Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“The History Project” Is A Great Resource For Teachers Everywhere

history project

The History Project is led by educators in Pakistan and India who have developed a website and textbook that show each country’s interpretation of their histories — side by side! You can see an image above (reduced in size) from their site.

Not only is a phenomenal resources for students in those two countries, it’s an extraordinary one for teachers everywhere. You can read more about it at NPR: Young Indians And Pakistanis Rewrite Their Shared History

It’s similar to one developed a few years ago by educators in the Middle East. Here’s what I wrote about it in The “Best” Resources For Learning About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:

The Peace Research Institute In The Middle East (PRIME) is an organization comprised of Israelis and Palestinians who have developed high school materials on the Middle East that are used in both communities.  As a Newsweek article explains, each page is divided into three: the Palestinian and Israeli narratives and a third section left blank for the pupil to fill in. “The idea is not to legitimize or accept the other’s narrative but to recognize it..”

All the PRIME materials can be freely downloaded from their site. They are far too advanced for English Language Learners, but the idea can used with modified materials about the Middle East conflict. 

Both these sites are great models for students to help understand the importance of walking in another’s shoes. I use this idea in both history and IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

I’m adding this new resource to A Beginning List Of The Best Geography Sites For Learning About Asia & The Middle East.

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August 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Correlation ≠ causation”

I’m adding this tweet to The Best Online Resources For Teaching The Difference Between Correlation & Causation:

 

Here’s what the plaque says:

THE RAINMAKERS OF 1891

Working on the theory that explosives could cause rainfall because many war battles had been followed by rain, the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted experiments in rainmaking. During a West Texas drought in 1891 the agency brought the experiment to Midland, with some success. Desperate for rain, El Paso city leaders convinced the Department to come here and try the same procedure. On September 18, some 370 charges of dynamite and other explosives were fired from the heights of Mt. Franklin, but no rain resulted. Only a heavy dew was reported. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 – 1986

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June 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2014 – So Far

674839733249917_a-1f599fcb_aYCgUw_pm

As regular readers know, I teach an International Baccalaureate “Theory of Knowledge” class (and, next year, I’ll teach two of them!). Our school structures our IB program a bit differently from many others by having a whole lot of students take individual IB classes; we have relatively few who are taking all IB classes in order to get the IB diploma. I really like this set-up, and it opens up my TOK class to a lot more students.

As I’ve said before, I can’t think of a high school class that would be more fun to teach or more fun to take…

You might also be interested in:

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2013 – So Far

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2012 — Part One

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2011

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources — 2010

Here are my choices for The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2014 – So Far:

Here Are Some Instagram Videos My Theory Of Knowledge Students Created

Here’s The Outline My Theory Of Knowledge Students Will Be Using For Their Essay

TED Talks has unveiled a new site called “Ideas.Ted.com”.

Here’s how they describe it:

ideas.TED.com is built to celebrate this: to track ideas that began decades ago and are now forging our current reality. And to follow new ideas that are still little more than crazy thoughts in their inventors’ heads.

Our goal is to provide useful context, relevant backstories and fresh, thought-provoking ways of looking at ongoing challenges. We’ll provide a smart, friendly space for discussion of the issues worth discussing.

I think it might be useful for TOK

The Internet was awash in discoveries made by Tyler Vigen, who wrote a computer program that discovers strange correlations and publishes them on his blog. I’m definitely adding this info to The Best Online Resources For Teaching The Difference Between Correlation & Causation, which is an important lesson to teach, especially in IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

The old Abbott and Costello “Who’s On First?” routine is used by Theory of Knowledge teachers around the world to illustrate how language can be used to discourage understanding. Jimmy Fallon also did a remake with famous comedians. You can see them both here.

The New York Times recently shared a sad, but funny, video, What Is A Photocopier?, that can be used for the same purpose:

It reminded me of the famous Bill Clinton deposition during the Monica Lewinsky scandal about the meaning of “is.”

You can read about it here and see the famous few seconds in the first video below. I’ve embedded a second video that provides a little more context, though the video itself is of poor quality:

The Onion humor magazine has published a wonderful piece titled Top Theoretical Physicists, R&B Singers Meet To Debate Meaning Of Forever. It’s perfect for IB Theory of Knowledge classes. In fact, it would be a fun model to use and then challenge students to come up with their own parody on TOK topics.  You might also be interested in The Best Education Articles From “The Onion.”

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

The Best Posts On IB Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations

The online bookmarking tool Delicious no longer provides the number of links that are bookmarked in a particular category, but I guesstimate that I must be up to 1,700 or so categorized ones related to the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class.

