Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Excellent History Question For Students: “What Are History’s Biggest Turning-Point Years?”

'The Death of General Wolfe at Quebec (1759)' photo (c) 2012, Special Collections Toronto Public Library - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

What Are History’s Biggest Turning-Point Years? is a very interesting headline in a Slate article which, in turn, is based on this research based on a review of 120 years worth of dissertation titles.

Here’s what they concluded:

Unexpectedly for me, 1763, the year the Seven Years’ War ended and also a key date in the run-up to the American Revolution, turns out to be the year that most exceeds expectations. Next up are the more obvious dates of 1914, 1789, 1848, and 1776.

It seems to me that it would be a great question to ask my history and Theory of Knowledge students: What do you think the biggest turning-point year in World History or U.S. History? Provide evidence supporting your response.

Print Friendly

December 28, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“the danger of not having your own stories”

A tweet today from Carol Jago today reminded me of one of my favorite quotes.

It’s from the late Chinua Achebe who, in an interview where he spoke about “the danger of not having your own stories,” said:

There-is-that-great

The importance of who is telling the story is a critical one in history, broader social change, and education.

I highlighted it earlier today in my post titled From The Archives: “English Language Learners and the Power of Personal Stories” and have also written about it in Students Remember More When They Tell Stories.

David B. Cohen and I led a workshop on the topic a few years back as it relates to education policy, and David wrote two posts on the idea: “The Danger of a Single Story” Part One and Part Two.

And, of course, in IB Theory of Knowledge, the idea of who is telling the story in in history an important part of the course.

Any additional ideas on how we can lift-up our students stories, make sure our stories as teachers are part of the policy debate, and highlight the stories of the “hunted lions” in history?

Print Friendly

December 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2013 – Part Two

517195955789083_a-b9920e3f_I7azUg_pm

As regular readers know, I teach an International Baccalaureate “Theory of Knowledge” class. Our school structures our IB program a bit differently from many others by having a whole lot of students take individual IB classes and 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 – 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 2013 – Part Two:

The Best Posts On Teaching TOK “Knowledge Questions”

Unspeak is described as:

an interactive documentary investigating the manipulative power of language.

The site looks pretty wild and, if you can figure it out, engaging. I think it would be useful for IB Theory Of Knowledge classes when studying language.

Here’s an introductory video to it:

One of the major projects I had students do this year was a presentation on the Ways of Knowing, and how each one can help and hinder a search for knowledge. There has been a fair amount of discussion about if, in light of the new TOK Course Guide, if the WOK should be taught separately (see The Best Commentaries On The New IB Theory Of Knowledge Teaching Guide). I’ve decided to continue to do so, and it seems to be working out well.

You can read the instructions for this project at our class blog, as well as seeing the PowerPoints different small groups prepared for their presentation.

My original intention was to have most, if not all, also create an audio narrated version of their slides using Screencast-o-Matic after they gave their presentations to the class. However, we ended up being pressed for time as we neared Thanksgiving break. One group was able to do so, and I’ve embedded it below.

I think the whole project went well. Creating the presentation, giving it, and then listening to them, all provided opportunities for formative assessment, review, and practice for the TOK presentations they have to do in the spring.

Let me know what you think, and please share your ideas on how we could have done it better…

“The Challenger Disaster” was shown on the Discovery Channel and The Science Channel, and it was an impressive movie. Even though I’ve blogged a lot about Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, I was not aware of his critical role in determining the cause of that space shuttle disaster.

You can see clips from the movie here and read about it this New York Times article.

It could certainly be used in IB Theory of Knowledge classes as part of a discussion about why some people don’t want knowledge to be found, and to also help teach the scientific method.

Here’s a video of Feynman’s climatic moment at the actual hearings:

Here’s a good image useful for teaching Perception in IB Theory of Knowledge classes:

 

For teachers of the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course, I thought I’d how I introduce the concept of “intuition” (as I’m sure you’ll know if you’re a TOK teacher, intuition used to be taught as part of the “emotion” Way of Knowing, but has now “graduated” to being its own WOK).

An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation is our entry point….

First, I show a clip introducing the characters Data and Geordi, usually using this scene (it still boggles my mind that so few students have ever seen the show). You can also show the actual scene here:

Secondly, I pass out the section of the script for the “The Defector” episode where Geordi explains to Data what it means to have a “gut” feeling (it’s scene 44) and students act it out in pairs among themselves (I push them to have fun with it).

