Viruses and Monerans

Bill Williams
National Science Teachers Association Recommends
July 2002

[Review of Microorganisms Series] Microorganisms is a set of four, 20-minute videotapes that biology teachers will find very useful. This very interesting collection of instructional materials provides an effective means for introducing students to cell biology. Appealing, well-written, and engaging videos bring cells, cell parts, and cell processes to life for students in a way that a textbook cannot. The videos' coverage of such difficult topics as cellular transport, cell division, and homeostasis, among others, will be a valuable addition to any biology teacher’s collection of materials. The animated representations of cells and cell parts are three-dimensional and accurate. Throughout each video, the narrator poses a “You Decide” statement designed to stimulate inquiry and discussion. Each of the four videos (The Cell, Cell Processes,, Protists, and Viruses and Monerans) is supported by a teacher’s guide that includes a video script, learning objectives, pre- and post-tests with answer keys, a video review, and student activities. All assessment and activity masters are reproducible. Although the content is solid, the suggested assessments and activities are completely fact-oriented and require little, if any, application of learning. For example, an activity on food preservation in the Viruses and Monerans unit has students list the foods they have eaten over the past few days and the food preservation method for the food. The opportunity to explore how food preservation is accomplished within the context of what they have been learning about cells and cell processes is missed. Used as a resource for establishing the conceptual frameworks of cellular biology, however, these videos and their support material are a worthy instructional tool. I would readily recommend this video package for initial instruction, review, and remediation at the high school level. Once students digest the visual images and become engaged in the rich vocabulary, they will embark on an exciting adventure into their own lives and surroundings. These instructional materials will serve as a solid foundation for investigating the intricacies of cellular dynamics.