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January 17, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Here’s A Nice Lesson I Did On Ethics In My Theory Of Knowledge Class

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This past week, I did a lesson on ethics that I do every year with my IB Theory of Knowledge students. It went very well, and I thought readers might find it useful to hear what I did.

I borrowed and modified it from the IB Theory of Knowledge Course Book. Though we don’t use that textbook with students, I use some of the ideas in it for lessons.

I introduced students to the idea that there five primary sources from where we derive our personal morality:

1. Human Nature
2. Religion
3. Observation & Reason
4. Emotional Empathy
5. Social & Political

I actually had not heard of this list prior to reading the textbook but, after looking it up, it appears to be relatively common (though I can’t find an original source and would love it if readers could identify one).

I then divide students into five groups and assign one of the sources of morality to each one. They have a class period-and-a-half to work together and research online their “source” and each prepare a poster and two-to-three minutes presentation on it. How they research is up to them – they can divide up parts of it and work on their own. Most divided up parts. The one-page listing in the textbook provides examples for each of the five, and those are very helpful (for example, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for human nature and the UN Declaration of Human Rights for social and political). If you do this lesson, I’d suggest you either get the book or identify your own examples for students to use (you can find additional info online that might be useful here, here, and here).

After spending one period researching the info in the library, students had twenty minutes to meet in their groups and create a poster – each student in their group had to create their own, but it was okay if they all looked the same. I gave students in each group a letter, and then the A’s from each group got together, as did the B’s, etc., to meet and present to each other — in other words, it was a “jigsaw.” I told people to listen carefully because the culminating project would be for them to write an explanation using the info they learned saying what they believe are the sources of their own personal morality and why. Oddly, I thought, the textbook has students doing this prior to their investigations.

It all went quite well with a high-level of engagement.

Here are some of the evaluative comments students wrote:

I found it really interesting because I never looked at my morality from all those perspectives. I didn’t realize that there were as many ways to describe and identify our morality.

This morality project helped me understand the people around us and ourselves better.

I learned a little about myself. This enabled me to reflect upon myself and see how I reason with myself.

It was useful because I did not recognize or think about most of these sources.

I really liked learning about the sources of morality because I had never thought about my morals coming from anywhere other than my parents/family.

I liked this activity because it was individual and group work.

Any suggestions on how to improve it and/or where I can find more examples demonstrating each of those five sources of morality — even the textbook doesn’t offer enough of them (in my opinion, at least).

January 1, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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NEW “Fillable” PDF Forms For IB Theory Of Knowledge Presentations

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My 2014 post, New “Fillable” PDF Forms For IB Theory Of Knowledge Presentations & Essays, has been very popular, with TOK teachers from around the world not wanting to brave the IB website just to download some simple forms. Instead, they’ve just gone to that post, and I haven’t heard any objections from IB about my making them available.

Recently, though, I heard from TOK teacher Vladi Stanojevic that, in their infinite wisdom, IB recently decided to make some changes to the Presentations form (the Essay form appears to be the same).

Here’s the new “fillable” PDF Presentations form.

It’s very similar to the old one, except it doesn’t have space for the candidates names since they will be the ones uploading it under their own registration. It does seem odd that they have entirely removed any space for student names, but I’ve given up trying to figure out IB decisions….

December 24, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2015 – Part Two

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It’s time for another “Best” list to add to All My 2015 “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

Here are my picks from the past six months:

The National Review tweeted out this incredibly misleading chart on climate change:

It’s perfect for when we study misleading statistics and graph. You can read more about this at The Washington Post’s Why this National Review’s global temperature graph is so misleading.

As regular readers know, I am continually adding to Over 2,000 Categorized Resources For IB Theory Of Knowledge Classes.

Neil deGrasse Tyson published a short piece in The Huffington Post titled What Science Is — and How and Why It Works. It’s a very safe bet that it will be used as required reading in many IB Theory of Knowledge classes when the definition of “knowledge” is discussed. And I’d bet dollars to donuts that many teachers will be using this accessible column in many other classes, too.

Here’s an excerpt:

Objective-truths-exist

The Virtue of Contradicting Ourselves is the headline of a column by Adam Grant in The New York Times. It’s a great piece to use when discussing “knowledge” in IB Theory of Knowledge classes, and I’m going to use in one of the upcoming lessons for English Language Learners that I write for The New York Times Learning Network. Plus, it offers wisdom that’s good for all of us to keep in mind.

Here’s an excerpt:

Intelligence-is-often

One assignment I learned about at my original IB Theory of Knowledge training was having groups of students invent a classroom appropriate product and have them create a short commercial four of the fallacies that we have studied. I have each group show their video, and then they call on people to identify the fallacies used in it.

Here’s an example of one from this year:

Fallacy Video – Tape

I’m adding it to The Best Multimedia Resources For Learning About Fallacies — Help Me Find More.

I have my IB Theory of Knowledge students work in groups to prepare weekly presentations on our textbook chapters that they read for homework. When we were discussing the role of emotion in the search for knowledge, one of the presentation groups was asked if emotion is sometimes like a voice in our heads that we have to control. I then showed this clip from the National Press Club, which is a perfect example of that in action.

