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).

  1. Spaced Practice
  2. Retrieval Practice
  3. Elaboration
  4. Interleaving
  5. Concrete Examples
  6. Dual Coding

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.

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Related Resources:

contentWhat 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.

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*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?

I Contain Multitudes: Antibiotic Resistance

The wonderful Ed Yong now has a YouTube channel, I Contain Multitudes, that builds on his book of the same name. With PBS Digital support and great visuals, this is going to be a treasure trove for IBBio learners.

Here’s your gateway video: on superbugs and antibiotic resistance. Check out the experimental design and explanation about half way in. Thanks Ed!

TOK Questions 2018

They’re out!

How might you refer to the sciences as an area of knowledge in some of these questions?

Question source: IB OCC, September 2018

A Plastic Ocean. Genuinely Terrifying.

Streaming now on Netflix and available through other means, A Plastic Ocean is a terrifying (but well done) feature-length documentary on the rapidly growing crisis in the oceans as a direct result of human impacts.

IB Bio and ESS students will find many curricular connections in this movie, from food webs, water cycles and ocean currents to animal behaviour, biomagnification and endocrinology. Including the impact on human and animal health, this film raises and alarm and shows where we’ve gone wrong. There are some really insightful sections of scientists at work, where we can see “how we know what we know” and what actions are being taken. The final section has some fascinating solutions and actions. Give it a go.

Tanya Streeter, world-record freediver, narrates and is featured in much of the film. Her TEDx Talk tells a similar story.

Taking Action

Ocean plastics have really come into vogue the last couple of years, and it is a safe bet that someone near you is involved in taking action. From beach cleans, reef surveys and cleanups to campaigns to ban single-use plastics (chapeau, Costa Rica), plastic is clearly one of those issues that is indisputably – embarrassingly – human made.

What’s your school doing to reduce the scourge of plastic?

 

“Levels of Why?” Graphic Organizer

Levels-of-Why

Levels of Why – click to download a pdf

This is a graphic organiser developed to help students move from outline or describe into explain.

  1. Begin with stating the situation, change or process.
  2. What is the surface explanation or reason?
  3. Why does that occur?
  4. What about that?

And so on…

A worked example is on this page.

Chasing Coral

Beautiful and terrfiying in equal measure, this is a good new documentary on Netflix for thinking about the relationships between human actions and ocean health, as well as some good technical stories of collecting footage and data. Great visuals and explainers for symbiosis and how the corals “work”.

Capturing the Criteria & “Zooming In”

Hans Rosling (1948-2017)

“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.

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We’re lucky to be in this world. Don’t be ignorant.

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

learner-profile-sticker-englishoptmized

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.

fallaciesposter

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.

ServiceLearningCycle_iBiologyStephen

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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