UNIS IB Conference, Day 1.5

I have a big “End-of-Year Reflection” post that I started but need a bit more time on. Basically I need to be able to sit on my couch and be useless for a few days before I can really process, and that hasn’t happened yet. Partly because of family obligations, but also because I was sent to a 3-day conference/training on the International Baccalaureate Math SL course.


  1. I get more information about the IB program which I don’t really know a lot about. We’ve had it at our school for years, but last year (my first at the school) I only taught Regents classes so I didn’t have a lot to do with it. I understand the idea of marks and papers and GDCs, but some of the more esoteric specifics were unfamiliar to me.*
  2. I’m slowly building a PLN of other IB educators that I can start to draw from. I’ve been searching on twitter but I can’t find a lot of high school teachers with a lot of experience teaching this curriculum. Granted no one here has taught SL before, but at least I’ll have other people to reach out to if I get completely stuck on something.
  3. The training is held at the United Nations International School, which has an awesome cafeteria. Breakfast and lunch are provided every day, and it’s like real food. Breakfast has been eggs and bacon and pastries, lunch was filet mignon yesterday and baked salmon with dill today. And yesterday they had a cocktail reception with free wine. Not a bad deal overall.


  1. I’m losing three days of my summer vacation. Granted I’m sitting here doing other things in addition to learning about IB, like cleaning out my inbox, but I’d rather not have to get up at 7:30am in the middle of July.
  2. Clearly if I have time to clean my email, I’m at least partly disengaged from the workshop. Partly this is because it’s July and school just ended a week and a half ago. ¬†But also partly because the workshop seems kind of scattered. Whenever there are 15 people who have questions and don’t understand something there are all sorts of questions rapid-firing all over the room, and tangents pop up all over the place. The problem is there’s not nearly enough structure for me, and every tangent loses me. Talking about scoring is useful, but after scoring Regents exams I’ve come to realize it’s difficult to predict anyway. I don’t know. We’re finally starting to talk about the Internal Assessment/Exploration so hopefully that will be more helpful, because it’s the thing I’m most uncomfortable with.

* For example: grading is like a four step process.  Final grades are out of 7, which is based on a total score out of 100 points. That 100 marks is comprised of 20 marks from the exploration (basically a paper/project), 40 marks from an exam with calculators, and 40 marks from an exam without calculators. But both of those exams are actually out of 90 marks. So the test is moderated, then scaled, and that scale corresponds to some grade range.

But wait, there’s more! The exploration is marked by the teacher, but the IB program requests 5-8 exams to be sent so they can moderate final scores. Based on how THEIR score compares with YOUR score, they moderate ALL the scores based on some regression. And again this score corresponds to some grade out of 7.

Each subject in the diploma programme (hey European spelling!) has some equally complicated method of calculating their own subject grade, and the diploma is based on some final score. Hypothetically speaking, you could do poorly on math (say, get a 2) but make up for it in other categories, but the bar gets adjusted up for every category you do really badly in. So many moving pieces.