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AP Biology Syllabus 2016-2017

Coronado High School






Welcome to the Advanced Placement Biology course at Coronado High School.  AP Biology is designed to be the equivalent of a two-semester college biology course.  AP Biology includes topics regularly covered in a college Biology course.  The textbook used is a college Biology text.  The laboratories are equivalent to those done by college students.  AP Biology is designed to be taken after the successful completion of a high school course in biology and chemistry, preferably with a grade of B or higher.


AP Biology includes those topics regularly covered in a college introductory biology course and differs significantly from the standards-based, high school biology course with respect to the kind of textbook used, the range and depth of topics covered, the kind of laboratory work performed by students, and the time and effort required of the students. 


The textbook used by AP Biology is also used by college biology majors and the kinds of labs done by AP students are equivalent to those done by college students.  AP Biology is a course that aims to provide students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology.  This course is designed to prepare students for the Biology College Board Advanced Placement Exam.


 At the completion of this course, students are expected to take the College Board’s scheduled AP Biology exam in May.  To assist students in their preparation for this test, the format of the assessments used throughout this course are similar to the AP Biology exam assessments.




 Course Overview


The AP Biology course and the AP Biology exam has been reorganized to cover four “Big Ideas,” enduring understandings, and essential knowledge within each of the major idea concepts. 












Big Ideas

Enduring Understanding

Big Idea One

The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.

  1. Change in the genetic makeup of a population over time is evolution.


  2. Organisms are linked by lines of descent from common ancestry.


  3. Life continues to evolve within a changing environment.


  4. The origin of living systems is explained by natural processes.

Big Idea Two

Biological systems utilize energy and molecular building

blocks to grow, reproduce, and maintain homeostasis.

  1. Growth, reproduction, and maintenance of the organization of living systems require free energy and matter.


  2. Growth, reproduction, and dynamic homeostasis require that cells create and maintain internal environments that are different from their external environments.


  3. Organisms use feedback mechanisms to regulate growth and reproduction, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.


  4. Growth and dynamic homeostasis of a biological system are influenced by changes in the system’s environment.


  5. Many biological processes involved in growth, reproduction, and dynamic homeostasis include temporal regulation and coordination.

Big Idea Three

Living systems retrieve, transmit, and respond to

information essential to life processes.

  1. Heritable information provides for continuity of life.


  2. Expression of genetic information involves cellular and molecular mechanisms.


  3. The processing of genetic information is imperfect and is a source of genetic variation.


  4. Cells communicate by generating, transmitting, and receiving chemical signals.


  5. Transmission of information results in changes within and between biological systems.

Big Idea Four

Biological systems interact and these interactions possess complex properties.

  1. Interactions within biological systems lead to complex properties.


  2. Competition and cooperation are important aspects of biological systems.


  3. Naturally occurring diversity among and between components within biological systems affects interactions with the environment.



Inquiry-based, hands-on laboratories will be conducted in this course in order to develop higher-order thinking and laboratory skills.  The laboratory component of the class will make up 25% of instructional time.  The labs are from Advanced Placement Biology: Investigative Labs: An Inquiry-Based Approach.  During these laboratory experiments data analysis, formal reporting of results, and discussion of the process of science is emphasized. 


Course Outline


The course outline below includes a listing of topics, chapters and labs/activities that will be conducted in AP Biology.  The letters EK represent the Essential Knowledge for each unit, and SP stands for Science Practices (see Investigative Laboratory Component section below).  Note:  the course outline does not include time set aside for practice tests and reviews.  Unit lengths are approximate and may be changed at the teacher’s desecration.




