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1.1 Environmental Value Systemsfree25 April 2019

Environmental value systems are an excellent way to start the course and get to know your students. I like to start by asking students to explore what they know already, who they are (in the context of... more

1.2 Systems and Modelsfree25 April 2019

I know that a lot of teachers don't teach this subtopic as a standalone unit but I find it very useful to introduce students to these crucial ideas at the start of the course; after all this is the fundamental... more

1.3 Energy and Equilibria15 February 2019

This really is one of the most crucial ideas in the course and has been extended from the 2008 subject guide. Students need to understand the difference between positive and negative feedback loops and... more

1.2 What is a System? The Basics28 August 2018

There's a lot of terminology in this section of the course and students need to be confident with the vocabulary, definitions and the ability to deconstruct a situation from a systems perspective. more

Topic 1: Foundations of ESSfree16 February 2019

In the previous version of the ESS course many teachers left Topic 7 as it was then until the end of the course. This meant that students didn't have the fundamentals or foundations of ESS during their... more

1.2 Drawing A Local System18 April 2019

This is an activity to introduce students to drawing a system diagram. Depending on your situation, you can either go outside and interact with that system, or you can discuss a hypothetical system or... more

1.2 What is a System - Advanced28 August 2018

Work through the presentation then test yourself on the important definitions, vocabulary and concepts. You need to know these with precision.1. What are the key components of a system?•inputs: import... more

1.1 Who am I?28 August 2018

This is a great activity to use as an introduction to the course. Understanding Environmental Value Systems can start on day one and helps students to understand their relationship with the course and... more

Guide to past paper questions for topic 16 May 2019

I have collated all topic 1 past paper questions and placed them in a table here. As topic 1 is the foundations of the course there will be some questions that also lend themselves to more specific topics... more

1.1 Environmental History25 April 2019

It's important to balance the amount of time that you could spend on this topic with the relative weight placed on the topic in the syllabus/guide. On the one hand, there is about 1.5 hours allocated... more

1.1 Applying the Environmental Value Systems28 August 2018

It can be difficult to develop a thorough understanding of the EVSs and then to apply these to the topics across the course but they are at the heart of ESS and can be asked in many different contexts. more

Equilibrium and Feedback Loops15 February 2019

There are a number of ways you can introduce these ideas. I do this during an early introductory unit, but some teachers prefer to embed the ideas into units without any pre-teaching. I think the ideas,... more

1.4 Sustainability15 February 2019

Initially I combined this Sub-Topic with 8.1 as an introduction to Human Societies and resource use but due to forced circumstances (time pressures) it has moved to a separate small unit preceding sub-topic... more

1.1 Environmental History and Attitudes28 August 2018

In order to develop and understanding of how societies have developed an understanding and relationship to the environment, it is useful to review a brief history of the environment.Use the presentation... more

Topic 1.1 Practical Ideas - Environmental Value Systems16 April 2019

On this page we collect together practical ideas that can be used to build your Practical Scheme of Work (PSOW). This part of the course is integral to the skill building needed in this interdisciplinary... more

Topic 1 Test - Introduction to Paper 2 Part B1 December 2018

This test is an introduction to students in the style of Paper 2 Section B questions. I intend to use this as a homework activity but it could be done under test conditions with 15 minutes allocated to... more

1.1 What do you think? What do they think?free24 August 2019

It's useful to start with the student at the centre of things and to have them engage with their own EVS. Next students need to start developing an understanding of why different groups will have different... more

Topic 1.2 Practical Ideas - Systems and Models16 April 2019

On this page we collect together practical ideas that can be used to build your Practical Scheme of Work (PSOW). This part of the course is integral to the skill building needed in this interdisciplinary... more

Structure of a System15 February 2019

I find it useful, at the start of the course, to define some important terms and give some simple examples to which students can identify, e.g. the water cycle. This means that when you revisit the concepts... more

1.3 Feedback Test9 September 2018

I use this test early in the course to show students how important it is to learn definitions and the power of words.I give them the test with the answers one week (approximately) before I give the test.... more

1.1 Exploring ideas of Intrinsic Value13 April 2019

Some people believe that all / some elements of the natural environment have intrinsic value. They should be valued just because they exist. There are a number of countries which have given an equal right... more

1.3 Tipping Points Activityfree28 August 2018

This can be a tricky activity but it really helps students understand the concepts of tipping points and develop some real examples of where scientists have shown tipping points have occurred.Students... more

5.1 Introduction to Soil Systems15 February 2019

Soil can be a tricky topic to engage students with; after all it can be dry and crumbly! In order to bring the topic alive I like to show at least part of a documentary about the subject. The one I used... more

Checking Your Understanding14 February 2019

In this section of the website, we will collect a set of questions which you can use for review of each subtopic. Thanks to Megan McClain for the original questions which have occasionally been adapted.... more

1.3 Equilibrium and Feedback - Reviewfree28 August 2018

This is another incredibly important topic and students absolutely need to learn the definitions of positive and negative feedback. They are guaranteed on every exam. These are also fundamental concepts... more

