Literacy Advantage

Course materials required. See 'Course Materials' below.

Biology Literacy Advantage focuses on the mastery of basic biological concepts and models while building scientific inquiry skills and exploring the connections between living things and their environment.

The course begins with an introduction to the nature of science and biology, including the major themes of structure and function, matter and energy flow, systems, and the interconnectedness of life. Students then apply those themes to the structure and function of the cell, cellular metabolism, and biogeochemical cycles. Building on this foundation, students explore the connections and interactions between living things by studying genetics, ecosystems and natural selection, and evolution. The course ends with an applied look at human biology.

Scientific inquiry skills are embedded in the direct instruction, wherein students learn to ask scientific questions, form and test hypotheses, and use logic and evidence to draw conclusions about the concepts. Lab activities reinforce critical thinking, writing, and communication skills and help students develop a deeper understanding of the nature of science.

Extensive scaffolding aids below-proficient readers in understanding academic science content and in making the leap to higher-order thinking. The controlled release of scientific vocabulary helps struggling readers find success with complex material. This strategic support, including explicit comprehension and vocabulary strategies, helps students master material while simultaneously developing their literacy skills. Note-taking guides support engagement with direct instruction and use concept maps, illustrations, and graphic organizers to aid students in developing crucial study skills.

The content is based on the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and is aligned with state standards.

Course Materials

Semesters 1 and 2: Required

  • Biology: Exploring Life Lab Manual, Student ed. Neil Campbell, Brad Williamson, and Robin Heyden (Prentice Hall, 2004).
    ISBN-10: 0130642665 / ISBN-13: 9780130642660

Semesters 1 and 2: Optional

  • This course includes the option of either hands-on or dry lab activities. Dry labs require only the lab manual; there are no additional lab materials needed for these activities. Hands-on labs require specified materials. For a list of hands-on lab materials, go to In the upper-right corner, under Quick Links, select Course Materials.
Two semesters