Degrees and Certifications:

Bachelor of Science Tarleton State University Masters of Education Curriculum and Instruction University of Texas at Arlington 8-12 Life Science All Level Physical Education

Mr. John Epps Jr.

I am excited about working with you and your child this year in Biology and Honors Biology. 

I earned my Bachelor of Science degree from Tarleton State University and have a teaching certificate in 8-12 Life Science. I also received my Master's degree in Education from the University of Texas in Arlington. This will be my 14th year in education, teaching biology.

I am looking forward to being here at Azle High School and having the opportunity to work with you and your child while diving into the living world of biology around us, and all the processes that make them function and work together. We will use a lot of scientific reasoning and problem solving while learning and coming up with personal beliefs and ideas during this year's coursework. I look forward to meeting you and your children. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me.


  • Tutorials schedule is Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 4-5 p.m.

Azle High School Expectations for Attendance

  • Dear Honors Biology, and Biology Students and Parents, This Syllabus has been prepared for you so you will become familiar with the expectations and standards and understand the requirements for success. I have included as much information as possible to help you. The credit for this course will be given as .5 for the fall semester and .5 for the spring semester earned by examination 40 percent and daily work 60 percent. The End of Course STAAR Biology exam will be taken in May and is a requirement to be passed prior to your student’s graduation. Attendance is extremely important in Biology. Material is covered very quickly and in-depth prepping students for success in high school courses and beyond. Labs are difficult to make-up and information from them will be included on unit tests. If students are absent on a lab day, they may not understand the concepts well enough to answer questions on quizzes and tests. It is important if you are absent to find a time to see me at school to talk to me about the material you missed. I understand that some students are necessarily busy with extracurricular activities and I will do my best to schedule major labs and tests around the majority of the students. Students will be provided with a calendar of assignments on Canvas. Students are encouraged to look ahead and plan to complete their assignments early if they know they will be very busy or have a conflict at a particular time during the course. Time management is an extremely important skill to learn and is best learned before being on your own at a university or trade school. Most assignments require digital access and cannot all be done with a phone.

    This is a STAAR EOC tested course taught in high school. At the end of the year, students are given a standardized exam, which will determine their ability for graduation. Students must exercise exceptional organizational skills in order to meet the demands of this course. The course is organized into major instructional areas as shown below. The material reflects the curriculum standards set by TEA and the TEKS expected to be taught for success on the STAAR EOC Biology Test.

    Unit 1 - Introduction and Nature of Science
    Unit 2 - Levels of Organization
    Unit 3 - Cellular Processes
    Unit 4 - Nucleic Acids
    Unit 5 - Protein Synthesis
    Unit 6 - Genetics
    Unit 7 - Evolution
    Unit 8 - Taxonomy
    Unit 9 - Body Systems
    Unit 10 - Plant Systems
    Unit 11 - Ecology

    This course is divided into 11 major units. Within each unit, the enduring understands essential knowledge, learning objectives, and science practices that will be taught as outlined below. The plan is to complete Units 1-6 in the Fall and 7-11 in the Spring.

    1 EVO - The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.
    2 ENE - Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.
    3 IST - Living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes.
    4 SYI - Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties.

    Biology is a scientific process that requires students to make observations and interpret information from the natural world. Because the process of science is such an important part of this course, students will be required to record their lab activities in a lab notebook in such a way as to mirror the process that is used in research laboratories. Students in this course meet for 50 minutes, five days each week and will spend at least 40% of this time engaged in laboratory exercises. Each of the Science Practices below will be addressed throughout the course within the context of the Essential Knowledge. They are listed in the curriculum framework along with the appropriate learning objective. Because students will be learning the practice of being a scientist, they will conduct at least two inquiry-based lab activities per Big Idea in the curriculum framework. The products of these investigations will be either a formal lab report, mini-poster presentation, or a group presentation.

