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Workforce Development & Continuing Education

A P Summer Institute: Biology
A P Instructor for Biology is Mark Krotec

AP Institute-BIOLOGY 
Instructor Mark Krotec

Instructor Biography: Mark Krotec has been teaching Biology and Chemistry at Pittsburgh Central Catholic since 1981. His primary work involves the instruction of Honors Biology, Honors Biology II, Environmental Science, and AP Biology students. In addition, he has served as the director of extracurricular science (Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, Science Bowl, Carnegie Science Fair, and the Envirothon) for over a decade. Outside of his school, Mark has been actively involved in the promotion of teacher education and curricular development. He has served as president and executive board member of the Western PA Biology Teachers Association, in addition to serving as a frequent workshop presenter at local, statewide, and national conventions, including the NSTA, NABT, and College Board. Mark has also created a Diocesan Teacher Scholarship program, resulting in the full funding of over 50 teachers to NSTA conventions. In addition, Mark has developed a Diocesan in-service program, directing yearly workshops with these funded teachers.

Mark has served as a consultant for the College Board for over 15 years, directing various workshops and summer institutes. He has continued to focus much of his efforts on promoting science process, especially inquiry science, within the AP curriculum.

Mark continues to update his science knowledge and skills through research internships at local universities, further inspiring him to translate those experiences into secondary science curricular supplements. He has been awarded research fellowships from the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), and the Professional Enhancement Program (PEP). In addition, he has participated in numerous educator enrichment programs such as the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Biology Initiative and Howard Hughes Science Teacher Workshops. From June of 2000 to August of 2001, Mark immersed himself in the revolutionary field of tissue engineering, performing sabbatical research and educational outreach for the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative (PTEI). With the development of the first tissue engineering educational outreach manual, he continues to serve as a liaison between the biomedical research community and science educators. Within the past decade, Mark has presented to classes in over 30 schools, in addition to directing over 40 tissue engineering workshops for science educators, as well as leading Middle School and High School Tissue Engineering summer camps. He continues to serve as a “master” teacher for the PTEI, performing educational outreach and contributing to the further development of outreach manual. Mark also continues to serve as an outreach coordinator for Carnegie Mellon-based laboratory exercises, three of which he personally developed. Over fifteen other curricular supplements have been shared locally and nationally, including the activity manuals Beyond Bead Biology and An Education Outreach Manual in Tissue Engineering.

For these contributions to science education, Mark has been honored with a variety of awards including: Outstanding Biology Teacher of PA, NSTA Distinguished Teaching Award, NABT Molecular Biology Teaching Award, Presidential Teaching Award (PAEMST), Radio Shack National Teaching Award Recognition, Diocesan Golden Apple Award, Carnegie Award for Excellence, and the Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Society Teaching Award.

Outside of academics, Mark continues to serve as a table tennis coach for the school. In addition, he serves as the president of a USATT-affiliated table tennis club.

AP Biology Course Description

This workshop is designed to enhance teacher effectiveness in the new AP Biology curriculum. The goals are to equip instructors with a firm understanding of the new Curriculum Framework, provide direct experience with the new inquiry lab activities, familiarize teachers with the revised national exam, and to offer suggestions regarding effective implementation of the new curriculum within the constraints of a high school system. To accomplish these goals, instructors will be provided with numerous pre-AP and AP teaching strategies and proven activities, enabling them to more effectively modify life science education in support of inquiry-driven instruction. In addition, the workshop will strongly promote the creation of an instructional community, greatly expanding the available resources for both AP and pre-AP teachers.

A P Biology Course Description:

Day 1
Introduction Morning Session – An overview of strategies for establishing and maintaining a rigorous AP Biology course.  Note:  This introduction will be spread over the course of the workshop in order to maintain effective participation and to allow teachers to engage in the numerous planned activities.
Thematic Teaching and the New AP Curriculum – Cancer as a powerful organizing theme.  EVOLUTION: Smithsonian Human Evolution Curriculum Activity Project (Introduction to pilot program)

Late-morning session - Science Process and Curricular Inquiry Infusion.   Introductory unit to AP Bio or pre-AP courses:  The Nature of Science (and Science Process) as an organizing theme. 

