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The PikeStance Experience

Students Independent Study; A Bad idea?

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Below is an email sent to all teachers with IBDP classes. (please see side bar for additional information.
[Note: The name of the student was changed]

Dear DP teachers,
We just had meeting with the parent of Nico DP1 and Effie DP2 separately. For your information only (please don’t share this with others especially the students)

  1. BeBop

It was requested on Friday 3rd April 2015 that BeBOP through her father wants a special arrangement in her study at school regarding her final 3 weeks before the final IB examination. She will come to school every day but having her own self study at school. She does not want to join the class anymore since she believes that her self-review for the final examination is more effective.
The have understood, agreed and sign the contract that:

  1. She might missed valuable review given by the teacher in the last 3 weeks (until 23rd April 2015)
  2. She might successful in IB Diploma but as she might missed tasks given during the last 3 weeks, this can be reflected which if not submitted will affect her final report card grade.
  3. She will be considered as absence during the class and it will be reflected in her report card comment.

Any question just let me know,

I need to note that I am not teaching "BeBop."
Today, my exceptional geography student asked if she could also spend her reviewing on her own, noting that she took notes on the topics we didn't cover in class yet.
I told her no. For class she was supposed to share her research on a case study. Her presentation of the information was cursory at best lacking depth and the information was unevenly treated. This puts her about halfway up the scale. My normally "6-7" student is giving me "4" work and thinks independent review will be good enough. I do not think so. The irony is she is a much better student than "BeBop"

I have had really only one student that I feel would had been capable of independent work. Ironically, that student would never request it. The benefit of a teacher is to give feedback and to offer perspective. There have been times this year when she even doubt some of the things I have said in class. It turned into a teaching moment when I instructed a research experiment. Her report reflected a new found faith as what I claimed was proven to be true. This is especially telling given what I said was common knowledge for geographers. Moreover, her reports are not always detail nor demonstrated a sophisticated understanding. It is through further discussion that we dig more deeply into the concept. Students may very well be able to research the content well enough, but its the higher level of learning; synthesizing, analyzing, and evaluating that they often fall short where the teacher can provide valuable insight.

[Small note in the IBDP I give a students a Predicted Grade based on her performance in class. The Final exam is shipped to an IB examiner, it is evaluated and a final grade given. Ideally, if I predict a "6," then the examiner should also give a "6." Also in the IBDP, only the last assessment counts for a grade.]


  1. Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar
    I think it depends on a lot of factors. This year for instance, I've found self-study to be a lot more productive than some of my lessons. For example, every week for one of my language lessons I'm asked to prepare two dozen or so new words and translate a text. Yet in the two hour class, all we do is go over said words and said text. Granted it reinforces the knowledge (which I can and already do on my own), but it isn't applied to anything and it doesn't feel like a productive use of contact hours with a teacher. Since I've effectively done all the work for the lesson before I even go there, there's little point in showing up, since I could use those two hours to learn something new or put what I have learnt to better use. The only point of going to class seems to be simply to prove you've prepared for it. So in this instance it's down to my own personal study regimen and my teacher's teaching methods. Granted a different kettle of fish to IB, but I thought I'd chime in
  2. PikeStance's Avatar
    A TWO hour class is a long class. Most block schedules are 1:20/ 1:30.
    I don't teach a foreign language so I have no knowledge of the pedagogy. Two hours seems like a lot of time for the same activity. Generally, you should have different activities. The hardest thing about teaching a class is when you have students of widely different ability levels. You do get a "wiz kid" on occasion. There really isn't much you can do to keep them interested. I was like that with social studies. If the school has a feedback survey, then it would be worthwhile thing to note. If thee are a lot of students in the room, the teacher may not realize you are not be challenge. He or she won't change unless they know there is something wrong. Another thing you can do is to approach the teacher and let him/ her know that you will like to do more because the class isn't challenging enough. You might be surprise that the teacher feels the same way as you and would be quick to offer you something more to do.