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How we teach Theory of Knowledge effectively using Hodder Education resources

Paderewski Liceum

Dr Barbara Ostrowska, IB Theory of knowledge teacher, workshop leader and examiner, psychologist and an IB Psychology teacher, Międzynarodowe Liceum Ogólnokształcące Paderewski, Lublin, Poland

"All the chapters are full of excellent real-life examples and case studies that students can use straight away in their essays"

The new Theory of Knowledge (4th edition) handbook co-authored by Carolyn P. Henly and John Sprague (2020) is an excellent resource for all the students.

The layout is modern and clear which makes it attractive for the younger generation. All the chapters, activities and ideas are color-coded which makes it visually appealing and easy to navigate. What I love most about the layout is the glossary of difficult terms that appear in the text located in the margins. Having this glossary on the side makes it much easier to grasp the ideas presented, especially for the ESL students who often struggle with TOK concepts.

The activities designed for the purpose of this book are very interesting and I suspect they will be highly engaging for the students as well. For example, there are some inquiry-based activities that engage students in meaningful research, like the activity related to the personal data collection by internet companies in the Technology and Knowledge theme, which is very up to date and relevant for the students. All of the activities are connected to the reading material and allow students to make meaningful connections to what they read about broadening their knowledge and understanding at the same time, and calling for the use of real-life examples. There are also multiple discussion activities that will allow students to think deeper about the TOK-related issues. Additional materials are hidden under the QR codes which makes it an excellent supplementary material for the students. 

The book contains links to IA prompts and Knowledge questions which makes it easier for the teacher to relate to certain topics within the curriculum. What I also like are the TOK trap boxes which warn the students against some common mistakes in the assessed work. As teachers, we are able to discuss these points with students making sure they gain a proper understanding. They are also going to be very useful for the teachers starting their TOK teaching career as they will navigate them through the minefield of the TOK world.

I also really like “Related Ideas” boxes – I find them really useful as they will allow me, as a teacher, to compare and contrast multiple concepts and make sure students understand necessary distinctions. This simple activity will also allow the students to practice comparing and contrasting skills, so necessary in the TOK essay.

All the chapters are full of excellent real-life examples and case studies that students can use straight away in their essays. I really enjoy reading how they are unpacked and explained in simple language which will not be as hermetic and difficult to read as in other handbooks. The whole book is written in such a way that is should be much more approachable for the ESL students. What I also really appreciate, is the list of works cited which was often missing in other TOK handbooks – this allows me to go to the original source if necessary.

Overall, I really enjoyed this TOK handbook and will recommend it to my students. Together with “Skills for success” it will be an amazing resource for my TOK class where all of the students are ESL students. 

Find out more about Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma Fourth Edition >