How to Make Biology Class Fun and Interactive Part 1Fitness Gear & Equipment
In a student's mind, biology competes with history as the ultimate subject synonym of "memorization." And with good reason. Biology, being the science of life, suffers from bad PR and is often perceived as, ironically, a life-less subject. You can't blame students if all throughout the year, they are expected to memorize and remember an onslaught of terminology, concepts, names, laws, chemical processes, and scientific names.
Biology should, by all means, be an exciting subject for students. Through it, they learn about the wondrous nature they live in and have yet to discover. They find more about their own species, their own bodies. Students get the chance to appreciate how complex life is and what a marvel it is that life exists. The variety of living things, the efficiency of organisms, the expansiveness of the world, the galaxy and the universe… all these that you tackle as biology teachers should be enough to make them want to know more. And the field of biology is continually discovering and rediscovering facts about the world we live in. There are surprises every year, that's for sure!
With a little more creativity and a wee bit more enthusiasm, you can be sure to get your students oohing and aahing in your class. Here are simple ways of getting your class intrigued and involved—No more bored and droopy heads during your class time!
Need for Mnemonics. Memorization is not for everyone. While some students are gifted with lightning-speed recalls and others with visual memory, majority of your students have the regular memorization style: DIDO or "Data In, Data Out." It's time to do away with that and retrain your students' memorization skills. One popular memory aid are mnemonic devices. For sure, someone somewhere has come up with mnemonics for biology. For example, there's "Dear Kings Play Chess On Fine Glass Surfaces" for the order of taxonomy: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, species. Another way which works well for younger students is to use catchy songs. From the "Mang Victor Espinosa…" song for the names of the planets (let me know of a new one!), to songs on biology concepts like those composed by Dr. Art, America's The Singing Scientist, a catchy tune and rhyming lyrics can do the trick. Songsforteaching.com/biologysongs is a great resource. Make sure that you ask students to memorize only the most vital terms.
Meaningful Memory. Learning experts say that our brain is able to retain memories but only to a certain extent. Furthermore, we tend to store information that we are repeatedly exposed to and use. That's why even if we ask our students to memorize a long list of terms, they won't always remember the entire list forever. So when you teach biology terms and concepts that you want your students to remember, make them meaningful. Provide ample context and point out relevance of the terms. Get your students to incorporate terms into their existing schema of the world.