Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Here's a novel thought: instead of being taught as mindless, slavish dogma, evolutionary biologists have been busy in the last 150 years. 

They've been testing, retesting, modifying and in some cases rejecting aspects of Darwin's theory. This Power Point explains some of the major innovations, which (by the way) are all in the textbook:

Students who need to download this Power Point to complete their notes, and the Lecture Guide based on it, can do so here.

Students must finish these notes right away by completing the Lecture Guide, which will be distributed in class TODAY (Tuesday, June 2nd).   The Lecture Guide will be collected on the day of your final, Biology students, and treated as part of your notes.  Make sure it is completed!

In addition, there are notes on 'Comparing Primates' that goes with a lab activity to be completed by the end of class on Friday, June 2nd.   Some of this information, from Chapter 32, will appear on your final:

Again, students who need to download this Power Point to complete their note  can do so here.

Finals begin on a Monday, rather than later, so it will not be possible to have a Study Session in the final week of school.  A Study Guide, however, will be available on Friday, June 3rd, and students may now sign up for a Study Session the following Saturday morning (8:30-10:30). Significant extra credit can be earned by students who attend and complete activities. 

 The most important obligation for all students, however, is the ESSAY.  The Final Draft is past due.  Students who have not attempted this 600-point Project have been notice in class.  No essays will be accepted after Wednesday, June 8th.   

Friday, May 20, 2016


Students, we have reached the end of the semester.   That means a number of things:

  • First, as of Monday the 23rd, Mr. Hatfield is no longer taking any work from the previously-completed Unit 7, which ended on Thursday, May 11th.   The only work now being accepted is from Unit 8, shown below in the FINAL SYLLABUS.   Focus on the work that can make a difference.

  • The due dates for the first and second drafts of your Evolution Essay are now past due.  Mr. Hatfield has placed these items on the FINAL SYLLABUS and is still accepting them for full credit.   However, with only 13 days of instruction remaining, students have very little time to take advantage of these items, which allow you to receive detailed feedback from Mr. Hatfield to help you improve your final submission.   Make wise decisions with the time remaining.

  • As shown in the FINAL SYLLABUS, the final exam for Biology students will be given between Monday, June 6th and Wednesday, June 8th.  The final day of instruction (June 9th) is a minimum day, and Mr. Hatfield will not be available on that date to help students makeup their exam.   Plan on attending your final exam as scheduled.

  • Some students have passed or are about to pass the point where it is mathematically possible for them to pass the course.  That is unfortunate, but it is also a reality.  Mr. Hatfield will provide those students with documentation prior to the Memorial Day holiday, so they can meet with their counselor before semester's end.  Poor choices in the past can't be changed, but better choices now can lead to a better future.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


In considering our Essay Project, which was outlined in an earlier post, there are certain problems that crop up over and over again.  Before you submit your second draft, please review this post to avoid common errors.

 One group of problems is MECHANICAL:  that is, they are simply problems that have to do with proper formatting and organization of the paper.   The other problems are TOPICAL:  they are specific to one of the four topics.

First, let's consider common MECHANICAL problems.

Students are expected to use a STANDARD font (Courier, Times, Arial or Helvetiva).   Don't use oversized or non-standard fonts, like this....

Students are expected to have the font in 10-12 point, and to have them single-spaced.   Texts should be RIGHT-justified, just like a textbook.   A student's essay should never be CENTER-justified, like this....

Students are expected to have citations INSIDE the body of the text.   These will typically contain either an author's last name, followed by a year, or perhaps the name of an Internet text page, followed by the year, and look like this....

These citations refer to a list of sources that appear in a Bibliography at the END of the paper, which should be APA style, and look something like this....

To help students generate their APA-style citations, students should use www.citationmachine.net.   Go to the site, select APA-style, and follow the prompts to creation your own citations for books, magazine/journal articles and web pages.

Again, here's an example that compares an annotated, sourced version of an assignment students have received in class in the current unit, called "Show Me A Walking Fish".   This image clearly compares the first page of an article written by Mr. Hatfield with a bibliography at the end of the article, containing the sources used to write the article:

Now, let's review some common TOPICAL problems with Essay Topics 1 and 2....

