Botany Unit Study

Kym Wright has provided the tools, the rest is up to us! I would have to say that this "unit study" qualifies as a one-semester course in Botany or beginning Plant Biology, rather than what we've come to see as a unit study. This is serious learning, complete with microscopic exploration, research and plenty of reading, replete with labs and experimentation.

Like her Microscope Unit (which would be excellent to use before this course, though not required), Kym has provided us with an excellent course framework that only requires us to gather books and materials. Lesson plans are complete, including references to basal books used in the study (such as the Abeka 10th grade Biology text and the Botany Coloring Book by Paul Young), pages of coursework to complete, labs to perform, vocabulary words to study, lab sheets to copy, even estimated range of days needed to complete the work. Flexibility is built in as you list other resources depending on what books you are able to find to supplement your study. Kym goes even further in providing us blank sheets to create our own lesson plans, if desired.

Questions and activities do require the use of additional resources. Kym has provided a good list of possible books to use under each topic heading; however, most of the recommended book are now out of print or but are available to purchase used. Most of the websites also might be obsolete, but she encourages us to do our own research. She assures us that any good books, videos, or other resources accessible to us are fine to use. This allows us to select books or other resources appropriate to the grade levels of the student(s) we are including in the study. And this is a study that would be easy to use with various grade-level children together. Younger children, of course, will need more help, especially with any lab and microscope work. An older child could use this unit independently. I personally think it could replace or be substituted for a large segment of life science or even the plant biology portion of a high school biology course. The labs are certainly more interesting and easier to implement than those found in these texts, and the emphasis on hands-on learning pervading this Unit Study is much more appealing and conducive to actual learning than the typical dry study provided by a standard text.

The lesson plans guide you through the course and utilization of course components. The very first lesson plans include time and directions for gathering course materials, including lab equipment and other resources. You will have to purchase some lab supplies (which can get pricey) to get the full benefit from the course. A list of suppliers is provided along with a complete materials list for coursework and lab work (broken down by lab). Vocabulary words for the vocabulary work are also included in an appendix, as are the flashcards that students will use to master botany concepts such as leaf shape, leaf margin, parts of plants, etc. All lab sheets are provided, also - and these are truly works of art. They are crisp, clean, and beg to be filled out!

As I mentioned before, the focus is hands-on learning, though the reading and research end of a good study is not slighted. One research paper is required, though many other short answer, essay-type questions, and drawings provide ample documentation of learning. All work, including completed labs sheets and botanical specimens, is compiled by the student and kept in a notebook. This provides an excellent "finished product" for the student as well as a sense of accomplishment as they complete the study. Rev. 2002; 196 pgs., pb.

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