Thirdly, I ask them to come up with a one sentence summary of how Geordi explained what a gut feeling (intuition) means and ask if they agree or disagree with it and why. We come back as a class and /discuss.

Finally, if I’m feeling ambitious and we have time for it, I have a few volunteers come to the front to act it out and videotape their performance, which I’ll then post on our class blog. Here’s one example, and you can see more here.

How do you introduce the concept of intuition, and do you have any interesting lessons you’d like to share?

Wendi Pillars (you can read her blog here and follow her on Twitter here) sent me this great series of videos.

Here’s what she wrote:

They’re rich for material!
Perception, bias, expectations, “acting one’s age”, advertisement as persuasion…etc….

I agree. They’d be particularly good for a Theory of Knowledge class when discussing perception, and, as Wendi mentions, great for any class studying advertising.

Even if you don’t have any interest in those topics, though, they are a must-watch for anyone who’s a basketball fan!

The Best Videos Of Tom Lehrer’s Songs

A Halloween scare can sharpen the brain is an excellent article on emotion for IB Theory Of Knowledge classes. It’s from The Los Angeles Times.

Here’s how it begins:

Halloween is the time to indulge those seemingly pathological cravings to get scared out of your skull. Who in their right mind would subject themselves to blood-splattery horror movies or haunted houses blaring high-pitched screams while serving bowls of grapes dressed as slimy, edible eyeballs? Lots of us, and experts say good can actually come from these predilections.

Fear protects us

“People think being afraid is a bad thing, but the reason we evolved to be afraid is that the world is pretty dangerous and we’ve evolved very powerful systems that automatically force us to do our natural defensive and protective behaviors,” says Michael Fanselow, a UCLA behavioral neuroscientist.

Some fears are learned; others are encoded in our DNA: Rotting flesh (we’re looking at you, zombies), snakes, blood, heights — even our tiny-brained ancestors understood these were unsafe. And the fear prompted immediate responses, Fanselow says.

I have a “The Best” list called The Best Video Clips Of Sneaky Critters that includes great clips to show to English Language Learners and then have them describe what they see. I also use them in my IB Theory of Knowledge class in a discussion about if animals have ethics. Here’s a new addition:


Here’s a project we do when studying language: students have to build free-standing towers with two sheets of paper, a 10 inch piece of tape, ten paper clips, and a scissors — without talking, and complete it in twenty minutes. We were studying what ideas could — and couldn’t — be communicated with gestures.

Afterword, students discuss what ideas were easy or hard to communicate, and if complex ideas required using words.

Here’s a photo of the winning group this year and their leaning tower:

image

You can see all their creations at our TOK class blog.

I’ve previously posted about Bridge 8′s great critical thinking animations, which I’ve used in IB Theory of Knowledge classes. Now they’ve come out with another series of animations, this time on “This Thing Called Science.”:

The Best Online Resources For Teaching The Difference Between Correlation & Causation

An Illustrated Book Of Bad Arguments is a freely available online book that has wonderful illustrations of logical fallacies.

It’s perfect for IB Theory of Knowledge classes, and I’m adding it to The Best Multimedia Resources For Learning About Fallacies.

Here are some examples from it:

Slippery Slope:

Illustrated-Fallacies-Slippery-Slope

Straw Man:

strawman

Appeal To Bandwagon:

appeal_to_bandwagon

Guest Post: “IB TOK: Making Claims and Seeking Truth Lesson”

Floating In My Mind is a short animated video about making memories and losing them.

I think it could be an interesting movie to show to my English Language Learners to see how they would describe what they saw — I wonder if all would describe it literally or if some, unprompted, would see the deeper story it’s trying to tell.

And I also think it would be a good video to show Theory of Knowledge students when studying memory, one of the new Ways Of Knowing.

First Draft: My Theory Of Knowledge Lesson About Syria Next Monday — Help Me Make It Better

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

This is not only a very funny video, but it’s also one that can be used in classroom lessons. I’m thinking specifically of IB Theory of Knowledge when we learn about perception.

Thanks to Judie Haynes for the tip.

Here’s a great illustration on the shelf-life of knowledge that’s perfect for IB Theory Of Knowledge classes. I can see using this as a model, and then having students develop their own (along with their justifications).

of_course_all_of_my_comic_books_are_in_the_forever_section

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

Place Pulse is a site from MIT that shows you two Google Street View images from around the world, and then asks you to “vote” on which one looks “livelier”; “safer” or any number of other comparative adjectives (you can switch them by clicking on the question mark).

