Teaching Science

Biology Resources


The grade ten biology unit concentrates on cells and systems. These resources are grouped by the chapters in the Nelson Science 10 textbook, because that arrangement makes sense to me (a non-biologist).

Copyright on all materials on this site is retained by the authors. You are granted a limited license to reproduce these resources for classroom use, provided the copyright notices are not removed. Charging a fee for these resources, or distributing them in any way outside your classroom, is prohibited.

General Biology

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Updated November 17, 2013

Biography of a Biologist

We are supposed to be teaching a bit of the history of science (expectation A2.2) as well as facts and theories, and yet often we lose track of the human nature of science and scientists. This short writing assignment has students research one biologist and write a five-paragraph story about them.

I use this assignment to reinforce both research skills and writing skills.
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Updated October 2, 2015

Biologist Cards

I created these to end arguments over who got to write about which chemist. I print them out and randomly distribute them in class. Students can trade them if they like, but must write about the chemist they end up with. Has all the biologists in the Biography of a Biologist assignment, plus a few extra to make up 40 biologists.

Oddly, some of my students wanted to use them as trading cards.I'm thinking of making up a set for every unit, maybe with short biographic blurbs, and handing them out as rewards!
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Updated October 3, 2017

Cancer Assignment

A research assignment looking at various types of cancer. Includes four versions of the assignment sheet, note-taking sheet, list of cancers, and marking rubric.
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Updated February 17, 2016

Disease Assignment

A research assignment looking at the effects of various diseases on the tissues and organs of the body, from the perspective of the patient. Includes assignment sheet, note-taking sheet, list of diseases, and marking rubric.

E.O. Wilson's Life on Earth

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Updated October 1, 2015
On June 30, 2014, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation released the ground-breaking new high school biology textbook E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth. We believe that education is the most important tool we have to face the challenges confronting our living planet. Life on Earth was created to instruct and inspire students, the future stewards of Earth.

Life on Earth is an iBooks Textbook consisting of 41 chapters in 7 separate units and can be downloaded for free from the iBooks Store. The text provides a complete, original, standards-based, media-rich curriculum to give high school students a deep understanding of all of the central topics of introductory biology.

To create Life on Earth, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation brought together a team consisting of educators, writers, multimedia artists, 3D animators trained in science and cinema, and textbook professionals, led by naturalist Edward O. Wilson. The editorial team, headed by Morgan Ryan, worked in full partnership with the Boston-based scientific graphics company Digizyme, Inc, headed by Gaël McGill, PhD, with the goal of creating a cultural landmark—a portal that will introduce students to the grandest story there is, the story of life on Earth, from molecules to ecosystems, from the origin of life to the modern awareness that we control the environment we live in.

Digital textbooks are poised to transform education. The richness and immediacy of vibrant multimedia lessons will transform how students learn and how instructors teach. Our textbook development team is thrilled by the things we are able to deliver that were never possible before. We navigate inside a virtual cell. We take students by helicopter to the Gorongosa landscape in Africa to explain the succession of plants and animals over time.

Today’s high school biology students will be tomorrow’s biochemists, explorers, environmental policy makers, park rangers, and informed citizens.
E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth was created to prepare them for their work.

Life on Earth is a gift from the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation for students, families, and concerned individuals. It is available now for free in 151 countries and has already been adopted in many classrooms. Our goal for 2014–2015 is to promote its use in classrooms everywhere. If you share our goals for educational and environmental awareness, please support the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and join us in promoting a culture of stewardship in which people are inspired to conserve and protect our biological inheritance.

Foldscope: An Origami-Based Microscope

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Added January 2, 2018
Foldscope is an ultra-affordable field microscope, that you build from common materials such as paper. It is designed to be produced affordably, to be durable, and to give optical quality similar to conventional research microscopes. With magnification of 140X and imaging resolution of 2 micron; Foldscope brings microscopy to new places. Be it your kitchen or a mountain top. Compatible with almost all camera phones.

