Tweets of the (last two) weeks

Wow. Well, half yearly exam marking has finished, which can only mean one thing: report writing. Fortunately, my PLN continues to tweet all sorts of awesomeness, so I am taking a bit of time (as an excuse to watch the football) to update my favourite tweets from the last couple of weeks. First up, more ideas of web-based PD:

Speaking of web-based PD, put ‘free’, ‘Harvard’, ‘innovation’ and ‘leadership’ in a single sentence and it’s sounding pretty good. Sure, it’s a teaser to buy their book, but there’s some reasonable content even within this Introduction

A couple of good ideas for History YouTube channels here – I’ve used Crash Course a couple of times and they usually distill the main points pretty succinctly (although I keep pausing and explaining, so a 10 minute clip takes most of a lesson…)


Despite it being pretty fundamental to any pre-service training, a number of teachers seem to not get the difference between formative and summative assessment. I’m putting this one up because it has some good ideas for some formative activities with technology

It is hardly a secret to treat people fairly, with respect and have a good time. But ‘business principles’ of trusting no one, instituting a culture of fear (or ‘accountability’ – see next one) and adhering only to minimum required by law have infected professional sport and education. Well, unfortunately Saracens lost last night, but you can be sure they’ll be back next year ready to go   

I opened this, half read it, got distracted, and now can’t find the tweet for it but never mind, I’ll tweet it myself. A US Maths teacher unloads at a TEDx about the bucks being made by proclaiming the failing education system – and, look! We’ve got a new textbook / technology / speaker to sell you…

Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) – probably what we have all done at some stage, but cool acronym!

OK, enough! Have a great week.
BT

Follow me: @dphistorycom (History & Education); @tokbits (Theory of Knowledge)

 

 

History topics that are ‘overdone’ by students each year

This is my (edited) response to a question on the IBO’s ‘Online Curriculum Centre’ History Forum, asking if the question ‘To what extent was the dropping of the atomic bombs necessary for a U.S. victory in the Pacific War?’ was ‘overdone’.

I understand teachers’/examiners’ complaints about certain topics being ‘overdone’, but I think it misses the fundamental aspect of teaching: each year a new cohort is introduced to content that is new to them. And so what to us is the same old boring questions about WWII or Nazis or Cold War are for each new cohort of students the fundamental questions that they want to get their heads around. Perhaps it is time we started offering other aspects of history beyond military/political – or choose to offer topics that we have not taught for the last twenty years. It seems to me that we still offer a very (western European) Cold War-centric understanding of twentieth century history. Is it because it is the most important (as defined how/when?), it is what most of us were initially trained in or have taught for years, or it makes sense of the present?

Of the OP’s question (and most ‘overdone’ questions) I think that it can be answered simply by a younger years student or in can be answered in a great deal of depth with research, drawing connections between events and decisions and the use of primary documents which provide the rationale for the decisions: which should be the difference between a 10 or a 22 for the IA, not whether the examiner has seen the question before.

I struggle with the concept that students need to come up with something original – they are final year high school students doing 6 subjects, plus TOK & EE, not PhD students dedicating four years to one tiny subset of one area of one subject area.

I also think that we mark far too hard – surely someone else out there thinks 67% for a 7 is a joke – and we expect too much from teenagers to produce in a forty-five minute exam essay. I am absolutely for academic rigour, but not to the point where the IB cannot give exemplars of what a 25 for an IA looks like or examiners at subject workshops have only ever seen 16/20 for essays.

For all the rhetoric of creating inquirers, risk takers and problem solvers, we do not encourage it (in either teachers or students) when it comes to putting university entrance on the line.

A good IA should be able to stand on its own, whether the question appears every year or not: it is this student’s first foray into the topic even if the examiner has seen it 1000 times.