Diminishing returns – maybe…

By Monday, April 13, 2015 No tags 0

Here's something you don't hear a teacher say often: "Some of my students need to start studying less and enjoying life more!" Yes, I actually said that, eyes focused vacuously in middle-distance, in handing back the mock exams. It's like hearing "No, duct tape won't fix that!" in Missouri or "Pass me the pate" in the Stallone household. I meant it. I still do to a certain extent but I've toned down the correlation aspect as you shall see below. Anyhow, ...

IA Samples and Admin

By Wednesday, February 25, 2015 No tags 0

Yes, it's that time of year again. Like a dog with a frisbee, a really bad virus or a bad cheque (check), it's back. Time to get the Internal Assessment (IA) portfolios together, submit final grades and then compile the sample for external moderation. Many teachers dread the process, seeing the external moderation not so much as a tweaking of set grades but rather a 'grade on the teachers' themselves. Putting in grades and then being asked to submit samples for ...

DRQ puzzle

By Friday, February 13, 2015 No tags 0

One of the reoccurring discussions in the economics department is why so many students with solid abilities in economics receive lower-than-expected marks in data response questions (DRQs - Paper 2 in the most recent syllabus). The data is reasonably unequivocal for us; DRQ marks are on average one IB grade boundary lower than for essay questions (EQs, paper1) over a three year period. What then is the question? Simple: since both DRQs and EQs follow a reasonably straightforward "define - explain ...

Five easily corrected EE mistakes in economics

By Sunday, November 30, 2014 No tags 0

By now most schools will start to see the final extended essay (EE) deadline approaching. We economics teachers, frequently rather heavily burdened with EE supervision, will sit down with a pile of penultimate drafts and start giving our comments for the final draft. I have dealt with EEs for some 18 years now and have saved every single one of my commentaries for students. It occurred to me that a goodly portion of my next-to-last commentaries on EE drafts contain ...

Grade inflation

By Thursday, October 16, 2014 No tags 0

The following brief note is basically just a rant about what has become one of my favorite whipping horses over the past year or so. Thus, don't figure on learning anything as I'm just blowing off steam. It's cheaper than therapy.   Every school has its culture and this is accentuated in international schools - where, let's be honest, 'international' for the most part means English or American. I've worked in both and each has it's own set of, shall we say, ...

“It’s easier to pull a piece of string than push it…”

By Wednesday, September 3, 2014 No tags 0

The quote used in the heading is one of many pithy comments felled by my father - and one of the few one can put in print. As I recall, he used it in conjunction with a rant he was having about basic management skills, or, rather what he saw as the lack thereof in the organisation he was working for at the time.   My old man's point was basically that the most efficient method of getting people to act towards ...

Another trade-off…

By Tuesday, August 19, 2014 No tags 0

Starting up the school year one more time...and once again I am struck by the trade-off issues arising in putting together the 'optimal' first-year syllabus plan for IB economics students. Ceteris paribus, it boils down to a choice between: I) Following the syllabus in a fairly straightforward manner. This has a 'return' of rational progression through the syllabus plus enabling the mobility between countries/schools that is the forte of the IB. II) Building a syllabus plan where the basics - yes, this gets ...

Strategy and tactics

By Friday, June 13, 2014 No tags 0

"Do nothing that is of no use." Miyamoto Musashi (master swordsman, 1584 - 1645) By User Alkivar on en.wikipedia , via Wikimedia CommonsThis will be one of those posts that gets me into some hot water with people in the upper-echelons of the IB tower, but here goes: how much of the HL economics syllabus could one strategically NOT TEACH and still have a goodly chance of enabling students to achieve a grade 7? My answer, having looked at the recent past ...

Movie clips for spice…

By Friday, May 16, 2014 No tags 0

Increasingly, in dealing with the current young economists where the screen has replaced the note pad and buttons are making pens obsolete, I find it necessary to move with the times and increasingly use film clips to splice together a lesson. It  might sound a tad ingratiating or populist but I have found that a little bit of Youtube (or other sites, see below) goes a long way in getting students to have a memory "hook" for subjects that quite ...

Revision and a practice paper

By Monday, March 17, 2014 No tags 0

As mock exams are in full swing at the moment, the usual "Use of past papers" discussion once again rears its ugly, and frankly quite tiresome, head. For undersigned and an increasing number of teachers, the vote is over: don't use past papers! This is a particular question I've driven now for several years and my reasoning is quite simple: if we want to have a correct gauge of where our students stand we need to approach the mocks with as ...