Course Description


Welcome to IB Biology Year 1!


One of the wonderful things IB does to both students and teachers is to impose planning and organizing disciplines over two years of study that will serve you the rest of your education -- and your life. To get through the program with your sanity intact -- not to mention decent marks -- you have to accomplish tasks on a rigorous schedule and falling behind is a big problem, because recovery is difficult. year 1 we do a fast-paced march through the IB Biology syllabus and Internal Assessments (labs), and it is imperative to stay on schedule. We will cover about 2/3 of the syllabus in year 1, leaving ample time in the 2nd semester of year 2 for review and test preparation. These are some of our major operating principles:


  • Foundational reading and homework outside of class will generally not be graded directly, but it must be done faithfully or the missed information will lower your marks on quizzes, tests, papers and labs.
  • Class time is reserved for summary of concepts and big ideas, extra study of difficult topics, exams and exam reviews, and lab work. All flex periods will be used.
  • The nature of biological lab work is that some experiments run over long time periods and may require repetition. Some require assistance from your classmates. You must be ready to put in extra time on breaks, free periods, and after school as needed.
  • This is not the time to be shy or proud. You must constantly monitor your understaning of the material and ask for help immediately when needed. Your teacher has reserved extra time to help you personally, so ask for it when you need it. The only people who have trouble in this class are those who do not ask for timely help.

This all may sound scary, but everyone can and does do it. Success is normal here.

Stay organized, press onward, but take some down time and don't stress out, it will be over – and successful – before you know it!

Resources and Texts: There are two texts: "Sr. Biology 1 & 2", 2009 ed., IBID Press; & "Biology Course Companion," 2009 ed. Oxford Press. Supplemental worksheets, readings, activities, and labs will support the text.

Materials: You will often need a graphing calculator and a metric ruler.

Assessment: Your grade in this course will be calculated using the following weighted percentages: 70% Tests and Quizzes; 25% Lab (IA); 5% Assignments (projects and others).

The course material is divided into Topics. You will have a summative exam at the end of each Topic, and the class session before the exam will be for pre-exam review. Exam and quiz question are all taken from previous IB external exams. Both semesters of year 1 will have a semester exam that will comprise 20% of your semester grade, and will cover all material studied in current AND PREVIOUS semesters.


Previous IB examinations and markschemes (the answers) are available from IBO and other sources, often at a small cost. I would suggest you obtain those for study purposes. I will not be providing extra exam copies outside of those will we directly using in class.


Estimated Grades:

Twice in year 2 I am required to submit estimate grades for all students: in September, for college applications, and in April, for diploma awards. The grades I submit at both times are determined solely by performance in class to date, using the SAS IB grading curve detailed in a separate document on this site.

This conversion table matches the actual IB Diploma grade boundaries from the HL Exam in May 2009 (with the IB grading curve applied) as follows: 1 = 0 - 16; 2 = 17 - 29; 3 = 30 - 41; 4 = 42 - 53; 5 = 54 - 65; 6 = 66 - 77; 7 = 78 - 100. There is a slight variance of these boundaries between years and between SL/HL scores, but it is typically less than 1%.

Like grades in any school gradebook, these estimated grades are not arbitrary or negotiable. They are what has been earned. If, any any point in the class, you are unsure what your predicted grade is, see me and I will show you how to figure it out.


So, if you need a particular mark for a college application, you need to earn that mark by the deadline. Any other method of estimating grades would not be fair to all.

Missed Exams:

Students are expected to foresee conflicts and plan for adequate study prior to exams. All exams are expected to be written on time. Exams will be scheduled with at least two weeks notice and effort will be made to avoid the dates of other major exams or IAs, but this may not always be possible. Missing a pre-exam review session is not a reason to postpone an exam. If an exam is missed because of absence, students must be prepared to write the exam on the day of return to school, at the discretion of the teacher.