    Science TEKS Practices:
    The student will demonstrate an understanding that cells are the basic unit of structure and function of living things. (B.4) Science concepts. The student knows that cells are the basic structures of all living things with specialized parts that perform specific functions and that viruses are different from cells. The student is expected to (A) compare and contrast prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, including their complexity, and compare and contrast scientific explanations for cellular complexity; Supporting Standard (B) investigate and explain cellular processes, including homeostasis and transport of molecules; and Readiness Standard (C) compare the structures of viruses to cells, describe viral reproduction, and describe the role of viruses in causing diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and influenza. Readiness Standard (B.5) Science concepts. The student knows how an organism grows and the importance of cell differentiation. The student is expected to (A) describe the stages of the cell cycle, including deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) replication and mitosis, and the importance of the cell cycle to the growth of organisms; Readiness Standard (B) describe the roles of DNA, ribonucleic acid (RNA), and environmental factors in cell differentiation; and Supporting Standard (C) recognize that disruptions of the cell cycle lead to diseases such as cancer. Supporting Standard The student will demonstrate an understanding of the mechanisms of genetics. (B.6) Science concepts. The student knows the mechanisms of genetics such as the role of nucleic acids and the principles of Mendelian and non-Mendelian genetics. The student is expected to (A) identify components of DNA, identify how information for specifying the traits of an organism is carried in the DNA, and examine scientific explanations for the origin of DNA; Readiness Standard (B) recognize that components that make up the genetic code are common to all organisms; Supporting Standard (C) explain the purpose and process of transcription and translation using models of DNA and RNA; Supporting Standard (D) recognize that gene expression is a regulated process; Supporting Standard (E) identify and illustrate changes in DNA and evaluate the significance of these changes; Readiness Standard (F) predict possible outcomes of various genetic combinations such as monohybrid crosses, dihybrid crosses, and non-Mendelian inheritance; and Readiness Standard (G) recognize the significance of meiosis to sexual reproduction. Supporting Standard The student will demonstrate an understanding of the theory of biological evolution and the hierarchical classification of organisms. (B.7) Science concepts. The student knows evolutionary theory is a scientific explanation for the unity and diversity of life. The student is expected to (A) analyze and evaluate how evidence of common ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil record, biogeography, and homologies, including anatomical, molecular, and developmental; Readiness Standard (B) examine scientific explanations of abrupt appearance and stasis in the fossil record; Supporting Standard (C) analyze and evaluate how natural selection produces change in populations, not individuals; Supporting Standard (D) analyze and evaluate how the elements of natural selection, including inherited variation, the potential of a population to produce more offspring than can survive, and a finite supply of environmental resources, result in differential reproductive success; Supporting Standard (E) analyze and evaluate the relationship of natural selection to adaptation and to the development of diversity in and among species; and Readiness Standard (F) analyze other evolutionary mechanisms, including genetic drift, gene flow, mutation, and recombination. Supporting Standard (B.8) Science concepts. The student knows that taxonomy is a branching classification based on the shared characteristics of organisms and can change as new discoveries are made. The student is expected to (A) define taxonomy and recognize the importance of a standardized taxonomic system to the scientific community; Supporting Standard (B) categorize organisms using a hierarchical classification system based on similarities and differences shared among groups; and Readiness Standard (C) compare characteristics of taxonomic groups, including archaea, bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, and animals. Supporting Standard The student will demonstrate an understanding of metabolic processes, energy conversions, and interactions and functions of systems in organisms. (B.9) Science concepts. The student knows the significance of various molecules involved in metabolic processes and energy conversions that occur in living organisms. The student is expected to (A) compare the functions of different types of biomolecules, including carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids; Readiness Standard (B) compare the reactants and products of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in terms of energy, energy conversions, and matter; and Supporting Standard (C) identify and investigate the role of enzymes. Supporting Standard (B.10) Science concepts. The student knows that biological systems are composed of multiple levels. The student is expected to (A) describe the interactions that occur among systems that perform the functions of regulation, nutrient absorption, reproduction, and defense from injury or illness in animals; Readiness Standard (B) describe the interactions that occur among systems that perform the functions of transport, reproduction, and response in plants; and Readiness Standard (C) analyze the levels of organization in biological systems and relate the levels to each other and to the whole system. Supporting Standard The student will demonstrate an understanding of the interdependence and interactions that occur within an environmental system and their significance. (B.11) Science concepts. The student knows that biological systems work to achieve and maintain balance. The student is expected to (A) summarize the role of microorganisms in both maintaining and disrupting the health of both organisms and ecosystems; and Supporting Standard (B) describe how events and processes that occur during ecological succession can change populations and species diversity. Readiness Standard (B.12) Science concepts. The student knows that interdependence and interactions occur within an environmental system. The student is expected to (A) interpret relationships, including predation, parasitism, commensalism, mutualism, and competition, among organisms; Readiness Standard (B) compare variations and adaptations of organisms in different ecosystems; Supporting Standard (C) analyze the flow of matter and energy through trophic levels using various models, including food chains, food webs, and ecological pyramids; Readiness Standard (D) describe the flow of matter through the carbon and nitrogen cycles and explain the consequences of disrupting these cycles; and Supporting Standard (E) describe how environmental change can impact ecosystem stability. Readiness Standard

    How to contact Coach Epps: Room: P10
    Join Remind Honors Biology: text the number 81010 the following message @coacheppsh
    Join Remind On-Level Biology: text the number 81010 the following message @coacheppso
    Email: or (gmail)
    Phone Number: (817) 631-0244

