Organisms for Teachers of K-8
This comprehensive professional development course for grades K–8 science teachers provides all the necessary ingredients for building a scientific way of thinking in teachers and students, focusing on science content, inquiry, and literacy.
Session 1: Biological Systems
Our world is made of living and nonliving things, and sometimes it seems easy enough to know the difference. But defining life isn’t always such a simple task. In fact, there are many well-accepted definitions of life in science. This session takes a systems approach to defining life, and highlights the dynamic interactions that occur inside living things, as well as between living things and their environment.
Session 2: Producers
Producers play a critical part in maintaining life on this planet. This session helps explain why, by using transfers of matter and energy as a lens for thinking about producers’ role in the world. Teachers compare the inputs and outputs of matter and energy for a typical green plant to the inputs and outputs for a diversity of other organisms. In the process, teachers explore what food is, how it differs from vitamins & minerals, and also see the unity and diversity of producers that exist in the world.
Session 3: Consumers
Consumers are perhaps the most familiar type of organism to us. We are consumers. Our pets are consumers. Both teachers and students tend to know a lot about animals, but animals are a very small percentage of the consumers on the planet. In fact, the roles of other consumers such as fungi and bacteria can be far more influential to the success of life on Earth. This session is designed to broaden teachers understanding of consumers, and to dispel common misconceptions about the role consumers play in the process of decomposition, and about the relationship between matter and energy in ecosystems as a result of consumers eating other organisms.
Session 4: Reproduction
All species on Earth must reproduce to survive, but how organisms reproduce varies considerably among species. Some reproduce sexually, others asexually. Some alternate between sexual and asexual reproduction. In this session, teachers investigate types of sexual and asexual reproduction, consider the advantages and disadvantages of different reproductive strategies, and discuss the benefits and limitations of various models commonly used to represent life cycles.
Session 5: Cells
In this session, we take a micro view of organisms to explore them at their most basic level — the cell. It’s easy to think that all cells look the same and do the same thing, but that’s far from true. There is tremendous variation in shape, size, structure, and function of cells within an organism.
This session lets teachers explore cells as biological systems with characteristic boundaries, components, interactions, and inputs/outputs. Teachers examine the diversity and unity cells of living organisms across the kingdoms, including the cells of prokaryotic, eukaryotic, multicellular, and unicellular organisms.
COMING IN 2015!
ORGANISMS COURSE OVERVIEW (PDF)
Download a printable version of the session-by-session course overview.
ORGANISMS MATERIALS LIST (PDF)
Download this complete list of all general supplies, hands-on materials, and printed materials used in this course.