I backed this project on Kickstarter and just assembled it in the last week. It’s pretty amazing and I’m looking forward to spring when I can bring it along on hikes. I picked up both the deluxe kit for myself and a classroom kit for use at school.

The deluxe individual kit is designed to allow any curious explorer to perform microscopy experiments anywhere at anytime. This kit includes Foldscope (140x, 2um resolution microscope) in a portable and sturdy metal case including a plethora of tools for collecting samples, processing samples, preparing slides and directly collecting data on any cellphone via universal couplers - all possible while working in field settings.

Every deluxe kit includes:
  • One Foldscope Assembly Sheet
  • Two 140X micro-lens (one extra lens)
  • Four magnetic couplers including cellphone attachment module
  • LED illumination module with integrated magnifier for bright-field, dark-field and oblique phase imaging (button cell included)
  • Diffuser stickers for light module
  • Reusable sealable PVC slides with micro-wells and plastic coverslips
  • Calibration/measurement grids
  • Nylon filter sheets (5, 25, 100 micron spacings) for cell separation
  • Stainless steel mesh filters (1mm and 300um mesh size)
  • Custom sample collection ziploc bags
  • Two eppendorf tubes for sample collection
  • Plastic tweezers and plastic pipettes
  • Prepared two test sample slides, three blank slides and slide storage box
  • Field notepad with field guide and pencil
  • Ultra clear roll of tape for making quick slides
  • Complete assembly instruction sheet (English) with folding and usage instructions
  • Sturdy metallic box for storage, field work with integrated instrument tray
  • Small blunt end metal scissors
  • Unique Foldscope Identification sticker code for access to Microcosmos community website (http://microcosmos.foldscope.com)
  • Color stickers for labels

For those looking to get the most for their dollar, we offer the Basic Classroom Kit (BCK), which includes twenty (20) individually packed basic Foldscope kits.

The basic classroom kit is designed to supply a classroom (or other group) of 20 students with a Foldscope for each explorer. Each student receives the essentials (Foldscope, cell-phone coupler, assembly/instruction sheet, carrying pouch, paper and tape slides), and some accessories are provided collectively to be shared amongst the entire class.

  • Foldscope (140x lens) x 20 sheets
  • Cell phone coupler x 20
  • Paper/tape slides x 20
  • Instruction sheet x 20
  • Customizable individual nylon carrying pouch x 20
  • 1 LED/Magnifier with bright field, dark field and oblique phase imaging with magnifier (button cell included)
  • 1 Slide box with two pre-made glass slides and three blank glass slides and storage box
  • 1 Field guide

The biggest weakness of the classroom kit is that the included cell phone couplers need to be stuck to a cell phone with a double-sided sticker. I need to play around and see if there’s a way of temporarily mounting the couplers. (I can also see them disappearing over the years, so it would be nice to be able to reorder them as spare parts — something that is not currently possible.

Cells, Cell Division, and Cell Specialization

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Updated October 23, 2013

Cell Theory Lessons

A presentation of cell theory, rendered as a QuickTime file for maximum portability. This isn't stand-alone, but intended as part of a lecture presentation. Click the mouse (or use the spacebar) to advance to the next build.
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Updated October 23, 2013

Cell Structure Lessons

A presentation on cell structure, rendered as a QuickTime file for maximum portability. This isn't stand-alone, but intended as part of a lecture presentation. Click the mouse (or use the spacebar) to advance to the next build.
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Updated October 23, 2013

Cell Diagram Quiz

A simple quiz in which students match organelles to a diagram of an animal cell (taken from Wikipedia). Answers are provided.
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Updated September 14, 2014

Cell Structure Exercises

Some short Cloze exercises in which students complete a paragraph about the organelles in a cell. Two versions of each exercise are included: one with a word list and one without. Answer keys are provided.
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Updated November 23, 2013

Cell Structure Quizzes

Some short Cloze exercises in which students complete a paragraph about the organelles in a cell. Two versions of each quiz are included: one with a word list and one without. Answer keys are provided.
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Updated February 9, 2014

Animal Cell Model

A Japanese paper model of an animal cell.
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Updated February 9, 2014

Plant Cell Model

A Japanese paper model of a plant cell.

