Why students learn appears in many schools’ visions and mission statements that use words such as ‘inspire,’ ‘empower,’ ‘innovate,’ and ‘make a difference.’ But how many students experience those concepts in their day-to-day experiences at school? Young people naturally want to know, “why are we learning this?” and, “why is this relevant to my life?”
In short, students seek purpose in their learning.
As someone dedicated to using education to leverage meaningful change in the world, I think the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals provide a fantastic opportunity for young people to find that purpose in their learning. They can investigate concepts such as diversity, equality, justice, and sustainability from different perspectives, and students can see how various fields of knowledge both contribute to and mitigate some of the most pressing issues in the world today.
Follow this link for a closer look at this idea in a recent post I wrote for New Nordic School in Finland, where I’m the Director of Education. It should only take a few minutes to read, and it is my hope that you’ll find my ideas about the direction of contemporary education refreshing.
I’m back with another set of bookmarks for students and teachers. Because I’ve taught the IB Environmental systems and societies course for several years, this set of online resources is closest to my heart. Some of these links are here simply because I think they’re cool or fun. Many may also be applicable for studying biology and chemistry as well. Let’s get to it:
United States Census Bureau. Extensive database of global human populations. Can be used to create age-sex pyramids, as well as other applications.
Earth wind map. A cool interactive resource to check wind patterns in real time anywhere on the planet.
Wildlife survey field lab template. This PDF from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a good layout to help middle school teachers and students design their own field surveys.
GRID-Arendal Maps and Infographics Library. In association with UNEP. This is one of my favorite resources for teaching environmental science. Searchable by topic, keyword, or geography. All maps and images are free to share. Awesome!
Timelapse. Watch the world change over the course of nearly three decades of satellite photography.
This article from ESI, “The Online Power Journal of Africa,” discusses the pros and cons of renewable energy sources across the continent. It’s a nice summary of the points made in ESS Topic 3.3 – Energy Resources. It’s also particularly relevant for us here in Tanzania, considering the seasonal difficulties TanEsCo has meeting demand for its hydroelectricity, not to mention the massive oil and natural gas deposits recently discovered offshore near Kilwa Kisiwani.
I found this presentation while looking through some stuff over at Slideshare.net, which is a pretty good resource for school notes if you haven’t found it yet. The teacher for this class includes almost everything that we need to know about the differences between the movement of energy and nutrients through and within ecosystems, respectively.
The key points I want you to remember about this topic are as follows:
Energy enters, flows through, and leaves a system.
Nutrients cycle repeatedly within the system.
Most of the energy at any trophic level is lost before it can be used by the next trophic level.
Energy is lost 3 main ways:
waste (feces and tissue loss)
used for respiration
The video below is also fairly helpful. What I like about it is the blank energy and nutrient diagram he fills in as he moves through the ecosystem. It’s a nice approach to a possible future test question (hint, hint).
Welcome to the biology unit, kids! I’ve added a couple of helpful documents to this post, which you will want to refer to as we move through our unit on the organization of life on Earth.
The first document, G9 Biology Vocabulary, is an outline of the major concepts in this unit. It’s basically a big list of important vocabulary words. I’ve intentionally left out the definitions, examples, and explanations, because that’s what you need to add – that’s how you learn! You should download this document and add to it as we cover different topics during the unit.
The second document, G9 Biology vocabulary matchup, is the collection of cards we used in class. You’ll find vocabulary terms and definitions organized into columns and sorted by topic. This will be a nice reference in case you miss something during a class.