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First Draft Feedback

Saturday 1 July 2017

What am I saying the most?

This post will eventually be a full page in the new structure of the IA section. For now I thought it might be interesting to share as a blog post. This year I have 17 students in my IB1 class and we have been determined to complete the IA before the summer break. This prompted much of the thinking about the restructuring I have planned. Part of that thinking has been about providing students with the types of resources that can make them more self sufficient. I am sure we have all had the experience of repeating ourselves when talking to indivudal students. Sometimes that is just the way it is, at other times I think it is just inefficient. This year I lead students through a more rigorous process of going from idea to information to plan and insisted on all of those things being in place before students actually starte writing. I set a clear set of dates for each stage and to their credit, my students have done very well in sticking to them. I have spent the last week pouring through their first drafts. As I did, I copied all the annotations that I made so that I could go through them and loo, for patterns! This post is about that, my findings and consequent plans for next time.

The Process

Stage 1 - Students made me 3 project idea maps that klaid out the ideas, questions, hypotheses and potential of the the three ideas. I then advised them which of the three I felt would be most effective.

Stage 2 - Once settled on an idea, students were required to set out clearly exactly the information that they thought they would collect. In doing so, they were required to meet certain criteria I presented.

Stage 3 - Planning - This was about asking students to make explicit statements about exactly what processes they would use, which data they would use and what the purpose of the process was (making sure that this was explicitly linked with the statement of task). Students were asked to have this approved before they took the idea any further.

Stage 4 - The first draft - At this stage, students were given the detailed 'Writing Guide' and set off to write their first draft. In addition to the writing guide, I created this page on Using technology in projects for students on the '' sister site.

What did I get?

Well, we all know that there is a difference between giving students things to read and watch and them actually doing so. It was a very pleasant surprise to find that majority did! Because so many of the ideas I am usually having to comment on did not come up, I thought it woryn paying attention to what did so I know what to work on for next year!

A note on annotations

For anyone out there using managebac, I have found this a really useful way of providing feedback via annotations. If students upload their work to an assignement, then you can annotate the file where it is. When students gon to the assignment and choose 'Annotate' themselves, then they can see your annotations and add their own. This is appealing for 2 key reasons...

  1. There is no subsititute for adding annotations directly on the work to which you are referring. There are a few tools to help and students have a better chance of understanding exactly what you are saying.
  2. There is only one copy of the cdocument and its annotations, rather than multiple copies flying around via e-mail etc.

Other tools like, turnit in offer this facility. I don't know enough to say which tool does it better, but I know that many of us are already using managebac so, for that reason, it seemed the most sensible choice.

What did I say?

For interest, I have copied the comments directly below, but thought it would be useful to summarise them in to categories. I was really surpirsed to see that most of what remained for students to do centered around communcation. this was reassuring in some ways, because it meant that my resources had helped them really understand the IA process, the mathematics involved and the ideas of simple relevant investigation. Then I had some refelction to do about why these communication issues are what they are. My conclusion is that actually, theyt are rzquired to do this so rarely that it is to be possibly expected. Interesting that skills they learn for other subjects that require more written communication have not necessarily been translated to maths. These are the key points that I will reflect on in future. 

  1. How do build in more opportunity to practice this kind of communication?
  2. How do I help students transfer communication skills from other subjets to this one?

Here is a summary of the categories.....

Introductions and structure

Much of the advice was about having an explicit plan that was then followed. Even if I am only giving 2/3 here, I want see to this done better. Either separate paragrpahs or ullet points that show clearly how the project will be chopped up in to 3, 4 or 5 pieces that follow a logical order. As the reader, this sets the tone and I know what toe xpect. If the sections that follow mirror that then this does a lot for the communication

Sign posting

Lots of the projects had new sections that started without a heading or an opening paragraph (sentence or two) to help the reader know where they are and what was coming. A seemingly random graph would appear... The result was lost of comments about 'Signposting'. Where are we? Where are we going next?. Use of a headings structure, titles and labels. Next year I think I might introduce another stage where students are required to show me a document outline using the heading structure before they start writing. I was surprised to learn how many did not know about the navigation pane in word.

My Comments

The following are a selection of the comments I found my self writing...

Make sure you have an explicit list of the things you are going to do that you then follow exactly. Each process must be justified by a purpose. This was the planning phase. At the moment this is a bit grey and not easy to tell.

Consider using a headings structure where the headings match up with the sections you set out in your introduction match up.

Again, this just appears without a heading or any explanation. Give it a subheading and then a sentence or two to explain what is about to happen....

I think it would be useful to show an example of this in action.... Just show the process for calculating one of the means.

It would be good to get a PMCC using tech here just to back up what you are saying....

I really have no idea what this table is showing.....

I am worried about this. It seems like it could be really interesting, but I still don't get it. I am being a bit devils advocate about this just to point out that to a neutral reader this might get the same reaction

I don't think we do see that actually..... I also think this should be a scattergraph..... not a bar chart

I have you somewhere between 2 and 3 here. I think it would be useful to hear more of an explanation about your numbers. For example – how is it possible get the number of species in a given country. There must be some problems with this?

I am not seeing anything explicit enough here and think you have plenty to talk about…… I think the validity of your actual data is questionable. Not your fault, but you could talk about it. Also You might like to discuss how likely the link with GDP is – if there is a link what do we think about causation?

I think you have some work to do here. Pay careful attention to the advice given in the writing guide and in my annotations.  Much more signposting is needed. The reader needs to know where they are at and what is about to happen at all points. This does not need to be long winded and can be solved with headings and short explicit sentences.

