The guidance bookshelf

Through the threshold library

The guidance bookshelf

Useful books that I use for university guidance.

How to raise an adult – by Julie Lythcott-Haims – my review.

There is life after college – by Jeffery Selingo

College (un)bound – by Jeffery Selingo

Colleges that create futures – by Robert Franek

So you want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana – by Oxbridge Applications

Thinking skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (CIE) – by John Butterworth (I bought this for students planning on taking the TSA).

Looking beyond the Ivy league – by Loren Pope

Colleges that change lives – by Loren Pope

HEAP Guide – updated each year

Fiske Guide to Colleges – updated each year

Good university guide – updated each year

Strength finder 2.0 – by Tom Rath

Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition – by Tina Quick

What should I do with my life (card game) – by the school of life

Sequencing facts before concepts: natural selection

I have spent a fair amount of time this year reflecting on the application of cognitive science principles in my own biology teaching. There has been plenty written about concepts like interleaving and sequencing in sciences and maths but very little that I have found about how these concepts may apply in biology teaching.

Specifically, I have written up some of my thoughts on sequencing my DP biology curriculum based  on these discussions here.

Some of what I have learned suggests that solid conceptual/abstract understanding can only be developed when novice learners have embedded factual or propositional knowledge in their own mental schemas. In addition, I have tried to think about how principles from cognitive load theory may apply in terms of biology teaching and the sequencing of content.

One example of this has been how I approached the teaching of the concept of natural selection this year for my Y12/G11 mixed SL/HL IB biology class. In the IBDP biology syllabus, this is topic 5.2 and I sequence it after 5.1 “Evidence for evolution” and before 1.5 “The origin of cells”.

I finish the evidence for evolution section by looking at the peppered moth and the changes within the populations studied by Dr Ketterwell, through this online simulation.

In the past, I have taught natural selection by going over the concept of natural selection and then looking at specific examples of it that are mentioned in the syllabus which are antibiotic resistance in bacteria and changes in the beaks of the finches of the Galapagos island of Daphne Major.

This year I sequenced the topic into three lessons (which unintentionally appear to have been interleaved as we are also doing the internal assessment at this point in time and one lesson a week is given over to just the HL students anyway) and taught specific examples of natural selection before finally generalising from these examples to the abstract concept of natural selection.

Lesson 1 – Antibiotic-resistant bacteria

We started with retrieval practice of previous material using a google slide presentation which contained four questions: one using material from the last lesson; another from last week; another from last month and another from the last term. I then asked the students to draw and label a prokaryotic cell. Something that they covered six months ago.

Once completed we moved on to watch some news reports about antibiotic-resistant infections and I asked students to discuss and articulate back to the class what they thought the key message of each of the videos were. These prompted discussion about the general nature of antibiotic resistant bacteria and I used questioning to continue this discussion amongst the class. We also discussed what antibiotics were and why they were used to treat bacterial infections as this was a concept we met when studying the immune system two weeks prior. I highlighted the possible area of confusion for students between the words antibiotic and antibody which I had picked up from examining the previous May session of exams, before going on to explain how bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics.

I then gave the class a past paper question to complete the topic and we reviewed the key points of this question from the mark scheme.

Lesson 2- Finch beak changes on Daphne Major

Again we started with retrieval practice in the same format as in lesson 1. We then conducted a physical simulation as outlined in this practical, where students mimic being finches and collecting food. This was followed by a discussion of the trends we found in the simulation and what this might tell us about birds collecting food in the wild.

We then moved onto exercise 3 from this page and when students had finished the video and quiz I asked them to summarise what happened to the finches in the film.

Lesson 3 – the concept of natural selection

After retrieval practice, we reviewed the definition of evolution we had covered in 5.1 “evidence for evolution” and I highlighted that natural selection was a mechanism by which evolution could occur. I then asked students to think back and name the three examples of natural selection that we had considered in the last few lessons. Once they had written their answers down, I went through those examples and placed them on the board. I then asked students to discuss in pairs the details of each of these examples, before snowballing into a class discussion of the details of each of the three examples: peppered moths, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and changes in finch beaks. While we discussed these I wrote down the key points from each one on a second board with each example in a column so that similar elements from each example ended up in the same row. I then discussed with the students what these key features of each of the examples were and related this to the concept of natural selection. We finished with an example question asking students to describe the process of natural selection using examples.

The biologist’s bookshelf

Through the threshold library

The biologist’s bookshelf

One of the first things that I did when I started this blog was to publish the bio reading list, basically a list of books that I considered useful for biology teachers and their students to read. That post is a little tired now, so I update it to the biologist’s bookshelf and include all the books that I have read since it was published.

