Towson University
College of Science & Mathematics
Department of Biological Sciences
Life Science Fall Semester, 2010

Course: BIOL 303, Section 005

Instructor: Dr. Sarah Haines

TR 12:30-2:20  317 Smith Hall and Maryland Zoo!!

Office: 315 Smith Hall

Office Hours: MW 10:00-12:00


Phone: 410-704-2926


required texts | objectives | assignment rubrics


Required Texts:  

DK Nature Encyclopedia, DK Publishing.  ISBN 9780756631116

A Sand County Almanac, Ballantine Books, ISBN 0-345-34505-3

Silent Spring, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-618-25305-X

Last Child in the Woods, Algonquin books, ISBN 978-1565123913

Catalog Description: This instructional methods course is designed for the preparation of elementary science teachers.  Each participant is expected to be actively engaged in this intensive experience which should involve doing science teaching and reflecting on science teaching- your own and that of others.  You will also be expanding upon your knowledge of biology as it relates to elementary classrooms.  In short, you will be engaged in study, writing, laboratory, and discussion experiences that simulate situations and incidents you are likely to encounter in your teaching of biology or life science. 

            We will examine ways to plan, facilitate, and assess learning; the nature of the science learner and ways to motivate students, models of instruction, utilization of existing resources, inquiry and problem solving in science, the influence of personal beliefs, and professional roles of the teacher.

            THIS WILL BE A COURSE OF MANY QUESTIONS AND VARIED ANSWERS.  DO NOT EXPECT TO BE TOLD ďTHE METHOD OF TEACHING LIFE SCIENCEĒ.  THERE IS NO ONE METHOD FOR TEACHING ANY FIELD OF SCIENCE.  The master teacher has a broad repertoire of strategies and techniques which are based upon reflection and practice.  My hope is that, if you have not already done so, you will undergo a shift in your concept of teaching from the usual traditional objectivist approach to a more nontraditional constructivist perspective and set of beliefs, or that you will at least carefully examine your options.



As part of your preparation for becoming a teacher, you will be expected to behave in a professional manner.  This includes:

Attendance & Punctuality: You will earn points for attendance.  Class time is used to clarify and extend concepts.  Class will be interactive in nature and it will be difficult to make up in the event of an absence.  Be on time and donít leave early.  Students are expected to attend every class.  Genuine documented emergencies may be excused with documentation; each unexcused absence results in the loss of five points from the total class grade.   Each incidence of unexcused lateness (more than 5 min after class begins) will result in the loss of two points from the total class grade.

Participation: Participation doesnít mean simply attending class.  Participate in the class discussion and activities by making meaningful comments.  Ask questions!!  Each incidence of nonparticipation results in the loss of 1 point from the total class grade.

Preparation: Complete assignments on time and be ready to participate fully in class activities.

Respect: Be considerate of others.  Behave in a professional, ethical manner.

Attitude: Be curious, flexible, organized, and patient- all characteristics of good teachers.

Grammar & spelling:  All written assignments are expected to be grammatically correct; if not, points may be deducted.


Unless you are unable to turn in an assignment due to a documented emergency, late assignments will be reduced by one letter grade (or equivalent point value) for each class day late.   Missed exams or quizzes: Please make certain you are present.  There will be no make-up exams except in cases of documented emergency.  You may reach me by phone, secretary, email, fax, etc.  Please do not attend class the day after an exam and expect to take that exam unless you have contacted me and received permission.


Free discussion, inquiry, and expression is encouraged in this class.   Classroom behavior that interferes with either (a) the instructor's ability to conduct the class or (b) the ability of students to benefit from the instruction is not acceptable. Examples may include routinely entering class late or departing early; use of beepers, cellular telephones, or other electronic devices; repeatedly talking in class without being recognized; talking while others are speaking; or arguing in a way that is perceived as "crossing the civility line." In the event of a situation where a student legitimately needs to carry a beeper/cellular telephone to class, prior notice and approval of the instructor is required. Classroom behavior which is determined to be inappropriate and cannot be resolved by the student and the faculty member may be referred for administrative or disciplinary review and the student will be barred from attending class.