You can see them all here.

Those are just the ones I’ve bookmarked. If you want to contribute to an even bigger, more “universal” collection, you, too, can use Delicious and add the tag “#TOK” to helpful sites and articles.

Here Is The Simple Outline I’m Having My TOK Students Use For Their Oral Presentation

“Unknown Unknowns” & The Potential Of An Exceptional Theory Of Knowledge Lesson

“The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld (Part 2)” Is As Good As Part One!

Recent Student Projects From My Theory Of Knowledge Class

TED Talks has unveiled a new animation titled “The Long Reach Of Reason.”

Here’s how Chris Anderson at TED describes it:

Two years ago the psychologist Steven Pinker and the philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, who are married, came to TED to take part in a form of Socratic dialog. Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein: The long reach of reasonSteven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein: The long reach of reasonShe sought to argue that Reason was a much more powerful force in history than it’s normally given credit for. He initially defended the modern consensus among psychologists and neurologists, that most human behavior is best explained through other means: unconscious instincts of various kinds. But over the course of the dialog, he is persuaded by her, and together they look back through history and see how reasoned arguments ended up having massive impacts, even if those impacts sometimes took centuries to unfold.

They turned it into a “talk in animated dialogue form.” I’ve embedded it below, and you can read more about it here.

Here’s a great video created by an organization in Norway to raise awareness of the plight of Syrian refugee children. TOK students studying ethics can discuss what they would do….

You can see videotaped examples of Oral Presentations from my students here.

I’m sure most IB Theory of Knowledge teachers use this famous and terrible scene from Sophie’s Choice when discussing ethics and moral dilemmas. However, I realized I never posted it on this blog, and thought it might be useful to others (and to me) to have it here:

I thought IB Theory of Knowledge teachers might be find this Bill Nye clip useful — I use it as part of teaching about pseudo-science:

Emotions Of Sound is a neat interactive that plays different sounds, along with images. You’re then show several different “emotional” words and have to pick the one that the sound and image elicits from you. After each answer, results are shown for how many people have chosen each word. At the end of the all the questions, the site tells you, overall, how alike or different your responses were from others visiting the site.

It’s a great site for English Language Learners to use for learning feelings-related vocabulary, and would be a fun interactive for IB Theory of Knowledge students to use when studying perception.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Learn “Feelings” Words.

The Dangers of Certainty: A Lesson From Auschwitz is an excellent (though somewhat meandering) column in today’s New York Times, written by Simon Critchley.

I think it relates a lot to what I’ve written about teaching and “school reform” in a Washington Post piece titled The importance of being unprincipled. I’ll also be using it in my IB Theory of Knowledge class — I always begin the course by sharing quotations questioning the value of absolute certainty.

Here’s an excerpt, followed by a video accompanying the column:

For-Dr-Bronowski-the

 

More “What If?” History Projects — Plus, What Students Thought Of Them….

Here’s What My IB Theory Of Knowledge Students Are Doing For Their Semester “Final”

Here’s A Cartoon: “Try To See Things From The Other Person’s Perspective”:

i_hereby_declare_that_all_cute_bunnies_be_classified_as_nonhuman_persons

created by Abstruse Goose

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

I’m adding this to The Best Sites For Walking In Someone Else’s Shoes.

This Year’s “What If?” History Presentations

 

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June 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Here Are Some Instagram Videos My Theory Of Knowledge Students Created

'Instagram-logo' photo (c) 2012, José Moutinho - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve previously posted about my plans to have students created Instagram videos as part of their finals (see Using Instagram, Bloom’s Taxonomy & Student Interest As A Fun Part Of A Semester Final).

And I’ve also shared some early examples from my English Language Learners (see Geography Instagram Videos By English Language Learners). They’ve made a lot more since that post, but I’m way behind in uploading them.

My IB Theory of Knowledge students have just begun completing theirs — they are supposed to identify TOK concepts they liked or found particularly interesting and portray them on a video.

Here are the first few (you’ll be able to see a lot more on our class blog next week):

I’ll add this post to The Best Resources For Learning To Use The Video Apps “Vine” & Instagram.

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May 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Here’s The Outline My Theory Of Knowledge Students Will Be Using For Their Essay

'Sprint006 plan' photo (c) 2008, Jez Nicholson - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

There have been lots of changes in IB Theory of Knowledge classes this year, and I’ve written a lot about them.

My students are now finishing up the year writing “practice” essays — IB Diploma candidates won’t receive the official writing prompts from IB until September 1st, so they won’t be able to start on the ones they’ll be submitting to IB until that time.

