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Hattie TEDx Talk: Why are so many schools & teachers successful?

This is an excellent TED Talk in which Hattie gives a solid overview of the Visible Learning impacts. Teachers should watch it. Students might get something out of it, too.

Wayfinder Learning Lab - Stephen Taylor

This is worth sharing as a neat overview of Hattie’s research and the learning impacts. With Visible Learning as the basis for our Teacher Learning Communities at CA, it makes for a timely resource.

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#IBBio & #MYPSci on Twitter

Twitter has become my favourite tool for getting and sharing resources for IB Biology (#IBBio) and MYP Science (#MYPSci). Follow the hashtags to get brainier by the day. Better still – tweet out your own links to the news and articles you find that connect to the courses. Others can benefit from your learning, and they might get featured in the #IBSciWeekly ‘magazine’.

What to do: 

  1. Read, like a boss. If you come across really useful links, videos, articles or resources that connect to your #IBBio or #MYPSci class, tweet them out. Many services and sites have Twitter buttons. 
  2. If the link is really long, use a link shortener like Better still, customise the URL to make it descriptive.
  3. Post it: don’t forget the hashtag (#IBBio or #MYPSci) and keep it appropriate. Remember your audience.

Some examples after the jump.

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The Story of Electronics (video): cut down the ‘stuff’ this holiday

Tis the season to be jolly – and to ask for new shiny gadgets to replace the still newish, slightly less shiny doodas we already have. But how often do we really think about the impacts of our disposable culture?

Watch Annie Leonard’s clip on the story of electronics and take principled actions this holiday season.

For more videos like this, check out her YouTube channel or book.

Top Ten New Species of 2011

(Some fruiting bodies of Mycena luxaeterna growing on a rotten branch. © Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP, Brazil)

(Some fruiting bodies of Mycena luxaeterna growing on a rotten branch. © Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP, Brazil) Embedded from:

This bioluminescent mushroom is just one of the top ten new species discovered in 2010 and shortlisted by the Arizona State University International Institute for Species Exploration. The list also includes a bacterium which was discovered feeding on the iron oxide of the hull of the Titanic. Visit their site to find out more about taxonomy and species discovery in action, as well as how their nominated ‘new species’ made the top ten.

Remember however, that event though new species are discovered all the time (15,000 a year!), we are in the midst of a global extinction crisis. What use is discovery without the will to take affirmative action to protect our planet’s biodiversity?

Perhaps you too could follow a career in biological exploration!

Well Done, Grade 12.

Grade 12 and MrT on their last day of school - The Earth Day celebrations!

Grade 12 and MrT on their last day of school - The Earth Day celebrations! Thanks Mrs Schlaadt for the photo.

It’s all over for most of you today, and I was encouraged to see some smiles down by your social area. Was it because you thought it went well, or is it because you anticipate your freedom, graduation and the new adventures of university? Perhaps I’ll never know.

You’ve been a ton of fun and I am fortunate to have been your teacher – even if you have at times accelerated the premature greying of my hair. I hope your efforts are rewarded in July and that you keep in touch. I really do hope that at least some of what you have learned sticks with you – especially issues related to the environment and health.

Now you guys have some relaxing to do (or studying, French B students), and I have a commencement address and your reports to write.

You’ve been awesome.


TimeTree – Common ancestor calculator

This is a lot of fun. Plug in two species or taxa and TimeTree will give you our best estimate of when they last shared a common ancestor. Drawing on a multitude of sources, you can look through the database and use TimeTree as a launching pad for further research.

Here are some sample results:

Fun suggestion – play the ‘higher or lower‘ game with pairs of taxa.

David Christian’s Big History of the Universe

Billions of years compressed into 18 minutes of TED Talkiness. David Christian gives us a quick run-down of the history of the universe.

This is a nice link to TOK, evolution, cells and diversity. If you study History or Economics, give it a go, too. Some of you might find this familiar if you have been to one of Andy Fletcher’s TOK Seminars. Why not stick on your phone or iPod and watch it during your holiday this week?

If that gets your inquiring mind in gear, Christian and his team have put together a free online course in Big History, which you can take here. With Big History, Scitable, Khan Academy,, Encyclopedia of Life, Learn.Genetics  and many more free content providers out there, are we starting to see the end of the traditional textbook? I hope so.

Earth Day 2011: International Year of Forests

The theme for our Earth Day celebrations this year is “International Year of the Forests.” To celebrate, we’re having a day of student-led activities and workshops, a vegetarian international lunch and an afternoon assembly on the 29th April.

This video was produced by the Good Planet Foundation and is the official film of the International Year of Forests. Most of the HPD classes have seen it, and here it is if you want to watch again:


– why not watch the movie yourself in short bursts and spend a few minutes looking up the concepts mentioned in the narration?

– Use Embed Plus to annotate the video with keywords and links to internet resources on the concepts discussed.

Ever the issues in Indonesia, forestry management, biodiversity protection and sustainability should be on our minds all year round, not just on one day. How can we take real action in the school? At the very least we should reduce our reliance on an unsustainable source of paper. Think before you print!

Let’s hope the activities we take part in lead to continued and mindful actions!

Guardian and Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize

If you’re in the UK, have a go at this science writing prize from the Wellcome Trust and the Guardian. The winners will have their work printed in the ‘Guardian’ or the ‘Observer’, receive a £1000 cash prize and benefit from a science writing workshop at the ‘Guardian’.

One category is for non-professionals and undergraduate students – that includes you, super-smart IB Biologists. The closing date is 20th May, so it’s perhaps not the best idea for students in their exams!

For the full introduction, go to the competition page. There is also a good piece, as well as some tips, on the Guardian.

Some resources that might help:

Scitable’s Scientific Communication Library

Peter Clarks’ Quick 50 Writing Tips

The science of scientific writing” from American Scientist


Simple ‘eye’ grown from stem cells

A Japanese team of researchers have turned embryonic mouse stem cells into a very basic eye, or ‘optic cup’. This video shows a time-lapse of the cells self-organising into the structure:

As you watch the video and read the article, think about the following curriculum links:

  • How do cells ‘organise’ and how do stem cells become differentiated?
  • What might be the therapeutic uses of this in the future?
  • What functionality does this ‘eye’ have compared to ours?

“Remarkably, the rudimentary eye and the different types of cells it contained took shape spontaneously from a floating cluster of embryonic stem cells the scientists had cultured.”

The Guardian has a good article on the story. The original paper was published in Nature (paywall), but their Scitable area has a very good focus on stem cells.

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