Any form of cheating (including on exams, quizzes, or plagiarism of laboratory assignments and term papers) will not be tolerated.  Cheating and plagiarism are defined in the Student Academic Integrity Policy ( and should be reviewed by each student.  The consequences of violating this policy may result in the assignment of zero points for an examination or quiz up to assignment of a failing grade for the course, at the discretion of the instructor.


If you are a qualified student with a disability seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to self-identify with Disability Student Services in the AdministrationBuilding and present a letter to me from DSS. This should be done during the first week of class.

Course Objectives:  BIOL 303 is aligned with the INTASC Principles for Preservice Teachers:

INTASC Principles

Interstate New Teachers Assessment and Support Consortium

Principle 1:

Making content meaningful
The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and creates learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

Principle 2:

Child development and learning theory
The teacher understands how children learn and develop and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development.

Principle 3:

Learning styles/diversity
The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.

Principle 4:

Instructional strategies/problem solving
The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage studentsí development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.

Principle 5:

Motivation and behavior
The teacher uses an understanding individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagements in learning, and self-motivation.

Principle 6:

The teacher uses knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.

Principle 7:

Planning for instruction
The teacher plans instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals.

Principle 8:

The teacher understands and uses formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the learner.

Principle 9:

Professional growth/reflection
The teacher is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his or her choices and actions on others (students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community) and who actively seeks out opportunities to grow professionally.

Principle 10:

Interpersonal relationships
The teacher fosters relationships with school colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger community to support studentsí learning and well being.



This course is also aligned with the NSTA Science Content Recommendations for Elementary Generalists.  These recommendations state:

A.1.  Elementary teachers without a science specialization should be prepared to teach science with a strong emphasis on observation and description of events, manipulation of objects and systems, and identification of patterns in nature across subjects.  They should be prepared to effectively engage students in concrete manipulative activities that will lead to the development of desired concepts through investigation and analysis of experience.  Elementary generalists should be prepared to lead students to understand the unifying concepts of science, including:

            1.  Multiple ways we organize our perceptions of the world and how systems organize the studies and knowledge of science

            2.  Nature of scientific evidence and use of models for explanation

            3.  Measurement as a way of knowing and organizing observations of constancy and change.

            4.  Evolution of natural systems and factors that result in evolution or equilibrium

            5.  Interrelationships of form, function, and behaviors in living and nonliving systems.


A.2  At the elementary level in particular, the sciences should be interwoven to develop interdisciplinary perspectives.  In relation to biology, elementary generalists should be prepared to lead students to understand:

            6.  Features distinguishing living from nonliving systems.

            7.  Characteristics distinguishing plants, animals, and other living things.

            8.  Multiple ways to order and classify living things.

            9.  Ways organisms function and depend on their environments.

          10.  Ways organisms are interdependent.

          11.  Reproductive patterns and life cycles of common organisms.

          12.  Growth, change, and interactions of populations to form communities.


Pedagogical Knowledge- Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

1.  Begin to develop a constructivist view of teaching science.

2.  Recognize that the processes of science are the first priority in science education.

3.  Recognize significant events that shaped American science education.

4.  Begin to formulate a personal science education teaching philosophy.

5.  Examine the value of the inquiry approach to teaching science.

6.  Recognize the contributions of Bloom, Piaget, Bruner, Gagne, & Rowe to science education.

7.  Plan instruction to accommodate individual differences in students.

8.  Use Gardnerís theory of multiple intelligences to plan effective science lessons.

9.  Develop lessons which effectively integrate science with other subjects such as reading, writing, and math.

10. Choose appropriate evaluation techniques.

11. Recognize basic safety concerns in the classroom.

12. Identify or construct components of a 5E lesson plan when science concepts are given.

13. Ask appropriate science questions and structure cognitive, affective, and psychomotor objectives that are grade level appropriate.

14.Discuss the philosophical and theoretical aspects of informal education that impact its practice.

15.Plan, organize, and lead an interpretive station at the zoo that is intended to educate the general public.

16.Create a field guide for educators visiting the zoo with students that focuses on a particular concept related to zoo education.



