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. 

Day 27

Two spectacular days of walking – fantastic views and scenery. We are staying in Samos across the road from the Benedictine Monastery – We could have stayed in the Monastery for a donation only but I decided that I didn’t want to sleep on a bunk bed in a dormitory for 70 people.

So day 27 over and we are closer to the 100km – it will be all over soon. I never thought I would get this far and in such good spirits – surprise!!

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Day 24

We are at a lovely Albergue in Pieros and now have less than 200km to go. We are in a quiet, rural Spanish village away from the hustle and bustle of marching pilgrims and the cyclists. The weather is hot getting to about 40 degrees and so we only managed just under 20 km today. In the next day or so we will cross the final mountain range and begin our descent to Santiago. It’s going to get busy as many want to be in Santiago for the festival of St James on the 25th.

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Day 14, 15 and 16

Day 14 – I just can’t quite remember….

Day 15 started with a 17km stretch of nothing. So glad I downloaded a trashy summer reading audio novel to pass the time. We stopped in a lovely Albergue and even managed to get our own room at 10€ each – although the bathrooms were communal and mixed! We had a lovely afternoon and evening exchanging stories of pilgrims we had met on the way. We seem to be walking with the same set of people for the past few days. Our favourites are Michel (22) and his mother who are from Vienna. Everyone has a story and a reason to do the Camino – retirement, death in family, dumped by boyfriend, chucked in the job…we probably have the least profound reason…just going for a walk?!

Day 16 was not the most inspiring of walks today but we are in a pretty good hostel – the hierarchy is hotel, hostel, pension, albergue. Now having a cool beer, some green olives while waiting for dinner at 8

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Day 11, 12 & 13

I don’t know what happened to day 11! Last night we stayed in a guest house in a very pretty place called Castrojeriz (35€) and the night before we stayed in a private albergue in Rabe de las Calzadas (8€ each) Tonight we are in the municipal albergue in Fromista (7€ each). The level of accommodation varies with the price but as long as we get a shower and bed with clean sheets and towels to ourselves every three or so days I think I’ll survive! Here are some photos from the last few days:

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Day 9 & 10

We started out quite late from Santo Domingo De Le Calzada but still managed to walk over 30km to Villambista. We stayed in a tiny Albergue in a dormitory with 8 sets of bunk beds – very cosy after our previous night where we probably could have packed in at least 10 bunks. This morning we left at about 6:30 and walked until about 3 in the afternoon – so about 7.5 hours with the odd break. The scenery is changing and we are out of the vineyards and into the wheat & barley fields. Here are some pictures from The last couple of days:

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Day 7 & 8

After two really long days of walking we are now in Sto. Domingo de la Calzada. I think it’s between 560 and 550 km to Santiago de Compostela. We have checked into a hotel – a really nice (and expensive) one to have a break from the dormitory experience and communal washing facilities. What a luxury to have clean starched sheets and fluffy towels! We’ve walked through some stunning scenery and although the weather has been drizzly, it was much better than full sun with very little shade. We are just about to venture out for dinner and will probably bump into a number of fellow walkers who will be wondering why we are not in the auberge. I expect we’ll opt for the Pilgrims meal again unless we want to wait until after nine for an a la carte menu – however by that time we may have passed out from exhaustion helped with a few beers.

Here are some unedited images from the past couple of days:

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Day 6 and I think all is well

We’ve arrived in Viana, Navarra – OK, I have no idea where that is but we are almost in the Rioja region which means more great wine.

We are in a bar sipping ice cold San Miguel’s and catching up with the world on our smartphones – one of us being a little more productive…and having to provide tech support every two minutes
(Harry, why oh why did we buy him
A bloody Samsung for his birthday?).

It was spectacular scenery today – what I could see through the rain drops on my glasses. I have a very impressive rainproof black poncho – it scores an impressive 10/10 for comfort and practicality and a minus 10/10 for style and fashion. Do I care? Tonight it will double as my sleeping bag as we are in an auberge (6 Euro) that doesn’t supply blankets (and even if it did, I’m not sure I would want to share it with the bed bugs). So after dinner I will be putting on ALL of my clothes including a pair of Spanish Old Ladies thick black tights that I have just purchased so that I may get some sleep. We’ve only brought silk inner sleeping bags and didn’t bother with proper ones. Weight vs Comfort.

Here are some highlights from today:

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