We just finished studying Art in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes and, as always, the last day was spent on a “Play-Doh Project.”
Here are the students instructions (you can download them here), followed videos of their creations. Please give me ideas on how to make it better:
Play Doh Project
1) Get a blank sheet paper to put on your desk. Please only use the Play Doh on the paper so it doesn’t get on the desk.
2) Open your can of Play Doh.
3) You have fifteen minutes to create a piece of art that is classroom appropriate.
4) At the end of fifteen minutes, look through your notes on the Arts unit and answer the following questions:
* Why is your creation art? Review your notes and materials and write an ABC paragraph responding to this question (Answer the question; Back it up with a quote as evidence; make a further Comment or Connection to elaborate on your position.
* How were Ways of Knowing involved in creating your art and how will they be involved when others view it?
5) You will share your piece of art with others through the “speed-dating” process. First, you will ask your partner to tell you what they think it is and why. Then you will tell them what you intended it to be and share your answers to the previous two questions.
Here’s a new and short video on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
I’m not sure if it’s necessary to use a video to teach the Hierarchy, but it could be a nice change-of-pace. Most Theory of Knowledge include it in the course, particularly when covering Human Sciences.
This coming semester my IB Theory of Knowledge students will be preparing and presenting their official Oral Presentations.
You can see exactly how I handle this with my students, including a zillion links, downloads and examples at Oral Presentation Schedule at our class blog. I’ve just updated it with the latest official planning form from IB.
Last summer, we found that every student who had done a presentation alone had their scores increased and every student who had worked in a small group had their score decreased, so the examiners sent a pretty clear message. I know that many other TOK teachers had concerns with both Oral Presentation and essay grade adjustments. I’m going to provide this information to students and have them decide how they want to handle it this year.
If you get a chance, I’d love to hear feedback, including critical comments, on the resources at at our class blog.
As regular readers know, one of my projects over the summer was completely revamping my curriculum for the three periods of International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes I teach each day. It’s almost fifty percent new, though I’ve only gotten around to posting about four months of it online. One of the changes I made was the homework I expected students to do after they read each chapter in our TOK textbook. I’ve previously posted those homework instructions, but here they are again. In the past, I’ve always had small groups meet and make short presentations about the homework each week. However, they were decidedly uneven in quality, though students gained a lot from them. I’ve decided to revamp those instructions, too – both for presenters and audience members. You can download the student hand-out here.
I also 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.
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 in the classroom without every student having a device, but I’ve put everything there so I have it in one place.
The New York Times has published a series of short and very accessible videos helping people understand implicit bias.
You see the entire series here, and I’ve embedded the first one below. These are excellent for many classes, and I’ll certainly be using it in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, especially when we study perception.
In IB Theory of Knowledge classes, we teach how different “Ways of Knowing” are used to gain knowledge and that what we learn is then categorized into “Areas of Knowledge.” I’ve probably uploaded about forty percent of my TOK curriculum to this blog so far, and thought I’d add a new version of the regular Ways Of Knowing project I have students do after we finish studying them all. Here are the downloadable student instructions for the project and here is the feedback form their classmate audience completes for each one. I view this as a dry-run for the Spring Oral Presentation the students have to complete, and it generally works out pretty well.
As part of our unit on Reason and Logic in my Theory of Knowledge classes, I, like every TOK teacher, take a look at fallacies. As part of that lesson, students pick or design a product and have to create a thirty-to-sixty second video commercial for it that uses at least four of the many fallacies we studied (I picked up this idea at an IB training long ago). They write a short script identify the four fallacies, as well. When the show the video to the entire class, viewers also have to identify the ones used in the commercial.
You can see many student-created videos on our class blog here (I messed-up while uploading some, you have to click on links to view a few instead of having them embedded in the post. I’ve embedded one example below.
Why Hillary Clinton Needs to Be Two-Faced is the headline of a very interesting column in The New York Times. It’s a commentary on the alleged comment Clinton made about politicians needing to be “two-faced.”
And what is says about “knowledge” could be very useful in an IB Theory of Knowledge class:
Modern social science makes a related distinction between shared knowledge and public knowledge. Public knowledge is information that is out there in plain and undeniable view, stuff like stock prices, weather bulletins and campaign promises. If knowledge is public, you and I both know it, and you know that I know it, and I know that you know it, and you know that I know that you know it, ad infinitum. If knowledge is merely shared knowledge, by contrast, you and I both know it, but I’m not sure if you know and you’re not sure if I know.
Shared knowledge has a very handy, if somewhat peculiar, trait: Even if we both know it, we can plausibly deny knowing it. Maybe you and I both know we dated the same person at the same time — but if neither of us is sure the other knows, we can both pretend not to know, thereby staying friends.
In it, I talked about (and linked to) a regular project I do with my IB Theory of Knowledge and ELD History students where they research and present on a “What If?” possibility from history.
I also discussed a recent addition I had made to the lesson that had been prompted by a New York Times project and the reactions to it from several U.S. Presidential candidates – would they go back and kill baby Hitler.
That addition, and how I connected it to ethics, went very well.
Today, Vox published a new video titled “Would you use time travel to kill baby Hitler?” and it’s embedded below. After my students complete their own responses to the question, I plan on showing the first minute of this video and then skipping to 4:30 to the end. It should be a nice way to finish it.
Write about a time a teacher mispronounced your name (if that has happened to you) and how it made you feel or about a time a teacher clearly made an effort to learn how to pronounce it and how that made you feel. You do not have to give the name of your teacher. If you haven’t had either of these experiences, write about a time you’ve seen a friend have their name mispronounced. If none of these apply to you, just write that on the paper.