(A) In-depth discussion/lecture/demos of the use of conditional argument forms to reveal the philosophy and nature of science process.  Analogy of court room process: theories cannot be proven, but can be discounted.  Review classroom strategies to reinforce application of conditional arguments, including Evolution/creationism/ID debate (Nova, Judgment Day, etc. curricular application).

(B) The nature of uncertainty, the practice of science, data interpretation, and the power and utility of statistics.  Demo/discussion of powerful class activities, including 1. “X-Files: Paranormal Investigation” 2.  “Paper Towel Analysis” and 3. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” homework.  Review of videos serving to reinforce science investigation and the power of critical thinking. 

Afternoon Session: Science Process and Curricular Inquiry Infusion (continued)
(C) Further means of infusing statistics into AP activities: 1. Osmosis and Diffusion Lab  2. Heart Rate Lab  3. Neural Reaction Time Lab  4. Genetics Lab  5.  Photosynthesis Lab  6.  Enzyme Lab.
(D) Yeast experimental models and inquiry: 1. Stem Cell Seeding Efficiency Challenge  2. Environmental Toxicity Analysis  3.  Discussion of Yeast Mutagenesis
(E) The new curricular framework (4 Big Ideas) - Thematic Learning: Connecting content through student-centered activities
(F) Teaching assessment: 1. Pre-quiz + Post-quiz – conditional argument form application to the Scientific Method.  2. Pre-quiz + Post-quiz – science investigation statistics application.  3. Teacher lab activity/statistics design.

Day 2
Morning Session – Ecology/Environmental Science Unifying Theme: an overview of teaching strategies designed to reinforce science process and the powerful concept-connecting themes inherent in ecosystem analysis.   Big Idea 4: Interactions.

(A)          Reinforcing science process through inquiry-based labs:  1. “Paper Towel Efficiency” 2. “Pollution Assessment Lab Competition” 3. “Environmental Influence on Algal Populations” 4. “Pesticide Effects on Microbes” 5. “Fantastic Farmers” 6. “Smoke Product Effects on Yeast Survivorship” 7. “Human Life Tables and Survivorship Analysis” 8. “Survivor: Gilligan’s Island” (Energy transfer through trophic levels)  9. AP lab 10 – Energy Dynamics
(B)          Teaching assessment – 1. Authentic assessment of teacher investigative techniques, measurement, and analysis: Pollution Analysis Lab Competition.  2. Gilligan’s Island Survivor competition: energy flow unifying themes.  3.  Old AP Lab 12: designing challenge and thematic questions.
(C) The Inquiry Matrix – a preview of future AP curricula.  Modifying traditional labs + incorporating the new AP labs.  Modeling an Inquiry Classroom.
(D) Equity in AP: Inclusion strategies, alternative assessments, and unifying the learning community

Afternoon session – Molecules Made Easy!-  Activities, lessons, demonstrations, and films serving to de-mystify biochemistry/molecular biology and reinforce underlying conceptual themes permeating the entirety of life science.  Big Idea 2: Cellular Processes: Energy and Communication
(A)          Charts: an under-appreciated teaching tool!  Biochemistry and physiological principles connections and themes are powerfully revealed in a number of common wall charts.  Mouse Trap signal transduction demonstration: Games biology students can play.
(B)          Beyond Bead Biology: inexpensive, powerful molecular model activities designed to captivate student interest and promote increased comprehension of biochemistry.
1.            ‘Prime Time Enzyme’ – enzymology made simple. 
2.            ‘Environmental Influence on Salivary Amylase Activity’: a low-tech approach to enzymology.
3.            AP Lab 13 - Enzymes: Perform, review, and extensions.
4.            AP Lab 4: Diffusion and Osmosis
(C)         Energetics
1.            Photosynthesis: introductory lab and AP Lab 5, connections and themes.
2.            Cell Respiration: Carbohydrate Races and AP lab 6, connections and extensions.
(D)  Teaching Assessment: Design a Thematic Question Challenge.  Assessing student mastery through labs, projects, symposia, etc.  The New AP Test: Overview and course intergration.

