Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Video: “See Eyewitness Testimony Fail”

Studies abound on the lack of confidence in eyewitness testimony, and teaching about it is a staple in International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes when we cover “perception.”

The Pacific Standard just published a useful related article titled See Eyewitness Testimony Fail—Right Before Your Eyes that contained this great video I’ll be using next week in class:

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September 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Wondering How To Handle A Controversial Topic In Class? What We Did This Week Worked Out Very Well

As all teachers know, controversial topics can be very tricky to handle in class. Here’s a process I used in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes this past week they went far better than I had expected, and I think this series of lessons might be able to be applied to other classes.

FIRST DAY: I introduced The Belief-Knowledge Continuum from our IB textbook. You can find it the continuum online in many places and it just so happens that our textbook’s version is available at Google Books. I’m not sure who originated it, so I’m wary of reproducing it in this post. But it’s really very simple — a number scale from negative ten to positive ten, with a few labels including impossible, probable and certain. “Probable” is also labeled “Belief” and “Certain” is labeled “knowledge.”

TOK’s definition of knowledge is “justified true belief.” This continuum doesn’t mean that belief is worse than knowledge. It just means that though we might believe something, we just don’t “know” for sure.

Then, our textbook lists a few items asking students to place them on the continuum (Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, Murder is wrong) — you can see the list here.

I have students work in pairs to create their own poster plotting each of those items and providing an explanation of why they placed it there. Students then share their charts and discuss where they agree and disagree.

SECOND DAY: Students read an excerpt from the philosopher Ruben Abel’s book “Man is the Measure.” In it, he lists the different kinds of “evidence” people use to justify their knowledge. You can find that excerpt here (I only use the section following the heading “Good Reasons”). In groups of three, students make a poster ranking the types of evidence from the one they think is most convincing to least convincing; they have to provide an example; be prepared to defend their ranking; and draw a picture representing each type of evidence.

THIRD DAY: In a “speed-dating” style (groups facing each other, and then when one group is done one of the lines moves to the next group while the other line remains where they are), students share and discuss their “evidence” poster. However, they use a specific process for their discussion.

Teach Thought has published a nice “26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom.” I adapted them and created a shorter list just showing their “Clarifying,” “Agreeing,” and “Disagreeing” questions. Students used them to guide their discussions with each group. I was the timer, and was flexible in both speeding it up and slowing it down:

  1. First minute: each group read and reviewed the other’s poster
  2. Second minute: one group asked clarifying questions from the sheet
  3. Third minute: the other group asked clarifying questions from the sheet
  4. Fourth minute: one group using the agreeing stems
  5. Fifth minute: the other group used the agreeing stems
  6. Sixth minute: one group used the disagreeing stems
  7. Seventh minute: the other group used the disagreeing stems

Students would then switch to discuss with another group (we did it about three or four times). In addition, I had asked students to keep in mind which poster they liked the best, and which disagreement they found most interesting.

After “speed-dating,” students met in their groups for a few minutes to discuss their favorite poster and which disagreement they found most interesting, and each group then gave a very short report.

After providing the group with the “winning” poster a dried fruit prize, I then gave students a half-piece of paper to write anonymously if they liked the use of the question/sentence stems and to say why or why not. I hadn’t tried using them before and want to get honest reactions. In both of my 35 student classes, everyone except for one or two students like them a lot and felt that without them the discussions would not have been productive.

FOURTH DAY: The warm-up activity was students writing down their response to:

Should we respect people’s racist or sexist beliefs? Why or why not? What might be the reasons they are using to justify those racist and sexist beliefs?

After a short discussion, I introduced a sheet developed by TOK teacher Remi Vicente called “Problems of Knowledge.” Basically, it’s a list of many of the reasons why people often confuse their “beliefs” with actual “knowledge.”

In their same groups of three, students reviewed the list and identified which ones they felt were the five most common “problems of knowledge.”

FIFTH DAY: In their same groups of three, I gave each a first section of that day’s daily newspaper (in one class, we also had access to computers) and distributed these instructions (here they are as a downloadable hand-out):

1) Take out the Belief knowledge continuum and your types of evidence poster.

2) Get with your group that developed the types of evidence poster.

3) Look at newspapers, news magazines and online news sites to identify current events – between two and five of them

4) Where are your chosen current events on the continuum – what is guiding the action of the primary person/people involved in the current events you chose. There may be more than one, and they might need to be “plotted” differently. Explain your decision.

5) Look at the types of evidence poster. Identify what evidence each of the primary people are using to justify their actions.

6) Look at the problems of knowledge sheet and poster you made. What flaws, if any, are the primary people making?

7) Make a simple poster for each current event showing where on the continuum you placed the current event and why, they type of evidence and flaws. Be prepared to share with class.

Students chose a variety of events, including President Obama’s de facto declaration of war against Islamic militants, the Ray Rice controversy, and the killing of Michael Brown. Because of the activities we did earlier, the quality and tone of the discussions was at an incredibly high intellectual level — examining evidence, points of view, and reasoning.

I also have to say that, perhaps for one of the few times in my years of teaching Theory of Knowledge, students really “got” how what they were learning could be applied to the world outside of school.

