Russell Quinlan ib history, tok teacher & ib moderator

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  • Russell Quinlan
  • IB History, TOK Teacher & IB Moderator
  • MAIS Conference, Tunisia, 7 November 2010, 12:50 – 13:45
  • Expected to be 1st year university level writing
  • Assessments by teachers & many new assistant examiners tend to be too lenient
  • Require concise, yet, cogent response
  • Paper 2 Questions tend to be broad questions
  • Need to be unpacked:
    • What is it asking the student to do?
    • What is it not asking the student to do?
  • Does not ask for a comment or reference to current situation—stay in history
  • Demonstration of historical understanding is the foundation of the essay—not rhetoric, not style, not imagination
  • Structure alone will not achieve upper markbands
    • Structure not more important than historical understanding
  • Not a historiographical essay
    • Does not necessarily demonstrate historical understanding
  • Inaccurate information is a concern
    • Does not subtract points
    • Does limit the attainment of markband levels
  • Historical understanding v. historical information
    • Not marked on basis of facts
    • However, how can historical understanding be demonstrated with flawed or without historical knowledge?
  • Integrated compare/contrast is best structure
  • Region by region response is fine:
    • Reference subject from other region, i.e. “Stalin implemented a program of industrialization, as did Mao, called the Five Year Plans.”
  • Response should balance material from each region
    • Avoid 5 paragraphs on Hitler & 2 on Castro
  • Things to Do
  • Things to Avoid
  • Critique the question to understand what is being asked of you
  • Answer based on a few key words, i.e. WW I or Hitler
  • Make analysis claims
  • Use relevant HK to support claims
  • One-off pieces of evidence, i.e 1 HK to support a thematic factor, or no evidence to support claim
  • Be specific with evidence, i.e. use ‘petty bourgeoisie’ instead of ‘people,” be careful with over use of pronouns
  • Assume the reader has prior knowledge, i.e don’t simply state ‘5-Year Plan’ identify it as industrialization
  • Consider multiple interpretations, i.e. responsibility for causing WW I (need not be historiography)
  • Metaphors, i.e. ‘put on the map’
  • Identify & use relevant HK, evidence that addresses what the question wants you to do
  • Long introductions; go right to the answer unlike in a formal essay that requires a good intro
  • Be comprehensive, i.e. effects of WW I include more than Germany and/or Europe
  • Information beyond the chronological parameters of a question, i.e. info on rise of leader when questions asks for rule
  • Identify cause/effect, themes, significant factors
  • Rely on historiographical terms as substitute for demonstrated understanding, i.e. revisionist
  • New information in last paragraph
  • Answer the Question Asked, not the one hoped for
  • Assume the reader/examiner has no prior knowledge
  • Explain the story: chroniclers tell the story; historians tell the story & explain why it happened the way it did
  • Write a structured essay
  • Thematic approach preferable… but not necessary to reach higher markbands (mark 13-15 level descriptor: “Answers are structured (either chronologically or thematically) using relevant evidence to support historical arguments.”
  • Support knowledge claims & analytical assertions w/reference to specific historical knowledge
  • Be comprehensive
  • Give multiple interpretations—need not be historiography: e.g. Korean War as both civil war & limited war
  • Advise students w/ less developed skills to answer more specific questions & avoid more general questions
  • Assume No Prior Knowledge:
  • “Russia was expected to take six weeks to mobilize according to the Schelliffen [sic] Plan masterminded by Germany to win a two-front war. It banked on a quick defeat of France by concentrating German forces on France, and after defeating them within six weeks, moving the majority of forces to the Eastern Front to fight off the Russians who supposedly would have just mobilized.”
  • Thematic Approach:
  • “Mussolini was able to ascend to his dictatorship due to the support of the people and traditional elite, the weakness of his opposition, his presidential position and the crisis of Matteotis’s [sic] murder.”
  • Support w/Specific HK:
  • “The containment policy was made as a result of George Kennan’s Long Telegram, in which Kennan claimed that the Soviet Union was an aggressive expansionist…
  • The Long Telegram was written by the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, George Kennan. In his telegram Kennan described the Soviet Union as aggressive, oppressive and would take advantage of any weak links and turmoil in the democratic world to expand communism. Kennan concluded that though the Soviet Union seemed strong, in reality America was more powerful and should actively stand up to the Soviets. These thoughts developed into the Containment Policy. “
  • Explain the Story:
  • “The German Blockade was set up by Britain to stop Germany from importing raw materials and war supplies. Germany depended heavily on raw materials imported from its colonies. Thus the blockade was one of the deciding factors of Germany’s defeat in WWI. However, Germany also depended on imports to feed its population. The British enforced blockade disregarded the survival requirements of the Germany population and vicariously targeted civilians, it is estimated that around 750,000 Germans died of starvation caused by the blockade. It is unlikely that Britain did not anticipate the devastating results the blockade would have on German civilians so another viable explanation of the blockade was enforced intentionally to wreck Germany’s power to continue resistance. This means that World War I was a total war in which Britain did not differentiate between civilian and military targets in order to totally destroy Germany.”
  • Writing an essay based only on key words from a question, i.e. Hitler
  • Waste time on historical information outside the boundaries of the question, especially chronologically
  • Long introductions—exam essays do not use same format as formal essays
  • Assume reader/examiner knows what is meant—students responsibility to demonstrate his/her understanding
  • Sweeping generalizations
  • Stand alone historical knowledge: i.e. Austria’s ultimatum to Serbia
  • Using metaphors—obscures understanding for this type of essay
  • Using historiographical terms without demonstrating understanding
  • New information in the last paragraph
  • Sweeping Generalization:
  • “He [Mao] controlled propaganda and proscribed what was allowed to be said and what wasn’t. He therefore also manipulated the Chinese people into supporting him, since he made everything sound and look nicer than what it really was in reality.”
  • Stand Alone HK:
  • “Mao’s ideology was Maoism, also referred to as Marxist-Leninists. It focused on peasantry and industrial development.”
  • Social & Cultural Questions
  • Guerilla Warfare
  • Nature of Warfare (air, naval, technology)
  • Role & Status of Women
  • Ideology
  • Economic Questions
  • Propaganda Questions
  • Less Directed Questions (quagmires for weaker students)
  • How to unpack a question
  • Demand specificity when students speak
  • Teach thematic approach to writing (no later than second year of IB)
  • What is a relevant response
  • Focus on explaining, analyzing, identify cause/effect

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