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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

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

1.2 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

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

Topic 2: Ecosystems and Ecologyfree16 February 2019

There are five sub-topics in this topic. You may need to think carefully about whether you split this topic into several units and also split over time in order to maximise your access to fieldwork opportunities. 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

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

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

Writing the Independent Investigation23 April 2017

The Independent Investigation (II) should take about 10 hours of your time, including the planning and investigation stages. It is worth 25% of the final grade reflecting the importance that the IB places... more

Getting Startedfree6 April 2019

This section of the site is aimed at new teachers to ESS but there may be something for everyone. 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

1.4 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

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

1.1 What do you think? What do they think?free28 August 2018

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

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

2.3 Flows of Energy and Matter15 February 2019

This sub-topic links to the very idea of systems when we try to understand what happens to the energy that enters the earth's global systems and how does it flow through the system. Is it transferred... 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

Introduction to Ecosystems30 June 2019

This unit takes students through topics 2.1 Species and Populations 2.2 Communities and Ecosystems 2.3 Flows of Energy and Matter .I keep 2.4 and 2.5 for later in the year. There is a danger of "ecology... 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

Topic 2.1 Practical Ideas - Species and Populations18 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

Case Studies in ESS16 April 2019

This course is built around case studies and using examples in exam responses is encouraged. This teaching strategy helps enrich the course and engage students. In order for students to keep track of... more

Topic 1 Practical Ideasfree13 February 2019

Topic 1 doesn't lend itself to many practical activities but there are some simple introductory activities and simple labs which you could try. I have categorised these labs and activities per subtopic.... more

Course Organisation12 February 2019

There are many roads to Rome and there are may ways to organise your course. There a multitude of areas of expertise behind an ESS teacher. Some of us have a Biology background, others Geography... more

Exemplar Lesson Planfree7 April 2019

With so many resources on the internet, sometimes it can seem like an overwhelming task to select the best ones to use when you are being observed. My most recent lesson was rating outstanding so if you... more

2.2 Communities and Ecosystems15 February 2019

I teach this sub-topic immediately following 2.1. They naturally flow from one to the next idea. I have enjoyed re-imagining how I teach ecology since the last version of the ESS syllabus. I focus less... 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

Topic 2 Practical Ideasfree13 February 2019

There are many practical activities and labs which can be done during this topic. You will need to think about when you teach these units as some of these practicals can work in classroom settings with... 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

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

Case Studies in ESSfree23 April 2019

Paper 1 in the new guide for teaching September 2015 contains an extended case study on a potential novel area or theme. This paper will be one hour in length and worth 40 marks. In the last iteration... 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

Topic 4 Practical Ideasfree7 April 2019

Water and Aquatic Food Production Systems and Societies Practical Ideas: Students need to be able to monitor aquatic ecosystems and so there are some practical ideas which should be introduced in this... 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

4.1 An Introduction to Water Systems - The Hydrological Cycle30 August 2018

In this short introduction to water systems, we will learn about the hydrological cycle as a system, identifying stores and flows in the system and how humans impact the system. The next part of this... 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

Overview: Thinking about Environmental Systems30 June 2019

This unit takes students through topics 1.1 Environmental History 1.1 Environmental Value Systems 1.2 Systems and Models 1.3 Energy and Equilibria of the course and needs about eight hours of teaching... 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

Environmental Scrap Book16 April 2019

Keeping up with the news about the environment is an important part of this course. Students entering class and telling you about the latest piece of news or idea they have heard about is one of the potential... more

5.3 Soil Degradation & Conservation15 February 2019

Some teachers find this topic a little boring and difficult to inspire the students. It's a crucial topic and frequently examined in combination with food production although it goes beyond food production.... 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

Student Exemplar IA - Experimental - Wild Fires3 February 2019

The context that inspired this investigation was how wildfires contribute to climate change. The student was aware of a massive fire outside Moscow which caused air pollution problems in the city. He... 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

4.2 Access to Fresh Water - the problems30 August 2018

It is important to contrast why different locations may be suffering from the challenges of access to fresh water. Freshwater is unequally distributed around the world (some areas are dry and others,... more

Past Paper Case Studies1 June 2019

In the previous versions of ESS, Paper 2 Section A was a Case Study worth 25 marks. The new exam will have a one hour paper worth 35 marks on a case study. It is worth using these old papers as preparation... more

ESS Book Reviews23 April 2019

In addition, Zoe loves reading non-fiction books related to the course and so we''ll add recommendations here. These can be used for summer reads or sometimes chapter readings will help supplement the... 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

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

2.4 Zonation15 February 2019

The image shows Mt. Kilimanjaro standing above the African tropical grasslands (savaanahs). As you ascend Mt. Kilimanjaro you travel through a range of vegetation zones, adapted to the different conditions... more

Introductions and Holistic Activitiesfree14 February 2019

In this section you will find some ideas with which to start the course and some longer running project ideas that can be run for a term or semester.As I start the course, I like to have students show... more

5.2 Comparative Food Production Case Study9 December 2018

As part of this course, students are required to have two food production case studies that they can compare for terrestrial systems. I have my students become familiar with Iowa intensive corn production... more