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.
NOTE OF CAUTION
i-Biology.net has not yet been updated for the new IB Biology subject guide (first exams May 2016). Some links above are being updated. Resources and guidance on IA and 4PSOW posted here currently are not suitable for this new guide, and links have been removed.
For an outline of my plans, please click here.
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.
“Fame is easy to acquire, impact is much more difficult.”
Hans Rosling, 1948-2017 (Guardian, 2003)
Hans Rosling, public health guru, statistics wizard, creator of Gapminder and presenter of the best TED Talks of all time (playlist), has sadly died, way too young. Any long-term user of i-Biology.net will know what a fanboy I am, and there are many posts and pages on this site – from Bio content to MYP and TOK – that reference his work and talks.
He will be missed but his work, more important now than ever before, will live on.
We’re lucky to be in this world. Don’t be ignorant.
With the world at fever-pitch for humanitarian crises, discrimination, widening political divides and environmental problems becoming compounded, it can seem like we are powerless to make a change.
This might be even more true if you are underage, personally affected (directly or indirectly), a holder of a sensitive passport, living in a delicate location or even shielded from the reality of the situation by the privileged bubble of international schooling. But it does not need to be hopeless.
Our missions as IB schools and international schools around the world should be in clear focus right now. Our education, through the disciplines, service, TOK, approaches to learning and international mindedness is our toolbox as a global citizens.
You can help and give without putting yourself (or those around you) at risk. Here are some suggestions, framed through the Learner Profile.
Above all, be caring, empathetic and understanding. Care for yourself and others. Know that sometimes people do bad things from positions of ignorance and sometimes positive intentions have unintended negative consequences. Remember that all humans deserve empathy and understanding, that the world is our shared responsibility and that we can make greater positive impacts when we work together.
Keep learning, focusing on your studies and the goals ahead. Ensure you do the best you possibly can. We can have a greater impact in the long-run if we are successful, competent and educated. Through your lifelong studies you will become more knowledgeable and along the journey you may well hit upon valuable ideas and relationships, big and small, that may make a positive difference in the world.
Be Thinkers & Inquirers
As we drown in information and media, we may feel passionate, reactive or flooded with confusion. Knowledge is power, but understanding is powerful. Fact-check (try Snopes), and evaluate fake news. Consider the issues from different perspectives and try to understand why others might feel that way. Understand that global issues have multiple contributing factors, that solutions are interdisciplinary and that we need to be agile critical and creative inquirers if we are to move forwards with clarity. Don’t be ignorant about the world.
Be Principled Communicators
It is all-too-easy to add to the noise in reaction or from a position of excitement, but over-reaction or ill-conceived prejudice may cause more problems than we intend. In an age where populism and charisma seem to have more sway than facts, we need to practice our rhetorical skills, to present clearly and with compelling and supportable reasoning. Avoid logical fallacies and ad-hom attacks, focus on reason but understand how emotion, language and other ways of knowing influence the received message in our communication.
Be Open-Minded, Balanced and Reflective
We must presume positive intentions in those we meet and speak to, listen actively and practice empathy (video below). We must balance media types and viewpoints to understand multiple perspectives and break out of our bubbles and echo chambers. We must reflect on our learning, interactions and own prejudices, privilege and state of mind. We must ensure that we remain balanced, healthy and active – we can achieve nothing if we are burned out.
Hope motivates, educate for it. Remember too that we are living in a world that is better than it has ever been. Through science, reason, diplomacy and interconnectedness, we have greater health, wealth and potential. Although the noise of the awful deafens us to the good, we must find it and use the positive news as a beacon. You thought 2016 was awful? Well here are some counter-claims (with sources).
Be Courageous Risk Takers
We must take part in new things, broadening our horizons through service, travel and academics. If we live in a position of privilege, we should honour that, making the most of the hand we have been dealt. Don’t squander time or opportunities that millions of others are fighting for. Live a positive life and use our influence to better ourselves and others. Take risks academically, trying new ideas, thinking creatively and engaging with topics that challenge or frighten us.
BUT: seek reliable advice when taking action, ensuring the risks we take are managed, that we don’t cause harm to others in the process of trying to have a positive impact. Put the Service Learning Cycle to good use in planning your action.
It’s a delicate line, tread it with care. If you don’t know what to do but want to help, reach out to those that do: the charities and organizations that work in the issues day-in, day-out, service leaders in your school, reliable media. Many organizations will take donations directly and safely online, and so will accept the proceeds of your efforts.
If you need help finding reliable organisations, ask reliable sources.
