Transcript of new content in biology

Speaker: Vatché Ansourian

OK, so let's start today. Welcome to new content in Biology. With each of the new content sessions, we'll be going through the intent of the syllabus. And again, we've highlighted a few things that are very important with this new syllabus. So the Working Scientifically skills as a focus for learning and talking about a change in pedagogy. So that 'shift to the inquiry model' and again activities and learning experiences that are student-focused. With the new content sessions that we are doing, please note that there is a need to program the skill descriptors and the content descriptors and the outcome of the new syllabus. There are...there are places where you can retrofit things that we do have, and that will be resources that are available as well as some learning experiences and some learning programs. But because we are talking about new syllabuses across the board, then there is a need to program quite fresh.

There is a need to reinvigorate what we do when it comes to programming for Stage 6. And again, we do program taking into account student need and looking at what we can do to introduce local and authentic context to engage them in learning. So each of these slides will have the context, so essentially a heading in regards to what is new. And you'll see that at the top as slide heading. The module number and topic that coincides so you'll be able to find this in the syllabus. The subtopic it coincides with and the inquiry question. The inquiry question relates directly to the subtopic. And again, the point of an inquiry question is to guide students' learning and to provide a focus. The inquiry questions can also elicit further questions by students, and that can be around the content. So there are opportunities there to be able to extend students' learning as well and to be able to cater for students' individual needs. The content descriptor which is new or has been amended and modified within this syllabus. And again, there'll be a statement there. And there are opportunities, again, with all skill descriptors and all content descriptors to link primary and secondary investigations. And that there is always an opportunity to involve practical tasks and practical experiences.

We'll provide where we can an example of the content that can be used in class, so again some very basic professional learning around that content that we can use as a guide. And again, we encourage you to also be able to do your own professional learning and look up some of the new content areas within the new syllabuses. What we'll also be providing is a list of online resources and interactive activities. Essentially this will be a document which will be published on this Adobe Connect tomorrow, and that will be there as a separate document with a whole bunch of links linked to each module that will allow you to be able to gather some new resources around much of the new concepts and around much of the learning that we have in these syllabuses. Just a very quick overview about reading the syllabus, and apologies for any words that have been cut off, remembering that the words 'including', 'not limited to' and 'for example' have been introduced.

And what we have there is just a table with some examples from the Biology syllabus. So again, we can see that if we have 'including', that we do include all those within our programs and that there's now units of work. If there's a reference to 'not limited to', it means that other points and examples can also be chosen, and these are opportunities to choose teacher interest and student interest as well. And if it's 'for example', we can choose any of the below as examples there to be taught in class. However, it also means that we can choose other appropriate examples as well, that we're not bound to those that are there. So one of the first things that have been modified within this syllabus is cell requirements relating to light energy and chemical energy.

This relates to Module 1 - Cells and the Basis of Life. Subtopic - Cell Function. And the inquiry question is, "How do cells coordinate activities within their internal environment and the external environment?" A lot of the resources that we already have for Biology will be able to cater for this. However, the content descriptor here is about, "Suitable forms of energy, include light energy and chemical energy in complex molecules." But essentially here, there could be a discussion about different requirements for life including light energy, those that are used by autotrophs, which includes algae and plants. Organisms that use glucose as an energy source, so we're talking about heterotrophs here, essentially mammals and land organisms. And again, opportunity to talk about new things, which is chemosynthesis using the sort of molecules like hydrogen sulphide or methane. These can be found as examples in hydrothermal vents. So there is opportunity to be able to talk about other requirements for life that other organisms do use that isn't just confined to organisms that use light and organisms that use glucose. Investigating extinction events is a very new concept that we have in this Biology syllabus.

And this appears in Module 4 - Ecosystem Dynamics. Subtopic - Population Dynamics. And the inquiry question is, What effect can one species have on other species in a community?" The content descriptor, which is very new, is, "Explain a recent extinction event." To be able to answer this correctly, we need to just break down a few things about the content descriptor. So defining what is a recent event. If we look at extinction events, we'll look at events that are recent. We want to look at things that we can relate to in our class. And that would be things such as human evolution. So we can define 'recent' as being approximately the last 2.5 million years, and that is approximately the beginning of human evolution. So recent extinction events that happened during that time include the Quaternary extinction event and the Holocene extinction, which is the current extinction event happening right now. And examples within that will be looking at examples of organisms that have gone extinct during these times, including things such as the dodo bird, the thylacine in Tasmania, and of course Australia, the mammoth, the quagga, sabre-toothed cat, sea mink. These are just some examples that you can use. Essentially a good discussion around this content descriptor will be to link human settlement and human behaviours to extinction events and the extinction of certain organisms as well. I provide some definitions there just to give a guide in regards to what an event is.

