Welcome to Biology and AP Biology at Cascade High School!

  • McKay

    What will I/my student be learning? 

    Biology is my favorite branch of science because it covers such a broad range of topics; from molecules in cells to interactions between organisms in ecosystems and everything in between. Specifically, students will learn the standards that will be tested on the Biology End of Course Exam (EOC) as determined by the State of Washington (visit http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/StateTesting/BiologyEnd-of-CourseExams.aspx for more information and a link to the standards). In addition, students will also learn the upcoming science standards, the Next Generation Science Standards (visit http://www.nextgenscience.org/ for more information). 

    Biology is not just about learning a list of facts and vocabulary.  Science is not a body of knowledge, but a way of understanding the world around us.  It is learning how to ask questions, how to find the answers even if no one knows them yet, how to solve problems, and how to think abstractly.  It is curiosity in its grown-up form.  Thus, a large part of our focus will be on learning these skills, through the lens of our content.
    How will I/my student be learning?
    Educational research has taught us a lot about how students learn best.  One thing we know is that people learn best by deep diving into a topic.  This means students will not be learning a little bit about a lot of topics.  Instead we will really get to know a subject.  For example, we will not be learning a little bit about all the parts of the cell.  Instead, we will really get to know how the cell membrane works.
    We also know that students learn best when their minds are active.  By best I mean not just learning for the test, but learning for the rest of their lives.  We will ensure active minds because students will be figuring out biology for themselves.  Rarely will I stand up in front of the room and lecture.  Instead, most days will be centered around an activity.  Students will do the activity and discuss what they have discovered.  From these discoveries we will add in vocabulary and important concepts so that students get a complete and accurate picture of the topic.
    Additionally, we know that students learn best when they are interested and engaged in a topic.  We will accomplish this in several ways.  One, some units will be centered around a problem that students will solve.  These problems are open ended, and don't have one right answer.  Second, we will make connections between what we are doing in class and skills that students are acquiring that will help them be successful in college and in desirable careers.  Finally, we will bring in ethical considerations, real decisions students will have to make as they get older. 
    Finally, we know that everyone learns differently.  Thus, we will cover topics in multiple ways from multiple perspectives.  For example, we will learn through labs, models, simulations, readings, and discussions.  No one activity will be perfect for every student, but the goal is that all students will find a way in which they can access the material.
    Who will be teaching me/my student?
    I graduated from South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard WA.  I was fortunate enough to get enough scholarship money and grants to attend Boston University, where I majored in biochemistry and molecular biology and psychology.  I then got married, and my husband was finishing up school at Washington State University, so I got a second bachelor's degree in neuroscience while working in a lab studying how our stomachs tell our brains that we are full and we can stop eating.  We then moved to Chicago so that I could attend Northwestern University to pursue my PhD in Neuroscience.  The focus of my research asking how the cells in the part of our brains responsible for learning and memory change as we learn.  As I was finishing my degree, I realized I was a lot more interested in teaching science then I was in researching science, so I started a teacher training program through the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago and received my masters degree in teaching.  A year later, I finally finished and defended my thesis, granting my PhD.  I love using my research about learning and memory to make my teaching more powerful and more effective for student learning and achievement. 
    I started teaching at Cascade in 2012, and am excited to be back this year.  Cascade is a fantastic school with an amazing student body and I consider it a privilege to be allowed to teach here.
    I currently live in Lake Stevens with my husband, 6 year old daughter, 1 year old son, and 2 dogs.  We enjoy being outdoors as much as we can, Sunday dinners, and reading.