About Ryan Reardon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI came to Alabama in 1995 to study stream ecology at The University of Alabama. I currently work as an instructor at the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School (JCIB). After completing my third year at JCIB, I can honestly say I’ve had a blast. I know I belong in the classroom and laboratory, and I’ve got the results to prove it. Over the past three years, I helped 153 students pass the AP Biology exam (roughly 80% of my students). My students have maintained a 71% pass rate on the IB Biology portion of their diploma program over the same time frame.  I have led Alabama in total number of passing scores in ap biology over the past two years, and I was recently selected as an Alabama state finalist for the 2015 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAMEST). My primary assignment is teaching a combined ib and ap biology course, but I teach one section of ib environmental systems and societies, and I developed and taught a research and design class for 9th and 10th graders.

Prior to joining the JCIB faculty, I was Science Content Director for A+ College Ready, an AP Training and Initiative Program in Alabama. We are partners with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). I worked with 80+ AP science teachers in 41 high schools throughout Alabama. Prior to that I was an AP Biology and AP Environmental Science Instructor at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. I started my teaching career in the Birmingham metro area at the  University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Birmingham-Southern College, and Samford University. I also consult for PASCO Scientific, working as a curriculum writer and professional technology educator (PTE). Each summer I work as Laying The Foundation (LTF) Trainer for Middle School science teachers. My job is to teach my colleagues how to incorporate science and engineering practices into their science classes.

I hold a B.A. in Biology from Rhodes College, and a M.S. in Biology from the University of Alabama. I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent and Young Adult Science Education with a concentration in biology.

Prior to teaching (and graduate school) I had some of the greatest jobs ever. I was a research technician at the Univerisity of Tennessee-Memphis working on cell signaling in cardiac myocytes. Even more formative were the summers I spent at the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC) coordinating the collection and classification of benthic macroinvertebrates from three lakes. I was also a lowly undergraduate researcher at the University of Goergia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL).

When I’m not working; I’m hanging out with my family, running (getting my best ideas), working around the house, or paddling some of Alabama’s 77,000+ river miles.

Apparently, some people are foolish enough to believe I’ve developed leadership skills during my tenure as a science teacher. Therefore, I’ve been offered (and accepted) several volunteer positions. I served two years as the Cubmaster for Pack 386 in West Homewood, Alabama, and I am currently a Webelos leader; I serve as an Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and I’ve just been selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Presbytery’s Living River, a retreat and conference center on the Cahaba River. My main role with Living River is as board representative for the Science Advisory Council for the newly minted Cahaba Environmental Center at Living River.

22 Responses to About Ryan Reardon

  1. Ryan,

    THANK YOU so much for this blog. I discovered it a couple of weeks ago and it has been a blessing for this new AP Bio teacher. I was placed into my position when the former AP teacher was let go under unfortunate circumstances. As a result, I’ve been scrambling all year to find materials for labs or discover that they went missing.

    I’m currently teaching the Central Dogma and was wondering if you could share your paper and pencil activity regarding mutations and Sickle Cell Anemia activity. I would greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks…many times over!

    • Ryan Reardon says:

      It looks like I’m 6 months late in my reply. Sorry about that. I stepped away from the blog for the first 1/2 of the year as I finished up at A+ College Ready. This summer I did double duty wrapping up my work at A+ and gearing up for a new school year in a new school. I’ll be posting momentarily. Stay tuned for my weekly learning objectives and focus on the Essential Content in the revised AP Biology course. I’ll post weekly for the duration of the school year.


  2. L Marinelli says:

    Hi Ryan!
    I thought I recognized that name as I was reading your blog. Didn’t you serve a stint at Mcwane/UAB biotech as coordinator?

    I’m the AP biology teacher (12 years) at John Carroll Catholic. You were the best coordinator they’ve had since JCCHS has participated. I see that your exhausting work ethic has brought you to new heights in our “Bio-Sphere” here in the south–a true teacher’s teacher.

    I applaud the straight forward “lets plow ahead” approach to the new AP Bio teaching model or framework. Did you pilot this program before it went public this year? Is your 150 calendar days of instruction a success plan for 2012-13?

    Let me know cause it looks good. Can it be integrated with other ways to teach the Big 4?