Students must present lines of evidence of common descent.  Identify them, but also EXPLAIN them.  In Topic 1, students must present four such lines of evidence.   In Topic 2, students need only present one line of evidence, but it must be very well-explained, because they are required to present an alternative hypothesis for this line of evidence as well as the one of common descent.

In Topic 1, students must be able to distinguish between evolution, natural selection and speciation.   Here's the general outline...

EVOLUTION:  genetic change in a population  FACT

NATURAL SELECTION:  a process in which the environment affects gene frequencies in a population, causing evolution.   FACT

THEORY OF EVOLUTION by NATURAL SELECTION (TENS):  What is theoretical is not evolution, or natural selection (those are both  FACTS  ).  Rather, the theory is the relationship between these two facts, and the claim that life's diversity over time has largely been produced by this interaction between the genome and the environment...

Speciation:  also a  FACT   :   the production of a new species, which is just one possible outcome of TENS.   

Both Topic 1 and Topic 2 are expected to present a claim which argues against their topic, either 'Evolution of Species' (Topic 1) or 'Creation of Species' (Topic 2).   They should have a citation for this claim matching a source in their bibliography.  They should then present evidence, preferably the result of experiments or observation, that argues against the previous claim.   In other words, they should be prepared to show they understand 'Pro' and 'Con' arguments regarding their topic...an excellent habit of mind that prepares us for higher-level coursework, such as college.

Other common TOPICAL problems, that often occur with Essay Topic 3....

Students are asked to explain why the modern theory of evolution (TENS) is a synthetic theory.   To do that, use the meaning of the word 'synthesis.'

Students may be asked to present or explain 'probability arguments' against TENS, which argue (in effect) that the spontaneous production of complex life forms from simpler forms or mere molecules is unlikely.   Students may be tempted to use arguments from thermodynamics ('the 2nd Law') or against abiogenesis (the origin of life).   This is permitted, but a few words of caution:

TENS is NOT a theory about the origin of life.

TENS is NOT a theory about the origin of the universe.

What is the title of Darwin's famous 1859 book that introduced his original theory?   That is the subject that TENS attempts to address.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Students, in this blog post you will find many important resources and updates to the syllabus.  In particular....Your last regular Unit Test has been rescheduled for Friday, May 13th.   There will be an After-School Study Session beginning at 3:15 and going until 5:00 on the prior date, Thursday, May 12th.

To help prepare for that Test, here is the latest set of  Lecture Notesand here is the PDF file of the Lecture Guide based upon the notes.   The previous sections of notes to be covered appears here, and here.

Perhaps most importantly, here is the link to the previous blog post describing your 600-point final semester project  , which consists of writing multiple drafts of a guided essay.  The first draft was due on Friday, April 29th.   THE SECOND DRAFT IS DUE WEDNESDAY, May 11th!

Finally, the title of the latest group of notes, incidentally, is taken from the Daniel Dennett book which also inspired a two-hour episode of the NOVA 'Evolution' series.    This episode is being shown in class in its entirety over the course of several lessons, and students may eventually be asked complete a Study Guide based on this program. 

To help students master this material,   the entire video has been made available through this YouTube channel, broken into 11 segments, shown below:

(For your convenience, I have embedded all 11 videos on this page, but these may not be visible on FUSD computers or on others that do not have recent versions of Java to run flash-based media.  If you are unable to open the individual videos on this post, go to the link above and watch them directly on YouTube)

Chapter 1. Prologue
Chapter 2. Common Ancestry

Chapter 3. Ecuador and the Tree of Life

Chapter 4. Natural Selection

Chapter 5. Mutation and HIV

Chapter 6. Complexity

Chapter 7. How The Eye Evolved

Chapter 8. God

Chapter 9. A Scientist Discusses Religion

Chapter 10. The Human Question

Chapter 11. Humans and The Tree of Life Chapter 12. Epilogue

Finally, here is the PBS web site that accompanies the entire series.
You can also watch parts of the videos there, but they are lower in resolution.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


The Power Point Lecture Notes on 'Deep Time' are available here.

