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The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2016 – Part Two

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I’ve created a public Twitter list of IB Theory of Knowledge teachers. Send a tweet to me letting me know you’re an IB teacher, or leave a comment on this post, and I’ll add you to the list!

It’s time for another “Best” list to add to All My 2016 “Best” Lists In One Place.

I’ll also be adding this post to All Of My Theory Of Knowledge “Best” Lists In One Place!

Here are my previous TOK-related “Best” lists:

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources — 2010

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2011 — So Far

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2011

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2012 — So Far

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2013 – So Far

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

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Movies For IB Theory Of Knowledge Classes – What Are Your Suggestions?

The Best Posts On IB Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2014 – So Far

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2014 – Part Two

The Best Posts On Teaching TOK “Knowledge Questions”

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2015 – So Far

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2015 – Part Two

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2016 – So Far

Here are my picks from the past six months:

As regular readers know, one of my projects over the summer was completely revamping my curriculum for the three periods of International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes I teach each day. It’s almost fifty percent new, though I’ve only gotten around to posting about four months of it online.  One of the changes I made was the homework I expected students to do after they read each chapter in our TOK textbook. I’ve previously posted those homework instructions, but here they are again. In the past, I’ve always had small groups meet and make short presentations about the homework each week. However, they were decidedly uneven in quality, though students gained a lot from them. I’ve decided to revamp those instructions, too – both for presenters and audience members. You can download the student hand-out here.

I also finished updating my four-week plan for the TOK Essay, and you can find it on our class blog. It’s filled with links to lots of resources and examples – all downloadable.

I have completely revised and updated my six-week plan – from start to finish – for IB Theory of Knowledge Oral Presentations. You can find it all here on our class blog at Oral Presentation Schedule. It includes plenty of student examples, videos, and downloadable resources. We use much of what’s there in the classroom without every student having a device, but I’ve put everything there so I have it in one place.

The New York Times has published a series of short and very accessible videos helping people understand implicit bias.

You see the entire series here, and I’ve embedded the first one below. These are excellent for many classes, and I’ll certainly be using it in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, especially when we study perception.

In IB Theory of Knowledge classes, we teach how different “Ways of Knowing” are used to gain knowledge and that what we learn is then categorized into “Areas of Knowledge.” I’ve probably uploaded about forty percent of my TOK curriculum to this blog so far, and thought I’d add a new version of the regular Ways Of Knowing project I have students do after we finish studying them all. Here are the downloadable student instructions for the project and here is the feedback form their classmate audience completes for each one. I view this as a dry-run for the Spring Oral Presentation the students have to complete, and it generally works out pretty well.

This article – Can You Figure Out the Mystery Inside This Remarkable Ad About High School Love? – and video on Ad Week has been all over social media today. It sends an amazingly effective in sending a message on gun violence and schools.

I’ll be showing it Monday to my IB Theory of Knowledge class to initiate a discussion on that topic and on what we can learn from the video about Perception as a Way Of Knowing:

Mercedes designers aren’t losing any sleep about the famous Trolley Problem (see The Best Videos About The Famous “Trolley Problem”).

Here’s an excerpt from Fast Company’s article, Mercedes says its self-driving cars will kill pedestrians instead of drivers:

when-they-crash

As part of our unit on Reason and Logic in my Theory of Knowledge classes, I, like every TOK teacher, take a look at fallacies. As part of that lesson, students pick or design a product and have to create a thirty-to-sixty second video commercial for it that uses at least four of the many fallacies we studied (I picked up this idea at an IB training long ago). They write a short script identify the four fallacies, as well. When the show the video to the entire class, viewers also have to identify the ones used in the commercial.

You can see many student-created videos on our class blog here (I messed-up while uploading some, you have to click on links to view a few instead of having them embedded in the post. I’ve embedded one example below.

You might also be interested in The Best Multimedia Resources For Learning About Fallacies — Help Me Find More.

