Y12 – Week of January 13th

In groups of 4, discuss the following Prescribed Essay Title (from May 2014) and plan out a response to it. What will your main assertions be? What AOKs will you use as evidence and, within each AOK, what specific piece of knowledge will you use? What Ways of Knowing will you discuss? What counterarguments and alternative opinions will you include?

3. “Knowledge is nothing more than the systematic organisation of facts.” Discuss this statement in relation to two areas of knowledge.

Prepare a 10-15 minute oral presentation in which each member of the group takes part and you explain your ideas about this question to the rest of the class. Presentations will be on Wednesday.

Y12 – January 2014

More body paragraphs! We will begin with this prompt:

Our ethical judgments can be influenced by language, emotion, and false reasoning based on beliefs we have accepted without questioning. Give examples of how each of these factors may form our beliefs about what is right and what is wrong.

First assignment: write a body paragraph about the influence of language on our ethical beliefs and judgments.

Post your body paragraph on this blog. Category: Practice Body Paragraphs.

Remember that a body paragraph should begin with a clear, specific assertion (a claim that not everyone will necessarily agree with) followed by all the evidence and argument needed to persuade your reader that your assertion is correct. A well-developed body paragraph is usually around 300 words long.

Y12 – 27 November 2013

  1. Feedback Wiki (Deadline: 6 PM Saturday)
  2. Blog post (Deadline: Sunday night)
    • Find a real-life example of one of the logical fallacies from your handout (Stephen’s Logical Fallacies) and share it with the class on the blog. Category: Reason.

Y12 – November 20, 2013

  1. Blog post: What have you learned this week about TOK “Real Life Situations”?
  2. Feedback Wiki: This week’s prompt is about TOK and your November exams.

Please complete both the blog post and the Feedback Wiki response no later than 6:00 pm on Saturday.

Y12 – September 18, 2013

Choose ONE topic that interests you from the material introduced in the Radiolab podcast, “Behaves So Strangely”; “The Bilingual Advantage”; or “Eight Questions: Deborah Fallows, ‘Dreaming in Chinese’. Write a SINGLE body paragraph that begins with a clear, specific assertion and is followed by all the evidence and argument needed to support that assertion. No introduction, no conclusion, just ONE body paragraph. Length: 100-300 words, approximately. Due: Should be published on the class blog no later than Monday night, September 23.

May 2013: End-of-term Calendar

Y12 orals on May 22, May 31, June 5, and June 7.

September 2, 2011

Blog Post #2: This week we had two classes, plus the TOK Conference all day Wednesday. Choose anything we did or discussed this week in TOK and share your thoughts and/or questions about it. Please put “#2″ in your title, and please tick the category ‘Weekly Reflection’ before you publish your post.

August 26, 2011

First blog post: What does it mean “to know”?

Week of 16 March

For this week’s blog entry (#26), please reflect on

  • our class discussion today, and/or
  • Robert Burton’s essay on certainty (on DragonNet, under ‘Truth’), and/or
  • Jonathan Haidt’s TEDTalk video (on DragonNet, in the same place).

Haidt talks really fast, so you may prefer to stream his talk directly from the web site, where you have the option of adding subtitles that will help you follow his words. The web page is here:

3 March 2011: in class

  1. Divide into 3 groups, with a maximum of 7 students in each group.
  2. Each group will be assigned responsibility for one of the three theories of truth that Richard van de Lagemaat describes: the Correspondence Theory, the Coherence Theory, and the Pragmatic Theory.
  3. Read the section of van de Lagemaat’s Chapter 14 (on DragonNet) that relates to your assigned theory of truth. The file is under Topic 14, “Truth”, and is named “van de Lagemaat Chap 14all.pdf”.
  4. Discuss the reading among yourselves, and make sure that you all understand it.
  5. Begin preparing a brief oral presentation in which your group
    • explains your assigned theory
    • gives at least two specific examples of cases where this theory of truth seems to work well
    • gives at least two specific examples of cases where this theory of truth does not seem to work well.

Following the three presentations in Monday’s lesson, your blog post for next week will compare and contrast the three theories, and make specific reference to the examples that each group gives in the oral presentations of cases where each theory seems to work, or not.

24 January 2011

  1. Write a brief one-paragraph reflection on today’s class.
  2. Before the end of this week, post to the blog one well-developed body paragraph for a TOK essay on the topic that you have chosen (from among the May 2011 prescribed essay titles that we have been discussing). Refer to the documents posted on DragonNet under ‘Essay’ for reminders about how to plan, revise, structure, etc., a good body paragraph.

