Category Archives: Appeal

Don’t feel hopeless, despite the world right now.

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IB Learner Profile

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.

Be Caring

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.

Be Knowledgeable

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.

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Logical Fallacies poster, free from YourLogicalFallacyIs.com

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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.

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Service Learning Cycle, using Design Cycle to approach Service, inspired by Cathy Berger Kaye

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.

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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.

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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.

Update: October 15 2016

My load has shifted again, and I am now Director of Learning and MYP Coordinator, still at Canadian Academy, Kobe. With no teaching load and being stretched very thin for time, I am less likely than before to make any major updates to the site. I will keep paying for site hosting as long as it proves useful to teachers and students. I will start to prune some pages where possible.

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Biology4Good Charity Project Update

Biology4Good - click to make a donationWe have now passed 3.4 5 million views on the site, with over £4 5,000 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 (@sjtylr).

Good Luck May 2013!

Good luck to all students in the May 2013 exam session!

As always, this time of year drives a spike in views at i-Biology.net. If you have found the resources and presentations here useful (as a student, teacher or study group), then please consider making a donation to one of my chosen charities through Biology4Good, my JustGiving team. All donations go to the charity chosen.

Donations can be given to:

I hope your hard work pays off and that you have learned something along the way that will come in useful during your life.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Hope HIV

Thanks Kasia from Hope HIV for getting in touch and sending this video, that outlines the great work that they do with the donations people make. They focus on the idea of ‘using who you are to make a difference,’ which is perfect for IB students and teachers. Visit this page in particular to see some stories of people that they have hope in – and then if you feel like making a donation, please visit my JustGiving page for Hope HIV here.

For more resources on HIV and how it connects to our curriculum, visit the page for 6.3 Defense Against Infectious Disease here.

And this one outlines their amazing work and growth since 2000.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Save the Rhino

The first donation I processed for Biology4Good was a sleeping bag for a rhino ranger (thanks Mum!). Thanks to Katherine from the Save the Rhino team for sending this 10-minute documentary that showcases the important work that StR do and why you should support them.

This connects across the curriculum, with conservation, biodiversity and, due to the nature of rhino horn-hunting, protein structure, alternative medicine and TOK.

If you like the resources here on i-Biology and like the work that they do, please make a donation via my JustGiving page.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Marine Conservation Society

As a Marine Biologist by training, salty water and the things that live in it are close to my heart, which is why I’m happy to be supporting the Marine Conservation Society with their fundraising through my Biology4good project. They do great work on education, outreach, beach cleanups and campaigns. A current (har-har) area of focus is marine conservation zones, which connects neatly to Option G4: Conservation of Biodiversity.

If you like the resources here and like the work they do, please make a donation on my JustGiving page.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Save The Children


Thanks to Abi from Save the Children UK for getting in touch with links to resources to showcase some of the amazing work Save The Children do – I’ve had a monthly standing order donation with them since Freshers’ Week 1999 (must have been a cute volunteer outside Queen’s University Belfast), and I know they put money to great use.

The slogan is simple: No Child Born To Die. Watch the video below to see some of their accomplishments over 2011 alone, none of which is possible without donations. Their work includes IB Biology-relevant work on vaccinations, development and nutrition, as well as post-tsunami recovery work here in Japan and tireless work at home in the UK.

If you think their work is worthwhile and like what you use here at i-Biology.net, you can donate on my JustGiving page here.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Mines Advisory Group

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Hesty, Stephen & Cockermouth

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.

Here is a 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.

Updated for International Mines Awareness Day 2013 (4 April), here is a new video on “Surviving the Peace: Angola“:

From the MAG Website:

“After more than 27 years of civil war (1975-2002), Angola is one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world.

These deadly weapons don’t discriminate between soldiers and civilians, nor between adults and children.

They:

• cause death and injury to people carrying out their everyday activities;

• deny communities access to their farming land and water sources;

• cause food insecurity and poverty;

• deny movement, leaving communities socially and economically isolated;

• prevent refugees and internally displaced people returning home;

• hamper rehabilitation and post-conflict reconstruction;

• leave populations living in fear.

MAG is removing the threat of injury and death in Angola, and helping to alleviate economic devastation.”

 

Make a donation here.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Medecins Sans Frontieres

MSFLogoDualThanks to Maryam from Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), for getting in touch with links to these two videos that explain the excellent work MSF do in responding to natural and human-caused disasters. Many of you using this site will be thinking about medicine or the health sciences as a career. As IB students you are global-minded, caring and principled young adults. Watch these, get inspired and maybe ten years from now we’ll see you on their videos.

If you want to support MSF, please visit my Biology4Good JustGiving page.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Tree Aid

TreeAid

Yesterday I moved my Biology4good donations to a JustGiving.com team. Since then, some of the charities have got in contact to share resources to encourage donations. First up: Tree Aid. Thanks Tom for the emails and for uploading this video to show the work they do – it is truly amazing and I am happy to be supporting them.

Serendipitously, the video focuses on the nutrional benefits of planting moringa trees to benefit communities, which ties in closely with the final unit for my own class, Option A: Human Nutrition & Health.

If you like what you see, please visit my TreeAid page and make a small donation.

Thank-you!

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