The best time to work is the worst

A while ago I wrote an article called The Straight A Students Time Management Secret. The answer seemed simple: get your work done during your school day. High achievers do report having this habit. When they’re working, they just work. They don’t spend much time inefficiently --half-doing work and half-socialising at the same time. The benefits are pretty obvious. More completely-free time in the evenings, they can get more sleep and they can socialise guilt-free and stress-free. But, actually implementing this advice can seem hard. At work/school, all of our friends are there. It’s distracting. And then suddenly the entire day has passed and we’ve made no progress. Here are a few techniques that work:

  1. Block out some set-times every week just for working by yourself. Maybe Thursdays at lunch you go to your secret, private spot in the library and work on Math questions. Stick to your own schedule.
  2. Get massive headphones and wear them when you’re...
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We're Looking For Some Great IB Teachers

First of all I'd like to thank those of you who have already given me some names of great IB teachers. If you'd like to add a nomination, please do that here.

#IBGreat?

I'm on the lookout for some of the really great IB teachers in the world. I want to connect with them, talk with them and help them spread their best insights.

For example:

Maybe you have a really good IB Biology teacher at your school. Students just love this woman. I could talk with her and then write about one of her exam tips or an insight about how she approaches the course.

I want to learn from great people, so I can make hard things easier for other great people. That's my mission.

Positive Recognition

I'm hoping a bi-product of this is that I can bring a lot of recognition to a lot of teachers who work really hard, but maybe haven't gotten a lot of positive attention before. Teaching can be a solitary job sometimes, so it couldn't hurt to make your favourite teacher internet-famous.

...

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The Straight A Students Time Management Secret

This is your lucky day. You are finally going to find out the secret time-management weapon which has only been known to a few wildly successful students. Until now.

(WARNING: Do not read this unless you are prepared for incredible academic success! However, if ready to have your life completely changed, read on.)

I have had the pleasure of teaching students who have ended up going to Cambridge, to Oxford, to LSE, to Harvard and to a range of other Ivy League universities. They were not completely alike, but they did have one behavior in common. After working closely with these students I am convinced that it was this single secret-behavior that set them apart from the crowd. It actually made it easier for them to learn more efficiently, to understand concepts in a deeper way than their peers. In a way, these students had an unfair advantage. And that’s why I feel you should have it too.

But before I share it with you, let me explain how hard-working students commonly behave.

...
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How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge Essay

The following structure is a very good, step-by-step method you can use on any ToK essay to get very high marks. 

Here are the main things to keep in mind when you're using this method:

    1. Your #1 priority is answering the prescribed title. If you somehow follow this method, but don't answer the question you won't score well. So make sure you keep linking back to the question as you go. 
    2. Try to use original, interesting evidence (Member's link) 

(I have a full a lot of helpful advice, tutorials, evidence videos in my online ToK course, which you're welcome to join if you like.)

And I've also created a lot of resources (videos, notes, etc) to help with with the TOK presentation, here.

Okay here we go...

The structure on this page will give you a strong foundation for your essay and then we're going to make your essay as insightful as possible.

First, choose your PT and KQ

Before you can begin your real/final essay, you’ll want to...

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The Top Ten Theory of Knowledge Essay Tips

Here are my top tips for getting to top marks on your Theory of Knowledge essay.

1.  All ToK essays are cross-disciplinary; they are never just about one way of knowing (perception, language, reason, etc) or one area of knowledge (mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, etc). In general you’ll want to include at least

2. But be careful about which WoK's and AoK's you include. Review all of your notes to refresh your understanding and make sure you’re seeing the relevant connections and make sure (after you’ve done your research) that you have interesting points to make (claims and counter claims).

3. Make an outline first. The outline is your road map and it’s where you make a lot of your major decisions. It will also help you to develop an argument, with each paragraph building on the one before.

3. Research in a lot of different ways: websites, your class notes, talking with people (parents, classmates, your teachers)....

