Superacids

The concept of superacids was a new on to me until the other day when I read about a chemistry competition that had been held in Moscow earlier this summer. You may have been in this very competition so, if you had, and I get something wrong, please do put me right! The competition asked students to 'design' (on paper) an alien blood that resembled the blood in the 'Alien' movies. If you recall, this blood needed to be capable of ...

Natural Assumptions?

Arguably, every piece of knowledge that has ever been produced has been based on an assumption or a set of assumptions. No knowledge can be produced in a vacuum, which means that the search for knowledge always has a starting point that will generally provide the kind of questions being asked as well as the parameters of that search. One of the most important tasks for TOK students is to identify the assumptions which underpin the production of knowledge in ...

Capturing Audience Response

Recently I have been running Category 3 IB Theatre training that focused on the Collaborative Project. During the training, my teacher participants worked as small devising companies developing their own approaches to developing theatre and then performing their work to determine if they had achieved their intentions and intended impact. This blog will list all the ways that they gathered audience feedback to evaluate their impact on the audience. I hope that you will find this useful and have time ...

Concerning Leap Years

Who Introduced the Leap Year? Julius Ceasar, believe it or not. The Roman calendar had got seriously out of date with the solar calendar, even though Roman officials were supposed to introduce an extra month every so often. So Caesar consulted his top astronomers who worked out that the solar year—the time it takes for the Earth to do exactly one rotation around the sun—was 365.25 days. So, by maintaining a calendar with 365 days, and adding one extra day every ...

Upon Arrival: Advice to the HR Department

The following post has basically been brewing for a few years. It is largely based on observation and the concomitant whinging over drinks with the other expat teachers. My wife Bell, no-nonsense Aussie with a very sharp eye and tongue, is the primary reason I thought I'd spend a few hundred words putting down some avuncular advice for HR departments in international schools. I'm sure you, my colleagues, have a few acid comments and terse observations to share and I ...

A Theme? A Motif? Which Is It?!

One of the cranky little issues that often (almost always) arises when you are trying to write about the leading ideas or stylistic choices in a piece of literature—as you often must in your courses that involve this kind of art—is when to use the term 'theme' and when to use 'motif.'  And it's no wonder. However, if you decide to settle this in your own head once and for all, and search out definitions either digitally or in print, ...

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime: The Visual Elaboration of Ideas

The Ridiculous (or at least, misguided) As an exhibition moderator I sometimes encounter work that seems to be based on a misinterpretation of the visual arts course. Of course the work is not really ‘ridiculous’, but let’s say it might be a little misguided. For example, in one case a student submitted (as artworks in their exhibition) a single Lego brick, and Lego ‘Batman’ and ‘Superman’ figures. Source: Wikimedia Obviously, there is no technical competence involved here: the Lego belonged to the student’s ...

Teaching Equilibrium

I've just taught this topic and thought it was worth sharing my ideas as to how I introduced the topic and concept of equilibrium. Firstly, something worth considering before you launch into the topic is when do you teach it? In my opinion it needs to go after energetics. This is because some of the concepts need a good understanding of exothermic and endothermic reactions before one can decide on the effect of temperature on the position of equilibrium. It could ...

Drawing Graphs on the TI-84

A previous post on solving equations with the TI-84 has proved very popular, so here are some tips and tricks when using the GDC for drawing graphs and associated functionality. Pre-set scales It's easy enough to type in an equation and then press the graph button. However, the most important thing to do which helps make sense of any graph is to set up the correct window: the minimum and maximum value of the displayed coordinates, and the associated scale marks. The ...

Are Memes Relevant to Studying Printed or Digital Texts?

The larger version of this question is really, 'do we need to have a good working knowledge of what memes are in order to usefully expand a sense of our audience, our IB students?  Does such knowledge have some relevance to such new textualities as fan fiction and texts published online using various composition strategies?' It's interesting that, in the last revision of the Language A courses,  various forms of digital texts were suggested as one of the options schools might ...