It’s an intriguing way to teach comparative adjectives to English Language Learners, as well as having IB Theory of Knowledge students explore perception.

If You’re Ever Teaching About Racial Profiling, You Definitely Want To Show This Video:

How My IB Theory Of Knowledge Students Evaluated Me This Year

You might also be interested in my other over 1,200 “The Best…” lists and, particularly, this year’s end-of-year favorites.

Print Friendly

December 15, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Posts On Teaching TOK “Knowledge Questions”

Three weeks ago I published a post wondering how people teaching the IB Theory of Knowledge course handled instruction on the concept of “knowledge questions” and invited guests to contribute.

I’ll be publishing my annual round-up of of “Best” TOK resources, and wanted to post this collection on the topic prior to that time.

Here they are:

Attention, IB Theory Of Knowledge Teachers! How Do You Teach “Knowledge Questions” (Formerly “Knowledge Issues”)?
is my original post, which also includes some useful resources.

Response: How Do You Teach About Knowledge Questions? is by TOK textbook author Eileen Dombrowski.

Response: Teaching Knowledge Questions is by TOK teacher Brad Ovenell-Carter.

Another Response: Teaching Knowledge Questions is by Prof. Crow, writing on behalf of TOK Tutor.

I’ll be adding to this list as more guest responses come in….

Print Friendly

December 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Another Response: Teaching Knowledge Questions

Two weeks ago, I published a post headlined: Attention, IB Theory Of Knowledge Teachers! How Do You Teach “Knowledge Questions” (Formerly “Knowledge Issues”)?

As I said in the post, I think helping students understand knowledge questions is one of the most challenging tasks I have in class.

I’ve invited a number of people to respond to that question, and will be posting their responses over the next couple of weeks.

The first response I published was from TOK textbook author Eileen Dombrowski.

Last week’s commentary came 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.

Today, 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

Knowledge Questions (KQs)

I find the recent TOK Essay May 2014 Question 2 so interesting with regard to KQs: if students can understand the analogy of building & construction, then the idea of KQs should be fairly straightforward to grasp. Thus, there are various resources that HELP us to build knowledge (the WOKs, notions of truth, testing, evidence and methodology…), but these same resources, just like a builder’s tools, have their limitations and can often HINDER our attempt to build knowledge.

So, a KQ is part of our toolkit that allows us to sharpen up our thinking about knowledge; to focus our enquiry into how the WOKs, for example, help or hinder the construction of knowledge and to develop our arguments and counter claims as part of our investigation into knowledge. And, just like a master builder, we need to look after our tools so that they’re ready to hand and efficient when we’re exploring how knowledge is constructed. One way in which to do this is to look closely at, and to refine, the language in which we frame our KQs.

Consider these alternative questions:

1. Can we trust the senses?

2. When can we trust the senses?

3. Should we trust the senses?

4. To what extent should we trust the senses?

All four questions are forms of KQ, but they are varied in their impact and the quality of enquiry they generate.

KQs of the first type are fairly ‘weak’. Notice how they start with the verb ‘can’. Questions which start with variations of this verb (‘is’, ‘do’, ‘will’, ‘have’ and so on) are ‘closed’ questions, to which you can usually answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ without much further informed discussion.

KQs of the second type are sound, but may end up in a more factual discussion of the topic instead of one that questions how knowledge is built. Notice how it starts with one of the 5 Ws, ‘when’.

KQs of the third type are slightly stronger and more ‘open’ in their impact: the verb ‘should’ already introduces an ethical element to our thinking and encourages us to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of our topic. Alternative starting expressions could be ‘might’, ‘could’, or ‘would’ either alone or in conjunction with one of the 5Ws.

KQs of the fourth type are perhaps the strongest. Look at the command expression ‘To what extent…’ whose job it is to challenge us not only to explore the scale and depth of knowledge, but also to evaluate the methods of its construction. Other command expressions are ‘In what ways…’ (which allows us to compare and contrast how knowledge is built in different AOKs) and ‘How far…’ (which allows us to enquire into issues related to the limits of knowledge and its implications.)

For further elaboration of these ideas about KQs, you’re welcome to download previous issues of the newsletter, ‘The TOKnologist.’

Print Friendly

December 8, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Response: Teaching Knowledge Questions

A week ago, I published a post headlined: Attention, IB Theory Of Knowledge Teachers! How Do You Teach “Knowledge Questions” (Formerly “Knowledge Issues”)?

As I said in the post, I think helping students understand knowledge questions is one of the most challenging tasks I have in class.