I’ve previously shared a great video I use when teaching about emotion in IB Theory of Knowledge class – see Video Illustrating The Roles Of Emotion & Reason: “President Obama’s Anger Translator.” I also share this clip from “Broadcast News” when we discuss the James-Lange Theory that suggests emotions are physical in nature. In other words, changes in one’s body come before any emotional ones:

When we study reason and logic in my Theory of Knowledge class I show this good video demonstrating how it can be abused and not help us in our search for knowledge.

The first video is a shorter Vimeo version useful for schools that block YouTube.

The second link is to a YouTube version that is longer.

Argument Clinic – Monty Python – YouTube from Cumberland University on Vimeo.

Argument clinic video

In my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, we study how language can help – and hinder – our search for knowledge.

Here are a few examples students came up with when we were exploring the role of punctuation, using “Let’s eat Grandma” as example:

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If you want to see more examples demonstrating the value of punctuation, visit:

Let’s eat Grandma! How Punctuation can Save a Life

16 Unfortunate Misuses of Punctuation

Why Hillary Clinton Needs to Be Two-Faced is the headline of a very interesting column in The New York Times. It’s a commentary on the alleged comment Clinton made about politicians needing to be “two-faced.”

The important points it makes about achieving change are somewhat comparable to the ones made in my Washington Post column, The importance of being unprincipled.

And what is says about “knowledge” could be very useful in an IB Theory of Knowledge class:

Modern social science makes a related distinction between shared knowledge and public knowledge. Public knowledge is information that is out there in plain and undeniable view, stuff like stock prices, weather bulletins and campaign promises. If knowledge is public, you and I both know it, and you know that I know it, and I know that you know it, and you know that I know that you know it, ad infinitum. If knowledge is merely shared knowledge, by contrast, you and I both know it, but I’m not sure if you know and you’re not sure if I know.

Shared knowledge has a very handy, if somewhat peculiar, trait: Even if we both know it, we can plausibly deny knowing it. Maybe you and I both know we dated the same person at the same time — but if neither of us is sure the other knows, we can both pretend not to know, thereby staying friends.

I’m going to add it to:

The Best Posts & Articles About Compromise

The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change

Last year, I published a post titled Killing Baby Hitler & Student “What If?” Projects.

In it, I talked about (and linked to) a regular project I do with my IB Theory of Knowledge and ELD History students where they research and present on a “What If?” possibility from history.

I also discussed a recent addition I had made to the lesson that had been prompted by a New York Times project and the reactions to it from several U.S. Presidential candidates – would they go back and kill baby Hitler.

That addition, and how I connected it to ethics, went very well.

Today, Vox published a new video titled “Would you use time travel to kill baby Hitler?” and it’s embedded below. After my students complete their own responses to the question, I plan on showing the first minute of this video and then skipping to 4:30 to the end. It should be a nice way to finish it.

I’m a big advocate of teachers making a point to pronounce student names correctly (see The Best Resources On The Importance Of Correctly Pronouncing Student Names).

I always do a lesson on names as part of the Language unit in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes (see The Best Places For Students To Learn About…Their Names) and this year decided to add this question:

Write about a time a teacher mispronounced your name (if that has happened to you) and how it made you feel or about a time a teacher clearly made an effort to learn how to pronounce it and how that made you feel.  You do not have to give the name of your teacher.  If you haven’t had either of these experiences, write about a time you’ve seen a friend have their name mispronounced.  If none of these apply to you, just write that on the paper.

Out of the ninety students in my TOK classes, about a third said they’ve never experienced a problem with teachers mispronouncing their names; another third said they had experienced that problem but it never bothered them; and a third said that it had happened to them and they didn’t like it.

If I am not absolutely confident about how to pronounce a student’s name when I first meet him/her, I ask how it’s pronounced and write it phonetically on my seating chart.  If I think it’s still possible that I might mispronounce it, I apologize in advance, tell them that they deserve to have their name said correctly, and ask them to please correct me.  I usually don’t make the mistake more than once, and students are always respectful in helping me learn from my mistakes.