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Knowledge Questions in International Baccalaureate Subjects

Recently we had our staff compile a list of some knowledge questions in different subjects. They came up with a pretty good list, which I thought a lot of ToK students and teachers would appreciate having.

Some of the questions fit neatly in a given subject area, while others fit in more than one subject.

 

History

Are historical claims restricted by the language they use?

Is all history biased?

How important is the role of statistics in history?

Does history show we have made ethical progress?

To what extent does emotion play a role in historical interpretation?

Is historical objectively possible?

To what extent does historical knowledge change over time?

How is knowledge about the past different from other kinds of knowledge?

How does the language used to describe the past change how history is understood?

 

Natural science

(Key words: scientific method, Popper's principle of falsification, scientific revolution and paradigm shift)

Is language necessary for the...

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How to Structure Your Economics Essay

It’s important to use your time efficiently on economics exams. In the new (2013) syllabus, you only get 45 minutes per essay. And that’s not much time to do everything you need to do. It’s easy to waste time (i.e with introductions or descriptive writing) that earn you no marks at all. If you use this structure you’ll be sure to earn all of the possible marks for each of your IB Economics essays. Some students will be able to write more than others, because they write more quickly. This structure was written with an average-writing-speed student in mind.

 

Part A (18 minutes)

Part A1: Definition and real life example

Definition: Define a key word in the question Definition: Define either another key word in the question (if there is another one) or a related key word Definition: Define either another key word in the question (if there is another one) or a related key word Real life example: Briefly explain a real life example. Two sentences...

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The Theory of the Firm Rappers (Economics)

Theory of the firm is hard! ...It's ToF to get your head around. ...Get it? :) ROLFL

There's an easy way!

You can easily memorise everything. I'll show you here. 

Background

The first year I taught IB Economics, my students really struggled with the diagrams and all of the memorisation in this part of the course. And I didn't know how to help them remember it. But I love taking something hard and making it easy. So I love mnemonics and finding a structure (or a system) that you can always use to get great results. This approach is the only thing that works for me.

So, while this is obviously an Economics post, you can also take this as a lesson in how to use mnemonics to pack otherwise hard-to-remember information into your brain.

I read a lot of books on this subject to help my students (people like Cal NewportAdam Robinson and Joshua Foer --who's book is subtitled "The Art and Science of Remembering Everything") and I've applied what I've...

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How to Make Your Good Extended Essay Great

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’m all about finding systems and structures to make challenging things less challenging. Or, to put it more simply, I like to do things the easy way. To that end, I want to show you how to make a few tweaks to your average extended essay and earn top marks for it.

The following are some advanced techniques that many International Baccalaureate (IB) extended essay supervisors might forget to share. And many aren’t aware of them.

Before reading this blog post, I suggest reading my post on getting started with your extended essay. That article explains how to choose a good essay question, among other things. This article is about advanced techniques, the polish that can raise your grades (to a high B or an A). But if your foundation is off no amount of polishing is going to be enough. So again, make sure you get off to a good start.

 

1) Doubt Your Sources

By now your Extended Essay contains the best...

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How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Presentation

The following Theory of Knowledge (TOK) presentation structure has been designed very carefully. (It’s taken several years of conversations!) It’s easy for you to follow and ticks all the boxes.

I'm going to tell you how many slides to have (nine), what text should go on each slide (less is more) and what you should talk about while each slide is up (focus on the interesting parts).

A clear structure like this is essential because it helps the audience follow what you’re saying. It also keeps you from wasting time, both during your presentation and in your preparation phase.

(This is also done for the TOK Essay, here). 

There are a few things I need to go over before we get into the slides.

The Development Section

When you get into the Development section (where the knowledge question is explored and analyzed with reference to the AOKs and WOKs), you’ll see that we use a Claim, Counterclaim, Mini-Conclusion structure. We do this (claim, counterclaim,...

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