½ at the moment, there is not a lot of maths here to use as evidence….. Also I, like I said, one of your graphs should be a scattergraph and not a bar chart and so this might even knock you back to 0 here…..

You need to get all ToK here Freddie. The list was made by an Anglophone magazine based in the USA... Is the outcome really shocking?

5/5 This is good stuff Freddie, BUT, I am hesitating a bit about the fact that you calculated a PMCC when it was pretty obvious that there was not going to be any correlation…..

What there is is evidence that most of the songs are older. There for there is a preference for older songs. I wonder, can you demonstrate this for us somehow

What about…. Grouping your songs in to decades

Plot a time series of Decade on the x-axis and number of songs included in the top 500. This might show an interesting pattern – You could then do a PMCC on this….

Then you could do it for the top 100. This might be even better because it looks a bit different to the rest….

I just think you need to bring this pattern out somehow… Then I will be happier to justify the mark.

Have you got the whole table Freddie? Might be worth puttin gin an appendix

You are making a good point, but you might need to emphasise that there is difference between judging by eye and  calculating. It might also be worth searching for a 'perfect' lack of correlation

So at the moment, your introduction does not contain a plan. this is key, please read this section and add.

This is a good start at explaining your data. Can I recommend that you have 2 separate sections. 1 for an introduction and another for explaining everything we need to know about the info you collected. Perhaps some annotations of your shown sample would be useful

I think you need to tell the reader a bit more. even though I know what your project is a bout, I am still asking 'the mean what?'

What is 100 more? 100 what?

Explicit labelling needed to stop your reader getting lost

These labels are so small as to be nearly illegible

use an equation and get a fraction 'Insert Equation'

What formula did you use for covariance? Where is it? Where can I see you substituting the numbers in?

This doesn't mean anything... A regression line should be in the form of a linear equation (y=mx+c for example)

This is  not a good scale to use - you need to focus on a section of the scale so we can see differences better.

Why? Each section should start with a brief outline of what the reader can expect. This can be a copy of what you put in the plan. this helps the flow a lot.

You might ned to give the uninitiated some background on 'Dr Who' Something about its cult following will help your project to make sense

I am considering three here because I think it is good data and you worked hard to put it together….. I’ll think about it. Perhaps if, in your section on data, you go through each data heading and tell me why you collected it what patterns you think it might show.

This could be clearer. if you wrap the text in the heading box and then narrow the columns, you'll get a better image with bigger text and less empty space....

These long left tails are interesting too... why might they be there?

And what might that tell us about that population?

You might like to try and say more about why you think some results turned out the way they did

I think it would also be good to explain a bit more about how you decided on your categories for the test….

In general, I think it needs a little more sign posting. The reader should know where they are at any time and what is happening. A sentence or two at the start of each section, clear labels and titles and annotations. Don’t forget, the reader has not been involved with your project and needs everything to be made clear.

Each section should begin with sentence or 2 about what is about to come. DOn't leave the reader guessing

Make a reference to the whole table appearing at the end. Say that you didn't want to interrupt the flow with the whole thing here

You have got two sections mixed up here. You should have an intro that has a very clear plan with the purpose of each thing in it.... THEN you should describe your data collection process. The stroy about the politics is a good one and you should tell it...

Does this mean average? If so then say so....

All these graphs should have their interpretations nearby... too much work for me to figure which bit of text goes with which graph


What about a sentence or two that outlines why you are interested in cyber attacks and why you think this might be a worthwhile exercise

This whole section is incomprehensible because nothing has labels or titles. The reader has no idea what is happening

DC? I am probably not alone in not knowing what you mean.....

So we need a clearer outline of your plan. I recommend either separate paragraphs or bullet points for each process....

This is a bit blurry and hard to read. Also lots of space - can you format your table so there is less space and the numbers are bigger?

Now here I need a sub heading. Clearly something new is about to happen. Sign post it with a heading, then a couple of sentences to explain what you are going to do and why. This might be a repeat of your plan.

Again, this is missing sign posts - the reader will be lost. Also the box plots need explicit labelling. I am left asking what variable you have used - guessing... searching... Frustrating..... This is all key to good communication.

Is this Marvel and DC combined? (still don't know what DC is)

Where are these numbers coming from? How can I check them?

Anyway you could format the table so that the numbers are clearer and there is less space?

Why might there be?

Observations and interpretations should really be put near or on the diagram so we can easily associate the two. here I am having to scroll too far down to see what you are going to say...

Wow - I am really impressed with this, although there are lots of problems. In short though, you have too many categories and not enough data, so too many of you expected frequencies are below 5. We need to rethink how you could combine some of your categories.

Perhaps you can tell us more about why it is significant that you have used ‘rate’ and ‘per capita’. It is significant!

You might need to elaborate here for the neutral reader....

It might help to see this as  separate paragraphs/bullet points so that the plan leaves a mark on the reader....

so what rate - per 1000?

Heading needed here.... signpost - what is coming next, then a sentence or two to set the tone....

Don't think we need all of these decimal places.... round

Distribution? I don't know what is on the Y axis here...

OK - we need a more descriptive introduction. What are you going to do and why? What do you think might happen.. Specifically what processes will you go through and why?

Would be good to see an example how you calculated one of these....

Some work to do here on wording.... correlation goes with scatter graph Not sure what you mean by mean predominant religion.... think is just a case of wording...



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