Spring dates – important

Okay, a little late but here it is – the line-up for the spring. Consider this the backbone – we will flesh it out as we go along. Here is the link:

Spring 2017 dates

And if you prefer it all right here:

Spring 2017 ToK Planning Document

Jan 25-27 – Gita Intro & T1 – RKS intro

Feb 2-3 – Gita T2-6

Feb 6-10 – ToK Essay conferences – use Sign-Up Genius to schedule (see blog)

Feb 13 – EE draft due – both hard copy and pdf (place in managebac)

Feb 13-14 – Wayfinders ch1 due

Feb 17 – ToK Essay draft due – both hard copy and pdf (place in managebac)

Feb 21-22 – Gita 7-12 due / drafts returned

Feb 27-28 – Wayfinders ch2 due

Mar 2-3 – Gita T13-18 due

Mar 6 – EE final copy due – hard copy and pdf (place in managebac)

Mar 8 – ToK Essay & planning doc due – EE Viva Voce due

Mar 9-10 – Wayfinders ch3 due – begin uploading of EE and ToK docs

Mar 20 – ToK presentations begin

Mar 30 – ToK Presentation docs due – hard copies and pdfs (managebac)

April 10-14 – SPRING BREAK

April 17-18 – Wayfinders ch 4&5 due

April 19-20 – begin Culture Project (due May 21-31) 

The above dates reflect the major events in ToK. There will be comp book collections periodically along the way as well as side readings (largely distributed on the blog).



Sample Essay J

Everyone should have read the sample in class by now. The B-day kids had some time to work with the grader’s comments but for the sake of continuity, I am going to go over what you should do with it so bear with me if you have already done some of this.

Get out your rubric. Read it. Then read sample J. Do your own personal evaluation of it using the rubric. Then look at the scorer’s comments. You will see that the essay wasn’t terrible nor was it great. Now consider for each scoring comment what the author should have/could have done to make their essay better. In class on B-day we started writing that out on the paper. I am encouraging you to do that/finish the essay scoring so that you have some processing practice thinking like a grader. I will state right now that I am not going to collect this paper. It is excellent practice for you and it will certainly help prepare you for the actual essay itself. Think of it this way, how often do you think your favorite performer/athlete/artist practices something with no one watching or counting? I’d love to have a conversation about this during the exam time, and if you thought to put this in your Comp book, well, who knows what might happen?

sample J

scorer’s comments for J

Thinking about the ToK essay, knowledge, and you

As I indulged in one of my favorite morning activities – eggs, coffee, and newspapers (we get two on Sun – the Observer and the NYTimes) and I couldn’t help but think about ToK and the role of knowledge in our lives. And, of course, I thought about you and the essay that lies ahead of you. Here goes.

As we have begun discussing the prompts for the essay and as I have encouraged you to think of this as “not a research paper”, I sense a little fear in some of you, fear that you won’t have anything “profound” to say, that you “don’t know enough, haven’t experienced enough, etc….” to do a good job on this essay. I want to try to encourage you to think again. One of the things that I really respect about the IB program is that it is a curriculum that attempts to teach you to think about how to live. Look again at the Learner Profile – nowhere in it is anything said about high IQs, profound intellectual experiences, academic achievement, or anything else we might usually associate with being “super-smart”. The attributes listed are all about how to be in the world. And that is where the ToK essay comes in.

What is being asked of you is to demonstrate that you are reflective about the knowledge that your teachers and experiences have given you, and that you risk thinking about the knowledge that you have assimilated in your life and the connections you can use it to make to the life you encounter (I can’t help myself but this should remind you of a certain Stephen Dedalus). Let me demonstrate (and hopefully encourage your thinking).

In this morning’s Arts section of the NYTimes I came across three articles that as I read them, I found myself thinking about knowledge in ToK. In this article, “The Invention That Shot Rocky Up Those Steps” which is about the history of the Steadicam use in films and how it has changed what directors can do with the camera, I couldn’t help but wonder about how a technological device can alter what we perceive and the effect that has on how we then formulate knowledge. What other devices have changed knowledge?

The next article that got me thinking was “In Jazz, Listen to the The Timeless Elders“. In this piece the writer Nate Chinen explores the longevity of numerous jazz musicians and the role that past knowledge plus in their continued success. He draws comparisons to hip-hop’s preference for constant turnover without looking down at it. This made me think about the role of the past in knowledge and how some forms of knowledge venerate the past (jazz) where others do not (hip-hop). I think that there is much to be explored in that act of looking at past knowledge and deciding how to treat it.

The third article that generated thought was “Marian Goodman, Art’s Quiet Matriarch” which profiled the founder and owner of Goodman Galleries, a famous and important art gallery in NYC. Tucked into this profile are issues about who gets to decide about how much a work of art is worth and who bears what responsibility for keeping art alive. (Again, I can’t help myself – say it with me now: “Fish”, “Kuhn”). Ideas about the value we put on knowledge, who values what knowledge, and here again, the role of past knowledge, all of these spring to mind from this piece.

What I am trying to get across is that really all you need to write a kicking ToK essay is a good newspaper, the Learner Profile, and your self with all of your own thoughts, experiences, and ideas. Don’t fret, just reflect for a moment on all that you have been through and then take the risk. It’s a lot smaller than you think.

2017 ToK Essay prompts

It occurs to me that you may want to show the powers that be what you are working on in school, maybe give it to them as a kind of gift – “Here, this is the culminating experience of my IB education” – so I thought I should make the questions available. Now ToK can go with you wherever you go (actually it already does). Enjoy.

2017 essay prompts