Day 3
Morning Session – Insights into the molecular basis of life continue to expand our understanding of every field in life science.  Teachers should be encouraged to reveal the history of these major discoveries and their application to various fields of science and society at large.  Big Idea 3: Genetics and Information Transfer.
(A)          A brief history of the elucidation of DNA as the molecule of heredity: an enlightening and inspiring mystery story of the 20th century.
(B)          Molecular Biology: a revolution revealed.
1.            Central Dogma: new insights/new technologies- gene expression, recombinant DNA (pGLO lab), PCR, antisense, RNAi, DNA microchip arrays, etc.
2.            Supplementary reading reviews: Scientific American, Discover, etc.
3.            Films: Howard Hughes lecture series, Nova, Wired Science, etc.
4.            ‘James Bond Cellular Spy’: a transcription/translation challenge competition.
5.            DNA Science: modeling recombinant DNA, DNA fingerprinting, antisense technology, DNA sequencing, and PCR.
6.            Reinforcing the Central Dogma through biomedicine: (a)’ Immunogenetics of Autoimmune Disease’: Searching for causes of Lupus (b) Cystic Fibrosis: using a film to reveal the role of the central dogma. (c) Proteomics and Metabolomics: beyond the human genome project.
7.            Advanced Labs/Activities: ‘Turning Genes Off and On in Bacteria’, ‘Biotechnology Team Challenge.’
8.            Evo/Devo: evolutionary/molecular connections to development, including further evidence for evolution.
Teaching Assessment :  James Bond Cellular Spy Challenge, Lupus Genetic Risk Challenge, Modeling Molecular Biology.


Afternoon session –  Thematic Learning: Smithsonian Human Evolution Activities.  Engagement in various teaching units, with emphasis on classroom adaptation and correlation with the new Curricular Framework.

Physiology Phun!  The anatomy and physiology of organisms can serve as a natural model for systems analysis, a relevant ‘hook’ for any student, and a powerful means of reinforcing evolutionary and biochemical themes.
(A)          Plants – Slow Motion Creatures! 
1.            The Plant Game: growth strategies in response to the environment.
2.            Fantastic Farmers: Team competition.
3.            FF: Form and Function Challenge Slides.
4.            Environmental/Evolution Influence on Plant Form and Function.
5.            AP Transpiration lab 9.
(B) Animalia – Comparative Anatomy and Physiology                     
1.  Planaria behavior.
2.  Star Trek dissection discovery!
3.  Sow bugs, brine shrimp, termites, etc. taxis/habitat selection.
4.  Animal embryology/development.
(C)  Human Physiology
1.  Heart rate influence.
2.  Human respiratory capacities.
3.  Homunculus Man/sensory mapping.  
4.  Neural response time.
5.  Muscle madness!  Chicken Little.
6.  Human center of gravity.
7.  Meat Adulteration Kit: Immunology techniques (Carolina). 
8. Medical Rounds: House presents!
(D) Teaching assessment – 1. authentic assessment of teacher investigative techniques, measurement, and analysis.  2. Lupus PCR analysis  3. Plant Form + Function Challenge.  4. Statistical analysis of physiology labs.
(E)  Preparing your AP course: Transitioning to thematic learning.  Teacher module development/modification.