Students who were absent on any date between Monday, April 25th and Tuesday, May 3rd are almost certainly missing much of these notes. Mr. Hatfield will review the final slides with students in class on Tuesday, and make sure that they have the Lecture Guide based upon these notes.....

FACT: The fossil record (and other lines of evidence) show us that populations of living things have "changed over time" (evolved)....

QUESTION: How can we explain this pattern of change in terms of NATURAL causes?

Monday, April 25, 2016


Monday and Tuesday's classes featured excerpts from 'Extinction!', which isNOVA's 'Evolution' series (2001). The video begins with paleontologist Peter Ward hunting for Permian fossils in South Africa's Karoo Desert, and relates ecological pyramids (which are like a 'house of cards') to mass extinctions, which are believed to be rare but important events in the history of life. It then follows the work of American Museum of Natural History researcher Michael Novacek in building the fossil record of small, shrew-like mammals from the Mesozoic, representative of the lineage that will survive the next mass extinction (the K/T event), which will claim the dinosaurs.
Episode 3 from

It concludes with an examination of the role of human activity in accelerating the rate of extinction, with important attention to conservationists like Alan Rabinowitz.

Students have been given a worksheet based upon this video as homework, which is now due. I encourage students to watch the video in its entirety for themselves if there are points that they don't get in class. We simply do not have enough class time to review this, but I know many students will want to see the whole story again, either by going to Google Video or watching it here:

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Here is the syllabus for Unit 7:

These notes were given in class on April 14th - April 19th:

The purpose of these notes is to give students some basic tools to evaluate claims about biological diversity, which is important for understanding evolution and necessary to understand the material students will research for their essay project.

In the next few lessons, students will receive another set of notes, and these will be intended to give students some basic tools to evaluate claims about geological time and the fossil record, which is also important for understanding evolution, and also necessary to understand the material students will be asked to research.

The Power Point on "Diversity and Classification" can be uploaded here. The Lecture Guide, given in class today, based on the Power Point can be found as a PDF file here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ESSAY PROJECT (600 points)

This week, students in Mr. Hatfield's Biology classes will receive instructions on their final Semester Project, which involves writing a 1,000-word essay in a series of drafts from a topic chosen by students related to the material in Chapters 15 and 16 of the text:

The essay has requirements in terms of format, bibliography and citations, sources and student integrity.   Mr. Hatfield discusses those requirements, at length, in the following video excerpt:

 Students who have additional questions about this assignment should refer to the syllabus and discuss their concerns with the instructor as soon as possible!

Monday, April 11, 2016


Students: almost done with our Unit on human genetics and biotechnology.   

Today you will receive a Study Guide in class for Wednesday's test, and we will complete the notes on Biotechnology.   You will also receive a Lecture Guide in class based on those notes, to help you make sure your notes are complete.   

There will be also be a signup sheet for an After-School Study Session, tomorrow, between 3:15 and 4:45, in Room N-63.

The Power Point Notes for this Unit are available HERE:

In case you lose it, the Lecture Guide for this Unit, on Biotechnology, is available as a PDF file HERE;

The Study Guide for the Unit 7 Test on Wednesday is available as a PDF file, HERE.

Monday, April 4, 2016


A handout, "Cracking the Code of Life", was made available last week and is on the class syllabus.   It was due last Friday.

The video viewed in class, and thus the handout based on it, can be viewed on-line here:

There is an entire PBS-sponsored web site to accompany this program. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Students, I hope you enjoyed your Spring Break.   Please see the new syllabus for Unit 7, below:

We now enter the 'home stretch' of the academic year.   Since many students are still struggling with below-average grades, this is a critical time for many of you.   Please work hard over the next nine weeks remaining.  And, speaking of hard work....

An important skill which you have been asked to rehearse repeatedly this semester involves creating electronic documents.   On the Poster Project, you were asked to include an APA-style bibliography of sources as part of your electronic document.   I have had this expectation of students for the last eight years, and in the past virtually all students demonstrated their ability to do this.

For whatever reason, this year many of my students have failed to do this, or seem unwilling to do this.   This is one of the major factors contributing to the high number of below-average grades in my course.