Bricks of Life

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Updated November 5, 2013
A six-page tour of cells, written by Dr. David Morgan-Mar and provided by him under a Creative Commons license.

If atoms are the building blocks of matter, then cells are the building blocks of life. You, me, dogs, cats, whales, frogs, trees, mushrooms — we are all made of cells. What is a cell, exactly?

I'm field-testing a set of questions and directed reading exercises for this resource, and I'll include them with the download when they are ready (and announce the update). In the meantime, enjoy an interesting and well-written introduction to cells.

In Our Time: The Cell

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Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the cell, the fundamental building block of life. First observed by Robert Hooke in 1665, cells occur in nature in a bewildering variety of forms. Every organism alive today consists of one or more cells: a single human body contains up to a hundred trillion of them.

The first life on Earth was a single-celled organism which is thought to have appeared around three and a half billion years ago. That simple cell resembled today's bacteria. But eventually these microscopic entities evolved into something far more complex, and single-celled life gave rise to much larger, complex multicellular organisms. But how did the first cell appear, and how did that prototype evolve into the sophisticated, highly specialised cells of the human body?
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Updated October 23, 2013

Cell Division Lessons

A presentation on cell division, rendered as a QuickTime file for maximum portability. This isn't stand-alone, but intended as part of a lecture presentation. Click the mouse (or use the spacebar) to advance to the next build.
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Updated June 19, 2016

Cell Cycle Game

A simple card game designed to reinforce the sequence of the cell cycle. Cards are marked to assist players in following the sequence, as they race to be the first player to empty their hand.

This print-and-play game is formatted to be printed on prepunched business card stock, making it fast to print a class set of games.
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Updated September 14, 2014

Cell Division Exercises

Some short Cloze exercises in which students complete a paragraph about cell division. Two versions of each exercise are included: one with a word list and one without. Answer keys are provided.
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Updated December 7, 2013

Cell Division Quizzes

Some short Cloze exercises in which students complete a paragraph about cell division. Two versions of each quiz are included: one with a word list and one without. Answer keys are provided.
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Mitosis Video

A short video clip showing mitosis, from the BBC series The Cell.
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Mitosis Flipbook

In this era of YouTube video clips a paper flipbook seems rather old-fashioned. Still, some students learn better when they manipulate real objects rather than virtual ones — this flipbook is intended provide something they can make and use.

The images are a 20 second clip from The Cell, an excellent BBC documentary, showing a cell undergoing mitosis.

The pages have been left blank so students can label each stage of mitosis, as well as the parts of the cell,
in addition to assembling (and using) the flipbook.
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Updated October 23, 2013

Specialized Cell Advertisement

Using the metaphor of cells as specialized workers in an organization, students create an advertisement to attract 'employees': specialized cells.
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Updated October 26, 2013

Cellular Snacks

A fun little assignment. Students make edible models of cells, showing either the internal structure of a generic cell or specialized cells in situ. And when it's finished, they can eat the projects!

Discovery: Aging and Telomeres 1/2

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Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Telomeres are DNA structures which cap the ends of our chromosomes.

They shorten over the course of our lives.

Some scientists believe measuring their length reveals how fast we are ageing biologically and are making telomere tests available to the public for the first time.

What's the science behind telomere length and what can it really tell you about your heath and life prospects?

Discovery: Aging and Telomeres 2/2

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Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

If you’re among the lucky few, you’ll live past 90 without suffering years of debilitating illnesses.

Your final decline will come swiftly and relatively gently.

In this week’s Discovery Andrew Luck-Baker looks at whether scientists can extend this kind of final exit to many more of us.

Their research centres on structures in our cells known as telomeres.

More immediately, this science may also lead to a kind of new cancer therapy.

