Why Do I Examine?

I’ve been teaching the IBDP Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS) for almost 15 years and have been examining for well over a decade, probably more.

Students will be writing exams in for foreseeable future
Students will be writing exams in for foreseeable future

So, why do I examine?

Yes, it’s great professional development

I am now a team leader for one of the papers and therefore get to be part of the online standardisation meeting and really get to grips with the paper. Then there is the mentoring role for the examiners in my team where you set up online group team meetings to go through the paper, answer questions and guide the team. During exam time, you are ‘on call 24/7’ to advise, discuss, coach, mentor, encourage… It’s a great collaborative effort and you feel very much part of the overall ITGS team.

Do I do it for the money?

Absolutely not! Like teaching, I don’t think that any of us are in it for the money!

Bottom line: I do it for my students

It’s mock exam week and I am now marking my students’ papers. Being so familiar with the workings of a paper has really paid off as students have risen above the common pitfalls, interpreted the questions correctly and have structured their answers to maximise their marks. OK, maybe we need to work on their content, but their exam technique is really coming along nicely.

What do I really think about exams?

Ideally I would love to see the demise of the high-stakes terminal examinations (and I could write a whole Extended Essay on the reasons why) but the reality is this: if you are an IB DP humanities teacher, your students will be writing their exams, by hand, in your school gym each May (or November) for the foreseeable future. So the best I can do for my students is to ensure that they are fully prepared for those exams and if that means teaching them how to play the ‘exam game’, then so be it.

Oh, and one more thing, if you are in a 1:1 school like I am, you may also want to give them handwriting practice…and ‘gift’ them a black pilot pen or two!

Cycle 3: iPad Trials in the WAB High School

We are now in Cycle 3 of our Collaborative Action Research iPad trials in the High School here at WAB. We are exploring how to use the iPad for transformative learning. Our research question is: In which areas is an iPad a better learning tool than the MacBook Pro?

In May 2013 we completed the analysis of Cycle 2 of our Action Research iPad project. We found that:
  • For a school that is already 1:1 MBP, the iPad does not outperform the computers in most areas. As one teacher put it, “MacBooks are the real workhorse,” and the student data reinforces that, with over half of students either unsure or disagreeing that iPads are an effective learning tool.
  • The areas where the iPad outperformed the MBP were in areas where the iPad was used at the redefinition level of the SAMR model. The iPad allowed for the creation of new tasks, which were previously inconceivable, even on the MBP such as using Coaches Eye and NearPod.
  • While we initially believed institutional ownership of the iPads would not be viable, given the iPads individualized nature, if only used for specific, transformative tasks, iPad carts seem a more reasonable way to go, rather than implementing 2:1 policy for 2013-14.
  • By far our biggest surprise lay in the power of the action research process to create a community of empowered learners.  Almost without fail, when surveyed as to the highlight of this project, for them, teachers replied, “Sharing ideas,” “It was interesting to see how different teachers utilized the iPads in their classroom,” and “Teachers from different departments work together, share ideas, and inspire each other. You can think out of box that iPads can be used in different ways in different subjects.”
Thus, we feel the need for another cycle, exploring how to use the iPad for transformative learning. We started in December 2013 and will publish our findings in May 2014. The course is available through iTunes U and is based on the course we developed for Cycle 2 with considerable revision.