Preparing Remote Science Learning Packet (Tips)

Student Packet Ideas Share
Here are some ideas that I brainstormed with my fellow science teachers. Not all of our students have internet have internet access. I appreciate all of the materials shared by other teaches. Here is my attempt to condense a few to consider as I continue to build take home packets.


Pandemic Chaos

Welcome! Nothing like a bunch of questions about teaching science by distance can burn a fire under an amateur blogger. Sorry about the mess but I have been busy teaching. But I am very motivated to start curating and sharing ideas that I have. I am extremely frustrated to have to spend most of my time converting my digital magic to paper packets because my students have or limited internet. So please help your self but mind the mess. We are stronger together!


NGSS Biology Lesson Models

The Inquiry Hub has amazing Biology units that integrate NGSS in a meaningful and compelling curriculum. They have just announced webinars to help teachers implement these remotely.

Meeting 1: Remote Learning Support for inquiryHub and OpenSciEd
TOPIC: Fostering Productive Norms in Remote Learning
Time: Monday, March 30, 2020 at 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Central Time Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 512 471 6536

Meeting 2: Remote Learning Support for OpenSciEd and iHub
TOPIC: Building a Driving Question Board in Remote Learning
Time: Apr 8, 2020 01:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 512 471 6536

(note from October) I found this resource today for teaching Biology. . It looks amazing. I plan to use Unit 2 next week. Best of all it’s through Open Source Education (OER) licensing and supports my commitment to use and share free resources.  

(post implement note) Amazing units. I learned so much and the format is pushing me to teach with more sophisticated inquiry strategies. 


The Transition to teaching with the Next Generation Science Standards NGSS

As a science teacher, I am so excited to see the transformation of our state and national science standards. These standards where developed through the collaboration of 100’s maybe even thousands of experts in science and education and truly represent the major shifts in science and society since our first attempts to establish standards for science education. They map our a transformation in how we teach and learn science.

As an educator who builds and implements lesson plans, I am challenged. Now I am balancing Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) (content??), with Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) and Crosscutting Concepts (CC). Did someone mention phenomena and storylines? Oh my! How do you I fit this into my district lesson plan template now?

So I have been putting on my design and engineering cap and asking myself, “what does an NGSS lesson look like?” What does an NGSS science classroom look like?

If I look at our traditional resources. That would be a text book. While many text book company’s have “aligned” their content to the NGSS. Most have done so as an after thought and not a redesign of their strategies and teaching. The have aligned their traditional books to the DCI’s and inserted ideas for doing Science and Engineering and CrossCutting Concepts as labs that follow a traditional course outline. But if you try to line these up with the NGSS Performance Standards it’s a bit awkward and a stretch to say “aligned”

As I started looking deeper into the resources on the Next Generation Science standard website and the National Science Teachers Association. I started to notice that there is a new breed of science curriculum emerging. One that starts with A Phenomena and tells a story. I have found some resources that are helping to transform my teaching, especially Argument Driven Inquiry. As I begin my implementation of these new resources, I am connecting with my students at a deeper scientific level and it is invigorating and exciting.

But as a rural science teacher its’ often tough. If you are the only science teacher in your building, how do you stay connected and grow?

#1 Become a National Science Teacher Association Member –
A great way to stay connected when you work in rural Alaska is to join the National Science Teachers Association. Once you are a member you can join a listserv for every science content are you teach. Yeah, that could be all of them, LOL. One of the best perks is the ability to browse their old journal issues which are full of excellent lesson plans.

#2 Become a member of the Alaska Science Teachers Association
This group sponsors $500 mini-grants for professional development and classroom supplies. All thoughtful proposals get serious consideration

#3 Check out these lesson plans and resources. They are not all NGSS formatted, but each one has elements that help build a storyline. I will be adding to this list as I collect new resources throughout the year. Feel free to email me with more ?

Alaska Resources

National Links


High Impact Strategies

Diane Brenner , from TCEA, just wrote a very useful article noting the effectiveness of using Google and self-reported grading strategies. She sites John Hattie’s Research. I often hear about his work in Alice Keeler’s course.

Over the last few years, I have been integrating more peer and self-review activities into my class instruction. It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, I am noticing powerful results.

Here is an example of what it looks like when I ask students to turn in a handout.

This is a classwork assignment. My students know they get complete credit for the assignment if they follow directions and try their best. I let them correct their work to engage them in the process.

Alice Keeler‘s Go Slow subscription classes and blog are great resources for coaching teachers who want to use self-reported grading and increase their effective strategy toolkit.


Open Source Science Teaching Tools

One of my personal challenges is to teach using only free, open source classroom tools. I love science texts, but I don’t love the cost. I would much rather have more lab supplies and training. I am so thankful to our school for investing in training as opposed to books. With this in mind I want to share an example of how I am using “open source” science resources in my Biology Class.

We just finished a unit on DNA:The code for life. I really like teaching genetics and unraveling the mystery of life. I am using Google Classroom to link students to all of my classroom resources. We use our text book for background information. books are great. They are up to date, interesting, easy to read, and accurate. They are as good as any text on the market.

We use our book as an informational text. I present the content as an interactive lectures using Nearpod. I use the book as an outline and the students take notes in sketch note style as we explore the material. Students then complete the Adaptive Practice and Quizzes on All of these resources can be linked to in Google Classroom. The Adaptive Practice and Quizzes are self grading and give students immediate feedback and scores are recorded in Google Classroom.  There are interactive PLIX to reinforce ideas through manipulatives with challenge questions. All of these tools are free and customizable.

I use web based multimedia tools to enhance my presentations. HHMI Biointeractive has a wonderful video called Gene’s as Medicine. I use Playposit to embed questions throughout the video. It has a unique broadcast mode that allows just the presenter (me) to show the video. The students log in to the broadcast and see a question dashboard. The video automatically stops the and pushes questions to the student dashboard. This allows me a chance to check for understanding and add discussion. The students get instant feedback unless it’s an open ended question.BS Learning Media also has a really good movies called A Mutation Story. I try to search for 3-5 minute videos that tie our topics into current medical research and career information. ( The broadcast mode in Playposit is a paid feature, the free mode operates like EdPuzzle)

I also want to thank the Biology Corner for supplying us with the DNA and Transcription and Translation coloring worksheets. This website has some of the best free Biology activities on the web. I teach the students about protein synthesis by completing the Investigations, Proteins and Mutations worksheet. Then we apply this to the DNA in Snorks lesson.  It’s such a great way of making connections between DNA and proteins that produce traits.

As an evaluation of our learning, we complete an Argument Driven Inquiry(ADI) Lab 15: Mutation in Genes from ADI’s Life Science Book. ADI is transforming my teaching. It’s the first instructional model I have used that truly supports my growth in facilitating inquiry learning as opposed to concept based text book approaches. I remember struggling with the 5 E model, when I was first introduced to it. I could understand the parts and the approach, but I couldn’t see how I was supposed to facilitate it. The 8 stages of ADI give me the framework for teaching any lab through inquiry. The student lab handouts are available free online at NSTA Extra’s.

This lab asks students to study mutations using the Protein Synthesis model from another one of my favorite sources for open source web based models. the Concord Consortium. This model allows students to work through the steps of DNA transcription and translation. They can edit the DNA code and visualize the effect of different kinds of mutations.

I have embedded an example of how I introduce this lab using Nearpod below. If the code to this Nearpod expires before you stumble upon it. email me and I will renew it.