During my academic semester, I took two content-area courses at Brown University on genetics and nutrition. I chose these topics because of their immediate relevance to high school biology curricula. As a final project for each course, I developed an instructional unit centered on the content of the university course but geared towards high school students. Download these instructional units below:
Although these projects were hypothetical, having no actual curricula or students to give them context, I still found them extremely useful in planning during student teaching. I adapted many of my hypothetical lessons, modifying them to meet the needs of my real students and fit into the overall scheme of the semester. The opening lesson for my hypothetical genetics unit, for instance, worked really well in practice, as did the general sequencing of topics that I had outlined for the project. The same was true for the nutrition unit, which I assimilated into a unit on the digestive system.
The methods my professors used to teach the concepts in the university courses were also a great model for me in thinking about how to present the same material to high school students. The challenge lay in avoiding the lecture-heavy style of the university courses while preserving their richness of content. The labs we did in genetics class were particularly helpful, as I paid explicit attention to the ways my TA instructed my lab section, prepared and organized lab materials, and utilized technology in the lab.