"An Illustrated Guide" to help your students understand biology

NCSE Teacher Ambassador Jeff Grant is making his An Illustrated Guide to Biology freely available to teachers as a nod to the challenges they face helping students understand science while teaching virtually during the coronavirus pandemic.

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"Hey, man, you draw well. Can you take a picture of that and send it to me?"

Those were the words spoken to NCSE Teacher Ambassador Jeff Grant by one of his students nearly seven years ago as he tried to explain a complicated concept using whiteboard drawings. Those words planted a seed, a seed that would eventually become a collection titled An Illustrated Guide to Biology.

The 121-page book, filled with drawings lovingly inked by Grant, covers the AP Biology curriculum with a special emphasis on evolution and on anatomy. Grant has found that the guide provides insights for his students that support, clarify, and reinforce his classroom instruction. And he wants to share this resource with any teacher who's interested.

"Teaching is so tough as it is," Grant says, explaining why he wants to make his guide available in the midst of nationwide school closures during the coronavirus pandemic. He imagines teachers will download the digital copy and share it with each of their students to provide them with yet another resource. "It's one extra way to help kids see the curriculum in a way that they haven’t seen it before. The more the kids can see it, the more they can understand it, especially now."

Grant, an AP Biology, Anatomy, and Principles of Biomedical Science teacher at Downers Grove North High School in Illinois, is dealing with his own issues trying to make distance learning work for his students.

"It's like trying to help a kid when they're out sick for a day," Grant says. "But now they're all out sick, every day."

Grant also has created An Illustrated Guide to Chemistry that he's making available to teachers for free, too.

He could try to make money off both books—and does sell softcover versions. But Grant is more interested, especially now, in helping his colleagues, whether or not he ever discovers who they are. "We're all in this together," Grant says.

NCSE Teacher Ambassador Jeff Grant hard at work in his home office.
Paul Oh
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Paul Oh is Director of Communications at NCSE.