17 January 2011

Before Thursday’s class, please do two things:

  1. Write a post in which you outline your initial ideas about the essay title you’ve chosen for your first practice TOK essay. Do identify the number of the title, and quote the exact title/question itself in your post.
  2. Complete the self-evaluation that I sent to you by email and return it to me as an email attachment. There are two versions (.doc and .pages); you only need to complete one of them. Be sure to follow the ‘Save as . . . ‘ instructions so that your name appears in the filename of the document you return to me.

Christmas Break 2010

Over the holiday please be sure that you are caught up with your weekly blog posts, and with your comments on your classmates’ posts. Happy Holidays!

November 25, 2010: Ethical Reasoning

Go to DragonNet / TOK / Ethics, and open up or download the file named Abortion.pdf. Begin reading and discussing this document in groups during class; continue individually, and finish with a blog post as described at the end of the document. The category for this blog post should be ‘Ethics’. This may serve as one of your weekly TOK blog posts.

October Break 2010

Language: You have three possible topics for your October Break blog post. 1) Is it possible to think without language? 2) Orwell’s ‘Politics & the English Language’. 3) Errol Morris’s ‘Seven Lies About Lying’. The Orwell and Morris pieces are on DragonNet. You may, of course, write about two of these, or even all three :).

Best wishes for the holiday!

August 2010: Weekly Journal Entries

You are required to post a journal entry every week in which you reflect on what you have read, heard, thought, and discussed in TOK during the past week. The deadline for these journal entries to be posted on the class blog is Wednesday evening. I urge you to write your journal entries as soon after the Monday lesson as you can, so that everything will be fresh in your mind. Taking notes will help, too.

Post your journal entries on this blog, and remember to label each post with the category “Journal”.

For this first journal entry, you might comment on starting the course; on the TOKCast podcast; on our first two lessons; or on the beginning of Plato’s “Meno”.

March 2010: Oral Presentations


  • Friday, March 5: Graphic organizers for presentations completed. Each student gives a photocopy to me. Official IB “Presentation planning document” (TK/PPD) distributed to students.
  • Thursday, March 11 & Friday, March 12: Students must submit completed TK/PPD by the end of the lesson on Friday. Once the TK/PPD is submitted, students may use the remaining class time to work on their presentations, or to study for other subjects and prepare for their mock exams. I will be available to help students one-on-one as they continue to work on their presentations.
  • March 15-26: Grade 12 Mock Exams
  • Thursday, April 1: TOK Oral Presentations begin
  • Friday, April 2: TOK class begins at 8:30, immediately after homeroom, to allow more time for presentations.
  • Thursday, April 8: TOK Oral Presentations continue
  • Friday, April 9: TOK class begins at 8:30, immediately after homeroom, to allow more time for presentations. All presentations must be completed by the end of the lesson at 9:55.
  • Saturday, April 10: Deadline for electronic submission of marks for TOK Orals.

Order of Presentations

  1. Ah Reum
  2. Savannah
  3. Andrew
  4. Bénédicte
  5. Friedrich
  6. Riccardo
  7. Huezin
  8. Yi-Han (Anita)
  9. Pin-Hsuan (Vivian)
  10. Huey Tyan
  11. Sarah
  12. Luke
  13. Paul
  14. Si Hui
  15. Yee Jean
  16. Guang Zheng (Greg)
  17. Yu-Cheng (Albert)

December 2009: What’s Your Story?

Our view of the world, including our beliefs, values, and attitudes about almost everything, may be shaped largely by the story we tell ourselves about the world and our place in it.

The trouble is, we may not be fully aware of that story; it’s so deeply embedded in our views that we may not even see it as a story. We may just see it as ‘the way things are’.

So as an experiment, try to write out your story about ‘the way things are’. Include in your story at least one statement on each of the following topics:

  • agnostics and atheists
  • Buddhists / Buddhism
  • business
  • Christians / Christianity
  • conservative
  • culture
  • doctors
  • education
  • environment
  • freedom
  • government
  • history
  • homosexuality
  • human nature
  • Jews / Judaism
  • justice
  • lawyers
  • liberal
  • men and women
  • money
  • Muslims / Islam
  • nations, nationalism
  • politics
  • poor people
  • progress
  • race, racism, racial differences
  • religion
  • rich people
  • science
  • social class
  • technology
  • the future
  • the past
  • trust
  • universities

You may add other topics if you wish.

When it’s done, add your response to the TOK Class Blog as a separate post (not a comment!). Please check the Category “What’s Your Story?” before you publish your post. Creative titles are encouraged.

August 2009

Assignments will be posted here so that if you miss class or have an amnesia attack you can check here to see what you’re supposed to be doing.

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