Click on Java the Tree Dragon (RIP) to head on over to the facebook page. i-Biology is for MrT‘s current (and former) IB Biology and MYP Science students. Find out more on the About pages. Please read and adhere to these guidelines on fair use and consider a donation to charity via my gift list at Biology4Good.

Disclaimer: this is a voluntary project not endorsed by the IB. Teachers must use their judgment and the most up-to-date advice in subject guides and reports before making use of materials here. 

Surviving the Peace: Mines Advisory Group

Suport the Mines Advisory Group

We support the Mines Advisory Group

As global tensions appear to heighten, it is is easy to get sucked into side-taking on facebook, twitter or other media, yet this is rarely helpful. There is nothing to be gained by sharing yet another horrific photo or vitriolic screed to elicit comments from your followers. As compassionate, educated global citizens we should look instead for ways to support those who are making a positive difference.

Here’s my example.

Mines Advisory Group (MAG) started in a caravan in my hometown of Cockermouth in the UK, and has blossomed over the last two decades into a major worldwide organisation dedicated to making war-torn areas safer by surveying and removing landmines and unexploded ordnance. They were co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for their work on the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and are well-deserving of all the funds we can raise.

Check out their 23-minute film, “Surviving the Peace“, which focuses on Laos and outlines how they work and the lasting impacts their work has on the lives of survivors of war. If you want to support them, please make a donation via my Biology4Good page for MAG, on JustGiving.

And here is a more recent video on “Surviving the Peace: Angola“:

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A challenge to i-Biology users

Use your online influence to share links to organisations that focus on protecting our environment or alleviating suffering. I have eight examples on my Biology4Good fundraising page, and you might want to do something similar. Tell the world why you care about their cause and how they’re making a difference. Maybe even work it into a CAS project.

Teaching our Sons not to rape: SexEd & #YesAllWomen

Stephen:

This is re-blogged from my personal reflections site, but it is an important current issue and might be of interest.

Originally posted on i-Biology | Reflections:

This is a brief reflection on a work in progress, but health education in school is very important to me. It is a brief reflection on a project to update and refine a Sex Ed sequence, bringing in a stronger element of values education, sexuality and attitudes. It aims to move away from the traditional ‘plumbing and don’t get pregnant or raped’ approach to a more powerful and relevant ‘plumbing, make good decisions and be a good person’ approach. 

Background

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 2.24.17 PM

From @feministabulous on Twitter.

Towards the end of the year we had the opportunity to review and teach a G9 Sex Ed class, standing separate from the regular MYP PHE class and with a different staffing allocation. It comes at a time when the school is working out how to re-distribute health topics into PE, to make PHE, yet retain the balance of content work and physical activity. Sexuality education is…

View original 1,154 more words

Summer Learning

Summer holidays are here!

Text

That means travel, rest, play, sun, sand, surf… and significant learning loss.

Here are some suggestions for a productive summer.

With eight weeks off, there’s a lot you can do to make next year more successful.

1. Unbroken rest.

Block out at least two full weeks with no school work. Let your mind wander, your health recover and your sleep be deep. Reset your balance, get active and maybe even try something new – and non-academic. You will feel better and be better able to focus on the challenges of next year. If you try to do a little work each day, it will always be in the back of your mind, causing stress.

2. Focused Extended Essay work

The Extended Essay is supposed to take around 40 hours of effort. That’s one full Monday-Friday working week. Set aside some time, with peace and the resources you need, to write the best draft you can. If your EE is causing you stress, get it done sooner in the break – you will be better able to enjoy the rest of your vacation.

3. Review this year’s learning

Once you have rested and recovered, set aside a full day or two to focus on Biology. Go through your notes, work on vocabulary, make connections across topics, practice questions from the book, re-read the chapters or presentations, watch (or re-watch) the CrashCourse videos, use the sortable syllabus to practice the assessment statements, practice drawing, labeling and annotating. There is a strong positive impact of spaced practice on learning, so taking the time to review will help make your foundation stronger for next year.