Admittedly, it took a lot of time. But, with this background, I think we can approach future discussions of current events in similar vein without all the days of preliminary build-up.

Let me know what you think of this series of lessons, and how you think I can make it better!

Coincidentally, Luis Vilson has just published a good post over at Edutopia with additional ideas on how to handle controversial topics in the classroom.

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September 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

1,700 Categorized Links For IB Theory Of Knowledge Course

As regular readers know, I’ve been accumulating teaching/learning resources for the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class ever since I began to teach it a few years ago.

The collection is now up to nearly 1,700 links that are categorized by Ways of Knowing and Areas of Knowledge, and you can access them all here.

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September 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Author Of Newest IB Theory Of Knowledge Textbook Has Begun A Blog

9780199129737

Eileen Dombrowski is the co-author of the newest IB Theory Of Knowledge textbook, and has previously written guest posts on this blog.

She’s now writing her own blog, which is a “must-follow” for any TOK teacher. Here’s her description:

Eileen Dombrowski, lead author of the IB Theory of Knowledge Course Companion (OUP, 2013), has recently launched a TOK blogsite that complements the course overview of the TOK book with regular fresh comments on ideas and events in the news. In the traditional spirit of TOK educational sharing, the blog and associated resources are free. It’s also easy to sign up to follow the blog by email to receive fresh posts as they are added. Check it out: Activating TOK: thinking clearly in the world

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September 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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New “Fillable” PDF Forms For IB Theory Of Knowledge Presentations & Essays

I recently wrote about some new changes for teachers and students in International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge courses (see More Theory Of Knowledge Changes From IB).

Thanks to my colleague, Chris Coey, who braved the IB TOK website to get them, here are the new planning forms for the oral presentation and essay.

They are “fillable.” In other words, you can type and save data directly into them.

TK PPD form for presentations

ToK Essay Planning and Progress Form

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September 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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More Theory Of Knowledge Changes From IB

Over the past year, the International Baccalaureate program has been making lots of changes to the Theory of Knowledge course, and I’ve posted about them all.

The changes continue…

IB just sent out a document to all IB Coordinators sharing even more changes around the TOK oral presentation and the essay.

In regards to the presentation, I’ve already published a number of posts about the new planning documents (Here Is The Simple Outline I’m Having My TOK Students Use For Their Oral Presentation). The additional change, though, is for group presentations:

Please note that each candidate must submit a planning and presentation document. For group presentations, each candidate in the group will submit to their teacher, their own form which will be identical to the forms submitted by the other members of the group.

Of course, that’s a bit inconsistent with the actual IB form, which asks for all group member names and then asks for each group member to sign it. But, hey, Emerson did say, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”

For the essay, IB says students now have to complete something called “Theory of knowledge: planning and progress form” that will be submitted with the essay. I haven’t seen it yet since I find the IB site rather Byzantinian both to log-into and to search.

IB also has now provided a three-part structure we’re supposed to follow in working with students on the essay:

In an initial interaction the candidate and teacher should discuss the prescribed titles with the aim of enabling the candidate to choose the most appropriate title; in an interim interaction the candidate may present the teacher with his or her work (an exploration) in some written form which might resemble a set of notes and ideas once a significant amount of progress has been made; and in a final interaction, towards the end of the process, candidates may present a full draft of the essay, and teachers may provide written comments of a global nature (but is not permitted to mark or edit this draft).

Let me know if you get a copy of the essay “planning and progress form” before I do….

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August 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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New Theory Of Knowledge Resources: 2015 Essay Titles & A Cool Diagram

As regular readers know, I have been teaching International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes at our school for years, along with many other courses. This year, for the first time, I’m excited to be teaching two TOK classes that also include several of my former English Language Learner students.

Thanks to TheoryofKnowledge.net, I just learned that IB released the May 2015 essay titles. You can find them at the TOK.net site or at our class blog.

In addition to learning about the new titles today, I saw this neat looking TOK diagram on Twitter this morning. It will probably look bizarre to anyone not familiar with TOK. However, to a TOK teacher, it looks pretty impressive:

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August 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“If you’re observant about things happening around you, there are insights waiting to be discovered”

Parking Behavior May Reflect Economic Drive is the title of an NPR piece on a new study suggesting that a nation’s economic health can be evaluated by if its drivers back-in or drive-forward into a parking space.

The study itself has big enough holes through which you could drive a truck, but that’s not that important for how I envision using it in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class when we study human sciences.

The key point is made by NPR’s science correspondent at the end:

What-I-find-really

I think I’m going to have my TOK students read the NPR piece and many of the comments (while also looking at the issue of causation versus correlation), and then have them design a simple experiment (that they wouldn’t actually carry out) based on what they see around them and, at the same time, look at it through the lens of causation versus correlation.

For example, they could design an experiment studying if students who arrive last at their classes have lower grades than those who arrive first or if teachers who arrive at school forty-five minutes earlier at school are “better” teachers than those who arrive fifteen minutes earlier. Then, they could also discuss how causation versus correlation would fit into it.

What do you think? Are there ways I could make it a better lesson?

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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
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“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
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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
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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
3 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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