It doesn’t appear to me that the Essay is one place — and, perhaps, the only place — where IB did not make many changes, apart from a simplified assessment rubric. However, I’m very open to be told that I’m wrong and have missed something.

Judging by IB Examiner marks, my students have generally done well with their essays. You can see students examples and all my essay prep materials at our class blog.

And, finally, here’s a new outline I’ve been having students use.

Let me know how you think I can improve it.

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May 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

TED Talks Starts A New Site, Though I’m Not Really Sure What It Is…

ted

TED Talks has just unveiled a new site called “Ideas.Ted.com”.

Here’s how they describe it:

ideas.TED.com is built to celebrate this: to track ideas that began decades ago and are now forging our current reality. And to follow new ideas that are still little more than crazy thoughts in their inventors’ heads.

Our goal is to provide useful context, relevant backstories and fresh, thought-provoking ways of looking at ongoing challenges. We’ll provide a smart, friendly space for discussion of the issues worth discussing.

I’m not really sure what that means, but I’m still adding it to The Best Teacher Resources For “TED Talks” (& Similar Presentations).

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May 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Great New Way To Teach The Difference Between Correlation & Causation

correlate

via Spurious Correlations

The Internet was awash
today in discoveries made by Tyler Vigen, who wrote a computer program that discovers strange correlations and publishes them on his blog.

I’m definitely adding this info to The Best Online Resources For Teaching The Difference Between Correlation & Causation, which is an important lesson to teacher, especially in IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

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May 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Videos For Theory Of Knowledge: “What Is A Photocopier?”

'a MAZE OF CONFUSION' photo (c) 2008, ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The old Abbott and Costello “Who’s On First?” routine is used by Theory of Knowledge teachers around the world to illustrate how language can be used to discourage understanding. Jimmy Fallon also did a remake with famous comedians. You can see them both here.

The New York Times recently shared a sad, but funny, video, What Is A Photocopier?, that can be used for the same purpose:

It reminded me of the famous Bill Clinton deposition during the Monica Lewinsky scandal about the meaning of “is.”

You can read about it here and see the famous few seconds in the first video below. I’ve embedded a second video that provides a little more context, though the video itself is of poor quality:

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April 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Best Onion Article Ever For TOK Classes: “Top Theoretical Physicists, R&B Singers Meet To Debate Meaning Of Forever”

onion

The Onion humor magazine has just published a wonderful piece titled Top Theoretical Physicists, R&B Singers Meet To Debate Meaning Of Forever.

It’s perfect for IB Theory of Knowledge classes. In fact, it would be a fun model to use and then challenge students to come up with their own parody on TOK topics.

You might also be interested in The Best Education Articles From “The Onion.”

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April 20, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

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

'opening frames of the simpsons movie' photo (c) 2007, hillary h - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Generally, the only times students in my classes watch full movies are the few times I’m absent (though we’ll often watch short clips), and when I’m not there it usually relates to a school-related meeting.

All of the English teachers at our school spend four days each year — two near the beginning and two near the end — to review writing assessments all students in our school do twice a year (you can read all about that process at a previous post). Two of those days are coming-up and, since substitute teachers aren’t allowed to supervise computer use, I’m going to have my IB Theory of Knowledge class students watch a movie.

They’ll be watching “Inception” (you can download the hand-out they need to complete while watching it).

It also got me wondering about other movies that might be useful for TOK classes, too.

I have my students watch The Matrix as part of a lesson on Plato’s Allegory of The Cave, and you can see that lesson here.

I did a quick online search, and found three sites that offered other good suggestions:

Theory of Knowledge Filmography

The Student Room

IB Survival

What are your suggestions?

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April 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Posts On IB Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations

'spring 2012 hackNY student hackathon presentations' photo (c) 2012, hackNY.org - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Along with teaching English Language Learners at all levels and mainstream English classes, I also get to teach the International Baccalaureate Theory Of Knowledge course. In fact, it looks like I’ll get to teach two of them next year!

I regularly blog about TOK, and you can see all my annual lists of the the best TOK resources here.

I’ve also been inviting guest commentaries on all the changes that IB has begun instituting in TOK classes this year, and you can see those at:

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

The Best Posts On Teaching TOK “Knowledge Questions”

Changes have come to the TOK Oral Presentation, too, and here are all my posts on that topic:

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

Here Is The Simple Outline I’m Having My TOK Students Use For Their Oral Presentation

Guest Post: More On Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations

Guest Post: Commentary On Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations

Feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments section.