4. Read about science for fun

Science is far more than the list of assessment statements we study in class. It is a fast-moving pursuit of knowledge that connects ideas from around the world and across the disciplines. And there is a lot written about science every week. Dip into the science news, read longer articles or pick up a science book. You’ll enjoy it and it will help you make more connections.

As you read science, think about the following questions:

  • How does this connect to what I already know?
  • What vocabulary is important in this text? How much is known or unknown to me?
  • What are the implications of this information for science or the wider world?
  • What Theory of Knowledge questions does this connect to? What questions does it raise?

Some suggestions for summer reading:

Have a great summer.

And keep that brain Fresh…

 

PCR Song: Class Project & TED Ed Lesson

This song by BioRad is a funny discussion starter on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and biotechnology. For a full lesson plan, with editable slides for students and a complete TED Ed lesson (with quiz), visit the full page.

Click to go to the TED-Ed lesson on PCR.

Click to go to the TED-Ed lesson on PCR.

John Oliver: Climate Change Sketch

This funny (but sweary) John Oliver sketch skewers the non-debate on climate change.

“The debate on climate change should not be whether or not it exists, but what we should do about it.” 

With 97% agreement from scientists on the human cause of climate change, are the media skewing the debate with 1:1 representation?

This is connected to the Greenhouse Effect topic resources. Don’t play it in class without listening first – there is some strong langauage.

Review Vocab Quizzes with Quizlet

In this task we ‘crowd-sourced’ definitions and descriptions for a lot of the (lot of) vocabulary we have learned this year. This is to reinforce that Biology is as much a language course as a science course, and that everything is connected.

  1. Create a google spreadsheet with tabs numbered by subtopics covered
  2. Assign groups of topics to groups of students, with the simple task:
    1. First column, keyword, correctly spelled
    2. Second column: definition (exactly from subject guide if it exists) or clear description
  3. After groups finish, peer-edit
    1. Does it make sense? Are there any errors?
    2. It the definition clear in the ‘wider sense’ of the course?
    3. Adapt definitions with clarifications, or starters such as ‘process’, ‘structure’, ‘hormone’ etc

In our spreadsheet, we identified 312 terms (and growing) from this year. 

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 2.12.28 PM

Click to start a Quizlet set

In between sessions:

  1. Check and edit as much as needed/possible
  2. Import vocab into quizlet to create the set
    1. Very easy: select columns and paste into the right-hand field
    2. Make sure ‘tab’ is set, top-left
    3. Hit ‘import’ if it looks right
  3. Create quizzes/activities
  4. Share quizlet codes and  spreadsheet URL with students
  5. Get reviewing!

During classes: 

  • Students can review using the Quizlet activities
  • Students might use the vocab list to make sure they are meeting markscheme requirements for target language – are they giving complete and correct answers?
  • Students can use the vocab as a foundation for concept-maps, model responses etc.

Example (sadly Quizlet doesn’t embed to WordPress.com)

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If you have any creative – and effective – review methods, let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

Better Living Through Chemistry: Student Science Writers

In this compressed semester of Grade 9 MYP Chemistry, I had students do one full-length One World piece, written for a wider online audience. We had done formative One World work earlier in the semester, and the process of this article took a good few weeks, with drafting on GoogleDocs.

 

Brief: write a 1,200-1,500 word article for an online audience on the prompt “Better living through Chemistry: Chemical solutions to Global Issues.”

Assessment: One World and Communication in Science

Process: Topics proposed and drafted through GoogleDocs, with students seeking feedback on writing through highlighting and comments in the GoogleDocs. In the final sessions they put the articles together in WordPress and gave peer-feedback for quality of presentation, flow and message. We aimed to use images found through CreativeCommons Search and through Getty’s free Images(though the embed widget went squiffy on some of their wordpress editors).

Teacher note: this kind of task is a great way to realise that we are all language teachers. Managing workflow through GoogleDocs/Hapara makes commenting on drafts easier, though students need to keep their work there in order to show progression. The worflow and product are similar to the Grade 10 Environmental Science task, though with more scaffolding along the way.

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Some highlights (with a range of scores) are posted below. Please click-through, read them and leave some encouraging comments!

