Whither the Prescribed Subjects? Next month’s exams are the end of an era

We are now one month out from the final IB exams of the session that began with the exams in 2010.  On 8 November, the final set of Paper 1s will be given, and after that, these subjects will be put to rest.  The peacemaking, peacekeeping material is easily integrated into most regional options and it can be used with 20th century wars as part of the effects - although the level of detail is probably impractical for many of ...

Handwriting counts in exams

With the May exam session behind us by nearly six weeks, and most exams marked by the examiners, it is time to address an important issue with regard to IB exams: your handwriting. In much of life, your ability to hand write work clearly may not seem that important, especially if many of your teachers are already moving to having you submit electronical copies of work. However, the IB exams are still hand written.  Most of you are able to produce ...

Subject Choice review

If your school has November exams, you are winding down on the old curriculum while concurrently preparing for the new curriculum that has first exams in 2017.  At this point, it is worthwhile to review the changes to History: In the current curriculum your students have Peacemaking, Arab-Israeli and Communism in Crisis as their options.  These are all going away to be replaced by 5 new prescribed subjects.  This is the largest curricular change but the skills remain largely the same: ...

Local history as alternative history – North America

1July 1st is Canada Day and July 4th is Independence Day in the US.  The Canadians commemorate the British North America - or Constitution Act - whereby three British colonies were united to create federated Canada.  In the US, it is the celebration of the declaration of independence by 13 colonies against the British crown. In both cases, this was a major step towards independence, although the US was created through revolutionary war whereas Canadian independence was evolutionary in nature ...

It’s time to focus on the first year IB students

Many of us will still be teaching first year students for at least another month but at this point, we seem so focused on the students about to take their IB exams.  This is a golden opportunity as you can focus your energies on year 1.  The students will appreciate the attention, as they are often eclipsed at this time of the year. It's really easy to get hung up on examination preparation but now is when we need to transition ...

Do Mock Exams Help Our Students?

First I must apologize to those of you in the southern hemisphere.  The November session is eons away for you, but for those of us north of the Equator (or south but on the northern school schedule) the IB exams are now 2 months away.  Many schools choose March as the time for mock exams because the syllabus is nearly complete in most subjects and the students are well enough prepared for them. There are a lot of questions about mock ...

The HL option and Paper 3

Happy New Year to all of you!  The weather has definitely changed course for most of you, and while most of my posts have been written with a blue sky and warm temperatures, the mountains of New Mexico have had near-record amounts of snow and the temperatures have been very cold, even for this altitude. With the new year comes a new semester, term or quarter for many of you.  While I used the past term to cover the SL requirements ...

Changes to the World History Topics and Paper 2

At face value, the changes to the World History Topics leave us with the ability to keep things very similar in our curriculum, or modify them wildly if we so prefer.  I am guess that very few of you are going to do the latter, but this is not meant to be dismissive: if you have the prep time, and your school has the resources, there are a lot of interesting ways in which the curriculum can be shifted. The main ...

Changes in IB History – the New Prescribed Subjects

The transition from one curriculum to the next happens every seven years, and despite all preparation, it is always a challenging year: there are two sets of syllabi and two sets of assessments. The most dramatic content-based changes come in the Prescribed Subjects.  Although this can cause anxiety, it is also the area where there is less focus on content and more focus on skills.  You may need to adjust the content you focus on, but the skill set is largely ...

Paper 1: The Source-based test

In IB History, at both HL and SL, students are required to demonstrate their ability to use historical sources.  There are a number of historical skills that are used by professionals instantaneously and often on a daily basis.  Every time you pick up a text, read a journal article or examine a political cartoon or graph, you probably do this quickly, almost without thinking about it.  Like many other tasks, practice leads to constant improvement and you probably don’t even ...