Sunday, 24 February 2013

Biozone Student Workbooks now available for IB Biology

IB Biology Student Workbook (Paperback)

By Tracey Greenwood, Lissa Bainbridge-Smith, Kent Pryor, Richard Allan

It is the unique combination of textbook explanations and structured questions on a single page which make Biozone books such a useful resource.  The content of these books is outstanding; the authors have obviously spent much time on research and the Biology concepts are illustrated by interesting and novel examples. Explanations are clearly written and there are plenty of data tables and graphs for students to interpret, all of them seamlessly woven into the resources. Diagrams are clearly drawn and well labelled, enhanced by the blue of the effective two colour layout.

I first encountered the Biozone books fifteen years ago while teaching A-level Biology in the UK and I was very pleased to find the new IB book this year.  The resources are comprehensive and well-suited to the most able IB students.  The collection includes a Student Workbook, a CDrom of resources for IB options, a huge database of biology links, a book of Model Answers and a Teacher's Guide including ideas for making best use of the resources in the classroom.

The workbook is divided into chapters according to the Biology, not adhering exactly to the IB Guide, but well structured including a variety of different types of activity.  There is a Chapter Topic Page for each topic which identifies key terms and learning objectives as well as the code numbers from the IB Guide.  I noticed one or two small differences in the content between IB Guide and the Biozone workbook so it is still worth checking against the IB Guide.

The SL and HL biology material is well integrated in one single volume which is great for students in a dedicated Higher Level class. Tabs in the bottom corner of each page are colour coded, blue for AHL material, but the colour difference is not very noticeable.  Standard Level students might find it difficult to separate the higher material from the standard level resources, but this shouldn't be difficult for the teacher.

One exciting innovation is the Biozone eBook app on the iStore.  Students can buy the workbook resources, and some revision units on their iPhone, iPad or iPod. We know how much time students spend using these devices so this could be a great revision tool especially leading up to exams. The reviews from enthusiastic teachers on the iStore seem to prove that the concept works.

When I tested the iPad App I found that there was a lot of flicking to do to find a page to buy, and a contents list would have been useful. It's unfortunate that the preview pages are too small to read and I didn't immediately find the free sample to download. The workbook materials are organised into small chunks and the full colour images look great on the iPad.  It may be a nice way to buy the books but, from what I have seen, it doesn't look to be much more than a digital text book. However this is the first serious IB resource available as an app that I have seen and should be applauded for embracing the new technology.  I wonder if an Android app is being planned.

Overall these Biozone resources are a great addition to the IB Biology textbooks already available.  They are most useful for able Higher Level biologists and with careful planning they are a good resource for Standard Level students too.

You can order a copy of the IB Biology Student Workbook Directly from Biozone or from this independent workers co-operative, who pay their taxes: News From Nowhere Bookshop.

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