I AM NOT GOING TO CHANGE THIS ASPECT OF THE COURSE.  If you haven't yet mastered this skill, what are you waiting for?


Now, what needs to be done first as far as coursework?   Here's two items of great importance:

First, if you did not yet complete the Lecture Guide on Human Heredity, all the Power Point notes for that item can be found here:

The Power Point Notes for Human Heredity are available here.

Secondly, any other outstanding work from before Spring Break will be accepted through the end of school on Thursday, March 31st, but it is in fact late.   You can expect to receive a new Syllabus on that date for the next unit, which will be short and focus on human genetics and biotechnology.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Class, I am sorry not to be with you today or the rest of this week.  

 I was looking forward very much to being in class on Wednesday, when you assemble your poster projects.  Please make sure that you bring all your research and basic materials to class on Wednesday.  My colleagues will provide you with basic items like scissors, glue sticks or colored pencils; anything else is your responsibility.   Wednesday, March 9th, is the only day you will be given in-class to complete your posters, which are due the following day, March 10th.  



On Thursday’s class, you will receive a STUDY GUIDE for your next test.  A copy of that STUDY GUIDE is available on-line, HERE.

But, because of my illness, we will not be able to test you this week.   Therefore, your test has been postponed to Wednesday, March 16th.  There will be no STUDY SESSION, as my doctor wants to reduce the amount of time that I speak in front of the class.

Therefore, for the rest of this week, it is important that you cover the material in Chapter 14 in order to prepare for your test.  Chapter 14 also contains information about pedigree diagrams, which can be potentially very helpful additions to your poster projects.  Please follow OUR directions during this time, because if you don’t, there will be gaps in your understanding when you are tested on Wednesday.

Finally, I hope to return as soon as possible.   I will be grading student work and contacting parents during the rest of this week, so that I do not ‘fall behind’ in my responsibilities.   All of this information has also been placed in a post on the class blog, so that anyone who needs to know what the expectations are during my absence can be well-informed.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Students were given a worksheet in class to accompany the PBS Nova program "Life's Greatest Miracle."  

This is helpful for understanding the special form of cell division called meiosis, and how the 'crossing-over' of chromosomes helps generate genetic variation.

You can watch it online here!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


The lecture notes for the present unit on Genetics is available at this link. 

Also, students have previously been assigned a 100-point Group Project, a "Human Genetic Disorders" Poster in which each group of 2-3 students have been randomly given a different such disorder to research.

Students will have only one day in class to complete their POSTER PROJECT (Wednesday, March 9th).   The Project is DUE the next day, Thursday, March 10th.   


FINALLY...the next Unit Test is on Friday, March 11th.   There will be an AFTER-SCHOOL STUDY SESSION on Thursday afternoon, March 10th, between 3:15 and 4:45, in Room N-63.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


This Unit is already underway.   Students should already be assigned into two or three-person groups that are researching a particular genetic disorder.   The syllabus is below:

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Students who attended Saturday School on Feb. 20th not only got an opportunity to get caught up on past work, they also got to start work on some new material AHEAD of other students.  

That includes a Lecture Guide on "Mutations!"  A PDF of the Lecture Guide based upon the Power Point is available here.

It also includes a handout (here as a PDF file) based on a video hosted by Bill Nye, available on-line here:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Students who are delinquent in submitting their 'Twist of Fate' assignment received a notice in today's class:

Students, if you received one of these today, you need to return it right away.   Take this seriously, to avoid other consequences.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


A PDF of the Lecture Guide based upon the Power Point is available here.

And here is the FULL video on 'Mutation: The Science of Survival', portions of which were shown in class this week:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


STUDENTS:  Please remember that this warning has been posted on the whiteboard every day in class since last Friday.   

Failure to COMPLETE both parts of your 100-point 'Twist of Fate' assignment could lead to a 'zero' grade, and this would likely lead to students being assigned Saturday School.

Also....your first major exam (Unit Test 5) of the semester occurs this Friday, Feb. 12th.  To help you with THAT:

Here is a copy of the Study Guide for Friday's Exam, as a PDF file.

A sign-up sheet was circulated in-class today for Thursday's After-School Study Session.

