleep like I mentioned, and during the "random thoughts time" I thought to myself, "I wonder if there is a way that I could incorporate the remote controlled helicopter into my lesson plan so that I could have a legitimate reason to fly the helicopter during class time at least once a week." Crazy thoughts in the early morn.

Well, I decided to do it, and it was related to my desire to increase my students' ability to recall vocabulary.  I teach 12th Grade biology and to learn biology you need to learn a new language.  The more kids are familiar with the language, the more easily they can understand complex, abstract concepts.  So, each week on Friday, I have a list of words that I give my students to study, relating to the unit we are in.  10-15 words.  I have asked friends, family and famous people to record themselves reading these words and send me the file.

Jared's Weekend Homework Chopper is the name I gave the helicopter.  I fly it around each Friday near the end of class, kind of like it's roaming the big city until a big news story is found.  Then I land (or crash) it, and pretend that is the location of our news.  I then play the video that has been made for that week.  The person reading the terms is the "on-scene reporter".  The words are the news.  I usually get the person to describe their location, and what they do for a living.  I have found this a fun way to have students be exposed to people who are my friends and family (incorporating your life and opening yourself up so students can get to know you is a really big part of my joy in teaching),  and famous people (adding this, adds excitement to the exercise for the students and me!)  Seeing people doing so many different things from so many different locations opens up ideas to the students about where they could be, and what they could be doing after they are done school.

The students write a quiz on Monday dealing with the vocabulary words they wrote down on Friday.  I don't like assigning massive amounts of homework, but I think that giving it over the weekend forces students to remember some of the things they learned the week before, even if they are just studying for the quiz on Sunday night.  It helps their understanding and serves as a review at the same time.  That way I can launch into what we are doing without taking as much time to rehash what we did on Friday.

It's also a lot more fun than writing the quiz words down on a whiteboard that's for sure. 

Here is a link to my Biology 30 Homework Chopper videos.  I have them on a playlist on my YouTube channel so that students can watch the videos again.  I can also share them with my friends and family.

Here is a link to my Biology 20 Homework Chopper Videos

I hope this makes sense.  I guess it may not make "sense" to you because you may think it is an absolutely mental idea for your class.  I guess that's one of the reasons I like teaching, it gives you freedom to create your own way of doing things that engages you as well as your students.  If you think it is a fun idea and want more information, just let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 12 January 2013


I am excited to be part of ETMOOC and I am learning new things all the time.  Including adding a label to my blog.  Future posts will have the ETMOOC label as well.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

First Name Basis in High School

I went to a high school where I addressed all my teachers with the appropriate Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss title when I talked to them.  I have taught in a high school for all 12.5 years of my teaching career where we use a first name basis with our students.  My students call me Jared, and I love that.  I love it.

Some of you may not love that idea.  "Where is the respect?" some of you are probably saying.  I would say that there is no difference in the level of respect for staff in schools that use a first name basis vs. schools that use an honorific.  I really think that the question of respect is something that using an honorific has nothing to do with because respect does not come from a name.  I remember buddies of mine referring to teachers as Mr. or Mrs. (insert expletive here).  Just because they used Mr. did not make any of us respect our teachers more or less.

My dad had a teacher back when he went to high school who used a number system for their students.  They NEVER called the students in the class by their real name.  He was a Math teacher, he had a military background and nobody really ever questioned him on it.  My dad still remembers his number!  He also remembers the teacher saying things like, "24, get to the board and do question 5 for us."  If 24 had trouble he would sometime say something like, "You're so stupid 24. 13, get up there and help 24."  Or if someone laughed at 24, he would say, "Oh, 10 you think you're so smart, get up and help 24." Of course if 10 messed up at all, "10, you're so stupid..." That's what my Dad remembers about that Math class.  THAT. IS. HORRIBLE. TEACHING.  Remember when people think about the good ol' days?  I am positive they don't think about that.