Big Idea 1: Evolution










Discussion Topics



Natural Selection


  • Ch. 22. Darwin’s explorations and theory of descent with modification (EK 1A1)


  • Ch. 22. Evidence for evolution (EK 1A4)


  • Ch. 23. Natural selection (EK 1A1, EK 1A2, EK 1A3, EK 4C3, EK 4C4)


  • Ch. 23. Evolution of populations and the Hardy-Weinberg Law (EK 1A1, EK 4C3, EK 4C4)


  • Ch. 24. Speciation and extinction (EK 1C1, EK 1C2)


  • Ch. 24. Populations continue to evolve (EK

1C1, EK 1C2, EK 1C3, EK 2E2)





Chapter 22.2-22.3

Chapter 23

Chapter 24










AP LAB 2 (SP 1,2,5)


Lizard Speciation Lab






Evolutionary Biology


  • Ch. 25. Early Evolution of life (EK 1B1, EK


    1C1, EK 1D1)


  • Ch. 25. Origin of life (EK 1B1, EK 1C1, EK


    1D2, EK 4B3)


  • Ch. 26. Phylogenetic and cladograms (EK 1B2, EK 1D2)


  • Ch. 26. Evolutionary patterns (EK 1B1, EK


    1B2, EK 1C2, EK 1D2)


  • Ch. 27 Prokaryotes




Chapter 25.1-25.4

Chapter 26.1-26.4

Chapter 26.6

Chapter 27



Biotechnology: Bacterial

Transformation AP LAB 8 (SP 1,3,5,6,7)



Constructing cladograms







Big Idea 2: Molecules, Cells, Energy and Homeostasis






Discussion Topics




Chemistry of Life


  • Ch. 3. Polarity of water & its importance to biological systems (EK 2A3)


  • Ch. 3. Cohesion, adhesion, specific heat of water and its importance to biological systems (EK 2A3)


  • Ch. 3. Acids, bases, and buffers (EK 2A3)


  • Ch. 4. Carbon’s role in the molecular diversity of life (EK 1D1, EK 2A3)


  • Ch. 5. Monomers, polymers, & reactions involved in building & breaking them down considering polar/nonpolar interactions (EK 4A1, EK 4C1)


  • Ch. 5. Various level of structures in protein

& carbohydrates (EK 4A1, EK 4C1, EK 4B1)





Chapter 3.1 and 3.2







Chapter 4.1 and 4.2


Chapter 5










Enzyme Activity


(SP 4,5,6,7)










  • Ch. 6. Similarities & evolutionary relationships between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells (EK 2B3)


  • Ch. 6. Cell membrane structure and function (EK 2A3, EK 2B3, EK 4A2, EK 4B2)


  • Ch. 7. Fluid mosaic model (EK 2B1)


  • Ch. 7. Methods of transport across membranes (EK 2B2)


  • Ch. 11.Cell communication signals, receptors, and responses (EK 2E1, EK 2E2, EK 3D1, EK 3D3, EK 3D4)


  • Ch. 11 Apoptosis (EK 2E1)


  • Ch.48-49 Nervous system (EK 3E2, EK 4A4)


  • Ch. 45. Endocrine system (EK 2C1, EK 3D2)





Chapter 6.2-6.5






Chapter 7



Chapter 11



Chapter 48 overview

Chapter 49.2

Chapter 45.1-45.2






Diffusion & Osmosis AP LAB 4

(SP 2,4,5)










Cell Energy and Metabolism


  • Ch. 8. Thermodynamics and free energy (EK 2A1)


  • Ch. 8. ATP structure and function (EK 2A1)


  • Ch. 8. Enzyme catalysis, activation energy and specificity (EK 4B1)


  • Ch. 9. Cellular respiration, glycolysis, citric acid cycle, electron transport chain, & chemiosmosis (EK 2A1, EK 2A2)


  • Ch. 10.Photosynthesis mechanisms; light/dark reactions (EK 2A1, EK 2A2)





Chapter 8

Chapter 9.1-9.5








Chapter 10.1-10.3



Cellular Respiration


(SP 1,2,3,6,7)





(SP 1,2,3,6,7)


Plant pigments: chromatography





Big Idea 3: Heredity and Genetics






Discussion Topics




Mitosis and Meiosis


  • Ch. 12. Cell cycle (EK 3A2)


  • Ch. 12.Meiosis reduces the number of chromosomes sets (EK 3A2)


