The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

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The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins Powered By Docstoc
15777 Bowdoin Street Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Dear Future A.P. Biology Student,

As AP testing is nearly over and you start programming your classes for next fall, I’d like to take this
moment to introduce myself and tell you about the class you are considering taking next year. I want you
to understand what AP Biology is all about. Basically, what you are getting yourself into and what you
might expect to get out of the course. In addition, the requirements and preparation you need to do prior
to September will follow.

My name is Ms. Benke and I am thrilled to welcome you to into this challenging and exciting class! I
currently teach A.P. biology and Honors biology here at Pali, but I have also taught AVID, HSAS science,
and Integrated Science. My background in the sciences is extensive and varied: two summer internships
at the biotechnology company Tularik, three years of work as a research associate on the Human
Genome Project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and ten years of teaching experience:
Berkeley High 1997-2000 and Palisades Charter High School 2000-present. I earned my B.S. in Biology
from UCLA in 1994, certification to teach biology and chemistry from Mills College in 1998 and have
participated in various post-graduate courses and programs through UC Berkeley, UCLA, USD, and
LBNL. Additionally, I received my National Board Certification in 2008. My strengths as a teacher are:
organization, subject knowledge, humor, use of technology and incorporation of labs and demonstrations
for teaching concepts. Please view my website for further information about my teaching philosophy and
the classes I currently teach.

A. P. Biology is a college course taught in high school. The class is designed for advanced students with
a passion for learning and curiosity about the science of life. Colleges expect students to have an
“equivalent” experience to their freshman course, including the laboratories, and to have mastered its
content. Therefore, Biology is studied in depth and great detail, requiring dedicated study that results in a
more complete understanding of the material than explored in Honors Biology. Additionally, all students
may report an extra point when calculating their GPA when enrolled in AP Biology. The class culminates
with a multiple choice/essay test in early May from which students receiving a score of 3, 4 or 5 on the
test may receive college credit. This requires the course to be taught on an accelerated schedule.
Homework is assigned over Summer, Winter, and Spring Breaks with projects, dissections, and field trips
to follow in the later half of May and June. During the course of the year there are nightly reading
assignments, note taking assignments, homework free response questions, and lab reports assigned to
help you accomplish mastery of the course content. This work will count for 20% of your grade- unit
exams and the final exam account for the majority of points… 80% of your grade! Additional study time is
required to review material, study your notes, and use the workbook for practice.

The textbook and study guide we will be using is Biology by Campbell and Reece, Edition Six. Books will
not be checked out until September, but any college textbook or appropriate internet site may be used as
references to complete the summer assignments. Some students prefer to purchase their own book (I
recommend getting a used version through amazon) so they can write in and highlight their own book.
The biochemistry “Organic Compounds” and “Basics of Biology” questions are mandatory. Answers will
be collected and you will have an exam over this summer material on the very first day of school-
the short day when all classes meet. Please come prepared. The reading and website suggestions
are optional but highly recommended if you want to get the most out of the course- and rack up extra
credit points in your homework category.

Everyone needs to order a laboratory manual from the College Board. See information copied from
their website on the back side of this letter. You should also purchase a Cliffs AP Biology Preparation
Guide, which is reputed by former students to be the best study guide for the exam.

Ms. Julie Benke
15777 Bowdoin Street Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Directions for purchasing the AP Biology Lab Manual:

Online Ordering: Go to and click on “shop.” Using the product search box,
choose AP Biology in the Student Products section. You need: AP Biology Lab Manual for Students,
revised 2001.
Offline Ordering: If you prefer, you may place an order offline via telephone, fax or mail. American
Express, Discover, MasterCard, and VISA are accepted.
By Phone: To place an offline credit card order, call 800-323-7511, M-F, 8am to 9pm, EST.
By Fax: Purchase orders above $25 and credit card orders may be faxed to Publications Customers
Service at 888-321-7183. International customers may fax orders to 212-713-8265.
By Mail: To order store items by mail, send your request (with payment included) to:
                College Board Publications
                Dept. CBO
                P.O. Box 869010
                Plano, TX 75074
Questions about your order and requests for information about the publications offered in the
College Board’s Store should be directed to:
                College Board Publications
                P.O. Box 869010
                Plano, TX 75074
                Phone: 800-323-7155 (M-F, 8am-9pm, EST)             Fax: 888-321-7183
                International Phone: 212-713-8260         International Fax: 212-713-8265

Suggested Summer Reading
You can earn extra credit for submitting a 2-3 page “book report” that includes a detailed biography of the
author, explanation of one theory or scientific principle explained in the book and a personal reflection. Be
prepared to share your findings with me on the first day of class. The following is a list I have started to
compose of books I have either already read or plan to read (one day). If you have a suggestion for a
book not on this list just email me first for approval. Book reports are worth 10 extra credit HW points.

        The Ants, The Diversity of Life, On Human Nature, The Biophilia Hypothesis by E.O. Wilson
        Ever Since Darwin, The Panda's Thumb, Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes by Steven Jay Gould
        The Selfish Gene, The Ancestor's Tale, The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
        The Origin of Humankind by Richard Leakey
        The Lochsa Story by Bud Moore
        Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert
        The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
        The Promise of Sleep by William C. Dement
        The Reluctant Mr. Darwin
        Why Zebras don’t get Cancer

Suggested Website Viewing
Read up on these important figures in the field of biological research (past & present):
Richard Dawkins, Steven Jay Gould, E. O. Wilson, Steven Pinker, Candace Pert, Barbara McClintock,
Jane Goodall, Diane Fosse, Richard Leakey, Linnaeus, Aristotle, Robert Hooke, Anton Leeuwenhoek,
Gregor Mendel, Rosiland Franklin, James Watson, Francis Crick, Charles Darwin, Lynn Margulis,
Andrew Weil.
15777 Bowdoin Street Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

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