A third of students is a sizable number.  It’s probable that the percentage is lower in schools where there are fewer students from different ethnicities but, after seeing these responses, I think most readers agree that since this is one action entirely within our control, we should make sure we correctly pronounce student names:

Here are some student comments:

I remember when several teachers mispronounced my name and it made me feel different.  When a teacher tried making an effort in trying to pronounce my name it made me feel like they actually care.

Yes, teachers had made an attempt to correctly pronounce my name when I do inform them that they had mispronounced it.  It made me feel like they are sincere enough to actually want to pronounce it properly, which give me a message that they are showing respect.

Yes, he mispronounced it and it made me feel awkward.

When they make an effort to pronounce my name correctly it makes me feel respected.

Everyday my teachers pronounce my name incorrectly and I feel disrespected.

I didn’t really care if a teacher didn’t pronounce my name right.  But it does feel better when a teacher actually tries to learn your name.

A teacher before mispronounced my name wrong and I got angry because people started repeating it.

My seventh-grade teacher kept on mispronouncing my name and I felt a little bit ashamed.

One of my teachers always mispronounces my name.  It sort of makes me feel sad because I’ve lost part of my identity.  It want to be a soft and kind person, but it’s hard when someone doesn’t pronounce it thoroughly.

It gets on my nerves.  Even when I tell them it’s like they don’t listen.

Here are two songs that have been composed by Artificial Intelligence.

I’m going to have my Theory of Knowledge students check them out when we study the Arts and respond to the questions: “Is it art if it is created by a machine? Why or why not?”

It’s a good follow-up to a discussion we have on art created by animals.

This new video would be good for IB Theory of Knowledge classes when learning about perception.

NPR also just published a related article, How A ‘Sixth Sense’ Helps Simone Biles Fly, And The Rest Of Us Walk.

Here’s an accessible video good for IB Theory of Knowledge classes when studying language:

This would be an excellent video to show to IB Theory of Knowledge classes when studying the human sciences:

I’ve seen two headlines comprised of good questions to raise in Theory of Knowledge classes. One of them is interesting, and one of them is important.

The interesting one is What Concept Most Needs a Word in the English Language? It appeared in The Atlantic, and has a number of examples. Posing the question and sharing some of them could be a fun exercise when studying language in TOK.

Would You Hide a Jew From the Nazis? is the important one. It’s a Nicholas Kristof column in The New York Times, and is related to the Ken Burns’ film, Defying The Nazis, that will air later this week (see New Ken Burns Film, “Defying The Nazis,” Looks Good & Has Tons Of Free Teaching Resources). Obviously, this could apply to TOK units in history and ethics.

This new Big Think video could be useful in Theory of Knowledge classes when studying Perception:

Just about every Theory of Knowledge class will be dealing with the famous Trolley Problem (see The Best Videos About The Famous “Trolley Problem”).

Here are a couple of lighthearted additions to that list:

As all teachers understand, it’s critical for students to have – and be able to access – prior knowledge in order to learn something new (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of Prior Knowledge (& How To Activate It) ).

We’re all also supposed to know how important it is for our students to develop critical thinking skills (see The Best Resources On Teaching & Learning Critical Thinking In The Classroom).

A new study has been released that I suspect most IB Theory of Knowledge classes around the world will be incorporating in their discussions of memory’s role in acquiring knowledge.  It found that, as the headline of an article about the study says, The more we know, the easier we are to deceive.

Here’s an excerpt:

People-who-were-more

This is one reason we spend a fair amount of time on the concept of false memories in TOK classes. It sounds like it might be worth discussing in other classes, too.

