AP BIOLOGY

Class Introduction:

AP Biology
Mr. Mason, Chugiak High School
Syllabus Overview and Grading Scale

Welcome to AP Biology. Ready to struggle? In all seriousness, if you are taking this class, you need to commit to spending a significant amount of time and effort devoted to the study of Biology. In my experience, no students are inherently good or bad at Biology or science in general, but rather students become skilled at Biology based on practice and study. Students succeed or fail in this class based on their willingness to work hard and commit to the process.

Overview: AP Biology will be taught using the guidelines from the College Board. Labs and class materials will be designed to meet the standard AP Biology curriculum and prepare students to succeed on the AP Biology Exam on Monday May 11, 2020. To be clear, it is the expectation that every student will take the AP exam in May. While we cannot make this a technical requirement, the course will be focused on that goal and instruction will be tailored accordingly. Copious information about AP Biology can be found at http://www.collegeboard.com. The College Board audits this course and many universities will accept passing AP scores for academic credit. As such, we will proceed as if this is a college level course, not a college preparatory class. Things are going to move pretty fast and exams will be difficult. (Note: The formal syllabus can be found on my website.)

Class Time and Home Time: We have far less time than we actually need. We will do close to an hour a day in class and I expect another few hours per week from you at home. Most weeks we will have two days of lecture and/or group work/discussion (approximately 40%), two days of lab time (approximately 40%), and one day of review or quizzes. Because of the large amount of time we spend in lab work, you are expected to do a great deal of reading at home. Lectures will be far more valuable if you read the corresponding materials ahead of time really, please make this a habit if you intend to get as much out of this class as is possible.


Grading Requirements: There will be roughly 800 points during each semester, with an A being 90%, B 80%, etc. I do not curve or round grades. The following point values/percentages are estimates only and are subject to change.

~ 25% (200 pts) Exams: Exams will be a combination of multiple choice and free response questions and are meant to simulate AP testing conditions. They will predominantly use old AP questions and they will be timed. You will have one exam at the end of each quarter. The second quarter exam will have a lab practicum portion.

~ 16% (130 pts) Reading Quizzes: Every one to three weeks there will be a unit quiz.. These quizzes will generally contain a mix of multiple choice and free response questions.

~ 25% (200 pts) Lab Work: Of all the labs you do this semester, you must choose one on which to write a formal lab report. This will require independent lab work well beyond the scope of what is done in class. The formal report will be scored out of 100 points. Many labs have difficult and time sensitive set ups; because of this, there will be no make-ups for missed labs in this class. Some labs will have required pre-lab summaries or data analysis questions (separate from the formal lab report) points for these will vary in value.

~ 28% (220 pts) Reading Activities: These are designed to help you organize your ideas for the tremendous amount of material we will cover. They are scored out of 10 points and are generally graded for completion only.

~ 6.25% (50 pts) Projects as Assigned: Typically once each semester I will assign a research project or presentation.

Text: Campbell, Neil A., and Jane B. Reece. Biology in Focus AP* Edition 2013, Addison-Wesley.

Class website: We will make extensive use of my website (http://www.asdk12.org/staff/mason_brian/). Here you will be able to find most class notes, assignments, a daily calendar, as well as review and lab materials. The website will be developed as the year progresses and resources will continue to be added as appropriate.

Course Outline: AP Biology and the AP exam center on four big ideas. Each of these ideas will be backed up by classroom assignments and lab experiences.

Big Idea 1: Evolution
The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.

Big Idea 2: Cellular Processes: Energy and Communication
Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.

Big Idea 3: Genetics and Information Transfer
Living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes.

Big Idea 4: Interactions
Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties.

Each big idea contains enduring understandings based on essential knowledge. The College Board has prescribed specific learning objectives for the enduring understandings which can be found on their website. I have divided the enduring understandings into 7 topics, which are largely dependent upon and relate to each other. The topics will include inquiry opportunities (labs) designed to teach students inquiry methods and practical lab skills in the context of the 4 big ideas. The tentative schedule will be posted on my website as the year progresses. All assignments and lab materials can be found on my site as well.