Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 22, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Explanimator” Channel From The New Scientist Shares Accessible Explainer Videos About Philosophical Topics

The New Scientist publishes a series of short animated videos simply explaining philosophical and scientific ideas.

It’s called The Explanimator Channel and I think they’re ideal for IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

Here are a couple of samples:


You might also be interested in The Best Online “Explainer” Tools For Current Events.

March 22, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Best Article Ever To Have Students Read About Cellphones!

Last year, I shared a summary of a recent study documenting the negative cognitive impact a cellphone has just by leaving it on your desk (see New Study On Cellphones Helpful To Teachers Everywhere).

It’s been very helpful in the classroom – now it’s just not me “nagging” students about it because of a school rule!

Today, The Harvard Business Review published a short article written by the study’s authors themselves discussing their research, and I’ll definitely be having my Theory of Knowledge students read it as part of our unit on the Human Sciences.

Here’s an excerpt from Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking:


I’m adding this info to The Best Posts On Student Cellphone Use In Class — Please Contribute More.

March 16, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

How Could I Not Have Known That Milgram Did The Original Six Degrees Of Separation Research? It’s Perfect For TOK!

In my IB Theory of Knowledge class, we examine a number of human science experiments, including ones on grit and growth mindset, The Marshmallow Experiment, The Stanford Prison Experiment and The Milgram Experiment. We explore their conclusions and critiques made by others. Then students create and implement their own experiments, putting what they’ve learned to good use.

I, of course, have heard about the idea of six degrees of separation, particularly through the Kevin Bacon angle, but it wasn’t until I read this new and fascinating article in New York Magazine, The Classic Study That Showed the World Is Smaller Than You Think, that I learned Stanley Milgram was also behind that initial experiment.

Boy, TOK students will love learning about it, as well its follow-ups and critiques.

I might be one of the few people around who was unaware of its history but that’s okay because I know it now and, soon, so will my students!

March 11, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

List Of Knowledge Questions My TOK Students Are Using This Year For Their Oral Presentations

It’s that time of year – this week my IB Theory of Knowledge students began working on their Oral Presentations.

Earlier this week, I shared that I had completed revised and re-organized the very scaffolded system I use to help students prepare this project. You can see it here.

And, as I’ve been doing for the past few years, I thought readers might be interested in seeing a selection of some of the Knowledge Questions my students will be exploring in their presentations this year.

You can see the topics from previous years here:

Review Topics and Primary Knowledge Questions  (from 2016 class)

Primary Knowledge Questions From 2017 Class

Past Topics, Primary Knowledge Questions & Secondary Knowledge Questions (these are particularly useful for Groups Of Three Non-Diploma candidates who are presenting)

Here are selections from the 2018 “crop”:

To what extent does hope affect our thoughts and actions?

How does our culture affect our emotions?

To what extent does religious belief help or hinder us?

What does the quote “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” really mean?

What role does aggression play in society?

What role does seeking pleasure have in a teenager’s life?

To what extent does our social class define how we are viewed and treated in society?

To what extent does racism affect religion?

To what extent does culture affect our perception of right and wrong?

What role does “agency” have in people’s lives?

To what extent does having a sense of purpose affect how we view the world?

What effect does history have on our views of privilege and power?

How does our outer appearance interact with our inner life to make us who we are?

What is the role of sound in society?

To what extent are all languages connected and how does that affect our overall knowledge?

To what extent does humor reflect our ethics and morals?

Does the pursuit of money help or hinder us in our efforts to become the best people we can be?

What drives people to be cruel?

To what extent is someone’s poverty their own fault?

Under what circumstance are people willing to be consistent or non-consistent with their sense of morality?

What is the price of happiness?

To what extent do we let our emotions dictate or actions?

March 8, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Take Two: Revised My TOK Oral Presentation Materials AGAIN

unsplash-logoJakob Owens


Last week, I announced that I had revised my IB Theory of Knowledge Oral Presentation materials, which I had.

However, as I began teaching about it this week, I realized that I needed to make some changes to make it better, which I completed today.

You can find the revised version here.

It’s fairly well scaffolded, and I think much better organized and easier to follow than it was previously.

Let me know if you have ideas on how to make it better!

March 7, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Learning About Scientific Discovery In Theory Of Knowledge Class

In my IB Theory of Knowledge class, we talk about the scientific method as a tool for discovery and learning(see The Best Videos For Learning About The Scientific Method), but not just for scientific knowledge – it’s a process we use for many things we learn (I use how I learned to improving my shooting of free throws as an example).

But we also talk about how it is not the only way we learn and discover.

I typically show this NPR video on “scientific accidents” to illustrate how learning in science is not always a linear process:

(And, we always discuss Problems Of The Scientific Method)

Today, the Smithsonian published a very useful slideshow titled Sometimes, a Scientific “Eureka!” Moment Really Does Change the World.

It will be a nice complement to showing the NPR video….

March 4, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Revised Materials On The Theory Of Knowledge Oral Presentations


It’s that time of the year for many IB Theory of Knowledge classes – yes, the time for TOK Oral Presentations! (It’s also the time for making comments on TOK essays, and my colleague John Perryman wrote an invaluable guest post that made that has made that process much saner for me this year: see Guest Post: Template For Making Teacher Comments On TOK Essays).

We’re starting on the Presentations this Tuesday, so I revised my seven-week process.  You can find all of the materials, including a timeline and several videotaped examples, at our class blog.

Check out the Oral Presentation Schedule.

Skip to toolbar