Author Archives: Stephen
Space Twins & Epigenetics
Sign up for the Teach.Genetics mailing list from GSLC here.
The ever-wonderful Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah sent this helpful email update to counter misconceptions around the Kelly Twins’ “Genetic Differences” as a result of Scott’s year on the International Space Station.
You may have seen the headlines about identical twin astronauts, Mark and Scott Kelly, now being “genetically different” after Scott spent a year in space while Mark remained on Earth. Yet much of the popular press has failed to explain that these differences are mostly epigenetic modifications leading to changes in gene expression. Or that several of the analyses were limited to circulating white blood cells and are thus mostly relevant to the immune system.
Here are some great resources they shared:
The Epigenetics module on Learn.Genetics and Teach.Genetics explores how signals from the environment regulate gene expression, including an explanation of how differences in identical twins might arise
- Scott Kelley’s telomeres were elongated in space and shortened on Earth. Learn all about telomeres from this primer.
- The study also compared the microbiomes of the Kelly twins—which, it turns out, were quite different even before Scott Kelley traveled to space. Explore the Human Microbiome module on Learn.Genetics and Teach.Genetics.
Now go over and subscribe!
They have great resources for students at the Genetic Science Learning Center, and for educators at their new Teach.Genetics site. You can also follow them for Twitter updates here. Sign up for the Teach.Genetics mailing list from GSLC here.
Pomodoro Organizer: Get Stuff Done
The Pomodoro Technique is an effective way to overcome procrastination, get started on big tasks (by breaking them into smaller tasks) and to use time effectively. Essentially, by “hacking” your brain’s reward pathway with manageable chunks of time and small reward breaks, it can help overcome the fear of getting going.
This graphic organizer (pdf) is to help set a plan for a working period, recognizing that:
- Setting clear and realistic goal is essential
- Breaking large tasks into smaller steps helps get things done
- Rewards/short breaks keep the brain motivated
- Setting an overall end time is also really important
- A distraction-free environment will really help
Of course if, once you get going, you find “flow” and can’t stop working… then get it done!
For more ATL-related graphic organisers, click here.
- The Chrome extension Pomodoro Timer Pro allows you to set times and “blacklist” sites that might be distractions.
- Online Stopwatch has a good full-screen tomato timer. Scan the QR code below to start the timer running.
IMaGE Inquiry: Why Them, Why There, Why Then?
Here’s a visual organizer for building quick context in orientation in time and space in a case study or unit of inquiry. It is not only for sciences – it could easily be applied to other subjects with the intention of contributing to a sense of international mindedness and global engagement (IMaGE). The simple goal is for triplets of students to complete collaborative rapid research around the case: Why Them, Why There, Why Then? Click for pdf. This has been tested in rough drafts, and I’d love for some others to try it out and give feedback.
- Recent (or significant) discoveries or events (in the news, science, etc)
- The Human Genome Project: Who was involved and why them? Where did it happen and why there? Why then and not before?
- Antoni van Leeuwenhoek discovering animalcules. Why him? Where there? Why then? Why not other people, places or times
- LangLit: Explore the author, location and time
- I used it for a cover lesson on Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, with a group of students who had almost no prior knowledge.
- I&S: Considering a significant development, event or innovation
- Service Learning Cycle: An entry point into the “Research” phase of the cycle and determining reasons, needs and causes (thanks @AlisonKIS).
This is not a tool for in-depth research (though it could be expanded outwards). It is intended to get a quick, reliable orientation in time and space around a case study and the people or organisations involved.
Some great tools for this include Google Maps, Google Cultural Institute, Google Images, Wikipedia, Biography.com, On This Day (History.com), Charity Navigator and many more.
Also Wolfram|Alpha: People & History, Places & Geography, Socioeconomics, compare countries, compare companies and much more. See Stephen’s page on databases & Wolfram|Alpha here.
The results can be synthesised into further lines of inquiry (to use more rigorous research), but this should give students a vision of the case. What cultural or contextual cues can they recognise? How might this activate further connection and questioning?
Webb’s DOK4 as a Filter for “Transfer”
As any teacher knows, “transfer” is notoriously difficult to truly teach, yet it is a part of the IB’s ATL skills framework as it is really important in empowering self-directed learning. Here’s a post on Webb’s DOK4 and how it might be used as a tool for teaching transfer of knowledge, skills and concepts. Also, DOK is a not wheel.
Reflecting on the Impacts of Science: IMaGE, Global Goals & Connections in MYP Sciences.
I’ve added a new page to i-Biology.net to post resources and ideas for MYP Science Crit. D: Reflecting on the Impacts of Science. Some slides are below, but to see the full page, click here.
[IMaGE = International Mindedness and Global Engagment. To see my dissertation & resources on this, click here.]
Is this an inquiry with an ‘I’ or an enquiry with an ‘e’?
Wayfinder Learning Lab - Stephen Taylor
This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while, and I was reminded to complete it after a question from a student when I was covering a TOK class: “What’s the difference between inquiry and enquiry?”
So here goes…
Defining Inquiry: A Pragmatic Approach
I’ve been thinking and writing about this a lot over the last few years, tinkering with and testing definitions that try to capture what makes powerful, pragmatic inquiry learning. He’s my current best effort and if you pick it apart you should be able to recognise the best elements of the classical with an aspiration towards the contemporary (in the Bold Moves sense).
Inquiry is… creative, critical, reflective thought. It builds on a solid foundation of accessible, well-learned knowledge, skills and conceptual understandings, inviting learners to take action on their learning and ask “what if…?”
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Six Strategies for Effective Learning
This post is to share some resources that are of great use for students and teachers, produced by the Learning Scientists (@AceThatTest) and Oliver Caviglioli. They are free to use and share* downloadable, printable, practical, evidence-based and great for DP students.
In IBBio there is a lot to learn. To learn it well – to understand, apply and make connections – takes effort and discipline. But it can be done efficiently, effectively and enjoyably. These six strategies might help you in planning your studies (or designing your course).
The Learning Scientists also have a useful podcast and YouTube Channel to explain the strategies. See this example on Dual Coding. If you want to read more, they have an open-access paper “Teaching the Science of Learning” in Cognitive Research: Principles & Implications.
What Does This Look Like In The Classroom? is a conversational and handy book for teachers wanting to put learning research into action in the classroom. It’s written in a Q&A style with an expert panel of respondents (including Dr. Yana Weinstein). Review of the book here.
Learning How To Learn is an enjoyable 4-week course on Coursera, from UC San Diego. It would benefit teachers and students alike, and explores how we learn, the traps we fall into and how to learn effectively. This is good free professional learning. If you want to pay and take the assessment, you will get a UCSD certificate.
*Creative Commons, share-alike, non-commercial, no-derivatives
Crash Course: Statistics
Crash Course are at it again, this time with a new statistics course. This introduction might be interesting as you think about your IA’s. How do we understand what are data are telling us… and how do we design tests that will give us data that we can actually use?
TOK Questions 2018
How might you refer to the sciences as an area of knowledge in some of these questions?
Question source: IB OCC, September 2018