Roxane Gay has written a powerful essay in The New York Times headlined Nate Parker and the Limits of Empathy. It’s about the recent media attention paid to past rape charges against the actor and director, whose movie, “The Birth Of A Nation,” is coming out soon. It raises important points related to ethics and the arts.

I’m going to have my IB Theory of Knowledge students read it when we are in our Arts unit and have them respond to this prompt:

What does Roxane Gay say about separating “the art and the artist”? To what extent do you agree with what she is saying? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction, where I keep links to multiple prompts.

The topic of whether we live in a computer simulation or not fits right into any exploration of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Here are two new videos about that topic, and I’m adding them to my Theory of Knowledge class blog post that includes “Cave” videos and resources, including many student-created ones.

MIT has created what’s got to be the most engaging online version of the age-old ethical trolley dilemma in its “Moral Machine.”

They’re take on the problem is that you are designing the moral decisions a self-driving car has to make. You’re given thirteen scenarios and, after you’re done, you can see how your answers compare to those of previous participants.

The best part, though, of the site comes next. You can then create your own scenario that others can play!

I think it’s safe to say that for as long as this site is up, any IB Theory of Knowledge class that has access to technology will be playing it during their Ethics unit.

You can read more about it at Slate’s article, Should a Self-Driving Car Kill Two Jaywalkers or One Law-Abiding Citizen?
Here’s a short video from the site:

This new video is a great one for showing IB Theory of Knowledge classes when discussing Imagination as a Way of Knowing.

In it, Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian, talks about imagination being the key to the success of humanity:

A new study has come out finding that we are more inclined to believe that people have acted intentionally after we see them in slow motion.

You can read about it in these two pieces:

This infamous Draymond Green clip shows how slow motion can bias referees is from The Washington Post.

The Problem With Slow Motion is from The New York Times.

As the Post article explains:

The researchers believe that slow motion makes it appear that a person has more time to think, plan and then act than they really do. Thus, slow-motion video could create the illusion that a person is acting intentionally when he or she is not.

“Seeing something in slow motion gives you the false impression that the actor had more time to act, so it feels more premeditated,” Caruso said. “When you see it in slow motion it just has this, like, air of inevitability.”

And the Post illustrates the point with this Draymond Green video from the NBA playoffs (it also has a video of a shooting that I wouldn’t feel comfortable showing to my class):

Since we’re in Northern California, many of my students will be familiar with this incident.

I plan on showing the video to my Theory Of Knowledge classes when we’re studying Perception, then ask them if they think it was intentional – why or why not. Then I’ll explain what the study found, and ask students to think and discuss what the reasons might be for the research finding. After a short discussion, I’ll tell them what the researchers said about it.

The purpose of the unit is to help students see how and when Perception can help and hinder our search for knowledge, and this is a perfect example.

Here are two videos that I’m adding to The Best Resources For Learning About The Atomic Bombings Of Japan. I think I will be showing both of them to my Theory of Knowledge classes when we study ethics and debate whether the decision to drop the bombs was the correct one or not:

Crash Course has this relatively new video on Pascal’s Wager, and it’s a good one for IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

My big critique of it, though, is the same one I have for all of Crash Course’s videos – he’s speaks so darn fast. Proficient English speakers should be able to get it, but English Language Learners (and I have many in my TOK course) are going to find it tough to access:

Sometimes, I am amazed by how clueless I can be…

I recently learned from a friend about a popular ABC series called “What Would You Do?” It’s basically a much edgier and updated version of “Candid Camera” dealing with important ethical issues. And, apparently, it’s been on TV for years.

It’s absolutely perfect when teaching ethics to IB Theory of Knowledge classes!

Here are three links to their resources:

Here’s the show’s site at ABC. It has a number of videos, as well as short and accessible articles describing a number of the scenarios they use.

They also have a great quiz, asking questions and giving you choices, along with showing video clips of what people actually did in those situations.

And, finally, there’s the show’s YouTube Channel, which has a great selection of their shows. Here’s one example:

Veritasium published a new video today titled “The Illusion Of Truth.”