PLEASE NOTE:   Thursday's Study Session does not begin until 4:15, and concludes at 6:00.



Friday, February 5, 2016


Ah, but every FUSD student has free email through the district.

You just have to know how to access your email account.   This post tells you how to do that.

So...all of Mr. Hatfield student's should know:

  • how to get FREE copies of 'Office 365'
  • how to store and attach electronic documents
  • how to access their FREE email through the district
THUS....there should be NO EXCUSES.   Students who don't complete their 'Twist of Fate' assignment may be assigned Saturday School, and there WILL be similar assignments in this course in the future, worth even more.


The Power Point with notes on DNA and Protein Synthesis (chapter 12) is available on-line here:

The Power Point notes are available for download here.

A PDF of the Lecture Guide based on the Power Point notes is available here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Many students are struggling to complete their 100-point assignment "A Twist of Fate", because they are having problems with electronic documents.   They may be unsure what software to use to create their document, or they may be unclear about how they should save their documents, or have trouble figuring out how to attach those documents to email.

This post attempts to address all of these problems.

Mr. Hatfield recommends that his students use the program Microsoft Word to create electronic documents.   This program is part of a group of programs sometimes called 'Microsoft Office', but more commonly-called Office 365.

Not only is Office 365 available on all FUSD-supplied computers, FUSD students can get up to five FREE copies for their home computer or mobile device.   However, some students are either not aware of this, or they do not know where to go to obtain their free software package.

So let's show you "where to go".   First, go to a search engine and enter this character string:


This may take you right to Office 365.  But sometimes, instead, it takes you to your student account with OneDrive, and you'll see this screen:

If that happens, look in the upper corner, where it says 'Office 365', and click on that.   When you do that, you should definitely arrive at THIS screen:

Now, a key point about all of this, is that once you have a word processing program on your home computer, you need to be able to save and email the documents you create.   The GREAT advantage of electronic documents is that they can be easily reedited in any way you want without either destroying the original or completely re-doing the assignment!   So, on your home computer, dedicate a folder where you store your classwork, so you can easily find previous work when you need to edit it, or attach it to an email.

And as far as emailing goes....look for one of these:

OK, actually not a literal paper clip.  But virtually all email programs use a "paper clip" icon as a means of attaching documents to an email.   I'm going to share some screen shots of some of the most popular email services below to make that point.....

So, if you've created your document....and you know where it's at on the computer you're using...look for the word 'attach' or a 'paperclip' icon in your email, and click on that item.   A window will open that will allow you to select the location on your computer where you've saved your document.   Find your document, select it, and it should be attached to your email.

Friday, January 15, 2016

VIDEO: The DNA Double Helix Discovery

Students in class today were shown the video below, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which describes the background of Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA's structure.  
This video compliments the 100-point assignment 'A Twist of Fate', based on a Time magazine article written by Michael Lemonick, written on the 50th anniversary of their discovery.  Lemonick's original article can be found here.

That assignment ("A Twist of Fate") has been adapted, with Mr. Lemonick's permission, to form the basis of a 5,000 word assignment in which students will evaluate the process of scientific discovery, and how Watson and Crick both collaborated and competed (!) with other scientists en route to unraveling 'the secret of life.'

That assignment ("A Twist of Fate") can be found as a PDF file HERE.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Students, I hope you enjoyed your winter break.   

The nature of the spring semester is that there will be several smaller holidays, many of them three-day weekends in January and February.   

To help you plan ahead, I have identified those days in your Unit 5 syllabus, below:

Please notice that we're going to continue to do TEXT COLLABORATION: 

That is, all of you will be expected to READ THE TEXT IN CLASS and (working in groups) SUBMIT PACKETS BASED ON THE TEXT. Students who fail to do this will lose points, and not be eligible to submit the EXTRA CREDIT 'RA' HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS. 

So, your success this semester will really have a lot to do with READING THE TEXT, AND RESPONDING TO THE TEXT.

We will begin Unit 5 (and 2016!) with a special 50-point assignment called 'Reviewing the Fall Semester'.   You can obtain that assignment as a PDF file here.

To help review, I am embedding the Power Point Notes on the Cell Cycle below: