Tips for Makeup Labs

I don’t know about you, but I love labs- until the next morning when I realize that I have 10 students who were absent for lab day. Though I wouldn’t say that I love doing lab makeups, I no longer dread them after implementing some simple techniques.

I’ve compiled some tips to help ensure that lab makeups go as smoothly as possible- and so that you aren’t tempted to do a “fermentation” lab on the side- wink, wink.


Tips for lab makeups (and your sanity):
1. Do not put all lab materials away for at least another 2 weeks after the lab is performed in class. Keep the lab materials tidy, but easily accessible.
2. A policy in which students can drop their lowest lab grade gives them the option not to makeup the lab, and they can drop the zero should there be any rescheduling conflicts.
3. Have lab makeups on one designated day of the week so that all students who need a lab makeup come at the same time- one and DONE!
4. If the lab is simplistic in nature, you can opt to have them do an alternative version of the makeup online.
5. Ask that the student bring along a friend to the lab makeup who has already completed the lab in class so that they can help out.
6. Students who need extra help after school should not come on the same day as the students who are after school for the lab makeup. The lab makeup should be your main focus.

Use these tips to help save your sanity- and your time!


The Sodium Potassium Pump

I had always felt that there were limited resources on the sodium potassium pump. The Na+/K+ pump is an important little protein that is the pinnacle of “active transport”- though endocytosis and exocytosis are important cell functions, it’s also important for students to know that transport proteins may also require the use of ATP. Otherwise, students may falsely make the distinction that proteins= facilitated diffusion.  Sometimes if students do not understand something, they may dismiss it or form misconceptions.

The sodium potassium pump in particular needs to be presented in such a way that shows how it changes its shape and that it pumps 3 Na+ out and 2 K+ inside.  Typically, I’d show my students a video or two, talk about the sodium potassium pump a bit, and call it a day. However,  I didn’t have any valuable resources that the students could carry with them, so I decided to create a coloring and analysis activity:

Sodium Potassium Pump by Biology Roots

(This is available for purchase this here).

The coloring activity is great for such a visual concept.  The resource also contains an analysis page with 8-10 questions or fill-ins depending on which version- there are  three differentiated versions that are suitable for high school, middle school, or an advanced anatomy class (which need to know resting potential vs. action potential). I like having these handy because as you know your classes can change every year! You can find this resource in my store.

As I mentioned before, I’ve found resources for the sodium potassium pump to be pretty limited, but here are a couple to help  out:

Penn State Cell Transport– nice clear diagrams and written descriptions of all types of cell transport including the sodium potassium pump.

Khan Academy- The Sodium Potassium Pump (he goes into resting and action potential towards the end- also a couple of times he says  sodium instead of potassium- no judgement here- but, it might be a good idea to preview beforehand to make sure that his bloops won’t interfere with your kids’ learning styles).

Animation- how the sodium potassium pump works

I also offering coloring pages for endocytosis and exocytosis, passive transport, and hypertonic/hypotonic/isotonic environments.

What is your favorite resource for teaching cell transport?





Back to School GiveaWHAT?!

8-8-16-pinterest image blog post1-01Myself and fifteen other secondary science teachers on TpT have teamed up to kick start your Harley of a school year (at least, it will be after you’ve seen what we have to offer)! We’re each offering a contest to win some awesome prizes for secondary science resources.  All you have to do is visit our pages to see what we have to offer and enter to win.
Plus- we’ve teamed up to pitch in for a HUGE $100 prize!
This giveaway is designed for secondary science teachers only (grades 6 and up).
What can you win?
Enter to win $100 TpT gift card (4 prizes) to spend on the resources of your choice at, plus multiple additional prizes from individual teacher-author found on their blog. All you need to do is follow this blog hop anytime between August 8th through August 12th to reveal the secret code and enter it below.

I am number 15 and my word is “deGrasse”. Collect the words from each blog, write them down in numerical order, and copy the secret sentence into joint rafflecopter giveaway. This rafflecopter form is the same on every blog, so you only need to enter once from any one of our blogs!

But first, please enter to win a gift certificate from Biology Roots
First place winner will receive $25 worth of resources
Second place winner will receive $15 worth of resources
Third Place winner will receive $10 worth of resources
Scroll through the arrows below to enter to win each prize:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

And the Give-a-what:

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Using Digital Resources in the Classroom

You may be here because you’re intrigued, or because your district is pushing for the digital direction- either by encouraging you with GSuite- or supplying a limited amount of paper to help maintain the budget.

Paperless education is up and coming, and some may be cynics- which is quite understandable. I’m here to shed some positive light on going digital.

If you use digital resources in your classroom, you probably already know the benefits of going digital. To name a few:

  • Less paper
  • Less curse words in the copy room *wink wink*
  • Digital Interactive Notebooks do not require scissors, paper, or glue (which also means less MESS)!
  • Easier Grading
  • Students can keep track of their work (no more the dog ate my homework excuse!)
  • Easier organization at your fingertips
  • Digital resources can be used to supplement paper resources if you aren’t ready to go 100% digital!
  • Google offers a lot of time saving applications for teachers, like Google Quizzes.
  • You can add comments right in the document!

Here is a video preview of some ecology digital activities designed for Google Drive:


Now, maybe you’re thinking-  but wait! I don’t have Google Classroom in my school! It’s super duper easy. Though teachers can’t access Google Classroom as individuals, you can still use digital resources through Google in your classroom. All you need is a Google account .You can have many Google accounts- in fact, I have four!

Option #1

Make a shared Google Account- I repeat- SHARED Google account for your classroom. This will be for not only you, but for your students to access. With this in mind- keep it simple because students will need to refer to it- something like – (but definitely not keep it as simple as possible!) Something like BiologyWHS would do the trick. The password should also be simple and easy to remember.

Once you have your class Google account, have each of your students create their own folder in Google Drive (it should be their name). Since it is shared, they can’t edit the privacy settings- which is something to consider.

When you create or add a document, you can select all the folders/students you’d like to share with my copying to that specific folder. That will be theirs to edit.

Option #2

Have your students make their own individual accounts. You would probably do this if it was super important that all students have confidentiality. It’s completely up to you. You will also need to have your own account.

To share with your students, you can easily do this using Google+.  Warning: it takes a bit of time to set up, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy peasy. You can find more information about here: Google+ and Google Drive to use Digital Resources in the Classroom.

If you’re fortunate enough to have Google Classroom,  the sharing is even easier. You can make a copy for each of your students to have. They can use digital notebooks on computer, Chrome books, or iPads. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Here are some digital resources for your consideration:


Scientific Method










5 Helpful Tips for Teaching Genetics

5 Helpful Hints for Teaching Genetics

Here is #2 for my “5 Helpful Tips” series. If you missed the first one, check out 5 Helpful Tips for Teaching Photosynthesis.

Genetics is one of my favorite things to teach *cue sparkly harp music*. I really look forward to teaching genetics! And one thing that makes it so fun for me is discussing human genetics. Human genetics can be a bit mystifying, so I usually do not bring it up until we’ve discussed polygenic inheritance among other complex patterns, such as incomplete dominance. That is because most human traits are not Mendelian! For example, I have three children. Each one of my children has different colored eyes (hazel, brown, and blue).  Students love discussing this stuff and bringing up their own families, too!

Here is a complete list of human genetic myths that you can read for your consideration. But, that doesn’t stop us from making babies in biology class.  Besides, I firmly believe we still do not know everything there is to know, and we are making new discoveries every day. I tell my students that we are going to pretend that traits are Mendelian for a day so that we can do our fun Making Babies Heredity Simulation. I really feel that you need to find a happy medium here- I don’t want to teach students that human traits such as eye color and earwax are Mendelian, but I also want them to connect and have fun. So we do a pretend day each year. Besides, it gives them Punnett square practice and I honestly could not imagine teaching genetics without it! The kids have too much fun!

Visual learning is a lot of fun – I’m a visual learner and I use a lot of visuals when I teach. This website from Wiley’s Global Resources provides visual animations to help support Mendel’s ideas and laws.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 3.57.35 PM

I have found this web site invaluable for those who need extra practice or need an little extra oomph for grasping concepts in class.

Busting Student Misconceptions:

  • Students tend to struggle with some terminology- it can be really difficult for students to differentiate between terms such as DNA, gene, and allele.  Be sure to remind the students that there is in fact a difference, or maybe even ask them to compare them as a do-now, warm up, or bellringer. 
  • Are popular traits more dominant? No. You know this. Your colleagues know this. But sometimes we forget to mention this to our students. Check out my Exploring Human Traits Lab, in which students are asked to analyze this using your classroom as an example.
  • Epigenetics- students should know that environment can play a role in the characteristics of organisms. Epigenetics studies changes in heritable traits that are outside the human genome. Here is a quick video you can show your students about how epigenetic tags can be passed on:
  • Lastly, be sure to mention a few times along the way that mutations are not always harmful- and in fact some can be a good thing! The two examples I like to use are blue eyes (a neutral mutation) or even a turtle’s shell, which would be considered a positive mutation of its ancestor’s ribcage!

Veteran teachers, do you have any tips or advice when teaching genetics? I’d love for you to share them in the comments! 

Stay Science Classy,



Day 5 of 5 days of Holiday Cheer is here!

Ok fellow science nerds… you do not want to miss this!

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter by going to the page listed in the tabs that says “Subscribe to My Newsletter” because all future promotions and Holiday Cheers will be exclusively for newsletter subscribers. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter.

For the 5th and Final Day of “5 Days of Holiday Cheer”, over a dozen amazing science teacher-authors have teamed up to offer you a fabulous collaborative smorgasbord of 13 different resources, which you can access here: 5 Days of Holiday Cheer Science Bundle

The link is good for 24 hours only so get it while you can!

… and please remember to sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to participate in future promotions such as these!

Stay Science Classy,


Day Four of Holiday Cheer: Free Interactive Notebook Pages


Day Four of Holiday Cheer is good for Today Only (December 10th, 2015).
You can get a sample of my DNA Interactive Notebook by clicking on this link!

It expires tonight, so get it while you can!

Next year, I plan to do another 5 Days of Holiday Cheer, however it will no longer be advertised on my blog; instead it will be exclusively for newsletter subscribers.

Please subscribe to my newsletter to take place in future promotions and to get the dirt on Biology Roots!


Day Three: Entire Store is 20% off

My lesson planning is all set for the new year, so when we come back to school on January 4th I have the whole week set up. It might be my healthy dose of OCD kicking in, but I’ve always found it hard to enjoy my time off if I know I’ll be scrambling to find lessons the last night of vacation.

If you still have some lesson planning to do, bring in the new year with a Biology Roots product. For Day Three of “5 Days of Holiday Cheer”, I’m offering my ENTIRE store at 20% off for Today only, December 9th!


Day Two of Holiday Cheer: 25% off all Biology Roots Bundles


Day TWO of “5 Days of Holiday Cheer” means 25% all bundles!

That means popular bundles, like my Super Sub Plan Bundle, which is already discounted at $35.98 will be reduced to $26.98 for December 8th only!

Or one of my best selling units the Complete Cell Unit, will be 25% off to cost $21.74 (which includes the Cells Task Cards Exhibition Lab).


Please Check out all my participating bundles for a chance to grab them at 25% off on December 8th.

Stay tuned for tomorrow: Day 3 of Holiday Cheer Week!

Stay Science Classy,