- See PRI’s list of agencies supporting refugees
- Donate to your local or international environmental charities
- Find topics of specific personal connection and find out who is helping and how
How To Give through Biology4Good
Years ago, when this site started gaining popularity, I wanted to use its impact as a kind of personal service project. Now it seems like the right time to boost the fundraising efforts. Thanks to i-Biology users, we’ve raised over GB£5,600 (US$7,000) in donations for a selection of ten charities. 100% of this money goes directly to the charities, and UK taxpayers can also boost their donation (for free) with GiftAid.
If you use this site a lot – and I know, I’m sorry it has not been updated in a long time – please consider boosting this appeal. If you donate £20 or more through the list, I’ll give you access to a folder of powerpoints and IBBio resources.
Three charities on our list having a direct impact on the current humanitarian crisis are:
You might also choose to donate to HopeHIV, WaterAID, Marine Conservation Society, Tree Aid, AfriKids or Save the Rhino by visiting the team page here.
Super-quick lesson idea for teaching datasets and presentation types. When processing data in Google Sheets, use the ‘Explore’ feature, highlighting parts of the dataset. Click here for an example (to save a copy, go to ‘file –> make a copy’).
For: Sciences, Maths
Thanks to Liz Durkin (@lizdk) for the reminder of this feature.
Questions to ask students
- What are different types of data (continuous, discontinuous)
- Why do we use graphical presentations of data?
- What information do we need to be able to present data clearly?
- Why are some data presentations suitable for some sets of data and not others?
- How are the ‘basic’ presentations of data limited? (or Why can’t I use a bar chart for everything?).
- How does my interpretation of the data change when I change the graph or chart type?
MYP ATL Skills
|Collect, record and verify data|
|Present information in a variety of formats and platforms|
|Process data and report results|
|Understand and use technology systems|
|Analyzing and Interpreting Data|
|Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.|
|Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.|
Here’s a quick lesson plan idea for tuning into inquiry using Google Earth Engine Timelapse*. It can provide a timelapse of change from 1984-present, based on satellite and aerial photos.
Ideal for: Individuals & Societies, Sciences, Interdisciplinary Unit
Global Context(s): Fairness & Development or Globalization & Sustainability
Key Concept(s): Change, Development, Interactions, Time-Place-Space
Related Concepts (I&S): Globalization, growth, resources, sustainability, causality
Related Concepts (Sciences): Environment, transformation, consequence, evidence
Find where we live and model See-Think-Wonder (Project Zero) on the timelapse from 1984-now. You might want to create a GoogleSheet with columns for each stage, to be shared with the class. Alternatively, get out some big whiteboards or butcher paper.
- See: look for general outlines, specific landmarks, big developments, interesting changes. Then dig deeper – compare the start to the end, or look for evidence of significant events in the time period. Keep pushing the ‘see’ until ideas are truly exhausted.
- Think: connected to the ‘see’ statements, note potential cause-effect relationships, sequences, consequences or other ideas. Keep going until this is exhausted.
- Wonder: finally build on the ‘see’ and ‘think’. What questions does this generate? Categorize and rank the questions.
- What lines of inquiry will you take to find out more?
- What can be found out by students and what needs to be explicitly taught?
- What unit-related vocabulary needs to be used and taught?
Approaches to Learning
- Access information to be informed and inform others
- Make connections between various sources of information
- Understand and use technology systems
- Practise observing carefully in order to recognize problems
- Interpret data
- Draw reasonable conclusions and generalizations
- Revise understanding based on new information and evidence
- Formulate factual, topical, conceptual and debatable questions
- Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
- Identify trends and forecast possibilities
New from Leonardo DiCaprio and National Geographic, Before the Flood is a compelling and powerful climate change documentary. Where are we in the world right now with our understanding, challenges and potential solutions. What actions need to be taken right away?
The full movie
is was available initially for free on YouTube, and their action website hosts more resources for use in class or discussions. Click here for other platforms where you can view, rent or buy the movie.
Timely and provocative, here is Sam Harris on facts, values, morals and perceptions. Jump here for lesson ideas. Trigger alert (it’s Sam Harris): some raw issues discussed.
This year’s TOK Questions are a great crop (I think) for connecting the sciences as an area of knowledge with many current and historical knowledge issues. Here’s a wee poster I made on PiktoChart for the questions. Which do you lean towards and why?
I have been looking for something that can replace MS Word’s citation manager and work in a similar way to Zotero. Here’s a quick post on how to use the PaperPile add-on for managing references in GoogleDocs. Paperpile is free from the Chrome store, though I am using the upgraded version.
Working with Eco Club and thinking about the complexities of the interactions, causes, effects and issues we need to tackle, I am often reminded of this Lovelock quote, from a 2014 interview in the Guardian. Perhaps if we can get interdisciplinary teaching and learning right in our schools, we can help students make the connections they need to truly understand the deeper causes of the problems they might need to solve.
For a more detailed post on how we’re trying to tackle IDU’s, please see my blog.