So a little bit of a breakdown in terms of what an age is, what an epoch is, a period, an era, and an eon. And that provides some guideline to be able to talk about an extinction event and talk about those different periods that have occurred and being able to elucidate those to us. Within the new syllabus previous to what we had with the 7-10 syllabus, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives have been embedded as learning across the curriculum as cross-curricular priorities. So one of the new things within the Biology syllabus is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, paleontological and geological evidence of past changes in ecosystems. So this occurs in one of the modules. Apologies there for leaving out the number in Ecosystem Dynamics. Subtopic - Past Ecosystems. And the inquiry question is, "How do selection pressures within an ecosystem influence evolutionary change?" The content descriptor here is analysing paleontological and geological evidence that can be used to provide evidence for past changes in ecosystems, including but not limited to..." And we have the reference to Aboriginal rock paintings.

At this point, it's strongly advised that schools contact the AECG and their local lands council for information regarding local ATSI protocols and perspectives. And this is really important, not only to cater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, but also to be able to cater for the local area that we live in. For example, it's recommended to use materials and knowledge that is local to the area. I'll give an example and this is based very much in Sydney. If your school is in Parramatta, for example, which is in Western Sydney for those who are unaware, this is considered Dharug country. However, the local people here are the Burramattagal people. So you would firstly best use Burramattagal knowledge, and secondly, if it's not possible to use that, then you use Dharug knowledge and resources.

Talking about Aboriginal rock paintings as well, it's important to be able to know this. And again, your local lands council and your AECG can help elucidate this and provide support. Rock paintings and rock carvings may have spiritual significance which makes it knowledge which only an elder can share. So hence again strongly recommended to consult the AECG and local lands council to liaise with elders and ensure that proper protocol is observed. And again, this advice can also be taken to what we do with our current 7-10 syllabus as well. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms is a new concept that occurs in Module 5 - Heredity. And the subtopic is Genetics and Variation. How can the genetic similarities and differences within and between species be compared?" And the content descriptor here elucidates - Analysing single nucleotide polymorphisms." So first and foremost what's needed here is a little bit of a background around what single nucleotide polymorphisms are. And so essentially what we've provided there is a little bit of information that you can use within your lessons and within your classes. However, this is just a very summarised description of that dot point.

Again, we're asking for students to analyse single nucleotide polymorphisms, so again there's an opportunity to be able to look at actual examples that do occur. So SNPs, or 'snips' as we call them as well. Look, we can look at those within certain populations. And again talk about how they're responsible for things like having differences in populations to respond to treatments, susceptibility to disease, and the severity of disease if it was likely to occur. Gene Flow and Genetic Drift. Module 6 - Genetic Change. Subtopic - Mutation. The inquiry question being, "How does mutation introduce new alleles into populations?" Mutations has occurred and has always been in the Biology syllabus, within the core content. However, this descriptor does take it a little bit further where it talks about evaluating the effect of mutation, genetic gene flow and genetic drift on the gene pool of populations. So again, an evaluation there where we ask students to be able to delve further into that descriptor. Again, provided to...bits of information around what genetic drift is and what gene flow is, and again examples that you can use. And again, we encourage you to look up other examples and look up the resources that have this to better provide further information for your students.

So essentially, genetic drift, we're looking at a mechanism of evolution that takes place because of the change of the alleles in a population. So when this happens, the frequency of genotypes in a population will vary, and again this can lead to disappearances of particular genes as organisms die or if they don't reproduce. An example there being - again, you can look up other examples - a large group of red poppies, again, as a plant organism exchanges genetic material with white poppies. Over time, white poppies become rarer and rarer while red poppies thrive. And again, we do have other current examples and local examples that you'll be able to use, especially in agricultural settings in New South Wales. Gene flow, however, the process of evolution that takes place when genes or alleles are moved from one population to another. So for example, birds with shorter beaks enter a population of birds with much longer beaks and that results in birds with beaks of various sizes. So again, lots of examples that we can bring in that can come from local context for genetic drift and for gene flow.

There is an opportunity here to be able to model this as well in class and that's using Excel, and we'll have these resources and links that you can follow within the support document that will be available tomorrow. And essentially to be able to model genetic drift and gene flow, it can be done using the Excel spreadsheet software, and again there's opportunities there to increase the academic rigour for what we're doing in Biology and as well introduce a lot of numeracy skills as well for our students. Disease as a Disruption of Homeostasis. Module 8 - Non-infectious Disease and Disorders. Subtopic - Homeostasis. Homeostasis has occurred...does occur within the current syllabus that we do teach now. However, the difference here is that the inquiry question does lead itself to discuss the effects of disrupting homeostasis and the need to have controls to maintain balance and that the disruption may cause things such as disease and disorders.

