First week of AP® Environmental Science (Unit 0)

It is common to do introductory lessons or activities with students the first week or two in any class and in AP Environmental Science. Some teachers call this “Unit 0”. This is OPTIONAL as you can cover all these items later in the year. If you do decide to do a Unit 0, I put together a list of resources you could use during this first week or two.

First Few Days of Class

In some schools, students switch their schedule during the first few days or week of school. It is difficult to do anything very important for our curriculum during those days, because you don’t want a student who switched into your class a few days into the semester to miss that content or skill. These are some ideas that are helpful, but not essential to our curriculum. All of these can be completed with distance learning.

Scientist Role Models (a nice resource for diversity in science)https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/scientist-role-models
Think like a Scientisthttps://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/think-scientist-gorongosa
I am a Scientist (another good resource for diversity in science)https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/07/i-am-a-scientist/?fbclid=IwAR1Q2rFFFuJAi6M2QPSFNvxsGZXZI9yLbs2mtS6etgpN6zii71nbjGX3VWg
Asking Scientific Questionshttps://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/asking-scientific-questions
HHMI Human Impact on the Environmenthttps://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/anthropocene-human-impact-environment
HHMI Website

After Students have Settled into Classes

Once students have settled into their schedules for the most part, these are some ideas of things that many teachers like to do to introduce our subject content and skills. In my school, by about day 3 or 4, I can begin with important content, but you have to adjust for your school and schedule-changes. All of these items are covered later in the curriculum so it is not necessary to do them first. Some teachers wait and cover in context in Unit 5.

The Lorax (Topic 5.2)The Lorax-original
Math Diagnostic (Science Practice 6)-Can also be done with distance learninghttps://teachingapscience.com/apesmathstrategy/
Human Footprint (Topic 5.11)-Can also be done with distance learninghttps://www.footprintcalculator.org/
Tragedy of the Commons (Topic 5.1)https://teachingapscience.com/tragedy-commons-5e/
The post above is for an in-person class.
Click for an online simulation.
Amazon.com: The Lorax (Classic Seuss) (9780394823379): Dr. Seuss ...

Teaching skills in context

I teach many skills such as graphing or scientific method as we do them in a lab throughout the year. This saves time over doing a “graphing review”, or “scientific method/experimental design review” at the beginning of the year.

For example, in the cemetery lab, I re-teach students how to make a correct graph. In subsequent labs, I will also re-teach, but offer less help to build their competency.

Cemetery Lab Graph

I also scaffolding scientific method or experimental design by first modeling a good controlled experiment with a soil salinization lab. Then, a couple of weeks later, students design their own lab with thermometers outside in my Climate Change and Cities Lab.

With math, however, I do a math diagnostic at the beginning of the year and then have specific math practice days every other week or so. I also add math wherever possible to labs and exams. I do this method, because my students are at radically different math abilities and I found this to be the best strategy over time.

Math Diagnostic

Click for Unit 1 resources

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