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“The Times They Are a-Changin’”…For IB Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations

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'change' photo (c) 2010, Sean MacEntee - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve been writing, and have been publishing guest posts, about how the changes instituted by the International Baccalaureate this year have affected those of us who teach Theory of Knowledge classes.

You can see some of those posts at:

The Best Commentaries On The New IB Theory Of Knowledge Teaching Guide

The Best Posts On Teaching TOK “Knowledge Questions”

Of course, you can also see all my TOK-related posts here.

There are also changed in the required Oral Presentations. And since it’s that time of the year when many of us are doing that in our classes, I thought I’d share a few thoughts and invite others to contribute their own….

I’ve previously shared the brand-new IB TOK Presentation Planning Document and, last year, I published all my IB Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentation & Essay Resources, which included a day-to-day schedule we use for a month leading to the presentations and two good examples of videotaped presentations from my students.

Based on the new materials from IB that I have read, and based on the conversations I’ve had with my teaching colleagues, here are what I view as the most important “takeaways” — please let me know if you have others or if you think I’m sharing misinformation:

* For oral presentations done in groups, there needs to be one main Knowledge Question. In the past, I’ve always had groups pick an common overall topic and the same real-life incident, but each has had their own related Knowledge Question.

* Groups can not have over three people in them. In the past, they could be as large as five.

* There needs to be several explicit attempts through-out the Presentation to connect what’s being said back to the real-life incident. In other words, the real-life incident plays a bigger role in the Presentation.

* There is no longer an explicit requirement to use linking questions to connect to multiple Areas of Knowledge. There do, however, need to be multiple “perspectives,” which could also include contrasting claims.

* Of course, there is a new rubric for assessing the Oral Presentations, and you can find it in the new TOK Teaching Guide at one of the above links.

* Presentations no longer have to be videotaped. Instead, each school will send examples of the Oral Presentation Planning Document in to IB for review.

Practically-speaking, these changes are not having a major impact on how I do Oral Presentations (at least for this year — I’ll revise my approach if I receive negative feedback from other TOK teachers and IB itself).

I found that having my students follow the same format I’ve done in the past — identify a topic and real-life incident of genuine interest, and then have each student in the group formulate a knowledge question and a linking question — has worked out very well as a first step. Then, each group reviews those knowledge questions to determine which might be the main one, and the others, including the linking questions, can function as “subsidiary” ones. That worked out to be a fairly easy process.

Apart from that added step, the other difference from past preparation has been creating some extra time for students to complete the Planning Document, which can’t exceed 500 words.

I’ve invited specific TOK educators to provide guest posts on this topic, and am eager to also hear from others. Let me know what you think!

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

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