News, Info and IB Student and Staff Blogs

September 17, 2016
by Ann Lautrette

2 + 2 = fish

At BSJ our mission is ‘to inspire, challenge and nurture for excellence’.

But what does it mean ‘to inspire’? What is ‘inspiration’? And why is it so important?

What got me thinking about this was actually a lack of inspiration. I try to write a blog post every Friday, but yesterday I didn’t have anything particularly interesting that I felt inspired to write about. So, last night I sought the help of the littlest member of my family…

‘Oscar’, I said over dinner, ‘I can’t think of anything to write my blog post about today. Any ideas?’

And Oscar said ‘2+2=fish’.

Like a good student of TOK I didn’t just dismiss this out of hand. Rather I asked ‘what do you mean?’ And eight year old Oscar took a post it and a pen and showed me that yes indeed 2+2=fish:

Not Oscar’s drawing: From: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-explanation-of-this-puzzle-2-+-2-Fish-3-+-3-8-7-+-7-Triangle

So this inspiration from my son inspired me to write about inspiration. Google’s dictionary defines ‘inspiration’ as ‘being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.’ Now that seems both easy and difficult at the same time. All you really need is mental stimulation – ok that’s the easy bit. But, where do you get that from? And how can school ‘inspire’ you?

Reflecting on this, I think the first step to being inspired is to be aware. You really have to pay attention to what’s going on around you because actually this is likely your source of inspiration. I’m always struck by the frequency with which students turn to the internet when asked for ideas. In literature we give students texts to read and one of the first things they do is look up how someone else has interpreted it, but actually this is really not the point of IB literary study – plus literature is about making meaning for you as much as it is about critically assessing the meanings others have made. Similarly in TOK, we’ve started the essay with our year 13 students and they cannot go online to check what they should write their essays about, they have to use what they’ve learned through both shared and personal knowledge and apply TOK concepts to it. This is the whole point of TOK. In the same way, the Extended Essay requires students to come up with their own idea for a research topic and question – there is no point doing what someone else has already done – that won’t add anything to the body of knowledge already in the world and it isn’t the point of the Extended Essay.

So the IB Core is asking students to be inspired and to have inspiration. As a school then, what we do is create the space and the experiences where inspiration can happen. I’m writing this while watching my older son create an animal which can survive in the desert. He’s writing about how his Sponge Spike Snake is covered in spikes which can soak up and store water when needed, but can also turn into hard spikes for protection and sand-digging. This is his Year 5 homework. And I know that this comes after work on animal adaptation and survival and a trip to Taman Mini to see how animals survive. He’s really enjoying the creative process and so I think that’s the perfect example of how, at BSJ, we create that space for inspiration.

But, creating experiences is one part of the picture, the other is the student’s ability to pay attention to those experiences, to reflect on them and to produce something creative out of them.

It’s not easy to pay attention these days. Distraction is everywhere and we are more and more multitasking with technology. How then do we just stop, and pay attention to the world around us? The popularity of mindfulness seems to be a response to this.

So to seek inspiration and to become creative, perhaps practising focus and managing distraction is a great starting point. If we can fully experience what happens around us and stay in the moment we can find inspiration. Perhaps this is something our IB students can think about when they are stuck for ideas to blog about. What’s happened around you? What did it make you think about? Can you apply TOK concepts to it and think out loud in a blog post?

And, if you really get stuck for inspiration, you can always ask an eight year old.




October 30, 2015
by Ann Lautrette

Claims and cold coffee

TOK is everywhere for TOK teachers. A simple visit to the mall turns Year 12 Cold Coffee experience thanks to Mr Thirkell, who tried some coffee in Bintaro Exchange and decided it would make a great real life situatio20151030_125821n for our Year 12 students.

So today, Kopi Ranger came in and presented their cold coffee product with a fascinating explanation of the way coffee is produced in Indonesia and a taste test of three different varieties of coffee. I learned something – I thought cold coffee was essentially just cooled hot coffee, but no. It turns out that cold coffee is made by soaking the coffee in cold water for 18 hours and this produces a smoother coffee which has less effect on the stomach.20151030_130637

They did make a lot of claims though. The use of Arabica beans, a halal product, different coffee flavours. How do we know any of this is valid? Well, as good TOK students would our students asked these questions and I was pleased to see that they’ve learned not to take claims with a pinch of salt.

We also had Ms. Williams come over to do some live science! – testing the PH values20151030_134327 of three different types of coffee. We’d really like students to reflect on how many different Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing could be involved in what they experienced today:

Natural Sciences: How do the chemical and biological properties of the coffee products affect our sense perception?

The Arts: How does the creative labelling and language used to describe the product affect our beliefs in its validity?20151030_130654

Human Sciences (Geography): Does the geographical situation of the coffee beans influence the way we imagine it to taste?

Ethics: How ethically is the product produced from bean to beverage?

Indigenous Knowledge Systems: How did anyone ever know to make coffee? The visitors today told us indigenous peoples realised the effects on their goats from eating these strange ‘berries’. The goats danced! What would traditional coffee making practices look like versus the scientific process we explored today?

Is there any connection between coffee and emotion? Show any emotional distress in front of a Brit and they’ll ‘put the kettle on’ because we all know that a nice cup of tea makes everything better – is it the same with coffee?

Hopefully thinking about this can be part of a larger process of our Year 12s connecting their thinking in Core to their subject lessons. What kind of claims are made in Biology, in History, in English? And how are they validated differently in the different Areas of Knowledge?

This weeks blog posts have been connected to claims and the validation of them because that has been the major focus of our week. Audrey wrote a lovely post on the realisation that butter may not be bad for you after all (or so says The Daily Mail) and Andrew wrote about how altering pig DNA could provide organs for humans. Rayhan wrote an excellent post abBlog post of the weekout how we might personally disprove claims – even as a young child.

But the Post of the Week this week belongs to Winston for this informative, but highly engaging post about how to validate a claim.

Students, I urge you to read these posts and think about what makes them great: it’s not only the understanding and application of learning that is shown, it’s mainly the style – a blog post needs to be directed towards a reader, it needs to draw you in by talking to you in your own language, by using amusing examples, or things you can relate to. It isn’t academic in style, it’s not an essay. Make it your goal to think about the reader when you write.
Comment of the Week this week goes to Audrey, for reminding Josh that he should award himself Digital Badges! Thanks Audrey!BadgeComment




This week’s Blogger of the Week is Puspa, who not only shared a post about claims but wrote an endearing description of her mesocosm in Biology, her little beanstalk called ‘Jack Frost Anderson’ and posted a wonderful picture of herself proudly posing with her survivor from ‘the middle of the dry dirt and the dirty waters’ of her mesocosm.

bloggerofthe weekbadge







So bloggers, what does next week bring? Where will you push to develop your ATLs? How will you apply TOK thinking to your subjects and life in general? And how will you engage your readers?

Over to you.


February 18, 2013
by Ann Lautrette

Welcome to BSJ IB!

Welcome to the brand new BSJ IB blogging network.

This blog will be a vital part of your learning in the IB Core, a digital portfolio of your skill development, a record of your CAS experiences and projects, and represents a positive digital presence for you to develop through your time in IB at BSJ. You’ll also be able to take it with you when you leave!

You will need to use your school email address to register your blog, and over the next few weeks you will be designing and personalising your blog as well as getting to grips with blogging as a written style.

Happy blogging!

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