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July 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Completed Revised Plan For Theory Of Knowledge Essay – With Lots Of Examples & Resources Included

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I’m definitely making progress this summer as I completely revise how I teach my IB Theory of Knowledge course.

I’ve just 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.

As always, I’d love to hear suggestions on how I cam make it better!

July 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here Is My Revised Six-Week Plan For TOK Oral Presentations, Including A Zillion Examples & Resources

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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 the classroom without every student having a device, but I’ve put everything there so I have it in one place.

I’d love to hear feedback on how I can make it better!

July 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Mini-Lesson On “Cognitive Ease”


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!

July 20, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Learning About Emotion Through “Inside Out”


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?

July 19, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Examples Of Emotion In The Arts


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

July 19, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

These Three Resources On How Presidential Candidates Speak Are Fascinating – Help Me Figure Out How to Use Them In A Lesson

Many Social Studies and IB Theory of Knowledge classes use a presidential election year as an excellent opportunity to analyze political ads. There are many resources related to those kinds of lessons at The Best Sites To Learn About The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections.

I’ve been revising my TOK lessons, and I’m exploring ideas for different lessons I can try. I saw the video embedded below analyzing how Donald Trump talks, as well as these two pieces analyzing the grade level of the candidates’ speeches, and have been trying to think of a way to use them as part of a lesson.

I’m coming up blank, however.

Do you have any ideas? Even if you don’t, though, I think the articles and video are pretty interesting.

July 18, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s The “Homework” I’m Planning For My Theory Of Knowledge Class – Help Me Make It Better


As regular readers know, I’m in the process of completely revising how I teach the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course – for the first time in four years! It’s pretty easy to get into the rut of teaching the same thing year after year…

One of the tasks I’ve had students do is to read a chapter in our text book each week corresponding to the unit we’re studying (Knowledge, Language, History, etc.). Then, they’ve had to write what they think were the three most important concepts and why, and then choose a question at the end of the chapter to write an “ABC” paragraph responding to it (Answer the question; Back it up with evidence from the chapter; make a Connection or Comment elaborating on the point). Then, once a week, students in small groups would meet, share, and prepare short presentations to the class.

Though the presentations were always a high point of the class, I’ve never felt satisfied that the homework was that beneficial (nor of high quality), and the level of higher-order thinking exhibited in the presentations was generally a bit uneven.

I definitely want students to read the chapters, but I’ve modified the homework assignment. As important, I’ve prepared exemplars for the quality of thinking I’d like students to demonstrate. I’m punching myself for not doing that earlier. Students would still meet, share and use them as the basis for their class presentations — picking answers from different people in the group.

You can download the homework sheet with the questions and exemplar responses here. Please review it and let me know how you think I can make it better. I think it might be useful for others subjects, too.

Here are the questions minus the exemplar answers (I don’t have an exemplar for the last question):

  1. What do you think are the three most important concepts in the chapter and why you think they are important? Include examples that DO NOT come out of the textbook.
  1. Pick an important sentence that had an impact on you and explain why it stood out. Connect it to an example that DOES NOT come out of the textbook.
  1. Choose something new you learned from the textbook that you can apply in another class or out-of-school. Give an example of how you would use it. This can be a concept you already shared in the two previous questions as long as your example of how you would apply it in other class or out-of-school is new.
  1. Draw something that represents something you think is an important concept from the chapter (it can be something you already mentioned in answers to previous questions). Describe your drawing, what it represents and how it represents the concept.

July 16, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Difference Between Information & Knowledge

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As regular readers know, I’m in the process of completely revising how I teach the IB Theory of Knowledge curriculum.

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:

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

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