Unit Planning

Important note: these documents are used in my own classes, though are not official IB products. They are shared in good faith, but treat them with caution and due diligence. Teachers must always refer to the most up-to-date advice from the subject guides, subject reports on the OCC and experts in the subject. 


Why do we need to plan when we have a subject guide?

Here’s my response. Sadly, the power of curriculum development as professional development can be lost on many teachers, especially at the DP level. A good unit planner – especially if it forms part of a strong articulated whole curriculum – gives an overview of the teaching and learning that happens in a class. It forces careful thought about the elements of teaching and encourages reflective practice. Of course, you could just fill in some boxes…

With a lot of changes afoot in MYP and DP, I figured it was time for an update based on what I’ve learned through a lot of reading! The GoogleDoc below is a summary of the SL course I’m planning for 2013-15. It looks different to some of the planner sections you might usually see, as I’m thinking about how things might change with the Next Chapter and trying to practice some more coherent – and concept-based – units. It looks better here.



In my current school, we use ATLAS Rubicon for planning, so I’m no longer using Word docs.

However, here’s a planner knocked up to be more specifically useful to the IBDP Sciences.

Tips: it is an A3, double-sided document. The first side could be printed for display in the classroom. I find it easier to save completed documents to pdf to print them to different sizes.

Here is an (older) example for my first short unit of the course:

  1. this is amazing! thank you for sharing. Can you please send a version to me that is saved as .doc or pdf. my technology will not open .dotx files.

    • Hi Gretel,

      I have uploaded one and the link is above. (https://www.box.net/shared/cuo6mkb6i8).

      Thanks for the comment!


        Hi Stephen,
        Again, many thanks for all your resources. I’ve been involved in the DP review this year, and I find your planner a very interested tool for a coherent curriculum.
        Can I ask you for a favor? Could I have one of your complete DP Biology units (any) to use it as a model?
        As a newbie teaching DP Bio, getting material from experienced professionals would make me save time and get close to the right practices. I would really appreciate it.
        Thanks again

  2. Will it be possible to see one unit plan of yours for a specific topic like a sample UbD lesson plan? Your resource appears to be awesome and something someone love to emulate.

    • Hi Lakshmi,

      I have since moved school and computer platform, as well as unit planning model – my new school uses ATLAS. However, I will be able to share one in a couple of weeks if you can bear with me. I need to sort out files and get some big jobs out of the way.

      Good luck,


  3. Maudhulka Jain

    Hi Stephen ,
    Nice to find someine who is using the ATLAS .I am new to the DP programme and to the ATLAS .I do not mind waiting for a few weeks , if you coud just share ,may be even a rough unit plan ,for any of the topics .
    Thanx for all the lovely resources you have created , makes life easy for the new comers .

    • Hi Maudhulka,

      Sorry for the wait, but I wanted to review the structure of the planner and then got buried. There’s an example now! We’re in the process of updating ATLAS here, hence the Word docs to organise my thinking.

      Good luck,


  4. Hi Stephen! I was wondering if there was any kind of form that we are supposed to use for students’ predicted grades. This is my first year teaching IB Biology and am somewhat unsure as to the procedure for some of this clerical stuff! Also, you have really helped me this year with your materials. Thank you so much for what you do!

    • Hi Danny,

      Thanks fo the comment. Your IBDP coordinator should provide you with all the forms you need, including the 4PSOW and the 4IA forms.

      Good luck!



    Steve You are Awesome!!!!! Your website has helped me for the past 4yrs to teach IB Biology and when I thought you couldn’t get any greater you have a Unit Plan format for Atlas. You have saved me again since this year our district has decided to use it.Currently my IB Biology course has the highest avg. in the district for SL Biology 🙂 THANK YOU I COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOUR RESOURCES!!!!

    • Hi Nina,

      Thanks for the kind comment, and it’s great to hear of your success! Good luck with ATLAS – it can be a powerful tool, especially if used as a way to focus PD.

      Have a great summer!


  6. Hi Stephan,

    I am going to start teaching IB biology this year. I am new to this system. My school started using ATLAS from this school year. Could you please share with me one unit map

  7. Hi Stephan,
    I’ve just across your website and its very helpful. I have just taken up a new job and am teaching IB biology. I haven’t got any experience in teaching IB and would like some help. Please can you help we with the syllabus.
    Secondly, I;m required to do a Group 4 project with my class. Please can you explain to me what this is and how i can do it with a group of 19 students.
    my email address is [edited]
    Kind Regards

    • Hi Kashish,

      Thanks for the message. If you follow the navigation bars at the top of the site you should find plenty of resources to get started in teaching the course, for classes, ICT, TOK and so on. I am busy writing new unit plans at the moment, and they will appear on this page. For all things operational (planning, syllabus, requirements, etc), be sure to read and use the subject guide carefully.

      For the Group 4 project, have a look at some of the ideas posted on the Lab Bank wiki, here: http://ib-biology-labbank.wikispaces.com/Group+4+Project. Some schools organise this like a field-studies trip, where others pick a theme and have teams work on them together over a few weeks in small blocks of time. The process is more important than the product, so do pay attention to the outline in the IB Biology subject guide.

      Good luck, and enjoy the course. IB Biology is fun and rewarding.

      Best regards,


  8. Just one more thing, I’m ready to donate an amount for the help you can offer me. Please guide me. I’m not too good with the online thing.

  9. Dear Stephan,
    Thanks a lot for your help. Hopefully this should be a better year. Its stressful to teach a new curriculum. Thanks once again for all your support. I will make the donation by this weekend so you can add me to your resource folder.
    Thanks once again

  10. Kulsum MOTARA

    Hi Stephen,

    You have very detailed plans, awesome stuff. Is your just giving page still active? If so i would like to contribute. This extra bank of resources that you provide the link for – has it got any more unit plans like above?

    I’m putting together the course for the next academic year, and it has provided a great starting point! Thank you

  11. The unit plan you have for Nature of Biology is great! But, that’s the only unit plan I could find. Do you have plans for all the units? If so, where could I find them? I would love to review them. Thank you!

  1. Pingback: Unit plans? But we have a subject guide! « i-Biology | Reflections

  2. Pingback: Thoughts at the end of Year 1 – The nature of science

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