So again, we're furthering our knowledge from what we have with the current syllabus, allowing students a really good breadth of knowledge around what homeostasis is and all the effects around it. So, homeostatic imbalance may lead to things such as cellular malfunction, disease and disorder, and deficiency. Examples that can be used with class as case studies could be looking at diabetes as a disruption of homeostasis, or even looking at heart failure as a disruption of homeostasis. And again, with both these case studies are examples that...and more resources that you can get coming from places like the diabetes foundation and The Heart Foundation of Australia where you can use publicly available information and publicly available data to discuss with students. Again, opportunities to bring in literacy and numeracy and to increase that academic rigour. Pharmaceuticals and the Control of Infectious Disease.

While this has been touched on to a certain point in the current syllabus, we are looking at increasing... increasingly talking about the effect of pharmaceuticals and controlling diseases that are infectious. So again, this occurs in Module 7 - Infectious Diseases. Subtopic - Treatment and Control. Inquiry question - "How can the spread of infectious disease be controlled?" This content descriptor is very new in terms of what it's asking our students to do. Investigate and assess the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals as treatment strategies for the control of infectious diseases, for example, antivirals and antibiotics." What we'll provide there are just examples of... Apologies. What we've done...what we'll provide there are examples of...of antibiotics and antivirals which you can discuss in class, linking those to, respectively, bacteria and viruses.

So when it comes to bacteria and viruses... Again, apologies. I have just noticed that there is a discrepancy there in information. The first heading should be Viruses/Antivirals, and that second heading should be Bacteria and Antibiotics. Within these ones for bacteria, you can talk about urinary tract infections, pneumonia and throat infections, talking about how pharmaceuticals can be effective as treatment strategies to be able to control these. And with antivirals and with viruses, talking about things such as HIV and the herpes virus. Again, using publicly available information and using publicly available data to look at the treatments for these diseases and looking at how they can be effectively controlled. A good thing to include within this content descriptor is modelling pharmaceutical resistance, and that would complement...that would complement assessing the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals as a way to control infectious disease. S

o again, when we do look at a lot of our content descriptors, looking at opportunities to bring in models that we can use, whether it be models that students create or simulations that are already available. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People's Protocols for Medicines. Again, another ATSI perspective that we do have, and this is Module 7 - Infectious Diseases. Treatment and Control. How can the spread of infectious diseases be controlled?" So again, strongly advise that you contact the AECG and your local lands council for information regarding local ATSI perspectives and protocols. Within this content descriptor, there are examples there. So it does mean... And we should read that properly. It does mean that we do not have to do those examples. You can choose to do one, you can choose to do both or you can choose to do new ones. Essentially you're looking at being able to use a...being able to bring in ATSI protocols and ATSI perspectives that are local to your area.

So looking at your local context, where your school is, and again your AECG will be able to help you in determining what would be appropriate to be able to bring up and be able to teach. I've included this slide here just to elucidate a little bit about the syllabus that we currently do have. Non-infectious Diseases does appear in the current Biology syllabus. It's been something that we've been teaching for quite a while, and NESA's continued to include this in the New South Wales syllabus that they've developed with these new Stage 6 courses. It is good to note that the Australian senior secondary curriculum, so the Australian Curriculum for Year 11 and 12, does not include any reference to non-infectious diseases in Biology.

So where we do have them in the Biology syllabus is in the Non-infectious Diseases module and the topic's Cause and Response. Subtopic - Cause and Responses, Epidemiology and Prevention. What you'll notice when you do look at these content descriptors is that there are no Australian Curriculum codes, so there is no reference to the Australian Curriculum. 'Cause it's been a concept, it's been learning activities that we've always had there for quite a while and NESA has continued to do that. Thank you very much for listening to today's session. Essentially, and we'll go over this again, the purpose of today was just to elucidate some of the new content that we do have within the new Biology syllabus.

What we'll be doing now is we'll be going on to the last slide, and essentially there'll be a question pod there where you can ask questions around maybe some of the content that you've looked at and some of the content that you may need further elaboration on. What I will advise is that if you do need anything further, that you do contact either myself or you do contact Cherine and both our email addresses are there. Again, thank you for being part of today's session. A recording of today's session will be available tomorrow at this website. So that's connect.schools. If you do have any questions, please put them down below in the question pod. And we'll do our best to answer your questions. Remember at this stage, we'll be able to advise you on how to best implement those content descriptors, those outcomes within your classes. Once again, you do have a bunch of links on the left-hand side to the NESA syllabuses, the recording to the first session, which was unpacking the syllabus, and a support document called 'science syllabus annotation'.

Thank you very much for being part of today's session. Just a quick announcement. Tomorrow...tomorrow's Adobe Connect session on 15 June will be New Content in Physics. So please join us for that from 3:30pm to 4:00pm. Again, there'll be ample opportunities to either ask questions for that...for those...for the content area in the Physics syllabus as well. If you do look at the... Just answering the question there. If you look at the Stage 6 Science notes, which is a pod on the top left-hand corner. If you scroll down, you will see my email address and you will also see Cherine's email address, which means that you'll be able to contact us if you need anything.

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