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.
Posted in Education, MYP Science, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized
Tagged #TeachSDGs, communication, cool stuff, earth, Education, energy, environment, geography, history, innovation, learning, news, research, UN
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.
- Visualizing Environmental Science, 1st edition. By John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Online textbook and animations. Much of the site is password protected, but parts are available for free.
- IB Environmental systems and societies worksheets and past questions. From Pearson, a of publisher of one of the IB-aligned student textbooks.
- Edge of Existence, by the London Zoological Society. Full of resources on endangered species.
- Living National Treasures. A guide to threatened and endangered species which are endemic to a single country and nowhere else. Searchable by country or species.
- Aquatic and Terrestrial Biomes. University of Miami, Florida, USA. The page looks a little dated but is still a wealth of information.
- The Habitable Planet. An extensive digital platform for teaching “the systems approach to environmental science”. By the Annenberg Foundation and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
- Ecology and geography fieldwork techniques.
- Survey techniques for beginners. From Wild About Britain.
- Field survey methods from the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage. More advanced than resources above.
- Wildlife Surveys presentation 1. A powerpoint presentation about how to conduct wildlife surveys.
- Wildlife Surveys presentation 2. A powerpoint presentation about how to conduct wildlife surveys.
- 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.
- Ocean Health Index. A searchable database around several components of ocean health.
- NicheScience. An IB ESS YouTube channel, with podcasts for most of the old syllabus and a growing list of videos aligned with the new syllabus.
- AP Environmental Science. Another YouTube playlist from the very talented Paul Andersen.
- Kyoto Protocol. A website dedicated to the organizations and research involved in the effort to understand climate change.
- IPCC official website. Home of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service homepage.
- Animation gallery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Searchable. Reliable. Lots of visual data.
- Visualizing global carbon footprints. Interactive data maps from National Geographic.
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. From the World Food and Agriculture Organization.
- ARKive photo and video collections organized by species, conservation status, geography, environmental topic, habitat, and student age group. UK-centered.
- Edible Schoolyard. All the resources you need to create a food garden at your school. Based on the very successful program in the U.S.
Posted in Environmental Systems, MYP Science, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized
Tagged 21st century learning, Africa, agriculture, biodiversity, biology, chemistry, climate change, conservation, cool stuff, ecological pyramids, ecology, ecosystems, Education, elephants, energy, Energy resources, environmental perspectives, environmental science, ESS, evolution, food resources, human impact on the environment, human populations, life science, online resources, photosynthesis, plants, poaching, population growth, research, resources, science, Science education, trophic levels, videos
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been updating various pages within my website, and as I work, I keep encountering all these different websites and digital resources I’ve bookmarked over the years. My bookmarks bar is organized by broad scientific subjects: astronomy,biology, chemistry, ecology, and physics. I’ve also got a folder dedicated solely to scientific games. I will share the resources in these folders in subsequent posts, organized by subject area. Once posted in the blog, I’ll then add all bookmarks to the general science pages in my website, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to share them with the broader global community as well. I have so many of these resources that I’m going to have to split the list into two parts – the bookmarks from my Chrome browser and those from Firefox.
Today: biology resources for students (and teachers!) in no particular order.
- The Cell: Basic Unit of Structure and Function by McGraw-Hill. Animations, quizzes, flashcards, and other resources aligned with their Human Anatomy textbook. Links to other chapters can be found in the sidebar.
- Bioman Biology. Interactive biology games on a variety of topics, including physiology, cells, ecology, genetics, evolution, DNA, respiration, and photosynthesis.
- Carbon cycle animation from the University of Alberta, Canada. A simple but comprehensive flow chart (system diagram) of the global carbon cycle.
- InstaGrok interactive concept maps. Pre-made concept maps showing links between a whole bunch of topics in general biology. Click on a term to see links to other biology topics, facts, websites, videos, images, or add your own notes.
- Cells Alive! This site has been around for years. Good, easy-to-understand interactive cell models.
- DNA video from NotCot.org. A beautiful 3 minute animation explaining DNA for BBC Knowledge from Territory.
