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First Draft: My Theory Of Knowledge Lesson About Syria Next Monday — Help Me Make It Better


This is the first week of school, and my Theory Of Knowledge class is learning about the difference between knowledge and belief, and the different justification used for a variety of claims.

Tomorrow, we’re going to examine Reuben Abel’s nine types of evidence, and students will rank them in terms of reliability and validity.

I’m tentatively planning on doing a lesson on Syria on Monday where they will apply what they learned.

First, I’ll ask students to share in small groups what they think they know about what’s happening in Syria and the potential of a U.S. attack.

Then, I’ll show this video of President Obama making his case for an attack:

I’ll then do a Read Aloud of the first three paragraphs of this NY Times article.

Afterwards, I’ll ask students to work in pairs and identify which of the nine types of evidence the administration is using to justify the attack and how they ranked those in terms of reliability and validity. Then, students will share if they believe an attack would be wise and use their analysis to defend their position.

It’s late at night, and my mind isn’t working as well as I’d like it to, so I’d like to invite teachers, especially TOK educators (though not limited to them) for feedback on how to make this lesson better. I’m also trying to figure out if I should somehow use Charles Blow’s NY Times column, The Era of Disbelief.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Hi Larry,
    I would suggest one addition: add a reflective practice at the end in which the students turn the lens (the nine types of evidence) on themselves. This wouldn’t be for whether they support an attack or not but for the activity process itself. Can they step back and “watch” themselves use or discard evidence types/recognize or ignore types?

  2. I think this is a great way to weave in WOKs while looking at claims. I would continue to use the article to then weave in the language of coherence, correspondence, and pragmatic check for truth from the article using active reading strategies while looking for specific language if time permits breaking them into small teams. This will help them to see how each team might find different perspectives while reading the same article and making comparisons to help them look at personal knowledge vs shared knowledge focusing on how do we know? I would also show this: and maybe this: to have them think about claims and skepticism.

    Thanks for sharing!


  3. What a fantastic idea. I am a second year TOK teacher and will use the essence of what I am reading in my TOK classes next week. Thank you for sharing

  4. Hello. I know this was some time ago, but I wonder if you might have some examples of what your learners came up with for this?
    Having watched the video myself, and extracted the CC transcript, I think it is a good example of how applying the textbook definitions is problematic with real-world case examples.
    I would really appreciate your thoughts and any examples.
    Thank you

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