Dear Future Advanced Placement Biologist,

I want to welcome you to Advanced Placement Biology. I am looking forward to the coming school year and our time together in class. Hopefully, we will have time to appreciate the broad ideas in biology, and its effect on our daily lives.

There is a lunch meeting May 28th at lunch in S-4 to answer questions and explain the optional summer assignment.

You will be sent information through School Loop to get information about the new course. The school does provide a textbook for your use during the school year. There is an optional summer assignment (to get ahead if you choose). You can borrow the book early from the textbook room, as soon as I know when the books will be available I will let you know.

The textbook we use is Campbell's Biology 9th Edition. The textbook clerk is willing to sign out books before summer if you would like to get a head start on the first unit. If you'd like a book please indicate that on the Google form you were emailed earlier. Please visit the textbook room at brunch or lunch (May 29- June 6, NOTE the textbook room is closed on Mondays). Many former AP students have commented about how useful it is to be able to highlight their textbooks for greater understanding and some who purchased the study guide found it very helpful, if so you can find used 9th edtion books also on line through used textbook sites. You may be able to find used copies from online used textbook sites. PLEASE NOTE: the school does provide a textbook only.

This summer will present an opportunity for you to do some reading that will assist you in understanding some of the material presented during the school year.  I have also enclosed a suggested reading list.  Before you panic, please read the enclosed information. I hope that a selection will spark your interest in biology.  Please take care to follow the directions later on in this document for your write-up.  Remember the extra credit book review is due on the last day of class in September.  I do have some books that can be borrowed for the summer.

I'd love if you would do the following to prepare for the 1st day of class.

Watch the following on-line video about the overall themes of AP Biology (four total):
9 minutes long 

For each Big Idea, write down any information that you think is the most important about each one of the big ideas.
  It can be anything:  a concept, a connection or an interesting example.  Make each list on a different sheet of paper (4 big ideas, 4 separate pieces of paper).

In class on the first day you will be cutting these out so the lists must be one sided.

Have a great summer,

Robin Groch

925-552-3728, email:

Web site:


Optional Ecology Summer Homework Assignment: If you would like to get ahead start and not have to read and write up your 6 chapter notes in 3 weeks, you can get started as soon as you have your book. The instructions are located on the link Homework Calendar) Due by the first unit test in September. 



Chapters 51-56 (Campbell Biology 9th AP Edition)

See the Homework Calendar ( please note the homework assignments are very different from prior years due the the reorganization of the course by the College Board... please read the information at the top of the Homework Calendar for new details)

Book Review (extra credit due by the end of September...directions located below)

Pick a non-fiction book from the list below, instructions are located later in the letter. Due typed by the end of September.

Assignment Requirements:

1. You should always read through the Review of Key Concepts and do the Self-Quiz. (These are located at the end of each chapter, answers are on pages A-1 and A-2 in the rear of your textbook.  Assigned focus questions are worth between 2-4 points per chapter.

2. Quality and legibility on typed assignments are important for full credit.

Extra Credit Fiction or Non-Fiction Book Review Write-up (Due in September)

Please include the following: Authors Name(s), Book Title, Publication Title, Publication Date, and Number of Pages.

The book review requires a summary of the book. Generalize the information and give your opinions regarding material that you found interesting and controversial.  No more than two typed pages please.  Be aware that just copying scientific jargon will constitute plagiarism. If you choose a fictional book, you must also provide a section describing several places within the novel where you found biological sciences portrayed either accurately or fantastically.  Please verify the accuracy of the science. You can cite either a web site or a hardcopy source. Check with me if you want to read a particular book not listed here.



Non-Fiction (Please, email me for permission to read other non-fiction books)

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Survival of the Sickest by Sharon Moalem

Inheritance How our genes changed our lives – and our lives changed our genes by Sharon Moalem

Out of Thin Air by Peter Ward

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice for All of Creation by Olivia Judson

Oxygen--the molecule that made the world and Power, Sex and Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life.  by Nick Lane

The Last Dinosaur by Mitchell
The Song of the Dodo or Flight of the Iguana, by Quammer
Any book by Richard Dawkins  (i.e. The Selfish Gene)
Any book by Stephen Jay Gould (i.e. Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes)
The Clone Age by Andrews
.Why Geese Don't Get Obese, by Widmaier
Deadly Feasts by Rhodes
The Secret Family or The Secret House or The Secret Garden by Bodanis
Viruses, Plagues, and History by Oldstone
The Beauty of the Beastly or Natural Obsessions by Angier
T-Rex and the Crater of Doom by Alvarez
Killer Germs by Zimmerman
Egg and Ego by Slack
Yellow Fever/ Black Goddess by Wells
Cheating Monkeys and Citizen Bees by Dugatkin
Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice
by Mark Plotkin
Ebola by William Close

The Trouble with Testosterone  by Sapolsky

Any biography of Charles Darwin, Watson and Crick, Barbara McClintock or any interviewee in the text book.

How to be Successful in A.P. Biology

How well a student learns and understands the material in A.P. Biology depends, in part, on motivation. (Just ask one of this year's students.) When taking the A.P. Biology Exam in May, it will be to your advantage to do well consistently throughout the year. Differences exist between individuals; in the number of difficult courses attempted, in the approach of study to a subject, in your attitude regarding achievements, goals, etc.  It is important to be organized and maintain a steady work effort.  Organization will be your best friend.  It is important to take good notes. Keeping materials in order will also assist you in your review for the A.P. Exam.
You will discover that time is your worst enemy.  We are burdened with a schedule that is demanding under the very best of conditions. .  NOTE: If you need an extension on an assignment due date please ask first.

Required Reading:
***the extra credit book review is due the last class day in September. SEE PAGE 2 *******

Please Note: The following article reviews will be required during the school year.  The one book review during the summer is extra credit.
During the fall and spring semesters you will be required to read and write a review on an article from scientific journals and magazines. Articles must be about original research, news excerpts or news briefs are not acceptable. These articles must relate to the topics covered in the month assigned and must be timely within the last two years. Copies of these journals are available in the classroom and I have access to pdf copies of any articles (just email and ask).

The following publications are acceptable:
Science   (has a Science and Society/bioethics feature)
 Instruction for Article Reviews and Book Review Write-ups Great site on how to write summary articles

Article Review/Book Reviews will be due on the following dates: 



Date Due

Article Review #1

Your Choice/Extra Credit

Last Friday in September

Article Review #2

Photosynthesis or Cellular Respiration (required)

Last Friday in October

Article Review #3

Cell Cycle, Cell Reproduction (Extra Credit)

Last Friday in November

Article Review #4

DNA, Gene Regulation (required)

Friday before 1st semester final exams

Article Review #5

Diversity (pick a kingdom) (Extra Credit)

Last Friday in February

Article Review #6

Mechanisms of Evolution (required)

Last Friday in March

Article Review #7

Bioethics of Biotechnology (extra credit)

Due by the day of the AP Exam in May

Article Review Write-ups

Please include the following: Authors Name (s), "Title of Article", Publication Title, Date, Volume, Page Numbers.  (use APA format .)

The Article Review write-up requires a summary of the article, 1-2 typed pages. Analyses could include why the research is important, how has it added to our knowledge, how has it changed/or updated the textbook, and any criticisms of the work. Grades are based on your understanding of the article and the ability to express your understanding in writing. (Yes, spelling and grammar count.) Articles must be about original research, news excerpts or news briefs are not acceptable Great site on how to write summary articles

It is my desire that you be successful in your goals in this class.  Feel free to speak with or email me about any problems that you may experience during the summer.