- John Kimball’s online biology textbook. This guy has been teaching biology for decades, and he’s amassed an incredible amount of resources on his site around every conceivable topic in biology. It’s kind of an old-school site, but it’s thorough.
- Learn.Genetics at the University of Utah, USA. I use the tutorials from this site extensively in my genetics and evolution units.
- Bozeman Science biology playlist on YouTube. 76 videos! 76! This playlist contains videos that could be useful in AP Biology, IB Biology, Biology, and other life sciences, all from the amazing Paul Andersen.
- Mitosis World Home at University of North Carolina, USA. An aggregate of several other biology resources.
- Discover Biology animations from W.W. Norton & Co. High-quality animations that can be viewed straight through, step-by-step, or narrated.
- Interactive transpiration animation from ScienceMag. Adjust plant parameters and environmental conditions to see different effects on the movement of water through plants. With some creativity, you could run a virtual lab from this animation.
- Understanding Evolution at the University of California – Berkeley. Densely packed with information and thoroughly researched. I use this site as a main reference for my evolution units. The site has been around a long time and is showing its age, but it’s still highly useful.
- Sex determination video at TED-Ed. One of many useful resources from the TED people. Includes a review quiz and discussion questions.
- Biology for Life. A great website from Gretel von Bargen at Skyline High School in Washington state, USA. It follows the new IB Biology syllabus. Also linked to her Twitter feed. I use this site a ton.
- Bioknowledgy. Probably my favorite site for IB Biology. Chris Paine in Shanghai has created an extensive library of resources and materials aligned with the new IB Biology syllabus. Includes presentations, videos, and guided revision questions, among other resources. Awesome!
I hope that’s a good start for now. If you find any helpful resources you think I’ve missed, please send them my way in the comments, and I’ll add them to the second batch.
Posted in biology, Environmental Systems, MYP Science
Tagged 21st century learning, biology, cells, cool stuff, Education, ESS, evolution, life science, online resources, organelles, photosynthesis, plants, research, resources, science, Science education, science skills, videos
I’m relatively new to Twitter. I joined about a year and a half ago when I finally upgraded from my old-school Nokia to an iPhone 4. It seemed like an easy way to keep track of all the random topics I follow on various parts of the web, but I quit using Twitter pretty quickly because I found that there was a lot of useless junk coming my way, too. Essentially, the junk overwhelmed the worthwhile links.
But then I enrolled in an Educational Technology Leadership course over the summer holiday, and I ‘found the happy’ with Twitter. Actually, I more than found the happy. I learned a whole new way of interacting with Twitter so that I get exactly what I need from what I now think is a great form of social media.
The trick was to stop following so many others and start using TweetDeck to create lists that filter tweets by their #hashtags. I carefully chose hashtags which routinely appear in Tweets about subjects I follow. I don’t control what shows up, so my news isn’t as biased as it would be if I only read the New York Times or only consulted the Wall Street Journal. The Twitter algorithms create a steady stream of information from a wide variety of sources and sorted by topic, which means I can now keep up with those subjects I’m most interested in: science news, education news, updates on technology in education, world news, and music. Here’s a screenshot of my information intake for a typical morning:
My TweetDeck homepage on Mozilla Firefox.
If you’d like to learn how to do this to enhance your learning at school, just stop by during one of my science help sessions, and I’ll help you get set up!
Mrs Courtney Park, IST Librarian and Media Specialist extraordinaire, shared this document with me yesterday, and I’ve already put it on the bulletin boards in my classrooms. If you are a student (or anyone doing online research for that matter), this is a great resource. Check it out, download it, study it, and use it. If you’re one of my students, know that this will make navigating our Google Classroom experience much, much easier, more efficient, and hopefully highly effective for learning. In other words, you can become a Google Ninja!
Click here for the full infographic.
Check out some of these wacky – but real! – investigations by genuine, getting-paid-to-do-it scientists! If you’ve got an oddball interest, there just may be research funding in your future….
New Element Discovered!
Element 115, Ununpentium, has recently been confirmed through an extensive research process. Read all about it in this article from BBC Science and Environment.