  • Ch. 13 and 27.Asexual vs sexual reproduction and evolutionary advantages


    (EK 3A1, EK 3A2, EK 3C2)


  • Ch. 13. Genetic variation in offspring and impact on evolution (EK 3A2, EK 3C2)




Chapter 12




Chapter 13.1-13.3

Chapter 27.1-27.2


Cell Division: Mitosis

and Meiosis


(SP 1,5,6,7)








Mendelian Genetics


  • Ch. 14. Chromosomes (EK 3A3)


  • Ch. 14. Patterns of Inheritance (EK 3A4)


  • Ch. 14. Predicting genetic outcomes & genetic counseling (EK3A3, EK4C2, EK4C4)


  • Ch. 15. Gene linking & mapping (EK 3A4)


  • Ch. 15. Phenotypes and genotypes (EK 3C1)





Chapter 14




Chapter 15.2-15.5



Dry lab: Human Traits







Molecular Genetics


  • Ch. 16. DNA & RNA structure and function


    (EK 3A1, EK 3C1)


  • Ch. 17. Protein synthesis, transcription, & translation (EK 3A1, EK 3C1)


  • Ch. 17. Mutations – basis for natural selection (EK 3B2, EK 3C1)


  • Ch. 18. Regulation of gene expression (EK


    3B1, EK 3B2, EK 4A3)


  • Ch. 18. Operons in bacteria (EK 3C1)





Chapter 16.1 – 16.2


Chapter 17.1-17.5





Chapter 18.1-18.4



Dry lab: Protein

synthesis models



DNA extractions






  • Ch. 19. Viral structure and replication (EK


    3A1, EK 3C3)


  • Ch. 20.Biotechnology and applications to society (EK 3A1)


  • Ch. 21.Bioinformatics and genomics (EK 3C1)


  • Ch. 43 immune system (EK 2D4)





Chapter 19.1-19.2



Chapter 20.1-20.2


Chapter 21.2 and 21.5


Example: Chapter 43






Restriction Enzyme

Analysis of DNA


(SP 3,6)










Big Idea 4: Organisms and Populations





Discussion Topics




Plants and their diversity


  • Ch. 38 and 39. Plant structure, growth, & development (EK 2E1, EK 2E2, EK 2E3)


  • Ch. 39. Plant hormones (EK 2D4, EK 2E3)


  • Ch. 36.Resource acquisition and transport in vascular plants (EK 2D3, EK 2D4)





Chapter 38.1


Chapter 39.2-39.3, 39.5


Chapter 36






(SP 1,2,4,6,7)



Stomata peels





Animal diversity


  • Ch. 40.Animal structure & function


    (EK 2A1, EK 2C1, EK 4B2)


  • Ch. 40. Homeostatic processes involve form, function and behavior (EK 2A1, EK 2C2)


  • Ch. 40. Feedback mechanisms (EK 2C1, EK 2D2, EK 2D3)


  • Ch. 51. Animal behaviors (EK 1A1, EK 1A2,

EK 1A3, EK 1A4, EK 2A1, EK 2E3, EK 3E1)





Chapter 40.1-40.3








Chapter 51.1-51.3




Animal Behavior


(SP 1,3,4,5,6,7)



Chi Square modeling





Ecology and Interactions


  • Ch. 52. Organism interactions (EK 2D1)


  • Ch. 53. Population dynamics (EK 2A1, EK


    2D1, EK 4A5)


  • Ch. 54. Communities and ecosystems


    (EK 2D2, EK 2E3, EK 4A6, EK 4B3, EK 4C4)


  • Ch. 55. Ecosystems (EK 4A6)


  • Ch. 56.Human activities and their impact on ecosystems (EK 2D2, EK 2D3, EK 4B4, EK 4C4)





Chapter 52.2


Chapter 53


Chapter 54.1-54.2


Chapter 55


Chapter 56.1 and 56.4





Energy Dynamics


(SP 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)






















Coursework and Grading


AP Biology is a two-semester course.  AP Biology is a very fast paced course and students should expect to spend 5-8 hours each week reading and studying AP Biology outside of class.  Note taking is required in class as well as from the text in conjunction with homework assignments.  Assignments will contain correct spelling and grammar, legible writing, complete thoughts, and citations when necessary. 


Daily attendance is expected and late work is not accepted in this course.  Labs will constitute 20% of coursework and usually take up 1 or 2 days of each week.   Homework will include reading assignments, completing lab reports, preparing for class discussion, research to enhance labs, studying for tests and quizzes, and pre-lab assignments.   Unit tests may cover 2 to 3 chapters at a time and will mainly consist of multiple-choice questions and some short answer questions.  Comprehensive finals will be given at the end of the fall and spring semesters.   




Academic Integrity


Students are expected to conduct themselves as individuals of honesty, integrity and character.  Each student is expected to produce and turn-in original work.   Students will be informed when assignments are collaborative; otherwise all work is expected to be original.  All acts of academic dishonesty including plagiarism, collusion and duplication of work will be considered serious and handled accordingly.  


Students should not do anything that would bring their integrity into question.  All assessments (homework, labs, quizzes, exams, projects, etc.) are expected to be completed only by the student.  Collaboration and teamwork is allowed on most labs, but individual work should ALWAYS be distinctly original from the lab partner’s work or only partial credit will be earned.  Always properly cite and credit sources that are not your own (text, data, pictures, etc.).  Students copying and students allowing others to copy their work are both academically dishonest.   Copying work, full or in part, is in violation of Coronado High School’s academic honesty policy and students sharing test information between classes are also in violation of the academic honesty policy.  Dishonesty is not tolerated and will always result in a “0” on that test or assignment, a student referral will be written up, and possible removal from the National Honor Society and other such organizations.  DON’T DO IT!




Make-up Work


It is the sole responsibility of each student to find out what they missed and make the appropriate arrangements to make-up the work.  Students have one-day for each excused absence day to make-up any missed assignments.  Make-up exams will follow the same rules as above and can only be completed during lunchtime or after school.


Students with excused absences only will be allowed to make-up missed assignments, labs and exams.  If any assignment exceeds this time frame the student will receive a zero for that work.



Daily, punctual attendance is extremely important to your success in this course.  Lab work must be made up within a day or two upon returning to school.  Some lab materials will not keep beyond the day of the laboratory.  Some labs require extensive teacher preparation.  Therefore, not all labs can be made up.  Alternative assignments may be used in place of missed lab work at the discretion of the teacher.  DO NOT MISS LAB DAYS.    




Classroom Behavior


Students are expected to be respectful of the rights of others.  These rights include the right to learn and study in a non-hostile, or intimidating environment, the right to express opinion without ridicule or judgment, and the right to be treated in a dignified and mature manner.


Students must be willing and able to work within a collaborative in a cooperative learning environment.  Any miss behavior will be handled appropriately through the policies and procedures outlined in the EPISD Student Handbook.






Tests                                                        60 %

Laboratory activities                             20 %

Class/Homework and IQ quizzes        10 %

Final Exam                                              10 %




Grading Policy


This course will focus on content mastery of major biological concepts as set forth by the state of Texas and the El Paso Independent School district.  District policy allows students to re-challenge (redo) any assignment that they failed.  I have expanded this policy to include all students regardless of their initial grade with the following provisions:


  • Redo exams will cover the same material however the format in which the exam is presented may vary. 

  • Redo grades will be added to the grade book accentually averaging out the original exam grade.

  • Redo policy will include all work including exams, lab reports, IQ work and the BIO journal.

  • Lab work will be excluded from the redo policy because of the nature of lab work which will require extra materials, setups times and the actual time to make up the lab (1or 2 days).

  • Redo work must be redone in the classroom before school, at lunch time or after school.

  • Students have 5 days to redo and turn in all redo work.


Food in the classroom


Ongoing laboratory experiments will be the norm inside this classroom.  Thus no food, candy or beverages of any kind will be allowed in the classroom.  Any food item brought into the classroom will be disposed of immediately.  Bottled water will be allowed, as long the bottle remains closed when not being consumed.