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April 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Guest Post: Commentary On Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations

'spring 2012 hackNY student hackathon presentations' photo (c) 2012, hackNY.org - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I’ve been publishing guest commentaries on all the changes this year in International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes, and you can see them all here.

And here’s another one!

Today’s piece is from Brad Ovenell-Carter. Brad is the director of educational technology and TOK department head at Mulgrave School, an independent, coed K12 IB World School in Vancouver, Canada. Like Mark Twain, he thinks the ancients stole all out good ideas. And he wants them back:

I really like the general move towards more holistic learning and assessment in TOK. The old, analytic approach lead to monolithic interpretations of the areas of knowledge and to so-called “naked ways of knowing.” The essay, in particular, is much improved by the new global impression marking.

The oral presentation guide never had quite the same flaw as its assessment tool was always more global. Still, it too is made better in the new guide and I especially appreciate the renewed emphasis on finding practical applications of TOK.

Nevertheless, I am quite bothered by a thought experiment:

Suppose after working with her teacher and following the new TOK oral presentation guide, a student submits a perfect planning document for her TOK oral presentation. Then suppose at the last minute she ditches her original idea and documentation and on the day of her presentation delivers an inspired and brilliant session on something completely different–without any supporting documents.

Now, would she write her planning document retroactively? Even if that were permissible, why would I ask her to do that? When I hear a great lecture I don’t ask to see the planning document, I just listen. I have Hans Rosling’s planning notes for a lecture he gave to 1600 people and they are literally only a thin sketch of his characteristically compelling presentation. Would I have to fail her on the grounds that she didn’t tell me what she was going to say? That makes no sense for the same reason. Can a TOK presentation be made without a planning document? The guide says no.

I am not at all suggesting there should be no planning. I do question whether the heightened importance of the planning document in the new guide effectively asks us to assess how well the the presentation matched the planning document, not the presentation itself.

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April 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Guest Post: More On Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations

'MSc REM geomodelling course, Tomsk 2014' photo (c) 2014, HWUPetroleum - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Regular readers know that I teach many different classes, including an International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class, and share many TOK resources here.

IB has made many changes this year to the Theory of Knowledge course and, along with writing my own thoughts on them, I’ve invited others to write guest posts, too.

Here are some of them:

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

The Best Posts On Teaching TOK “Knowledge Questions”

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

Here Is The Simple Outline I’m Having My TOK Students Use For Their Oral Presentation

Recently, I’ve invited guests to write about the changes to the TOK Oral Presentation. Prof. Crow is writing on behalf of TOK Tutor. He’s a retired teacher specialising in TOK writing & presentation skills:

New TOK Curriculum – First exam 2015

The TOK Presentation

The presentation has always been a highlight of the TOK calendar, allowing students to show off the ideas that inspire them and about which they feel passionate.  The new Guide doesn’t change any of that; it just highlights the key phases that students must consciously adopt in preparing and presenting those ideas.

Here they are:

  1. ‘Extraction’ of the KQ from a real life situation
  2. ‘Progression’ of the exploration that is made
  3. ‘Application’ of the analysis to other real life situations

What does all this mean?

As for extracting your KI, see previous posts on Larry’s blog about the new ‘Knowledge Questions’.

‘Progression’ implies addressing your KQ through a series of arguments and counter arguments.  Students often turn a presentation into a for/against debate.  This is NOT the meaning of ‘progression’.  While you must employ this argument structure in the presentation, you must do so by a) incorporating TOK terminology to build your arguments and c) ground your arguments from a variety of perspectives (eg. individual vs shared perspectives within specific AOKs).

Here’s a snapshot of an example (the underlined expressions highlight specific vocabulary that links to your KQ):

Presentation Title: ‘Miracles’

RLS: The weeping and bleeding Statue of Christ in Bolivia – during Holy Week of 1995

KQ: To what extent is the evidence presented to justify miracles reliable?

Perspective: H Science (Psychology)

Argument: Up to 30,000 people at Traberhof outside Rosenheim near Munich in September 1949, where many mass and distant healings occurred through influence of Bruno Groening.

The frequency of reported spiritual healings by non-believers or atheists suggests that at least some of them MUST be real.

Counter claim: Mysterious disappearances around the ‘Bermuda Triangle’.

Given what we know about human beings and their tendency to experience weird and wacky things, we should expect such miracle healing experiences anyway, so the fact people do have them doesn’t give us much grounds for supposing there is a miracle happening.

You should now be able to see how ‘application’ works: as part of building arguments you can also integrate other real examples, even other KQs that emerge as you analyse them.