I’ve invited a number of people to respond to that question, and will be posting their responses over the next couple of weeks.

The first response I published was from TOK textbook author Eileen Dombrowski.

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 like the move from issues to questions. First of all, I like it because a question is more dynamic, more driving than an issue. A question pushes inquiry; an issue merely invites a response: we are either “fer it” or “agin it” or we’re sitting on the fence. Questions are just much more interesting and like the little cyclops in Kostas Kiriakis wonderful and must-read cartoon, A Day at the Park, I would never trade a good question for an answer.

Secondly, the word, issue, is a loaded term and it was in a large part responsible for pushing Theory of Knowledge students (and most everyone) to thinking erroneously that TOK was about contentious issues and ethics. However engaging that discussion may be, it has nothing to do with the critical analysis of knowledge.

Questions–good questions–are much harder to create than issues, or answers. That is generally true and also particularly true in high school where students have already spent a decade working pretty much solidly on finding answers. Questions–good questions–are also much harder to assess than answers. Anyone can mark a set of answers, there’s always a key somewhere, but we really have to know our stuff to mark questions.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. We, that is students and teachers both, also need–maybe mainly need–a sense of curiosity and a tolerance for ambiguity, uncertainty, wrong turns and backtrackings as there is no guarantee that a question will take us to where the curriculum guide says the answer lies. Not even good questions are sure to get us there and we should keep in mind that the International Baccalaureate Organization’s idea of there should not be taken as final. (It has, for example, an inherently Western bias.)

The happy thing, though, is that of all the courses in the Diploma Program, TOK is the one place where we can get away with being messy like this. It’s a shame the IBO doesn’t start TOK in the Middle Years Program; it seems late to start teaching the fun of asking good questions in Grade 11.

What makes good questions fun, is that they contain some element of risk, some possibility of going wildly off track. That is why we can never ever let anyone start a question with “To what extent…?” If we want a good, simple first step to teaching knowledge questions, we should forbid anything that starts that way. First of all, it’s overused. Google “ibo ‘to what extent’” we get 7.2 million hits. Anyways, “To what extent” is not really a question, is it? It’s more an essay format asking us to report out on our depth of knowledge and our ability to analyse the value of different bits of information. It’s an answer disguised as a question. It’s a pseudo-question akin to Dan Meyer’s psuedo-context in math problems. So, for example off the top of my head, something like “To what extent do teachers and textbooks as bona fide authorities shape my understanding in History class” is not so fun as “Why do I believe anything I learn in school?” I mean, after a good question, we should feel a bit rattled. As an exercise, it wouldn’t hurt to try rewriting some “to what extent…” pseudo-questions as fun questions. Meyer talks about relevant questions being those that students want to answer. A good TOK questions has the same quality.

It helps, too, if day-to-day we cultivate a hermeneutic of suspicion in TOK so that we start to ask reflexively, “What’s going on here?” But that is tricky. I think we need to work up to a good question, like the way we draft an essay. It helps to do that with someone else, or several others, by the way. Incidentally, we know IB is big on its terminology but I’ve found it’s better to come up with a good question first, then swap in the TOK words such as Areas of Knowledge, Ways of Knowing and Personal and Shared knowledge and so on. Those terms are the least interesting aspect of TOK but the easiest thing to master so I see a tendency to want to structure classes around that conceptual framework, as the TOK textbooks do, and put off the challenging work of question-finding.

We don’t spend enough time with questions because really we’re already thinking of the answer. When I worked in Sweden, we came up with the expression bra start which literally means “good start” but can be understood as “Good start, so why are we in a rush to keep going. Let’s just stay here in the question a while longer.” If we want a stronger caution, Flaubert says, “Stupidity lies in wanting to draw conclusions.”  So maybe if we catch ourselves feeling like our question is pointing to an answer, it’s time to give it a rethink. The best way to teach questions is to ask lots of good ones. And, as Kiriakis loveable cyclops suggests, if a question isn’t quite right, it will suggest another one that is a little but better.

Print Friendly

December 4, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Response: How Do You Teach About Knowledge Questions?

A week ago, I published a post headlined: Attention, IB Theory Of Knowledge Teachers! How Do You Teach “Knowledge Questions” (Formerly “Knowledge Issues”)?

As I said in the post, I think helping students understand knowledge questions is one of the most challenging tasks I have in class.

I’ve invited a number of people to respond to that question, and will be posting their responses over the next couple of weeks.

