Author Archives: Stephen

The Future of i-Biology

iBiologyStephenA quick post in response to a number of emails, comments and other messages I’ve received recently. 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. 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 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 and MYP Coordinator and teaching MYP science classes. My IB Biology class are currently in IB1, and I will keep them next year. I also have family, MA studies and other commitments, so will not likely be able to revamp every presentation 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.

Biology4Good - click to make a donationWe have now passed 3.2 million views on the site, with over £3,750 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.

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary. This haunting multimedia Guardian piece could be a perfect provocation for a unit.

The Great Barrier Reef: An Obituary. This haunting multimedia Guardian piece could be a perfect provocation for a unit.

 

Ending Overfishing Animation

This is a neat animation by The Black Fish (@theblackfishorg) on Ending Overfishing, highlighting issues of overfishing, bycatch, fish-farming and the tensions between science-recommended catches and econonmy-driven catch limits. It connects directly to the Population Ecology option topic.

 

Ed Yong’s TED Talk: Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales

“Are there any parasites that are influencing our behaviour without us knowing it?”

When I started this blog back in 2007, Ed Yong was a fledgling science writer gaining an audience with his Not Exactly Rocket Science wordpress blog; clear and engaging online articles that opened up primary research to a wider audience. You’ll find many links to his writing throughout this site, connecting the concepts of the IB Biology course to current science and ‘the wow beat’. He has since had a book and is resident at NatGeo’s Phenomena Salon, after moving through Science Blogs and Discover.

He continues to inspire me as a writer and this week he gave his TED Talk, a funny and fact-packed tour of the sinister side of parasites. Enjoy! You will even be able to find some links out to further reading and references.

If you don’t already, you should subscribe to the Phenomena blogs, and if you’re a teacher or student whose schedule are as packed a mine, I highly recommend Ed’s weekly ‘Missing Links‘ roundup of science news and writing – they make for my Sunday morning reading!

Can you solve this?

Have a go at this – pause at 1:30 and get chatting before moving on! Another great video by Derek Muller (@veritasium), and will be useful in discussions of the scientific method, hypothesis testing and the nature of science.

A no is usually more useful than a yes

Niches for Species: How Wolves Change Rivers

This video is an excerpt from George Monbiot’s recent TED Talk (posted here a while back), and really sets up the imagery of an ecosystem as it responds to change. A great clip, well suited to starting off the Ecology units.

Getty Image Library has been set free

This is big news this week for teachers and students who need media for their online projects. Getty, the giant photo agency, have opened up their library for free use as long as you use their embed tool.

This is timely as we think more carefully about Approaches to Learning in the MYP and DP, in particular Media and Information Literacy clusters and the skills of accessing and appropriately using information from other sources.

Here’s an example:

Cool!

Infested! Living with Parasites

Check this out, from the BBC. Dr Michael Mosley has himself infected with various parasites, including this big tapeworm, for our edutainment.

Full episode on BB iPlayer (limited time): Here.

Here’s a leech, for fun.

Socrative Space Race (beta)

Quick update to the Socrative Space Race page: some new cards to use with the beta version.

SocrativeSpaceRaceBeta_iBiologyStephen

Updated space race cards for beta.socrative.com

30-Minute Inquiry: Base-substitution mutations

This has worked well (and been fun) as a topic review, way to make use of databases (ICT in IBBio requirement) and make connections as we.

Question: What do HBB, PAH, PKD1, NF1, CFTR, Opn1Mw and HEXA have in common?

Concepts: Structure vs Function; Universality & Diversity.

The set-up:

  1. Assign groups by handing out cards with the codes above (we had already studied HBB, so didn’t include it) and asking them to find each other.
  2. Give them the instructions – to produce a simple poster & 1-minute overview of their disorder, using the guidance in the image below.
  3. Go.  Lots of discussion, lots of questioning. If students get stuck, they need to look it up, evaluate their sources and keep on going.
  4. Students will need to use the NCBI gene database to get going: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene

Check they’re on the right track: HBB (sickle cell), PAH (PKU), PKD1 (polycystic kidney disease), NF1 (neurofibromatosis), CFTR (cystic fibrosis), Opn1Mw (medium-wave sensitive colour-blindness), HEXA (Tay-Sachs disease). They are all disorders causes by base-substitution mutations.

After 30 minutes:

  1. Groups present to the class what they have found.
  2. As the class sharing continues, ask questions based on connections:
    1. What similarities and differences do we see?
    2. What are the normal functions of these genes and how does this connect to our understanding of proteins, channels, pumps, etc.

Poster outline for the 30-minute inquiry.

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