Always remember: the presentation must advance your arguments from the first real life situation that inspired you personally to the wider world through the guiding frame of your KQ.

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April 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Check Out 1,700 Categorized Theory Of Knowledge Links

'Links by Clips' photo (c) 2010, Keith Ramsey - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The online bookmarking tool Delicious no longer provides the number of links that are bookmarked in a particular category, but I guesstimate that I must be up to 1,700 or so categorized ones related to the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class.

You can see them all here.

Those are just the ones I’ve bookmarked. If you want to contribute to an even bigger, more “universal” collection, you, too, can use Delicious and add the tag “#TOK” to helpful sites and articles.

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April 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Here Is The Simple Outline I’m Having My TOK Students Use For Their Oral Presentation

'ground 1 outline' photo (c) 2012, Elle Ko - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve previously posted about my questions and ideas related to the new changes in the required International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge Presentation (see “The Times They Are a-Changin’”…For IB Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations), and invited other teachers to weigh-in, too.

In that post, I shared a downloadable version of the new TOK Presentation Planning Document, as well as links to all the materials and timeline I use in my class related to the Presentation.

Today, I’d like to share two other documents that you might want to download.

The first one is an Exemplar Presentation Planning Document that IB has made available if you can navigate its serpentine website. I think it’s very useful for students and teachers alike.

The second is a new simple outline
I’ve developed for my students to use prior to completing the official Planning Document. It takes into consideration my understanding (which, admittedly, is limited) of the new requirements.

Any and all feedback on it is welcome – it’s working well for my students now, but I’m sure it can be made better….

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March 29, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

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

'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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March 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld (Part 2)” Is As Good As Part One!

'Donald Rumsfeld, painted portrait _DDC6746.jpg' photo (c) 2008, thierry ehrmann - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Yesterday, I posted about Part One of Errol Morris multi-part series in The New York Times on The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld (see “Unknown Unknowns” & The Potential Of An Exceptional Theory Of Knowledge Lesson).

Part Two just came out, and it’s as good as Part One.

Here’s an excerpt:

The known known, the known unknown and the unknown unknown seemingly have straightforward interpretations. Or do they? Things we know we know — like the name of the president of the United States or the capital of France. And things we know we don’t know — like the exact population of Kathmandu. (I know I don’t know it.) Things we know we don’t know but we can look them up, say on Wikipedia. Like the atomic number of tungsten. (It’s 74. I just looked it up.) Or things that we know we don’t know but need to be investigated. (Who killed JonBenét Ramsey? I don’t know, but someone probably does know — the killer? — although I know I don’t know who that person is.) Things that our enemies know but may not be known to us. (How many atomic warheads are there in North Korea?) And then, of course, there are the things I once knew but can’t remember. It goes on and on and on. It begs us to answer the question what does it mean to know something? Or to know that we know something? Or to know that we don’t know something? Doesn’t it depend on evidence?

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March 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Unknown Unknowns” & The Potential Of An Exceptional Theory Of Knowledge Lesson

'Donald Rumsfeld' photo (c) 2011, Gage Skidmore - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

One of Donald Rumsfeld’s most famous – if not his most famous – utterance was his “unknown unknowns” response at a press conference related to Iraq (you can see a video of it at the end of this post).

Now, filmmaker Errol Morris has just published The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld (Part 1) over at The New York Times, the first in a four-part series.

I don’t know what the next three parts are going to look like, but this first one is full of great ideas for use in IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

In fact, between the Rumsfeld video and the abundance of insights in Morris’ column, I’m not even sure how or where to begin.

I’m going to ruminate a lot more on it, but I’m also hopeful that other TOK teachers will take a look at it and offer suggestions in the comments. Some of you may already be using the Rumsfeld video in your classes, and I can’t believe I haven’t thought about it prior to today!

Here’s the video:

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March 23, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Do You Teach IB Theory Of Knowledge & Are You Looking For The New Presentation Planning Document?

'Grade 12 IB Celebration of Learning Night at Shekou International School' photo (c) 2012, Thomas Galvez - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

There have been lots of changes in IB Theory of Knowledge classes this year, and they are not making it any easier to cover everything in two semesters.

These changes include ones related to the required Oral Presentation. The old TOK Planning Document is no longer the one we’re supposed to be using.

Chris Coey, one of my colleagues at Luther Burbank High School, fortunately went to a TOK training this past summer and came back with the new version. We couldn’t find it online, and he was kind enough to retype it exactly the way it looks, including the format. You can download it here.

And, while I’m posting about TOK, here’s another useful resource:

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