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4 Posts authored by: Amber Jonker

Sapling Learning Biology currently offers eight interactive laboratories on different topics in biology so you can help your students better navigate difficult concepts. You can find these interactives linked at the top of your course page, or ask your Tech TA for more information about the interactives available and how to include them in your course.


If you’d like to explore the use of interactives in your course even further, some great free resources can be found online at Learn.Genetics by the University of Utah. Ranging from Inheritance to Cell Biology to Ecology and more, these interactives, videos, and articles provide a fun way for students to tackle new information.

Want to teach your students about variation and gene interactions? The Pigeonetics lab is a comprehensive and fun pigeon breeding experiment focused on different types of inheritance. Want to explore the relationship between epigenetics and behavior? The Lick Your Rats interactive explores how maternal grooming habits induce epigenetic changes.

Learn Genetics is a fun resource you can use alongside your Sapling Homework to help engage your students and pique their curiosity about all of the wonders of biology.

Amber Jonker

Template Assignments

Posted by Amber Jonker May 14, 2016

Approximately 35 weeks have passed since the start of the fall semester, and in that time hundreds of new or updated questions have been added to the introductory biology, genetics, and anatomy and physiology libraries. Past newsletter updates have highlighted specific examples of new content or aspects of our content creation process.

Creating new questions is one of the core functions of the biology content team, but there are many others. For example, the content team is also responsible for matching questions from our library to specific textbooks. For each chapter of each textbook that we support, an experienced subject matter expert picks out appropriate questions from our content library. These questions are compiled into “template assignments,” which provide a convenient starting point for instructors looking to create assignments for their courses.

As our library grows, keeping track of our content becomes more challenging, but also more important. For this reason, the biology content team is engaged in a significant and ongoing effort to update the template assignments for all of our supported textbooks. After all, there’s no point in having the best content if nobody can find it!

Every question written for the Sapling Learning Introductory Biology, Genetics, or Anatomy and Physiology Libraries goes through an extensive process to ensure the highest possible quality and accuracy. All of the people who contribute to content development—authors, content reviewers, and final reviewers—are experienced educators with either a Masters or PhD in the biological sciences. At minimum, each question receives 4 hours of attention from one of your peers.

Our authors spend three to five hours in the initial authoring process, which includes researching how the topic is covered by most textbooks and writing the question, answer choices, hint, and solution. For each question, the author must also predict the most common errors a student might make and provide targeted feedback for each error. Next, a content reviewer spends at least 1 hour reviewing the question for its pedagogy and factual accuracy. A copy editor then looks over the question to ensure correct spelling and grammar. Finally, our content lead oversees the entirety of the subject and checks the question one last time.

In the era of the digital native students, educators are looking for new ways to engage students in the classroom. Digital natives think and learn differently than the students of yore—they tend to do well with short flashes of information accompanied by video and callouts.

CrashCourse is a great and completely FREE YouTube series hosted by youth icons, such as novelist John Green, that are designed for digital native learners. Series subjects range from Biology to Anatomy and Physiology to Economics to Chemistry and beyond!

Say you’d like to teach about evolutionary trees. Start with the CrashCourse Taxonomy video outside of class to give your students a primer. Follow up in class by allowing students to engage with the material using the Sapling Learning Evolutionary Trees Interactive while you answer questions and address misconceptions. Finally, check your students’ understanding using Sapling Learning homework questions that incorporate the interactive and solidify their learning.