Thursday 1st March 2018

One bite at a time. A short intro to managing workload in the IB Diploma ...

The transition from NCEA Level 1 to the IB programme has its challenges.  It's not surprising that it sometimes takes boys a term or so to get their heads around it.  Yes, the level of work takes a significant leap, but then so does the level required for NCEA Level 2.  Perhaps the biggest change, and challenge, is that boys are training to peak at the end of Yr 13.  There is no short sharp standard that is completed in 3 weeks, - take a test, pick up the credits, forget it, move on.  The IB recognises that deep learning takes time, it is a cumulative process and builds not only by repetition and revision but also by connections, approaches, and attitudes that exist across subjects.   Core IB concepts such as international mindedness and the critical thinking that drives much of the TOK programme are also central to boys wider understanding and developing depth of understanding.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.

If we accept that as a valid analogy then we are well on the way to managing the process.  Boys will be far less likely to succeed if they expect their native ability will see them through with a frantic burst before exams.  High achievement in the IB goes hand in hand with a consistent and regular commitment to reading, revision, and engagement.  Engagement means making the best use of the time in class - ask questions, answer questions, seek feedback on your work, and involve yourself in discussion and debate on the issues and topics at hand.  

While such advice is nothing new to anyone, there are some specific things that parents will be able to monitor and drive to assist the process.  This year, the IB Programme has moved to using online texts provide by Kognity, a Swedish company that provides these resources specifically for the IB.  All boys will have these available for at least 2 of their IB subjects and some will have 3 or 4.  As well as full interactive coverage of the syllabus, these texts also incorporate a huge number of assessment items that boys can access and that teachers can assign.  The real beauty of this system is that the system monitors how boys have done as they complete sections and answer questions.  These 'strength tests' generate slider bars against each topic which indicate their understanding as low, medium or high.  Over time these bars all move down to low then eventually disappear.  Boys are expected to keep all topics they have covered in the high zone meaning that regular revision must be done - re-reading sections and completing further strength tests. Teachers can also monitor this process either individually or as a class.   Boys can also engage in 'strength battles' where they compete in a topic with boys from their own class or even with a random IB student around the globe. Competition is often a great motivator for boys.  Ask your boys to view their texts and see for yourself if boys are meeting their revision expectations.

As in previous years, all assessment results and feedback comments are entered into KAMAR and will be viewable via the parent portal.  The formal reporting timeline will also be the same with interim reports going out later in term 1 and full written reports going home mid-year.  As always we are happy to respond to specific queries or concerns you may have as to your son's performance at any time.

IB students, like all other students, have a multitude of commitments - sports, music, homework, assignments, jobs, family etc.  It is part of growing up to progressively manage these things independently.  Encourage your boys to create a manageable schedule that meets all these commitments and that also leaves adequate of time for leisure and social activities - we do not want any student burning out or losing passion for a programme that potentially delivers so many opportunities and benefits.  Helping your boys to regularly schedule that 'one bite at a time' will go a long way.

One last tip for boys wishing to wrest back control of their workload:  write every task you need to complete on a sticky note and stick it on your wall under "To Do".  As you complete each task, move it to the right under a new heading, "Done".  The sense of achievement, satisfaction, and control that you gain by such a tangible approach is significant and can prevent the "possum in the headlights" response that can kick in when people become stressed or overloaded.

One bite at a time is a simple and effective strategy - but you still have to pick up the fork!