Today, Eileen Dombrowski has agreed to share her commentary. Eileen is the lead author of the TOK course companion, published by Oxford University Press. The 2013 edition was written in cooperation with the IB and gives support to the new TOK course. Eileen taught IB English A and TOK for roughly 20 years for the United World Colleges (mainly Pearson College in Canada). She has been a TOK assessor, including Deputy Chief Assessor for a term, and has led TOK workshops around the world. In recent years, she has worked entirely online:

How can we teach the concept of knowledge questions? To my mind, the most important first step for any teacher new to TOK is to guard against two reactions that kill any relaxed response of inquiry.

1. The first mental block is taking the term “knowledge questions” so seriously that it becomes paralyzing. It’s a term formulated by the curriculum review group, all of them experienced TOK teachers, and it’s meant for classroom use. In TOK, we ask questions about knowledge – how it is constructed and shared, what the role is of uncertainty and questioning, how we can identify perspectives that influence it, and so forth. There’s no huge mystery here.

2. The second mental block is thinking of knowledge questions as a topic within the course – a chunk of material to be covered, tested, and left behind. Although we do want to talk about the term with our students, we also want to create familiarity through daily use. I’d say that we lead our students to understand through the thoughtful questioning and critical examination we give all the ways of knowing and areas of knowledge. We don’t just instruct. We model. And we do so throughout the entire course.

In writing the IB Theory of Knowledge course companion, I tried to treat knowledge as alive with questions and included activities that open up questioning and reflection on possible answers. If we can treat knowledge perpetually in formation, with critical challenges in building and sharing it, then we’re dealing with an entire way of appreciating knowledge. We deal then, in practice, with knowledge questions.

Thanks, Eileen!

Print Friendly

November 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Unspeak” Looks Like An Intriguing Interactive Documentary

Unspeak is described as:

an interactive documentary investigating the manipulative power of language.

The site looks pretty wild and, if you can figure it out, engaging. I think it would be useful for IB Theory Of Knowledge classes when studying language.

Here’s an introductory video to it:

Print Friendly

November 29, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Attention, IB Theory Of Knowledge Teachers! How Do You Teach “Knowledge Questions” (Formerly “Knowledge Issues”)?

'Question mark made of puzzle pieces' photo (c) 2008, Horia Varlan - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

For me, at least, one of the most challenging concepts to teach in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class is the idea of “Knowledge Questions” (formerly known as “Knowledge Issues”) and how to help my students be able to formulate their own.

I’ve posted some related resources in our TOK class blog, but I thought I’d put out a request to other TOK teachers and invite them to share what they do in their classes.

Please leave your lesson ideas in the comments section of this post and I’ll bring together everybody’s thoughts in one post sometime in December.

Print Friendly

November 24, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Here’s What My IB Theory Of Knowledge Students Did For Their “Ways Of Knowing Final Project”

'The Thinker' photo (c) 2008, gosheshe - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching English Language Learners and mainstream classes, I also teach a very diverse International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class that includes students ranging from ones in my ELL classes to full-IB Diploma candidates. I think it’s safe to say it’s great experiences for students and teacher alike.

One of the major projects I had students do this year was a presentation on the Ways of Knowing, and how each one can help and hinder a search for knowledge. There has been a fair amount of discussion about if, in light of the new TOK Course Guide, if the WOK should be taught separately (see The Best Commentaries On The New IB Theory Of Knowledge Teaching Guide). I’ve decided to continue to do so, and it seems to be working out well.

You can read the instructions for this project at our class blog, as well as seeing the PowerPoints different small groups prepared for their presentation.

My original intention was to have most, if not all, also create an audio narrated version of their slides using Screencast-o-Matic after they gave their presentations to the class. However, we ended up being pressed for time as we neared Thanksgiving break. One group was able to do so, and I’ve embedded it below.

I think the whole project went well. Creating the presentation, giving it, and then listening to them, all provided opportunities for formative assessment, review, and practice for the TOK presentations they have to do in the spring.

Let me know what you think, and please share your ideas on how we could have done it better…

Print Friendly

November 24, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“The Challenger Disaster” Is An Excellent Movie For TOK & Other Classes

'Richard Feynman: Surely You're Joking' photo (c) 2006, Wolf Gang - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

“The Challenger Disaster” was shown on the Discovery Channel and The Science Channel last week, and it was an impressive movie. Even though I’ve blogged a lot about Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, I was not aware of his critical role in determining the cause of that space shuttle disaster.

You can see clips from the movie here and read about it this New York Times article.