1.1 Cultural Attitudes13 April 2019

The development of environmental movements is often viewed from a very western perspective. We are going to investigate a couple of examples that will help broaden our understanding of how different societies... more

Topic 1 Quiz10 September 2017

This quiz features a variety of multiple choice, drag and drop, and model answer questions. Each time you select this quiz a new assortment of questions will appear. Topics: Topic 1: Foundations of ESSLevels:Types:... more

Guiding Students through the Independent Investigation3 February 2019

It is important to keep the independent Investigation to a scale which is doable in the ten hours allocated. This is a relatively simple investigation and not an Extended Essay. There are similarities... more

Topic 1.1 Activities - Environmental Value Systemsfree10 April 2019

This is a great activity to use as an introduction to the course. Understanding Environmental Value Systems can start on day one and helps students to understand their relationship with the course and... more

A3 Revision Postersfree16 September 2019

These posters have been designed to be printed on A3 paper and should be used as part of a revision plan. As ESS has 32 subtopics sometimes students (and teachers) can struggle to know where to begin.... more

1.2 Burning Candle as a Systemfree17 April 2019

This activity uses the burning of a candle to model a system. I've found it useful for a reminder to students to think about variable identification. Burning Candles as a System A candle can be used as... more

Student Accessfree14 September 2019

On this page we have instructions about how to set your students up to use the ESS website and how to make the most of some of the opportunities it offers. I use the website in every lesson, using the... more

2.1 Species and Populationsfree15 February 2019

To start this new unit I begin with some simple definitions then tackle the fundamental and realised niche. I find this brings students straight into the world of ecology, actively using words that can... more

1.5 Humans and Pollution15 February 2019

I'm still not quite sure where is the best place to teach this content. Initially I thought I'd place it together with climate change but I've changed my mind and at the moment I think it may go nicely... more

1.1 Important People in Environmentalism28 August 2018

Significant Idea:Historical events, among other influences, affect the development of environmental value systems (EVSs) and environmental movements.Student ActivitiesVersion 1 more

1.1 Sometimes it takes a Disaster28 August 2018

Sometimes it takes a disaster to change the way a government or society responds to an environmental problem. In this activity students consider five major environmental disasters answering key questions... more

4.3 Aquatic Food Production Systems15 February 2019

This is quite a new topic for ESS. Although teachers had the option, in the previous syllabus, to teach an aquatic food production system, I have not found this a common option. Past case studies have... more

Topic 1.2 Activities - Systems and Modelsfree10 April 2019

In this section we are collecting inquiry driven activities to enrich the teaching of topic 1.2, Systems and Models.There's a lot of terminology in this section of the course and students need to be confident... more

Your Route Through the Course14 February 2019

We can teach this course in many different orders or through themes. Participating in discussions with fellow workshop leaders, examiners and in online forum such as the Facebook group for ESS teachers... more

First Day Ideas12 July 2018

This is an exciting time with your fresh faced and non IB weary new recruits. This is also a precious and important part of the course where you can really hook in the students with up to date, relevant... more

1.1 Environmental Value Systems - Reading Application1 September 2019

It is vital that teachers really try to engage students in current environmental issues whilst developing their analytical skills in relevant sections of the curriculum. The article below caught my eye... more

1.1 Evaluating 3 Environmental Issues17 April 2019

​I use this activity as an introduction to thinking about Environmental Value Systems. Many environmental problems can be approached with different lenses, i.e. environmental value systems. In fact... more

5.2 Inequality of food distribution15 February 2019

This significant idea revolves around the idea there is a vast amount of food waste produced every year around the world but the reasons for this waste differ between LEDCs and MEDCs.There is a thread... more

1.2 Measuring Change in an Emerging System17 April 2019

The idea of emergent properties is a difficult one to comprehend. As a system develops over time, new properties emerge that wouldn't exist if the components were operating separately. This activity requires... more

3.2 Origins of Biodiversityfree10 March 2019

I always tell students this is my favourite topic as it relates strongly to my Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and takes me back to my years of study!This sub-topic brings natural selection and evolution... more

Exploring Tipping Pointsfree25 April 2019

For an activity associated with this concept try Tipping Points Activity . This activity guides students into developing their own case study of a tipping point in a graphic that has been documented... more

Topic 1.3 Practical Ideas - Energy and Equilibria18 April 2019

On this page we collect together practical ideas that can be used to build your Practical Scheme of Work (PSOW). This part of the course is integral to the skill building needed in this interdisciplinary... more

Past Paper Questions by Topic6 May 2019

I have listed all past paper questions on Paper 1 and 2 (until 2016) and Paper 2 from May 2017 by topic. I have not included the case study questions as it seems pointless as they have been designed to... more

Key Vocabulary and Concepts - Topic 17 April 2019

On this page we have quizlets for each of the subtopics in topic 1 and a downloadable summary sheet for the topic.These are great activities while you are travelling to and from school. Topic 1 Definitions... more

5.1 Introduction to Soil25 April 2019

In this short review, various different systems approaches to soil are shown and the different types of transfer and transformation are explained. Using the presentation and the information on 5.1 Introduction... more