    Lyla Marinelli

    • Ryan Reardon says:

      I’m starting at JCIB tomorrow. AP/IB Biology . We’ll be in the trenches together. Keep checking back for my interpretation of the 4 Big Ideas.


    • Ryan Reardon says:

      Lyla: i dont know if this is a redundant reply or not, but yes, the 150 day approach I outline on “The Skin Of My Teeth” is the way I approached the class at ASFA (the only change being Ecology in August instead of January).

      Anyway…I’m out at JCIB now, and I’m loving it. You can keep up with my proposed pacing at jcibapbiology.wordpress.com


  3. Ryan,
    I do not have any tests for AP Bio and was wondering if you are willing to share. This is my 22nd year teaching, but 1st year with AP Biology. Thank you for matching the curriculum frameworks to your curriculum. I’ve been spending hours on this! Our Solomon Berg text did not come to me with a test bank and I am finding it too time consuming to search AP old tests for unit exams . Based on your website, I can only hope to do what you do this year! Again, thanks for any help you are willing to give. Below is my new edmodo site as well.
    Code: dwy70w

    • Ryan Reardon says:

      I’ve got a dropbox folder with all my old tests (they’re for the old course), but they’re better than nothing.

      Please send me a reminder email, and I’ll invite you to the folder with all my old exams.


  4. Would love access to old test questions as well!

  5. alex says:

    Hello Ryan: Thanks so much for making your curriculum and syllabi available. As a new ap bio teacher this information has really been invaluable to me. I have a nerdy, probably naive, ap lab question – i tried my hardest to visualize mitotic cells using fresh onion root tips – but was resoundingly unsucessful. wondering if you have any tips, suggestions, advice on this lab and how to ensure good visualization – plant type? dye? protocal? thanks for any advice and if you don’t reply i understand – teachers are busy – peace

    • Ryan Reardon says:


      As much as I’d like to think students should be able to do a simple “root squash” and stain their own slides, I think it’s best to buy some good Allum root tip slides and let the students spend time getting good at recognizing the phases of mitosis.

      Carolina Biological and Triarch (out of WI) make great slides. I really work hard to develop good microscopy skills in all my students (I’ve got remedial students as well as lots of AP Bio students). I want them all to be good at using a microscope and “extending their senses.” Thanks for checking the blog…I’m glad you’ve found it useful.


    • Beth Zik says:

      Ryan, I am looking at your old AP Biology from Campbell blog. On it, you give your weekly AP Bio schedule. In your schedule, you state you will share your AP quizzes and exams. Would you still be willing to do that? I have just been assigned to AP Biology, and this will be my first year teaching it. I am using your weekly schedule as a starting point. Thank you in advance for you help. Beth

      • Ryan Reardon says:


        I’ve got several tests developed for APB teachers in Alabama. I’m more than happy to share them with you. Please send me a reminder email this weekend. I’ve got, I mean GOT to email all my APB parents tonight and ask them to make sure their precious angels are studying during the week. This is the year I get proactive with parents. It seems like the smart thing to do.


      • Beth Zik says:


        I am sending a reminder email for AP Bio quizzes and tests.

        Thank you in advance. ☺

        Beth A. Zik
        H.S. Biology; Anatomy; Environmental Sciences
        Montello District School
        222 Forest Lane
        Montello, WI 53949

        608-297-2126 xt 244

  6. Andrew Hall says:


    I stumbled across your site while checking out AP Bio resources. Next year will be my 7th year teaching (mix of general-level chem and bio) but I might pick up 2 sections of AP Bio. I love biology (esp. ecology!) but I’m worried about sustaining the time commitment. I think teaching AP Bio would be exciting, but I’ve been out of high-level content for so long that it’s a little scary what it would take to “re-learn” (or rather uncover what’s hidden in the recesses of my memory) the detailed content and teach it well. (I only have a B.S. in Biology and no grad studies or research experience beyond one summer in a euglenoid systematics lab.)

    What intrigues me is that you’re an elder at your church. I am going through officer training to become an elder in my church (also Presbyterian, though PCA), and I have a family and I coach cross country.

    Obviously everyone is different, but like I said, just wondering about the time commitment needed to excel and its impact on family and church life. Thanks for any info and advice.