Content Knowledge- Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

1.  Identify any plant species as vascular or nonvascular.

2.  Classify all animal specimens to the phylum level and identify arthropods and chordates to the class level.

3.  Define each of these biological concepts and recognize or supply examples:

            producer                      consumer                     decomposer

            mutualism                    food chain                   herbivore

            predation                     parasitism                    food web

            commensalisms           carnivore                     saprophyte

            omnivore                     succession

4.  Identify and define each of the ecological units from organism to biosphere.

5.  Identify taxonomic levels of living organisms.

6.  Identify primary and secondary ecological succession and place the stages in the processes in order.

7.  Distinguish between interspecies and intraspecies competition.

Assessment & Evaluation

This course is designed so that students may earn a maximum of 1420 points.

Total Points

















 D +

966-852 D




 Total Points

Attendance and Small Group Presentations


Learning Style Analysis 100
Unit Plan/Field Guide 200
Reflection Paper- Service Learning 140
Reflection Paper- Louv 20
Education Station 100
Teaching Philosophy 100
Zoo Photographic Presentation/Poster 100
Exam 1 200
Exam 2 200

Exam 3




  Attendance/participation: You will earn points for attendance and for participating in class.  Each unexcused absence results in the loss of five points from the total class grade.   Each incidence of unexcused lateness (more than 5 min after class begins) will result in the loss of two points from the total class grade. Throughout the semester, you will be working in groups to deliver small presentations to the class, including leading the class in a discussion of Silent Spring.  Most of these will be based on the assigned readings.  If I see that you are not prepared for class,( i.e., you have not read the assigned material, you are not prepared for a group presentation, etc.), I will deduct 5 points from the total class grade. 

 Learning Style Analysis: You will analyze your learning style based upon Howard Gardnerís cognitive theory.  You will analyze current curricula from the perspective of your learning style and also write a lesson plan that would be appropriate for students who share your strengths.

 Service Learning Project Ė Maryland Zoo in Baltimore Teaching Resources

v  Field guide/Unit Plan:  Plan a week long mini unit for teachers who are planning a field trip to the Maryland Zoo.  Include two classroom activities that would be appropriate for pre-trip preparation, a day-long itinerary for a field trip to the zoo that covers grade-level appropriate content, and two classroom activities that would be appropriate for post-trip follow-up.

v  EdZoocation Station:  Create an educational station that targets children of elementary age for use at the zoo by zoo visitors and zoo education personnel.

v  Zoo Photo Field Trip Poster/Presentation:  Create a photographic presentation that demonstrates concepts learned throughout the semester, using zoo animals as the focus. 

v  Reflection paper: Each student will write a reflective essay on the importance of teaching environmental stewardship to young learners.  The paper should include the following:  a personal experience of learning outdoors as a child (if possible); a short description of your groupís EdZoocation station; an interpretation of how well you think the children were engaged in your station activities; reasons to teach environmental science topics in an outdoor setting; the importance of experiential learning for all ages; and why these specific service learning projects enhanced your learning experience in this course, (or why it didnít). 

 Reflection Papers:  Reactions to what you read in Last Child in the Woods. 

 Teaching Philosophy:  Based upon your own experiences in teaching thus far, you will formulate your personal philosophy of science teaching and articulate it into classroom practice.

Exams:  Each exam will have a variety of question types that are appropriate to the content covered, including both biology content and pedagogy. 



Date  Topic
8/26 Intro; What is good science teaching and what makes a good science teacher?  History of science education; Lower process objectives (INTASC Principle 1, NSTA Content Recommendation A1.1, A1.2)  READ: Ready, Set, Science  pg 9-16; Inside-Out  Introduction
8/31 Maryland Zoo introduction; Education Stations/Presentations; Field Guides 
Exploring your initial conceptions of science teaching; Intro to Nat'l Science Ed. Standards, Intro to constructivism; Learning Cycle; *** Use of optical equipment***   READ CHAPTER 2 pg. 18-24
9/2 Learning Styles/Gardner (INTASC principles 3,6)
Defining science literacy; nature of science ***Kingdoms Monera & Fungi, More on optical equipment***  READ CHAPTER 3
9/7 Biodiversity of a Sample