Bad Science – by Ben Goldacre

The sixth extinction: an unnatural history – by Elizabeth Kolbert

Thirteen things that don’t make sense – by Michael Brooks

The magic of reality – by Richard Dawkins

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks – by Rebecca Skloot

Creation: the origin of life/the future of life – by Adam Rutherford

The language of life – by Francis Collins

The rational optimist – by Matt Ridley

Quantum evolution: the new science of life – by Johnjoe Mcfadden

The diversity of life – by E.O. Wilson

Impossibility – by John Barrow

Collapse – by Jared Diamond

Thinking, fast and slow – by Daniel Kahneman

The self illusion – by Bruce Hood

The selfish gene – by Richard Dawkins

Genome – by Matt Ridley

Your inner fish – by Neil Shubin

The secret life of trees – by Colin Tudge

The man who mistook his wife for a hat – Oliver Sacks

The Handmaid’s tail – by Margaret Atwood

The Inheritors – by William Golding

The Baroque cycle – by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves – by Neal Stephenson

Aping mankind – by Raymond Tallis

Getting Darwin wrong – by Brendan Wallace

The vital question – by Nick Lane

Life Ascending – by Nick Lane

The greatest show on earth – by Richard Dawkins

The song of the Dodo – by David Quammen

The lives of a cell – by Lewis Thomas

Why evolution is true – by Jerry Coyne

Faith vs fact – by Jerry Coyne

The Serengeti rules – by Sean Carroll

Being mortal – by Atul Gawande

Patient H.M. – by Luke Dittrich

A brief history of everyone whoever lived – by Adam Rutherford

I contain multitudes – by Ed Yong

Fifty ideas you really need to know – by Hayley Birch

The violinists thumb – by Sam Keen

Neanderthal man – by Svante Paabo

The serpents promise – by Steve Jones

The evolving role of the Diploma Programme Coordinator

I am currently completing an online course about IB Diploma Programme Coordination to better prepare me in as I step into a new role as Coordinator (DPC) from August of this year. In this post I want to reflect on my learning from this week –  Module 1: The evolving role of the Diploma Programme Coordinator.

The DPC has 15 key roles within the school leadership team as outlined in the document Diploma Programme: From principles into practice. During this week’s module, we reflected on the role of international mindedness and the learner profile in our school before looking at these key roles. We completed a Venn diagram of challenges and opportunities using padlet, which allowed us all to comment on the same document.

We then examined the programme standards and practices through two exercises: in the first we were given a standard and associated practices and asked to comment on their relationship to the role of the DPC before being asked to pick three practices and DP requirements and think about what evidence we would need to collect and store to demonstrate that our school was meeting these standards.

Long-term responsibilities

The DPC provides a key role in connecting the school and the IB. More specifically they are responsible, with the rest of the school leadership team, for ensuring that IB standard and practices for the Diploma Programme are understood and articulated within the school community.

As part of the five-year evaluation schedule, the DPC will collect, collate and store evidence that the standards and practices are being met. They are responsible for the organisation and completion of this evaluation process.

Medium-term responsibilities

On an ongoing basis, the DPC is responsible for the guidance of the school community on several fronts. They work with parents and students and the school counsellors to ensure that subject choices are fully understood by all parties and what the impact of those choices may be on access to higher education after completion of the Diploma Programme. In this vein, they also work with the middle school leaders to ensure that students are fully prepared to enter the DP. They also work with the school’s admissions department to ensure that there are proper processes in place for admission of students to the Diploma Programme. They also work with the DP subject teachers and core team to support these individuals in their work and to provide pedagogical leadership, thus ensuring the programme is properly implemented and that teachers are resourced appropriately and familiar with tools like MyIB that can support them in their work.

Short-term responsibilities

The DPC is also responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Diploma Programme, communicating with the IB and administering on IBIS. This includes the entering of exam entries and administration of the external assessments and managing a database of information on IB alumni.

More generally the DPC should strive to foster the spirit of international education within the school community and ensure that the school embraces the IB’s mission and learner profile.

 

 

 

The education bookshelf

Through the threshold library

Education bookshelf

These are all the books that have impacted my thinking about education for better or worse since I started teaching. I include the year I read it and titles in bold mean that I would currently recommend it. If I have written a review of it this will be linked.

I include all the books about teaching that I have read (with the exception of some from my training year), firstly as a record of my own CPD and secondly because of even those books that contain arguments and ideas that I now disagree with, I recognise that my thinking about education is still fluid, open to change and these books will still have provided me with some basis for my own reflection and development.

2018

  1. What if everything you knew about education was wrong? – by David Didau – my review.
  2. Cleverlands – by Lucy Crehan
  3. Seven myths about education – by Daisy Christodoulou
  4. Making good progress? – by DaisyChristodoulou
  5. Why knowledge matters: rescuing our children from failed educational theories – by E.D. Hirsch
  6. Ouroboros –  by Greg Ashman
  7. What does this look like in the classroom? – by Carl Hendrick and Robin MacPherson

2017

  1. Why don’t students like school? – by Daniel Willingham
  2. What every teacher needs to know about psychology – by David Didau and Nick Rose
  3. The battle hymn of the tiger teachers: the Michaela way – edited by Katherine Birbalsingh

2016

  1. How to raise an adult – by Julie Lythcott-Haims – my review.
  2. What is the point of school? – by Guy Claxton
  3. Making thinking visible – by Ron Richhardt – my review.

2015

  1. The brain at school: educational neuroscience in the classroom – by John Geake
  2. Classroom-based research and evidence-based practice – by Keith Taber
  3. Ways of learning: learning theories and learning styles in the classroom – by Alan Pritchard
  4. Pedagogy of the oppressed – by Paolo Freire
  5. Visible learning for teachers – by John Hattie

2014

  1. Good work – by Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon
  2. Intelligence reframed – by Howard Gardner
  3. Contemporary theories of learning – by Knud Illeris
  4. Teaching as if life matters – by Christopher Uhl