Instructional Resources


Biology, by Campbell, Reece 9th Edition

AP Biology Investigative Labs: An Inquiry-based Approach. College Board.  2012

5 Steps to a 5, AP BIO Study Guide and access code: PG8WR-F66XC




The Investigative Laboratory Component


AP Biology is structured around inquiry in the lab and the use of seven science practices throughout the course.  Students are given the opportunity to engage in student-directed laboratory investigations throughout the course for a minimum of 25% of instructional time.  Students will conduct a minimum of eight inquiry-based investigations (two per Big Idea).  Additional labs may be conducted to deepen student’s conceptual understanding and to reinforce the application of science practices.   While all labs will be performed in a group, only the data collection portion of the lab is group work; analysis questions and conclusions MUST be done individually.   Laboratory topics are:  diffusion and osmosis, enzyme catalysis, mitosis and meiosis, plant pigments and photosynthesis, cell respiration, molecular biology, genetics, population genetics and evolution, transpiration, physiology and the circulatory system, animal behavior, and dissolved oxygen and aquatic primary productivity. 


 Seven practice skills will be used by students on a regular basis in formal labs as well as activities outside of the lab experience.  The course will provide opportunities for students to develop, record, and communicate the results of their laboratory investigations.  Each year, some of the questions on the objective portion of the AP Biology Exam and/or one or more of the four essay questions may reflect the topics and objectives associated with the AP Biology labs.  




Science Practices:  The student can…              


  1. Use representations and models to communicate scientific phenomena and solve scientific problems.

  2. Use mathematics appropriately.

  3. Engage in scientific questioning to extend thinking or to guide investigations within the context of the       AP course.

  4. Plan and implement data collection strategies appropriate to a particular scientific question.

  5. Perform data analysis and evaluation of evidence.

  6. Work with scientific explanations and theories.

  7. Connect and relate knowledge across various scales, concepts, and representations in and across       domains. 


    Lab Reports/Lab Notebooks:  All of the work done in preparation, during, and after the lab will be incorporated into a lab notebook.  A post-lab report will be completed for the majority of labs.  The format of each lab report may be different (papers, poster presentations, tri-folds, self-assessments, etc.), but the formal lab report will have elements in common for all labs.  Guidelines will be provided.




Electronic Device Policy


 Some personal electronic devices (such as cell phones) may occasionally be incorporated into classroom use.  However, students are NOT permitted to use such devices unless instructed to do so.  Texting during class is unacceptable.


As the use of personal electronic devices increase in the classroom our rules must be identified clearly and enforced consistently and fairly.  Here are the rules and policies for electronic device in my room;


1.  As students enter the classroom they must immediately turn off all electronic devices.


2.  Students phones must be parked in the designated area throughout the entire class period.


3.  Laptops must be turned off and closed throughout the entire class period.


5.  The use of personal laptops may be restricted if a student is caught doing assignments that are not biology, looking at non-biology web sites or listening to music.


6.  Smart phones and laptops will be allowed only for the purpose of completing or facilitating academic work as assigned by the teacher.


  1.  Students caught violating these rules will have their electronic devices picked up by campus security.   No banter and drama!











Student Dress Code:


Purpose: The goal at Coronado High School is to maximize our students’ learning so that they will become productive members of society.  Our students and staff recognize that appropriate dress is one of the necessary elements needed to nurture learning.  This dress code has been created by students and faculty to insure safety and good hygiene, promote self-respect and respect for others, show school pride and maximize learning.



  • Any clothing and/or accessories perceived as evidence of membership or affiliation to an unauthorized gang, club or organization is strictly prohibited.  Clothing and/or accessories which depict illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco are prohibited.  Clothing and/or accessories which are deemed lewd, vulgar or offensive are prohibited. Inappropriate tattoos must be covered.


  • Clothing must completely cover the area of one’s body from the arm pit to the middle of the thigh.  All undergarments must be completely covered.  See through clothing and clothing with rips which expose undergarments and the undergarment area are prohibited.  Tops must have a secured strap which goes over the shoulder or around the neck. 


