Jan 20, 2020

iHub Biology

A new three-dimensional open educational resources (OER) high school curriculum

iHub biology class of teachers learning together.A pilot group of teachers in the Grant Wood AEA service area are exploring how to teach science differently using the inquiry hub (iHub) biology curriculum.

High school science teachers from the Alburnett,  Anamosa, Belle Plaine, English Valleys, HLV, Marion Independent, and North Linn school districts are part of the pilot group.

iHub is a full-year high school biology course anchored in phenomena and aligned to the Iowa CORE Science/Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The course was developed by teachers with the Denver Public Schools and researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University.

The high school students work in groups using the principles of biology to explain the following:
    •    Evolution - antibiotic resistance in bacteria in humans and changes to a bird population 
    •    Genetics - Duchenne Muscular dystrophy and gene editing
    •    Ecosystems - climate and population changes among large animals on the Serengeti

iHub biology group teachers learning together.Christopher Soldat, GWAEA science consultant, explained that the iHub curriculum introduces high school students to engaging natural phenomenon.

The units are organized around coherent storylines, in which students ask and investigate questions related to this anchoring phenomenon or design challenge.

“Students use the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) and the Cross Cutting Concepts (CCC) to figure out the Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) in high school Life Science.” Soldat explained. “Students, their questions and their need to 'figure it out for themselves' is a central part of the design of this curriculum.” 

The NGSS Design Badge has been awarded to parts of this top rated high school curriculum for its design and alignment to NGSS.

Ann Jameson, science teacher at Alburnett Junior/Senior High, explained that iHub is providing students an opportunity to figure out science. “Their level of learning has been deeper and given them a chance to learn authentically,” she said.

iHub biology group teachers learning together.“Students are learning about how science can make our lives better,” she continued. “We are learning about CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), which is the genetic engineering technology. This biotech could possibly be life changing for some people in the future.”

Mitch Hewitt, who teaches high school science with the Marion Independent School District, shared, “The biggest way that iHub is helping me teach is that it has created a process of figuring out by the students. Students are now understanding that they have to engage and try to figure things out instead of just being fed content and answers.”

Hewitt continued, “I am more a facilitator/discussion leader with background knowledge who can steer students in the right direction and help them sum up what things they have found out.”

“Currently my students are working on the mechanisms of evolution which is unit 1 bend 2 of the iHub,” he said. “My other classes are learning about how trees use CO2 and can reduce the negative impacts of climate change.”

Both Jameson and Hewitt shared that iHub is positively impacting student learning.

iHub biology group teachers learning together.“Students enjoy the collaboration it offers them in class,” Jameson said. “They also like how their learning can be transferred to other topics.”

“I am currently planning my other courses similar to iHub,” she continued. “I like the framework, the universal design of the curriculum, the opportunities students have to model/discuss their learning, and the relevance of the topics.”
“Students like the freedom of this curriculum,” Hewitt continued. “It allows them to work at their own pace during certain times. The discussion basis has helped many students with their understanding.”

“I have full incorporation of the iHub in my classes,” he concluded. “Now I am just adding extra things to help deepen student understanding.”

Soldat reflected that student learning using iHub seems to be more engaged. “Students want to figure out science,” he continued. “iHub allows them to ask more questions and expand their innate curiosity for learning.” 

The GWAEA VAST Center has been providing professional development support for this cohort of teachers. We are currently seeking other school districts who might be interested in being part of a second cohort. For information, contact Christopher Soldat at Grant Wood AEA, 319-626-6777.


Category: The Linker Science