Combining the creative with the critical

Often, IB teachers of the Group A Language and Lit courses regret that there is not much opportunity to do more creative work with their classes. But short exercises can be incorporated into our classes and many of us do that.  Here is one exercise which has not only produced some very lively original pieces with my students, but also raised their consciousness and refined their sense of how prose is constructed and how different effects are created. Obviously there ...

Written by cats and a hamster

It's Extended Essay time in the Northern Hemisphere (perhaps it's always Extended Essay time everywhere), and I'm sure that all students and supervisors are scrutinizing resources very carefully. How careful do you have to be? I thought I'd share these news stories... F.D.C. Willard's pawprint In 1975, The American physicist and mathematician Jack H. Hetherington, at Michigan State University, wanted to publish some of his research results in the field of low–temperature physics in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters. A colleague, who was ...

Searching for the Truth

Continuing my thoughts and writing about fake news, fake web pages, teaching search skills, and ultimately, trying to find the Truth of a matter, this post brings together for your consideration two web articles which are not new, but which work well together. The first is Why Students Can't Google their Way to the Truth, by Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, published 1 November 2016.  The authors describe their research at Stamford University: "Over the past 18 months, we administered assessments that ...

‘The problems of the second act’

In a very interesting little book by David Mamet called '3 Uses of the Knife: On the nature and purpose of drama' there is a section called 'The problems of the second act.'  I can't reproduce the whole section here, but I'm going to select a few quotations in the hopes you might find the ideas useful when you are studying plays with your IB students.  What Mamet is proposing is that there is energy from the playwright that can ...

Summer Investigations(3) Works on the PLT: Cheese

For the last of these recommendations, a work composed in Dutch by a Flemish author, A.J de Ridder, writing under the pseudonym, Willem Elsschot.  To my knowledge, Cheese, has not appeared on any IB Language A: Literature syllabus, and I'd like to make the case that it might be very apt, particularly when people are looking for something to include that is not 'dark and depressing,' a request that often comes up in discussions and workshops. Originally published in 1933, this ...

And the results are in!

...Well, they were in a month ago. As teachers, more than anything we are most interested in the grade boundaries for each paper. For two years we were flying blind, trying to guide our students to passing, or in some instance, the elusive 7. And now that information is freely available, and from this point forward, our work will be authentic and based on experience rather than conjecture. So, without further ado, here is the assessment-by-assessment breakdown: IA (the moderated, final mark ...

Integrating CAS and History

In IBDP there has been an emphasis in recent years in integrating the core (EE, TOK and CAS) with the course content in the different subjects. In history, it has been nearly effortless to integrate EE and TOK. The skills in the History IA layer nicely with the Extended Essay, and Theory of Knowledge and the inquiry-based approach to subjects is easily integrated into daily teaching, and again, the IA explicitly calls on TOK skills. CAS can be integrated just as ...

140 Characters in the IB Classroom

"Twitter" flickr photo by Uncalno https://flickr.com/photos/uncalno/8537569665 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license The word "Twitter" (as in a certain social media platform) has been turning up more and more in the news recently.  Twitter itself isn't new (if you're interested, you can read the history of Twitter in this post on lifewire), and it isn't new in education.  But as it is being talked about right now, I thought it might be a good time to take a closer ...

Summer Investigations (2) Works on the PLT: The Thief and the Dogs

As we try to balance shorter and longer works in our hopes that students will fully read and engage with the texts in the syllabus, I think we are all inclined to look for works that work;  for works that are reasonably riveting for all of our students and that expand our sense of the complex world we live in, that foster some growth in both understanding and reading skills. People often find that Crime and Punishment, a work of considerable ...

TMT, Pecha Kucha, and the Art of Liberating Restraints

As is often the case on this blog, I am going to write about something I have just read.  EPFL is the  École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, which is a research institute/university in Lausanne, Switzerland, specialising in physical sciences and engineering. I subscribe to their news blog as part of my general reading, and am continually intrigued by what I read.  In today's batch I learned about how Digital birdhouses make studying owls easier ("EPFL students have developed a system that can detect when barn ...