 

Exploring Environments: Science Writers

 

Building on last year’s Exploring Environments units (G10 Environmental Science), in which students formed groups and designed their own units of inquiry, we have once again taken on the science-writing challenge.

Image: Writing in Nature #98872063 / gettyimages.com

Brief: write a 1,200-1,500 word article for an online audience highlighting a case study connected to your unit’s central ideas. The articles should be aimed at peers and smarter, and should include properly-used media and video where appropriate.

Assessment: One World and Communication in Science

Process: Topics proposed and drafted through GoogleDocs, with students seeking feedback on writing through highlighting and comments in the GoogleDocs. In the final sessions they put the articles together in WordPress and gave peer-feedback for quality of presentation, flow and message. We aimed to use images found through CreativeCommons Search and through Getty’s free Images (though the embed widget went squiffy on some of their wordpress editors).

Teacher note: this kind of task is a great way to realise that we are all language teachers. Managing workflow through GoogleDocs/Hapara makes commenting on drafts easier, though students need to keep their work there in order to show progression.

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Some highlights (with a range of scores) are posted below. Please click-through, read them and leave some encouraging comments!

 

BioNinja: App & Website

Click to visit BioNinja

BioNinja is website and app for review in IB Biology that you might find useful. It has some summary notes, tutorials and songs and quizzes on the free app.

For other review resources for the IBBio exams:

  • This site (i-Biology.net) has presentations, links and review sheets.
  • Click4Biology.info has good summary notes, with depth

The Future of i-Biology

iBiologyStephenThis post is in response to a number of emails, comments and other messages I’ve received recently regarding plans to update the site. 

A new IB Biology guide has been released for first teaching in summer 2014 and first examinations May 2016. It outlines significant changes to the course, especially in terms of internal assessment and examinations and the prescriptive nature of the content coverage has shifted to be more open-ended.

Much of the content-based work on here will remain useful, though will need to be reorganised (eventually). I will leave the IA support stuff up here for the coming year and will work over the coming academic year to update the site as far as possible. I will likely remove a lot of IA-related content, as we are to expect significant teacher support material on the OCC, and that is where teachers should be making their first stop for reliable documentation.

Personally, my load has shifted a lot in recent years. It has taken about seven years to build this site and all of its assets, and I am happy to continue to share them freely. However, most of my time is now taken up with being an MYP Coordinator and teaching MYP science classes, as well as being HOD for science and having larger groups of students with no lab support. My IB Biology class are currently in IB1, and I will keep them next year on the current guide. I also have family, MA studies and other commitments, so will not likely be able to revamp the presentations in the immediate future. Please give it time and use your judgment as to what is useful and valuable if you are starting teaching of the new guide this summer.

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Biology4Good Charity Project Update

Biology4Good - click to make a donationWe have now passed 3.4 million views on the site, with over £4,000 in charity donations made through Biology4Good. If you donate £20 or more, you can have access to a folder of all the editable resources I still have. These donations and the ability to support a selection of my favourite charities are significant motivators for continuing to update this site, so thank-you for the ongoing support.

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Update: June 7 2014

It was sad to see John Burrell’s announcement that he plans to close Click4Biology, as he has given a great service to students and teachers through his online notes over the last decade. However, his reasoning is sound – the change in the subject guide to move away from such defined assessment statements makes producing these resources more challenging. At the same time, the text resources, such as Allott & Mindorrf’s Course Book, with it’s online edition, have really upped the quality of what is available to students from the publishers.

Looking at this year’s statistics on i-Biology.net, there was the usual big spike around the May exams (around 10,000 on peak day, compared to 2,000-4,000 on regular days), but it was far below the record of over 20,000 last year. From the discussions around #IBBio on twitter, it seems that much of the review traffic has swung towards BioNinja’s apps and notes that are set up for mobile learning and review. Again, this is a great service to students, and there is little point trying to replicate that.

I will think carefully over the coming year about how this site will continue, and it will likely be more streamlined in terms of course content but with more organised ideas for teaching and ed-tech.

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below, or find me on Twitter (@iBiologyStephen).

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