Animal Systems

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Biology Hierarchy Activity

An activity in which students match terms with definitions and illustrations, then sort them into order, and finally record the definitions on a reference sheet for their notebooks.
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Biology Hierarchy Vocabulary Quiz

A simple quiz matching terms with definitions for the biological hierarchy. Several versions are provided, both with and without word banks. Answers are included.
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Updated September 23, 2014

Animal Systems Cloze Exercises

Some short Cloze exercises in which students complete a passage about animal systems. Two versions of each exercise are included: one with a word list and one without. Answer keys are provided.
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Updated December 20, 2013

Animal Systems Quizzes

Some short Cloze exercises in which students complete a passage about animal systems. Two versions of each quiz are included: one with a word list and one without. Answer keys are provided.
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Updated November 17, 2014

Animal Systems Matching Quizzes

Simple quizzes presenting a list of terms and definitions.

The systems covered are:
  • circulatory system
  • digestive system
  • musculoskeletal system
  • nervous system
  • respiratory system
Two versions of each quiz are provided, along with answer keys.
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Updated December 23, 2014

Organ Systems Matching Game

Cards for a game involving matching terms and definitions. Sized to use standard business card stock.

The systems covered are:
  • circulatory system
  • digestive system
  • musculoskeletal system
  • nervous system
  • respiratory system

The cards can also be printed as flashcards, with the word on the front and the definition on the back.

Dissect Yourself! Game

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Updated November 9, 2017
A simple card game (based on Go Extinct!) where players try to collect the most complete organ systems.

Ten different systems are included:

  • circulatory system
  • digestive system
  • endocrine system
  • integumentary system
  • lymphatic system
  • musculoskeletal system
  • nervous system
  • reproductive system
  • respiratory system
  • urinary system

Each system has 2-5 organs, and is duplicated (except for the reproductive system which has female and male elements). There are a total of 95 cards.

One game takes 20-30 minutes to play in groups of 3-6 players. For faster games remove some of the systems before starting. After a period of play most students have learnt all the organs.

The file contains two sets of the rules, nine sheets of cards, and sixteen different card back designs. (Different backs make it easy to separate cards if your students mix up several decks.) Print on card stock, cut out the cards, and you’re ready to play.
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Frog Dissection Comic

Instructions for the frog dissection lab, presented in comic book form. Looks good in colour, not so much in B&W.

Designed for double-sided printing, although it also works single-sided as well.
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Updated October 23, 2013

Corporate Organism Assignment

Using a corporation as a metaphor, students examine the organization of an organism into tissues, organs, and organ systems. Creative students have fun with this, but it confuses weaker students.

Colours of the World

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Updated November 5, 2013
A six-page tour of colour vision, written by Dr. David Morgan-Mar and provided by him under a Creative Commons license.

The world around us is colourful. What’s more, it looks colourful to our eyes. It didn’t have to be that way. In fact, there is a lot of subtlety and nuance in the coloured world that we humans are missing out on. To see why, we need to understand how our eyes work.

I originally included this in the physics unit because that is where vision fits the Ontario curriculum, but I've made another version colour-coded to match the biology unit, because it could also be covered there.

I'm field-testing a set of questions and directed reading exercises for this resource, and I'll include them with the download when they are ready (and announce the update). In the meantime, enjoy an interesting and well-written exploration of a topic we take for granted…

Series of Tubes

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Updated November 5, 2013
A six-page tour of the circulatory system, written by Dr. David Morgan-Mar and provided by him under a Creative Commons license.

In 2006, then United States Senator Ted Stevens famously said, in an analogy to support his argument for greater network regulation, that the Internet was “a series of tubes”. This statement has been ridiculed many times as demonstrating Stevens’ lack of understanding of the fundamental nature of the Internet and has since passed into net lore as a shining example of a ridiculous metaphor for the net.

Only it’s not such a bad metaphor at all. Analogies are meant to be simple parallels to something we understand at a more intuitive level, to allow us to grasp a point about the original subject.

I'm field-testing a set of questions and directed reading exercises for this resource, and I'll include them with the download when they are ready (and announce the update). In the meantime, enjoy an interesting and well-written exploration of the circulatory system.

In Our Time: Anatomy

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Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg examines the history of mankind's quest to understand the human body. The Greeks thought we were built like pigs, and when Renaissance man first cut his sacred flesh it was an act of heresey. We trace the noble ambitions of medical science to the murky underworld of Victorian grave robbing, we trace 2000 years of anatomical study.