    Materials Needed for Class:
    • Chromebook and charger EVERY DAY!
    • A 3-ring binder with loose notebook paper OR a college-ruled spiral notebook with a folder to keep materials in.
    • One composition notebook that will be your lab notebook.
    • Writing utensils: blue or black pen.
    • One package of note cards for vocabulary and studying.
    • Dividers for the 3-ring binder – Around 8-10
    • Any other material that would be useful to you for studying or time management: planner, note cards, post-it notes, highlighters, several pen colors etc...
    • Headphones – there will be videos, presentations, and virtual labs possible to watch online
    • Extra notebook paper

    Nine-week Grade Calculation:

    • Daily work, activities, quizzes 60%
    • 12 Minor Exams, Labs, & Projects 40% 4 Major

    Where to Find Your Assignments:
    Most of your assignments will be given in paper form but will also be available in an electronic format on canvas if you are absent or need to get missing assignments. You will be keeping an interactive binder notebook to show evidence of learning. It is important that you get used to having much of your work online. All assignments will be turned in with picture format on Canvas. When you go to college, many classes you take will require you to download work and submit much of your work online.

    General Guidelines for Assignments:
    Assignments must be turned in on time. You should only turn in COMPLETE assignments. Please do not turn in partially completed work. You are expected to have your assignment ready to turn in when you enter the classroom. In case an absence (planned or unplanned) please check your class calendar on canvas or speak with me to get the work you might miss. You are still responsible to complete all work that is missed. If you miss class on a lab day it is your responsibility to get the data from your group on that day. You are still required to complete the pre-lab, complete the data analysis and turn the finished product in. All work for a unit must be completed before the unit exam. Late or missing work from the prior unit will not be accepted after the unit exam has been taken. It is okay if you work in study groups (preferably virtual google meets), but ALL ANSWERS & ALL NOTES MUST BE YOUR OWN! In general, labs and projects will not be accepted late. Independent learning will be checked frequently but randomly throughout the week. You will accumulate points for these activities for the grading period if they are done on time and show appropriate effort and reflect learning. While these activities might represent a small portion of your overall average they are the most important part of your learning. You have the chance to use these learning opportunities such that you will be able to do well on quizzes, labs, projects, and tests. Please trust me and trust the process—you cannot skip any of this work and expect to earn an A or B in this class. We will be using class time to clear up misconceptions, model difficult processes, and apply your learning. If you come to class unprepared, you will be frustrated with the process because you will not understand the concepts well enough to engage with the material. Independent learning activities will include homework assignments, notes from chapter assignments, notes from assigned videos, vocabulary practice, and other assignments. It is very important that you are studying your notes and vocabulary daily to ensure learning and comprehension is happening.

    Some quizzes are announced ahead of time (on your calendar) and will cover material you should have read, work we have done in class or something that we worked on in lab. Some quizzes will not be announced ahead of time and may be used to assess whether you have mastered important concepts that we have been working on in class. Consequently, it is important to try to manage your time and not get behind. It is also helpful to frequently review your prior work! Quizzes may be short answer, multiple choice, or a free response question. If you are absent and miss a quiz, expect to take it on the day you return to class unless you have made other arrangements with me ahead of time. If you are absent on a quiz day, please expect a quiz that is in a different format than the one given while you were out.

    Unit Exams:
    It is important that you keep up with your assignments and work on studying a little bit each day. There is too much information for you to try to “cram” all of your studying into a few hours before the exam. If you try to do the “cramming” method, you will hurt yourself in the long run because you will be unable to remember the material long-term (i.e. for Unit Exams or the AP exam in May). You will be more likely to retain information if you review and study your notes and materials a little every day! Exams are composed of questions that mirror what you will see on the STAAR EOC Biology exam. Many questions will present you with data &/or experiments that you have not seen before and you will be expected to apply the information you have learned in class. In other words, simply memorizing information from the textbook or notes will not be the most productive study method! You must understand the material in order to apply the concepts and or evaluate new material. Expect each exam to be comprehensive (i.e. contain material previously learned in class). Most of the exam will consist of material for that particular unit but will often contain questions from previous units. Exams will be taken during the period and should be completed prior to the end of class with time be limited just as it is on the STAAR EOC Biology exam. Exam questions will be based on class notes, assignments, labs, and the textbook. All exams will be analyzed upon completion. Directions for the analysis will be given to you after your first unit exam. Analysis of errors on your exam are an important learning tool and will help you reflect on your performance and help you decide what concepts need further review. If you are absent on the day of an exam, you should expect to take the test on the day you return to class. If you have extenuating circumstances, you are expected to make arrangements with me ahead of time. If you have questions or do not understand something please ask.