It’s about the concept of “cognitive ease,” written about by Nobel-Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. It describes our tendency to make fast and easy decisions.

Here’s how I plan on using it for a short lesson as part of my Theory of Knowledge unit on Human Sciences:

First, I’ll show the video:

Next, I’ll shared edited parts of these three online articles:

Cognitive Ease: The Secret to Great Interviewing

Is Your Thinking Lazy? Or Is It Just a Bad Case Of Cognitive Ease?

Cognitive Ease: The Secret to Great Interviewing Part Two

Then students would answer these questions and then share.

  1. With these definitions as a background, can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you to experience “cognitive ease”? Why?
  2. Can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you to experience “cognitive strain”? Why?
  3. Can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you (and for others) if you created the conditions for them to experience “cognitive ease”? Why?
  4. Can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you (and for others) if you created the conditions for them to experience “cognitive strain”? Why?
  5. Can you think of any times when you could be experiencing “cognitive ease” – both on your own and when others are manipulating the situation so you are having that experience – and it would not be beneficial to you? Why?

Feel free to help me make it a better lesson!

As I continue to revise my IB Theory of Knowledge course, here’s a new small piece I’m adding to my unit on Emotion.

The unit’s culminating project is having students develop a presentation sharing the different ways emotion helps and hinders our search for knowledge.

I’m going to do a short lesson on the movie “Inside Out” immediately prior to giving students instructions on the final project. It will be after we have already spent a few days on the topic.

First, student will read this NY Times article, The Science of ‘Inside Out.’ Here’s a key quote from it:

emotions organize — rather than disrupt — rational thinking. Traditionally, in the history of Western thought, the prevailing view has been that emotions are enemies of rationality and disruptive of cooperative social relations.

I’ll ask students to identify the key points the article makes about the role of emotion in our lives.

After a short discussion, I’ll show the first scene in this collection of clips from the film, which clearly demonstrate how emotions do indeed organizing our thinking:

And then, just for a quick wrap-out, I’ll show the first four minutes of this clip giving a scientific overview of the science behind how the movie viewed emotions:

Any other ideas?

As part of one of my newly-revised Theory of Knowledge lessons — this one on the Arts – we’ll be exploring the role of emotion in the arts.

Prior to answering some questions, I’m going to show students some examples from these resources and ask them what emotions they trigger in the listener/viewer, and how do they do it? I’ll also ask students to share classroom appropriate music that they believe elicits emotions, too.

Here are the ones I have so far – feel free to suggest more, particularly in mediums I’m not listing now:

Art and Emotion from Artsology.

25 Of The Most Creative Sculptures And Statues From Around The World

Top 10 Paintings Which Define Human Emotion

These Human Sculptures Actually Convery Their Emotions

Famous Artworks Inspired by Their Creators’ Nervous Breakdowns

I accumulate links to TOK-related articles and resources on the Delicious bookmarking site, and now have 2,600 categorized into the all the TOK “Ways of Knowing” and “Areas of Knowledge.” I typically add about twenty or so new ones each month.

However, they don’t necessarily include all the resources I share in my regular Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources posts.

You can find most of them here.

However, for some weird reason, not quite all of the “tags” are visible at that link. Here are direct links to the WOK and AOK resources not listed in the above link:

Knowledge

Logic and Reason (They’re separate, but all related. I think I first started using the logic tag and later switched to reason)

Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Imagination

Intuition (though most are still in the Emotion category)

Human Sciences

Memory

I used to have a good sheet distinguishing “information” from “knowledge,” but misplaced it.

In searching online, I found two good alternatives.

One is this short blog post, How to explain the difference between knowledge and information

The other is this short slideshow:

I think this tweet can be used to – just substitute change the caption on the left to information and label the image on the right “knowledge”:

Let me know if you have found or developed anything better, please!

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

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