READ: Sand County Almanac pg 188-196 loss of biodiversity ; Inside-Out Chapter 6


eaching  Standards, Art of Questioning; ***Protists***  READ CHAPTER 4 pg. 56-64; CHAPTER 13 pg. 345-352
9/9 Leaves and Leaf Structure

(NSTA Content Recommendation A2.7)


Facilitating learning; Professional Development Standards; Professional organizations/journals;
***Vascular & Nonvascular Plants*** READ CHAPTER 4 pg. 48-55
9/14 Plants and Plant Structure; Vascular and Nonvascular Plants

(NSTA Content Recommendation A2.7)

READ: Sand County Almanac pg. 6-19 & pg 78-82; DK pg. 120-127



Plant Reproduction & Seeds (NSTA Content Recommendation A2.11)

READ: DK 128-129

Field, Forest, & Stream- Habitat Comparisons (NSTA Content Recommendation A2.9)

READ: DK 76-85; Ready, Set, Science  pg 22-32 


***Population Ecology*** (NSTA Content Recommendation A1.4, A1.5, A2.10, A212)



***Community Ecology/Biosphere***(NSTA Content Recommendation A1.4, A1.5, A2.10, A212)            

READ: DK pg. 56-57; 60ó91; Inside-Out  Chapter 5; Sand County Almanac pg 111-114


***Succession***(NSTA Content Recommendation A1.4, A1.5, A2.10, A212)

READ: Sand County Almanac- pg 28-33

10/7 EXAM- at TU campus
10/12 ***Domains and Kingdoms/Levels of Taxonomy; Animal Phyla Part I***- at TU campus
(NSTA Content Recommendation A2.7, A2.8) READ: DK 142-153;DK 108-109
10/14 Education Stations- Both 303 sessions

Chordate Jigsaw w/ zoo collection (NSTA Content Recommendation A 2.7, 2.8)

READ: DK 182-209



10/21 PHSC 303 both sessions- no BIOL 303 today
10/26 Animal Phyla Part II (NSTA Content Recommendation A2.7, A2.8) Higher Process Skills (INTASC Principle 2,4,7)- at TU campus
READ: DK 154-157; 182-183; Ready, Set, Science Ch 6 and 7
REFLECTION DUE: Service Learning Experience
10/28 Class Objectives (INTASC Principle 7); Research of Gagne, Bruner, Piaget, & Rowe (INTASC Principle 2)
***Arthropod Classes/Insect Metamorphosis*** (NSTA Content Recommendation  A 2.7, 2.8, 2.11)- at TU Campus
READ: DK 156-163

Stream Sampling Part I (NSTA Content Recommendation A1.3; A2.9)

READ: Inside-Out pg. 26-43 and Ch. 6


11/4 EXAM- at TU campus

Stream Sampling Part II (NSTA Content Recommendation A1.3; A2.9)

READ: Inside-Out Ch 3


Zoo Behind the Scenes Tour



Exploring your initial conceptions of science teaching; Intro to Natíl Science Ed. Standards; Intro to constructivism; Learning Cycle (INTASC Principle 1, 7) ***Use of optical equipment*** (NSTA Content recommendation A1.1, A1.2)- at TU campus


Discovery vs. Inquiry Teaching  (INTASC Principle 4,7) Facilitating learning; Professional Development Standards; Prof. organizations/journals( INTASC principle 2, 9)  Silent Spring Group I ;  Zoo Photographic Presentation Due

11/23 No Class

Models of Instruction  



Defining science literacy; nature of science (INTASC principle 1, 7)***Kingdoms Bacteria, Archaebacteria, & Fungi, More on optical equipment*** (NSTA Content Recommendation A1.3, A2.6, A2.7, A2.8    READ: DK pg. 110-115  REFLECTION DUE: LOUV PART VII  Silent Spring Group III


Teaching Standards; art of questioning ( INTASC Principle 1,4,5,7)  ***Protists** (NSTA Content Recommendation A2.6, A2.7, A2.8)  READ: DK pg. 112-113; 118-119  Silent Spring Group IV  UNIT PLAN/FIELD GUIDE DUE



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Last Updated July 9, 2010