It could certainly be used in IB Theory of Knowledge classes as part of a discussion about why some people don’t want knowledge to be found, and to also help teach the scientific method.

Here’s a video of Feynman’s climatic moment at the actual hearings:

Print Friendly

November 4, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Teaching Intuition With Star Trek

For teachers of the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course, I thought I’d how I introduce the concept of “intuition” (as I’m sure you’ll know if you’re a TOK teacher, intuition used to be taught as part of the “emotion” Way of Knowing, but has now “graduated” to being its own WOK).

An episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation is our entry point….

First, I show a clip introducing the characters Data and Geordi, usually using this scene (it still boggles my mind that so few students have ever seen the show). You can also show the actual scene here:

Secondly, I pass out the section of the script for the “The Defector” episode where Geordi explains to Data what it means to have a “gut” feeling (it’s scene 44) and students act it out in pairs among themselves (I push them to have fun with it).

Thirdly, I ask them to come up with a one sentence summary of how Geordi explained what a gut feeling (intuition) means and ask if they agree or disagree with it and why. We come back as a class and /discuss.

Finally, if I’m feeling ambitious and we have time for it, I have a few volunteers come to the front to act it out and videotape their performance, which I’ll then post on our class blog. Here’s one example, and you can see more here.

How do you introduce the concept of intuition, and do you have any interesting lessons you’d like to ?

Print Friendly

November 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

What A Great Series Of Videos About “Uncle Drew”

Wendi Pillars (you can read her blog here and follow her on Twitter here) sent me this great series of videos.

Here’s what she wrote:

They’re rich for material!
Perception, bias, expectations, “acting one’s age”, advertisement as persuasion…etc….

I agree. They’d be particularly good for a Theory of Knowledge class when discussing perception, and, as Wendi mentions, great for any class studying advertising.

Even if you don’t have any interest in those topics, though, they are a must-watch for anyone who’s a basketball fan!

Print Friendly

November 2, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Videos Of Tom Lehrer’s Songs

tom

Readers may or may not know about Tom Lehrer, the mathematician turned songwriter and performer who was particularly popular in the 1960′s (and who is still around today). His satirical songs poked fun at many topical subjects, and I still remember hearing my parents playing his records when they had friends over and laughing uproariously.

Some of his songs are a bit dated now, or perhaps not entirely politically correct. However, many more are still right on target and very funny.

I regularly use his Wernher von Braun song in my IB Theory of Knowledge class when we discuss ethics, and have also cited it in discussions I’ve had with education researchers who want to distance themselves from how their studies are used.

You can see videos of most of his songs here with animated lyrics, but here are a few, starting with “Wernher von Braun” (I’ve ended with a popular video of actor Daniel Radcliffe recently singing his one of songs):

Print Friendly

October 28, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Excellent Halloween Article For IB Theory of Knowledge Classes

'FEAR' photo (c) 2008, Hartwig HKD - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

A Halloween scare can sharpen the brain is an excellent article on emotion for IB Theory Of Knowledge classes. It’s from The Los Angeles Times.

Here’s how it begins:

Halloween is the time to indulge those seemingly pathological cravings to get scared out of your skull. Who in their right mind would subject themselves to blood-splattery horror movies or haunted houses blaring high-pitched screams while serving bowls of grapes dressed as slimy, edible eyeballs? Lots of us, and experts say good can actually come from these predilections.

Fear protects us

“People think being afraid is a bad thing, but the reason we evolved to be afraid is that the world is pretty dangerous and we’ve evolved very powerful systems that automatically force us to do our natural defensive and protective behaviors,” says Michael Fanselow, a UCLA behavioral neuroscientist.

Some fears are learned; others are encoded in our DNA: Rotting flesh (we’re looking at you, zombies), snakes, blood, heights — even our tiny-brained ancestors understood these were unsafe. And the fear prompted immediate responses, Fanselow says.

I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Learning About Halloween.

Print Friendly

October 8, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Fun Theory Of Knowledge Lesson To Examine The Role Of Gestures In Language

Today, in our IB Theory of Knowledge class, students had to build free-standing towers with two sheets of paper, a 10 inch piece of tape, ten paper clips, and a scissors — without talking, and complete it in twenty minutes. We were studying what ideas could — and couldn’t — be communicated with gestures.

Afterword, students discussed what ideas were easy or hard to communicate, and if complex ideas required using words.

Here’s a photo of the winning group and their leaning tower:

image

You can see all their creations at our TOK class blog.

Print Friendly