In Our Time: The Nervous System

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Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the nervous system.

Most animals have a nervous system, a network of nerve tissues which allows parts of the body to communicate with each other. In humans the most significant parts of this network are the brain, spinal column and retinas, which together make up the central nervous system. But there is also a peripheral nervous system, which enables sensation, movement and the regulation of the major organs.

In Our Time: The Heart

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Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the heart. Aristotle considered the heart to be the seat of thought, reason and emotion. The Roman physician Galen located the seat of the passions in the liver, the seat of reason in the brain, and considered the heart to be the seat of the emotions.

How had the Ancient Greeks and Islamic physicians understood the heart? What role did the bodily humours play in this understanding? Why has the heart always been seen as the seat of emotion and passion? And why was it that despite Harvey's discoveries about the heart and its function, this had limited implications for medical therapy and advancement?

In Our Time: Blood

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Updated February 23, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss blood. For more than 1500 years popular imagination, western science and the Christian Church colluded in a belief that blood was the link between the human and the divine. The Greek physician, Galen, declared that it was blood that contained the force of life and linked the body to the soul, the Christian Church established The Eucharist – the taking of the body and blood of Christ. In our blood was our individuality, it was thought, our essence and our blood lines were special. Transfusion threatened all that and now itself is being questioned.
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Updated March 17, 2014

Discovery: Artificial Blood

Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Could creating "blood" in the laboratory make infections passed on through blood transfusions a thing of the past? Vivienne Parry investigates.
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Updated April 5, 2014

Heart Dissection

An excellent video from At-Bristol Science Centre.

Join Ross Exton on a journey through a pig's heart and take a close look at the anatomy of this fascinating organ along the way.

Dissecting the Brain

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Updated April 5, 2014
A video of a human brain dissection.

On Wednesdays at Hammersmith Hospital in London, a few recently preserved human brains are dissected according to an international protocol and stored in a tissue bank for further research. The brains have mostly been donated by people with Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis (both degenerative and incurable diseases of the central nervous system), but control samples of healthy brains are required too. This documentary is a modified version of one which appears in the Brains exhibition at Wellcome Collection, with an added commentary from the neuropathologist, Steve Gentleman. It conveys the craft discipline exercised by scientists in their quest to understand these often-tragic conditions.
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Updated April 5, 2014

Brain Dissection

An excellent video from At-Bristol Science Centre.

Why are brains wrinkly? Which animal has the biggest brain? Nerys of the Live Science Team delves into the grey matter of a pig's brain to find out more about how our brains work.
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Updated April 5, 2014

Eyeball Dissection

An excellent video from At-Bristol Science Centre.

How do your eyes work? Join Ross Exton on a journey looking inside a horse eyeball, investigating the anatomy of this fascinating organ along the way.

In Our Time: The Eye

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Updated February 27, 2014
In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the eye. Humans have been attempting to understand the workings and significance of the organ for at least 2500 years. Some ancient philosophers believed that the eye enabled creatures to see by emitting its own light. The function and structures of the eye became an area of particular interest to doctors in the Islamic Golden Age. In Renaissance Europe the work of thinkers including Kepler and Descartes revolutionised thinking about how the organ worked, but it took several hundred years for the eye to be thoroughly understood. Eyes have long attracted more than purely scientific interest, known even today as the 'windows on the soul'.

Plant Systems

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Plant Anatomy Poster

A simple assignment in which students make a poster illustrating plant anatomy.
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Plant Anatomy Vocabulary Quiz

A simple quiz matching words with definitions. Two versions are provided: one with a word bank and one without. Answers are included.

Nelson OSSLT Questions

The Nelson Science 10 textbook includes at least one reading assignment per chapter specifically geared to practicing for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. These questions relate to those readings. If you don't use the Nelson Science 10 textbook, they will be of no use to you.
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Updated October 23, 2013
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Updated October 23, 2013
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Updated October 23, 2013
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Updated October 23, 2013
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Updated October 23, 2013