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There are a lot of factors to consider when putting a course together: assessment, holidays, timetables, course requirements and

IB deadlines. Although this may seem overwhelming, you will find that if you ask yourself the right questions in the right order, many of the puzzle pieces will fall into place. The challenge lies in prioritizing and sequencing. Keep in mind that we want the most worthwhile learning experiences for the students. On this page you will find: a list of questions to help you plan your course guidance on curriculum design and external assessment guidance on curriculum design and internal assessment a sample weekly planner

Backward planning
Here are eight questions to ask yourself when designing a curriculum and planning a course. As you create a plan, it helps to have a large calendar and post-its or labels that can be easily moved around.

1. 2.


When are the holidays, test weeks, vacations and field trips? When are the IB deadlines? How do you want to set your deadlines (i.e. internal deadlines) in relation to these? Do you have to consider any deadlines or exams for national exams or in-school testing? How many weeks do you need to prepare for internal and external assessment? Will you have a round of mock exams for both internal and external exams? Mock exams are often used as a means of preparation. If your school has test weeks, where classes are cancelled for testing, you may have more time to run mock exams. How many written tasks, further oral activities, or practice exams will you want to have at SL and HL? How will all parts of the course be represented in the final written task portfolio? What kind of workload can your students handle? When are good deadlines for written tasks? Will you take a part-by-part approach, a holistic approach or both? If you take a part-by-part approach, in which order will you tackle each part? If you take a holistic approach, make a



list of several themes that you will use. Is there an equal representation of all parts in these themes? 6. Which texts are you going to read for Parts 3 and 4? Which topics are you going to study from Parts 1 and 2? (See page on selecting texts for help.) Another possible approach to the course content: Is there a favorite text (literary or non-literary) that you have taught? Check the learning outcomes and topics for each part to see in which context you can continue to teach these texts? Are there theoretical concepts that you like to teach directly, such as literary devices, propaganda techniques or advertising techniques? Which texts do you use to teach these? Can you meet the learning outcomes by teaching these texts? Can you study a suggested topic while focusing on these terms? How many weeks will you need to deal with a topic (Parts 1 and 2) or literary text (Parts 3 and 4), before you feel that you have met one or more of the learning outcomes?



Sequence and external assessment

Working backwards, we can start at the end, with the exam in May or November. During the exam session, students have two papers to sit. Paper 1 - students use the analytical skills they have learned in Parts 1 and 2 to analyze one (Standard Level) or two (Higher Level) nonfiction texts. Because this exam tests skills, we need to be sure we are developing these skills continuously through the course. Skills are slow-growing plants, and need frequent watering and feeding, so we need to be sure that we scaffold our students' learning at the start of the two years so that they can perform independently by the end. Paper 2 - students respond to one question and use their Part 3 texts to answer the question. It is therefore important for students to have studied their Part 3 texts last, right before the exam, as these texts will be fresh in their minds, and examples will hopefully be ready and present in their memories. Written task - The written tasks can be related to any part of the

course. Standard Level students complete at least three tasks, while Higher Level students must complete at least four. Students need to be given ample opportunities to practice their skills in this area, and we suggest writing at least one written task for each part of the course. This way students have a choice in what they submit.

Sequence and internal assessment

Individual oral commentary - students analyze an extract from a text for Part 4 of the course. Generally, students abilities improve as they mature, and it is best to carry this exercise out in the second year. Some schools set internal dates for the orals, as they require some coordination. The latest possible date will be just a week before the IBO deadline, but this is not a good idea. Students and teachers fall ill, life intervenes. However, it may be possible to do this oral earlier in the second year, so that students are not focusing solely on Part 3 and Part 4 for the last six months of the course. Further oral activity - students present at least two orals based on Part 1 and Part 2. As teachers submit one mark to the IB for this, students should be doing many orals so that they improve their abilities in time, and teachers can select the strongest performance. These orals should be scheduled during the teaching of Parts 1 and 2.

Possible sequence
Below is a possible sequence. There are several points worth noting: The sequence goes: Part 1, Part 4, Part 2, and Part 3, followed by several holistic units for review and revision. This sequence ensures a balance on non-literary and literary texts. All forms of assessment have been done at least once in the first year. Note that in order to run all forms of assessment in the first year, students practice writing a Paper 2 on the short stories that comprise a Part 4 work. There is a written task 1 and 2 that correspond to each of the Parts of the syllabus. See the pages on written tasks to learn more. There are 3 further oral activities. The best one counts. Notice that while all Part 4 works are read in the first year, the final

assessment of these (the individual oral commentary) is actually in the second year. Students must revisit them, which has its advantages and disadvantages.