The “Big Ideas” From the Biology State Standards
Chandra A. Wilkemeyer
Warren County High School
In biology, as with many other subjects, educators are faced with a plethora of information to teach from Virginia Science Standards of Learning (SOL), and a limited amount of time to do so. According to Marzano and Kendall’s study (as cited in Tomlinson and McTighe, 2006), spending only 30 minutes of instructional time on each identified benchmark would require 15,465 hours of instructional time. Information overload would result if educators were not capable of boiling the essential understandings that should be taught for the course down into the essential “big ideas”. The point of this paper is to evaluate and decide what the essential understandings are for biology. This will hopefully prevent teachers (myself included) from reducing the content to a laundry list of topics to cover and instead focus on the essential understandings that students can carry forward into their other classes and life. This approach will hopefully lead to more meaningful learning for students.
After reevaluating the most recent Science Standards of Learning Curriculum Framework from the Virginia Department of Education (2010) with the previously stated goal in mind I have synthesized the following key concepts. Students should know and be able to: * Design and evaluate controlled experiments in order to draw valid conclusions. * Describe the importance of the chemical components of living things. * Explain the structure and function of cells as the basic unit of all living things. * Recognize how organisms of different kingdoms differ in basic structure and function. * Describe ways in which traits are inherited and proteins are formed. * Describe how and why organisms are categorized.
* Recognize how and why populations change through time.
* Explain how organisms interact with one another and the environment. In Warren County Public School...
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