Day 4
Morning Session –Evolution as the course unifying theme. 
Big Idea 1: Evolution. 
Discussion of AP Lab 2: Hardy Weinberg Lab
Discussion of AP Lab 1: Artificial Selection
Perform Lab 3: BLAST analysis of genomes
Tissue Engineering/regenerative medicine (TERM) as a powerful unifying theme.
(A)          TERM: Developmental biology and the application to biomedicine.
(B)          Tissue Engineering: the revolution unfolds, connections to a life science curriculum.
(C)          The TE triangle: the basics of regenerative medicine.
(D)          Stem cells: the hype and hope.
(E)          Stem cell seeding efficiency challenge data collection + analysis.
(F)          Bone Engineering competition.
(G)         Cardiovascular engineering: scaffold synthesis and characterization.
Afternoon session – 1. TERM wrap-up: life science connections and new frontiers.  2. STS: Bioethics and societal implications.  3.  Engaging students in exciting/rewarding AP assessment
(A)          From egg to adult: lessons learned and the future of biomedicine.
(B)          The Review Game: assessment can be fun!
(C)          Further games: GLAND, NEURO, and HEART.  Biology Trivial Pursuit.
(D)          Testing strategies.
(E)          Unifying themes recognition.
(F)          Teaching assessment: Development Challenge, TERM strategies, Final Project: Design a unit.
(G)         Teacher Course Development: The AP Audit and Beyond
(H)          Evaluation/final thoughts, networking and classroom resources.

I have placed MANY useful materials, including further links, on a website for you to access.  Feel free to give info to other teachers, and feel free to contact me for further explanations, ideas, etc.  Enjoy!
Mark Krotec 412-916-2439 cell  412—963-1273 home
They will appear at the following URL:

The login information is:
Username: teacher
Password: biology
Biology Website Access
Powerpoints notes, articles, assignments, etc. are posted on the new student website.  The web address is  .  User name is ‘student’;  password is ‘biosphere’.  Good luck! 

Smithsonian Institution logo

Teaching Evolution through Human Examples (TEtHE) Project

AP Summer Institute: Biology (Montgomery College, Maryland)

Teaching Evolution through Human Examples (TEtHE), NSF DRK-12 funded project led by Dr. Briana Pobiner of the Smithsonian’s Human Origins program, is developing and investigating the effectiveness of: 1) data-driven, real world examples of human evolution to teach basic evolutionary concepts in AP Biology classes, and 2) culturally/religiously sensitive (CRS) teaching strategies to address potential classroom conflicts and challenges related to teaching evolution. Each supplement is designed to provide 1-2 weeks of instruction of concepts in the AP curriculum, and teachers can choose how many to use.

Curriculum Supplements
The curriculum supplements are designed to help you meet many of the learning objectives in AP Biology in the Big Idea of evolution, using human examples. This has proven to be an effective approach in informal education settings like museums; we are testing its effectiveness in the classroom. Each supplement is a cohesive series of lessons intended to be taught together that provide opportunities for students to engage with a range of experiences, data, activities, and concepts that contribute to a deep understanding of content; some include laboratory investigations. These supplements, designed to provide 1-2 weeks of instruction of concepts in the AP curriculum, are not a replacement for all the content you might include related to evolution, but rather, they include specific lessons, resources, and activities that you can use to deliver instruction that addresses the curriculum. The curriculum supplement topics are:

  • Human Adaptation to Altitude
  • Malaria (emphasizing parasite and human evolution examples outside of sickle cell anemia),
  • The Evolution of Human Skin Color
  • What Does It Mean To Be Human? / An Introduction to Understanding Evolutionary Relationships

Teaching Strategies
CRS Teaching Strategies are designed to help address potential conflicts or discomfort that might arise in teaching evolution with human examples. They comprise 1) background information and perspectives about a selection of topics including the nature of science as pertinent to managing any conflicts between science and religion; a range of creationist views; a variety of possible relationships between science and religion; and a review of legal cases dealing with the teaching of evolution; 2) two options for classroom activities: a directed discussion and a historical role play; and 3) key phrases or language for managing classroom discussions.

Information and Instruction
You will be provided with electronic copies of all of the materials before the APSI. Dr. Briana Pobiner and Dr. Connie Bertka (author of the Teaching Strategies) will give a basic outline of materials during a short session on June 30th. Dr. Bertka will be available on July 2nd for a Q&A session on the Teaching Strategies, and the project curriculum developer Dr. Paul Beardsley will be available for a Q&A session on July 3rd. If you choose to implement these materials in your classroom in 2014-2015, Dr. Pobiner will send you the final versions, ask you to have your students fill out related attitudinal and content knowledge assessments, and support you via email and phone during implementation.

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