    • Ryan Reardon says:

      Hi Andrew:

      I”ll be honest with you, teaching APB the first time is extraordinarily challenging. I came at it from a University job, and I wasn’t used to seeing the same kids every day. You already understand school culture, and you the daily/weekly rhythms of school, so I think you’re way ahead of most APB teachers starting out.

      Personally, my first year of APB almost ruined my life. However, but February, I had it figured out. All my kids passed the exam that year. I had 15 of 17 students earn 5s. Looking back, I over prepared. I over did it. I wouldn’t, however, trade that experience for anything. It made me a better teacher. My passion for teaching biology often takes priority over everything, but that’s how I’m wired. I’m fortunate to have a very capable, smart, and patient wife. My church feeds my intellectual curiosity, is very open to my lapses in faith, and helps me understand theology.

      I’m pivoting away from APB…slightly. My focus next year will be more on the IB Bio curriculum. That being said, both curricula compliment each other nicely. The major difference with IB is the increased emphasis on physiology, and not as much emphasis on basic cell-to-cell communication. As I enter my 8th year of teaching APB, I am increasingly leaning on my ecology training, and teaching my class from an ecology and evolution perspective. I love the cellular and molecular stuff as well (that’s what I did post-graduate school), but students need to think ecologically (think systematically) about all biological concepts.

      Just so you know, this summer I’m going to out a series of 5-minute screen casts that connect all the major concepts in APB/IB Bio. They, along with all the content on my jcibapbiology blog will be a huge help. I’ll share everything I’ve got, including exams.

      I say…take the risk. They rewards will be way bigger.


  7. Beth Zik says:

    Ryan, I am looking at your old AP Biology from Campbell blog. On it, you give your weekly AP Bio schedule. In your schedule, you state you will share your AP quizzes and exams. Would you still be willing to do that? I have just been assigned to AP Biology, and this will be my first year teaching it. I am using your weekly schedule as a starting point. Thank you in advance for you help. Beth

  8. Beth Zik says:

    I am sending a reminder email for AP Bio quizzes and tests.
    Thank you in advance. ☺

    • Saran says:

      Hi Ryan:

      I am in my first year lead teaching, and also my first year teaching AP Biology. I was wondering if it would be possible for you to share with me your materials that you use for your units on Photosynthesis, Respiration and Molecular Genetics? My school, E.L Haynes PCS, has just begun a partnership with NMSI. I am interested in learning how you partnership has developed and what resources have been most helpful for you? Thanks.

      • Ryan Reardon says:


        You’re welcome to use what ever I’ve got. Feel free to download any and all slides and mind maps from the essential figures and essential reading sections of the blog. I teach my labs with an inquiry-spirit in that we develop protocols based on my modeling of the set up. As such, I don’t have pre-written protocols for the lab, however I do have comprehensive overviews of what students must deliver after they complete their labs/investigations. Those overviews are also available for download on the “lab work” page. If you’re looking for a great resource, I recommend the soon-to-be available advanced Biology manual from PASCO scientific. I wrote four of the investigations. It should be available from PASCO by the end of January, 2014. The great thing about the manual is that it will come with word docs. of all investigations, so you can customize the handouts to fit your student population.

        In regards to the NMSI resources. I really like the packet/lab-tivity on phylogeny and cladograms. Much of the LTF stuff for pre-AP Biology is excellent for AP Bio as well. If you’re a NMSI school, you should receive LTF training througout the year or in the summer. If you’re not aware of LTF (now NMS.org) talk to your AP Coordinator and push him or her to get your science dept. at LTF training. It’s great stuff.

        PS. Let me know if you’re interested in something else, and I’ll send anything as long as it doesn’t break copyright.

  9. Saran says:

    Hi Ryan:

    I am introducing inter and intracellular communication through the study of botany. Essentially, I am following a similar pacing model as you. I should let you know that I have 3, 45 minute period (m-w) and 1 period that is 1 hour and 25 minutes (Thursday or Friday). I do have questions about resources, reagents and specimens:

    1. What is the writeup assignment that you use for the transpiration lab?

    2. Where do you usually obtain your Elodea, Dianthus flowers?

    3. I am intrigued but your “Mini experiment on factors affecting seed germination.”

    4. What angiosperms do you use for the flower dissection?

    5. How do you discuss translocation and nutrient uptake?

    Thank you for the reference to the trainings. Since we don’t have an AP coordinator, I will discuss this with my Principal.

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