Out of the ninety students in my TOK classes, about a third said they’ve never experienced a problem with teachers mispronouncing their names; another third said they had experienced that problem but it never bothered them; and a third said that it had happened to them and they didn’t like it.
If I am not absolutely confident about how to pronounce a student’s name when I first meet him/her, I ask how it’s pronounced and write it phonetically on my seating chart. If I think it’s still possible that I might mispronounce it, I apologize in advance, tell them that they deserve to have their name said correctly, and ask them to please correct me. I usually don’t make the mistake more than once, and students are always respectful in helping me learn from my mistakes.
A third of students is a sizable number. It’s probable that the percentage is lower in schools where there are fewer students from different ethnicities but, after seeing these responses, I think most readers agree that since this is one action entirely within our control, we should make sure we correctly pronounce student names:
Here are some student comments:
I remember when several teachers mispronounced my name and it made me feel different. When a teacher tried making an effort in trying to pronounce my name it made me feel like they actually care.
Yes, teachers had made an attempt to correctly pronounce my name when I do inform them that they had mispronounced it. It made me feel like they are sincere enough to actually want to pronounce it properly, which give me a message that they are showing respect.
Yes, he mispronounced it and it made me feel awkward.
When they make an effort to pronounce my name correctly it makes me feel respected.
Everyday my teachers pronounce my name incorrectly and I feel disrespected.
I didn’t really care if a teacher didn’t pronounce my name right. But it does feel better when a teacher actually tries to learn your name.
A teacher before mispronounced my name wrong and I got angry because people started repeating it.
My seventh-grade teacher kept on mispronouncing my name and I felt a little bit ashamed.
One of my teachers always mispronounces my name. It sort of makes me feel sad because I’ve lost part of my identity. It want to be a soft and kind person, but it’s hard when someone doesn’t pronounce it thoroughly.
It gets on my nerves. Even when I tell them it’s like they don’t listen.
A new study has been released that I suspect most IB Theory of Knowledge classes around the world will be incorporating in their discussions of memory’s role in acquiring knowledge. It found that, as the headline of an article about the study says, The more we know, the easier we are to deceive.
Here’s an excerpt:
This is one reason we spend a fair amount of time on the concept of false memories in TOK classes. It sounds like it might be worth discussing in other classes, too.
Roxane Gay has written a powerful essay in The New York Times headlined Nate Parker and the Limits of Empathy. It’s about the recent media attention paid to past rape charges against the actor and director, whose movie, “The Birth Of A Nation,” is coming out soon. It raises important points related to ethics and the arts.
I’m going to have my IB Theory of Knowledge students read it when we are in our Arts unit and have them respond to this prompt:
What does Roxane Gay say about separating “the art and the artist”? To what extent do you agree with what she is saying? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.
The topic of whether we live in a computer simulation or not fits right into any exploration of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Here are two new videos about that topic, and I’m adding them to my Theory of Knowledge class blog post that includes “Cave” videos and resources, including many student-created ones.
MIT has created what’s got to be the most engaging online version of the age-old ethical trolley dilemma in its “Moral Machine.”
They’re take on the problem is that you are designing the moral decisions a self-driving car has to make. You’re given thirteen scenarios and, after you’re done, you can see how your answers compare to those of previous participants.
The best part, though, of the site comes next. You can then create your own scenario that others can play!
I think it’s safe to say that for as long as this site is up, any IB Theory of Knowledge class that has access to technology will be playing it during their Ethics unit.
The researchers believe that slow motion makes it appear that a person has more time to think, plan and then act than they really do. Thus, slow-motion video could create the illusion that a person is acting intentionally when he or she is not.
“Seeing something in slow motion gives you the false impression that the actor had more time to act, so it feels more premeditated,” Caruso said. “When you see it in slow motion it just has this, like, air of inevitability.”
And the Post illustrates the point with this Draymond Green video from the NBA playoffs (it also has a video of a shooting that I wouldn’t feel comfortable showing to my class):
Since we’re in Northern California, many of my students will be familiar with this incident.
I plan on showing the video to my Theory Of Knowledge classes when we’re studying Perception, then ask them if they think it was intentional – why or why not. Then I’ll explain what the study found, and ask students to think and discuss what the reasons might be for the research finding. After a short discussion, I’ll tell them what the researchers said about it.
The purpose of the unit is to help students see how and when Perception can help and hinder our search for knowledge, and this is a perfect example.
Crash Course has this relatively new video on Pascal’s Wager, and it’s a good one for IB Theory of Knowledge classes.
My big critique of it, though, is the same one I have for all of Crash Course’s videos – he’s speaks so darn fast. Proficient English speakers should be able to get it, but English Language Learners (and I have many in my TOK course) are going to find it tough to access:
Sometimes, I am amazed by how clueless I can be…
I recently learned from a friend about a popular ABC series called “What Would You Do?” It’s basically a much edgier and updated version of “Candid Camera” dealing with important ethical issues. And, apparently, it’s been on TV for years.
It’s absolutely perfect when teaching ethics to IB Theory of Knowledge classes!
Here are three links to their resources:
Here’s the show’s site at ABC. It has a number of videos, as well as short and accessible articles describing a number of the scenarios they use.
They also have a great quiz, asking questions and giving you choices, along with showing video clips of what people actually did in those situations.
Then students would answer these questions and then share.
With these definitions as a background, can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you to experience “cognitive ease”? Why?
Can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you to experience “cognitive strain”? Why?
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?
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?
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!
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.
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?
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:
I accumulate links to TOK-related articles and resources on the Delicious bookmarking site, and now have 2,600 categorized into the all the TOK “Ways of Knowing” and “Areas of Knowledge.” I typically add about twenty or so new ones each month.