That example of not using a student's name at all, is ridiculous to the extreme of what not to do with a student's name.  I do believe that learning student's names quickly is one of the most important jobs a teacher has at the beginning of the school year because relationship is the most important part of teaching in my opinion.  I am not saying that you should be "friends" in the, I want the students to like me so much that I will bend my rules and thus set myself up for classroom management nightmares because I wasn't confident enough in my own class expectations that the students are now ruling the class and I can't seem to do anything about it, version of "friends".  I do believe that the students need to know that you care about what you are teaching and that you care about them.  Getting their name right early helps that relationship out a lot.  I think it works the other way around too.

I like the first name basis because it sort of breaks down the walls between teacher and student a bit.  They get to know you as you.  They address you the way other people address you in regular life.  I love the first name basis at our school.

Some of you probably totally disagree, some of you may not.  Some of the parents of the kids in our school have a hard time with it I'm sure, but I think it grows on them.  Two of the three public high schools in our school district go on first name basis with their staff and students now.  I would be interested to hear how other people view this convention in their own schools.  I do think that high school is the earliest it should be introduced.  Middle school and elementary should keep the honorific system in my opinion.

Have a great day, I would love to see what other teachers in other areas think about this.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Not the "young" teacher anymore. Authenticity is Relevance.

I have appreciated reading other educators' thoughts on their profession.  I am going to write my own blog, not because I think I know everything, but because I appreciate the opportunity to share thoughts with others.  Community is a good thing, especially in education.  I enjoy hearing what others think because, either it lets me know that I am not alone in my thinking, or it challenges me to see things from a different point of view.  Opening your mind to the fact that not everyone may see things the same way as you is a good thing, in my humble opinion.

Anyway, for my maiden voyage into the education blogosphere I figured I would write something that I had been pondering as of late.  I am 36, I think, hmmmm, yes, 1976 to 2012, yep, that's 36.  When I was a kid I could never understand how people could lose track of their age and yet, here I am.  You realize at some point that your specific age doesn't really matter, but the stage starts to.  Whether you are in the first or last half of the average life span of a human in your country is the thing that starts to hit me more than my specific age.  I digress.

We have some great young teachers at my high school, and I used to be one of them.  ('Young' is the part I was referring to, not the 'great' part, you can ask any former students if you want an unbiased opinion on that one...)  I was talking to a couple of my grade 12 students a couple days ago about next semester and they were asking me about a teacher new to our school and what they were like.  I described him as "young" but then I suddenly realized that I wasn't sure what my students defined as "young" anymore.  So I asked them if I was considered "young".  They thought about that, (maybe considering whether or not they would offend me...) and then said, "No, but you are not old."  I was good with that, but it was weird to me that I had turned "not young" in the eyes of my students at some point.  I wonder when that was?  This is my 12th year of teaching. 12 years ago, I thought that guys in their mid-thirties weren't old, but they definitely were well established.  I figured that they knew pretty much everything they needed to know about teaching.  Nope.  They were/still are awesome, and they never pretended to known everything, but that was the thought I had when I was "young".

I honestly don't care if students see me as young or not.  I do care whether or not I can relate to students though, and that got me thinking, "Do I relate to these kids now?"  I need to stay relevant to my students, but I also need to stay myself.  I don't think there is much worse than a teacher who is not "young" anymore and tries to act like they are, just because they think they need to prove to the students that they are still cool.  The thinking, "Hey kids, I'm still hip, still with it, right? RIGHT?", is bad thinking.  The other end of the spectrum is almost as bad though.  The crabby old guy/woman teacher who's bahumbugging any new thing that comes out just because, "We didn't need that when I was in school/when I first started teaching.  Kids these days, and their technology and music and the Facebook and the Twitter.  Going to hell in a handbasket we are, I tells ya..."  Those people are annoying.  I'm glad I don't have any people on my staff like that.

I think it is really important that students see what is important to you.  I think it is really important for students to know that you care about them and their world, even if you don't get it, or appreciate it.  You don't have to act as though you like some certain music or film genre or game, just because you want the kids to think that you are cool.  It is important to keep an open mind to new culture though, because you may just like it.  If you don't, at least you can have a good discussion with your students about life, and that's a good thing.  Students appreciate authenticity, and I will strive to be authentic the rest of my career, even when I get "old".  Authenticity is relevance.