  • All oversized or excessively tight garments and clothing are prohibited. 


  • Any piercing deemed a safety risk is prohibited.  Examples would include piercings with spiked or sharp ends and chains that could potentially be snagged.


  • Sun glasses must be removed when indoors.


  • All hats/non-religious head coverings must be removed in the classroom.


  • Shoes must be worn at all times.


  • Pajamas and bedroom slippers are prohibited.


  • The administration reserves the right to address any issue not specifically identified in this code which compromises student learning, safety, hygiene, or respect of self and others.


Consequences: Teachers who are concerned a student is in violation of code will have the student escorted from the class room to a school administrator who will address the issue. Other faculty who are concerned a student is out of code should contact an administrator to address the student. The goal is to correct the issue and return the student to class as soon as possible so learning is maximized.  Referrals for dress code should be created by administrators who have identified serious or repeated infractions






AP Exam


It is the expectation of the course that all students will take the AP exam in May.  The AP Biology exam is three hours in length and is designed to measure a student’s knowledge and understanding of modern biology.  These exams are administered during the month of May.  The exam consists of two sections.  Section 1 is a 90-minute 63 item multiple choice section and six grid-in questions (50% of exam grade).  Section two is a 90-minute period for free response questions (50% of exam grade).  The free response questions include two long free response essays and six short free response essays.  These generally connect to lab experiences.   The 2017 test is scheduled for May 8th.


















General Laboratory Safety Rules


  1. Conduct yourself responsibly in this class.  Horseplay and pranks are not appropriate behavior in a science classroom.

  2. Follow all written and verbal instructions carefully.  Ask questions if you do not understand.

  3. Do not touch any equipment or materials before instructed to do so.


  5. Never start the lab unless you have received prior approval from the teacher.

  6. Always read the lab instructions before you perform a lab.

  7. Keep your work area neat and clean.

  8. Always replace the cap on a bottle.

  9. Know the location and operation of all safety equipment.

  10. Do not run in the lab.

  11. Notify the teacher if an unsafe condition exists in the classroom.

  12. Dispose of all chemicals as directed by the teacher.

  13. Keep your hands away from your face while doing labs.  

  14. Always wash your hands after the clean-up is complete.

  15. Rinse out all glassware and leave it to dry in the designated locations.

  16. Stay at your lab bench during labs.

  17. Know what to do if there is a fire drill.

  18. Immediately report ALL injuries, no matter how minor, to the teacher.

  19. Use the eyewash or shower if you are splashed with a chemical.  

  20. Rules may be modified for specific lab situations.




    1.  Safety glasses must be worn when specified by the teacher. 2.  Avoid wearing contact lenses when using caustic chemicals.

  1. Tie long hair back.

  2. Do not wear long dangling jewelry.

  3. Always wear closed-toe shoes.


    Handling Chemicals


  1. Always assume that the chemicals are hazardous.

  2. Double-check the label before using a chemical.

  3. Take only the amount of chemical you will use.

  4. Never return unused chemicals to their original container.

  5. Never put a chemical near your nose or mouth.

  6. Never remove chemicals or other materials from the lab.

  7. Always hold the chemical bottles with two hands when transporting them.





    Handling Glassware


  1. Never handle broken glass.

  2. If a piece of glassware breaks, notify the teacher immediately.

  3. Always inspect glassware before use.  Never use chipped or cracked glassware.


    Heating Substances


  1. Use caution when heating something with a Bunsen burner.  

  2. Do not put any substance in the flame, and always light the burner at arm’s length.

  3. Never leave a lit burner unattended.

  4. Never look into a container that is being heated.


    Electrical Safety


  1. Never put anything other than an electrical plug into an electrical outlet.

  2. Always remove an electric plug from a socket by grasping and pulling the plug itself.  Do not pull on the electrical cord.




    Failure to conduct yourself safely, respectfully, and in accordance with safety rules may result in being restricted from conducting labs, failure, and/or removal from the classroom.