Unforseen circumstances may cause a student to be unprepared for an exam. A student-teacher conference 24 or more hours prior to the exam will determine if the exam can be postponed for up to two class days. This is at the teacher's discretion, and will NOT be considered in these circumstances.

  • Less than 24 hours notice
  • More than once per semester

Assessment Policies


Late Formative Work (homework, some quizzes)


Homework is not graded, but it is expected to be completed because its content appears on tests and is essential to success on IAs. Homework is always reviewed in class and it will become apparent who has done their homework and who has not. Homework completion is recorded in the grade book, and late/missing home is noted with "L"/"M".


  • Late/missing homework will result in a Second Chance room assignment so that it can be completed.
  • Failure to complete Second Chance assignments will result in a PS log entry and administrative attention
  • Repeated failure to complete homework will result in a parent conference


Late Summative Work (Quizzes, Tests, IAs)

  • A log entry will be made and an "M" for missing work will appear in PowerSchool until the student completes the work
  • The first time that work is late, students will have the opportunity to discuss a plan with the teacher to complete the work at an agreed time. If it is not completed by that determined time, attendance at the Second Chance room will be assigned
  • Any subsequent time that work is late, the student will be assigned to the Second Chance Room at the teacher’s discretion
  • When the work is completed the grade plus "L" will recorded in the grade book

Missing Work

  • If a student fails to submit any work by the agreed upon deadline, a further log in entry will be made in Power Teacher, and an “I” may be entered in PowerSchool if the teacher does not have sufficient learning evidence to award a grade.
  • Parents will be notified.
  • A zero can be entered, if by the end of the semester grading period, the student still has not submitted the work.


  • So that the SAS grade matches the predicted IB grade as closely as possible throughout the course, there are generally no reassessments on semester exams, topic exams, or IAs (formal labs).
  • Students will have sufficient formative assessments that will prepare them confidently for semester exams, topic exams and IAs.
  • Once per semester, individual students may be granted a postponement (reassessment) of less than one week on any topic exam for which they do not feel prepared. Such requests must come 24 hours or longer before the original assessment.
  • All reassessments and postponements, including make-ups for absences, will cover the same content as the original, but will be different in terms of format, questions and responses.


Course Syllabus & Schedule:


Weeks 1 – 2

Getting Started; Topic 1 (Statistics); IA Design Sections


Weeks 3 - 4

Topic 2 (Cells); Uncertainty; Cell Growth Rate Lab


Weeks 5 – 6

Topic 2 Continued; Cell Shape Lab; Topic 2 Exam


Weeks 7 – 9 (Week 8 – National Day Holiday)

Topic 3 (Biochemistry); Catalase Lab; IA Data Sections


Weeks 10 --12

Topic 3 Continued; Osmosis Lab; Topic 3 Exam


Weeks 13 - 15

Topic 4 (Genetics Core); Bacterial Transformation Lab


Week 16 - 17

Topic 4 Continued; Gel Electrophoresis Lab; IA Conclusion Sections;


Week 18

Semester Exams


Weeks 19 - 21 – Winter Holiday


Week 22

Topic 4 continued; Topic 4 Exam


Weeks 23 - 24

Topic 5 (Ecology Core); Predation Lab


Week 25 – Chinese New Year Holiday


Weeks 26 - 27

Topic 5 Continued; Productivity Lab; Topic 5 Exam

Week 28 - 29

Topic 6 (Human Physiology Core); dissections;


Week 30 - 31

Topic 6 Continued; Physiology Lab;


Week 32 - Spring Break Holiday


Week 33 - 34

Topic 6 Continued; dissections; Topic 6 Exam


Weeks 35 - 36

Option D (Evolution);


Weeks 37 - 38

Option D Continued; Distribution of Organisms Lab; Option D Exam


Weeks 39 - 40

Option G (Ecology & Conservation)


Weeks 41 - 42

Option G Continued; Transpiration Lab; Option G Exam


Week 43 - Semester Exams