Grammar, Morals & History

This post will be useful when studying history: The Best Posts & Articles On The Textbook That Calls Slaves “Workers”

NPR published A Discoverer Of The Buckyball Offers Tips On Winning A Nobel Prize. It’s a good piece, with a great quote that’s ideal for IB Theory of Knowledge classes:

I-think-the-most

TOK teachers might be interested in this post and the accompanying comments:  Calling All Theory Of Knowledge Teachers: How Did You Feel About How IB Examiners Scored Essays This Year?

Here are some useful resources I use in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, and they are also applicable to other classes:

First, many teachers are familiar with the Jigsaw cooperative learning activity. You can learn more about it at The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas. It’s a regular activity I use in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes (and my ESL courses, too). With my TOK classes, I’ll often print out articles related to the Way Of Knowing or Area of Knowledge topic we’re studying (you can access my Over 2,000 Categorized Resources For IB Theory Of Knowledge Classes here). Then, I distribute these instructions, which pretty much explain how the Jigsaw activity is organized.

Secondly, we spend a few days studying Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. You can see many of those resources at our TOK class blog, along with examples of student videos – they have to create modern versions of it. This year’s students will be showing their own creations on Monday, and I’ll be adding some of them to that class blog post. Students viewing the videos will be using this anonymous evaluation form, which will be completed after each video is viewed, collected, and given to the video’s creators.

“8-Bit Philosophy” Is A Useful Series of Videos

TED-Ed released this excellent video and lesson — perfect for IB Theory of Knowledge classes when studying language:

This video would be a useful one to show when discussing indigenous knowledge systems in IB Theory of Knowledge classes:

In IB Theory of Knowledge classes we examine in both math and human sciences how people taking polls/surveys can manipulate the answers. Here’s a video that would be a nice introduction to the topic (after first explaining to U.S. students the definition of “National Service”):

This video is from PBS, and is a great one for IB Theory of Knowledge teachers when exploring the arts:

Here’s A Writing Prompt I’m Using With My TOK Students On The First Day Of Class

Here’s a good video on perception for teachers of IB Theory of Knowledge classes:

Tons Of Resources On Both The Milgram & Stanford Prison Experiments

“Don’t Judge Too Quickly” Is A Great Series Of Videos For TOK & ELL Students

November 24, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Over 2,000 Categorized Resources For IB Theory Of Knowledge Classes

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching various classes to English Language Learners and to mainstream ninth-graders, I teach the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course. I also regularly share TOK resources here on the blog, and I think it’s pretty popular among TOK teachers around the world.

This post is my regular “quarterly reminder” that, in addition, I accumulate links to articles and resources on the Delicious bookmarking site, and now have over 2,000 categorized into the all the TOK “Ways of Knowing” and “Areas of Knowledge.” I typically add about twenty or so new ones each month.

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

September 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Calling All Theory Of Knowledge Teachers: How Did You Feel About How IB Examiners Scored Essays This Year?

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching several classes to English Language Learners, I also teach IB Theory of Knowledge.

I’ve shared a lot about it on this blog (see The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2015 – So Far).

This was the first time IB graded our TOK essays since the new curriculum guide, which included a new rubric, was implemented. And we were very surprised at the marks. Usually, the examiners generally agreed with the marks we gave them — typically one or two A’s, two or three B’s, and most of the rest C’s. This year, however, the marks were very different from the ones we had given — some A’s were downgraded to C’s; some D’s were upgraded to B’s.

We just received the examiner’s notes from our student essays and, though the Examiner’s comments were pretty minimal (and, in some cases, non-existent), it did seem like our students were “dinged” for using some “hypothetical examples” (which seems like a reasonable critique and, truth be told, I had never raised with students) and for not explicitly connecting examples to answering the question (which I push a lot and, truth be told, I think our students did pretty well).

I’m wondering if our experience – years of basic agreement with Examiner marks and then this year’s dramatic change – reflects other TOK teachers experiences or if it just might be a situation particular to us.

Let me know….

August 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Back-To-School Reminder: Over 2,000 Categorized Resources For IB Theory Of Knowledge Classes

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching various classes to English Language Learners and to mainstream ninth-graders, I teach the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course. I also regularly share TOK resources here on the blog, and I think it’s pretty popular among TOK teachers around the world.

In addition, I accumulate links to articles and resources on the Delicious bookmarking site, and now have over 2,000 categorized into the all the TOK “Ways of Knowing” and “Areas of Knowledge.”

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

July 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Over 2,000 Categorized Resources For IB Theory Of Knowledge Classes

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching various classes to English Language Learners and to mainstream ninth-graders, I teach the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course. I also regularly share TOK resources here on the blog, and I think it’s pretty popular among TOK teachers around the world.

In addition, I accumulate links to articles and resources on the Delicious bookmarking site, and now have over 2,000 categorized into the all the TOK “Ways of Knowing” and “Areas of Knowledge.”

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:

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