A note regarding student essays for IB submission

Students –

Before we get too far involved in our next unit, I want to take a moment to appreciate two things about the student essays that were submitted.  Many of you invested time and effort into your essays and the vast majority of you work hard to help your peers to revise their essays.

The first thing I should do is start with an apology – many of you worked hard to make revisions on your work and there was very little way for me to acknowledge that reality as I scored your papers.  As I was using turnitin’s ap for the first time to read, evaluate, and score your essays, there were some positives (like I could read and score them more quickly than on paper), but also some disappointing things I realized.  Turnitin’s ap doesn’t have a way for me to select any positive comments.  The only options are ‘vague’, ‘wordy’, ‘word choice’, ‘support’ and the like.  As far as I can tell (and I’m still a novice), there are no positive comments in their menu, so there was no way for me to give you positive feedback in an efficient manner.  It was the case that many of you had strong papers – even if the IB rubric limited your scores for one thing or another.  I’d really like the opportunity to talk with you about your paper if you have the time/desire to chat about your writing.  Find a time to meet with me before/lunch/after school and we can go through it.  I believe that many of you have great potential as writers and I’d appreciate the opportunity to show you how to take your writing to the next level. 

The second thing is that I am disappointed in a few of you.  Far more than a handful of students made very little effort to improve their essays.  Despite the reality that I saw MANY quality peer editing comments, far too often student authors ignored the suggestions altogether.  Here’s what I saw when I looked carefully at the drafts:

  • several student authors ignored comments from editors that did an excellent job reading papers.
  • several students changed less than twenty words from their ‘first’ draft to their submitted draft.
  • several authors wrote ‘second draft’ or ‘third draft’ on a draft that was essentially unchanged from the previous draft.
  • several authors had two or more edits on the same draft (that is good), but failed to have editing on other drafts.  In effect, this left them with editing on only one draft instead of three.

Perhaps these few students ignored my previously published comments on the February 10th blog post which clearly stated:

your work will be evaluated based on the effort and changes you make …  All students (even those who have previously submitted the essay for evaluation in the fall) should be making substantial changes…  Please don’t think that sticking with the same (difficult) prompt exempts you from needing revisions to your initial draft.  Your grade will be determined with these two things in mind:

  • the quality of peer editing you seek out
  • and the quality of the changes you have made based on that feedback.

I am mostly done with the process grades for the essay drafts.  I will upload them when I have the oppoutunity this weekend.


Homework for Thomas Kuhn

Tonight’s homework is to read chapter two in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  If your book hasn’t arrived, print out the pages from this link

Remember to make sure that you always meet these three criterion with your notes:

    1. You have identified the important passages
    2. You have written commentary to suggest the significance of the passages
    3. You have synthesized the ideas into your own words

Additionally, we will continue to take in-class notes on the ideas/questions that we have as we work through the text. 

Although it seems obvious, it bears repeating that it is my expectation that each student meets the following criterion:

  • is able to use a variety of reading strategies to better understand collegiate-level work
  • is able to understand Kuhn’s ideas and can paraphrase significant passages from the text
  • is able to synthesize the main arguments from the text and use a quotation to support that synthesis
  • is able to evaluate specific passages or ideas in the text

With this in mind, it is important for students to do their own work and to refrain from using summaries or encyclopedias to do the analysis in lieu of student thought.  In all facets of this process, students are expected to be able to demonstrate their own thinking and the steps they’ve taken in this process.

Kuhn Quiz to chapter

Given, that we are reading selections from Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions in order to:

  1. learn strategies to read challenging texts
  2. create effective notetaking/synthesizing strategies
  3. analyze his argument [using our brains and not using online/other sources]
  4. and lastly, to determine whether or not he is correct…

our homework is to: complete a reading of chapter one with some form of notes to show for it.

IF you own your own book, you may take notes in your book.  If you’ve checked out a school text, I need a way to discern the difference between your ideas and any previous reader of the text.  With that in mind, the best way for you to achieve that is to take notes on separate paper.

By Wednesday, you should be able to answer questions on chapter one like the following  Structure of Scientific Revolutions Quiz on chapter 1.

You don’t need to complete the quiz, only to know how you would respond.  I do, however, recommend answering the red questions.

For each prompt, read the excerpt and respond to the italicized directions.  Show your understanding of the author’s views expressed in the excerpt in your response.  Fill in blanks where directed to do so.

From page 1  “Those texts have, for example, often seemed to imply that the content of science is uniquely exemplified by the observations, laws, and theories used in gathering textbook data, together with the logical operations employed when relating those data to the textbook’s theoretical generalizations.”  What does this passage mean?  Does Kuhn think this is a good thing?  Why/why not?

1  “The result [of what?                                                                 ] has been a concept of science with profound implications about its nature and development.”  What are the implications?  Explain.

According to Kuhn, are the implications wrong?

If science is the constellation of facts, theories and methods collected in current texts, then scientists are the men who… have striven to contribute one or another element to that particular constellation.”  Explain the metaphorical language in literal terms.  What does Kuhn mean?

From page 2  “In recent years, however, a few historians of science have been finding it more and more difficult to fulfill the functions that the concept of development-by-accumulation assigns to them….  “Perhaps science does not develop by the accumulation of individual discoveries and inventions”  How, then does science develop according to Kuhn (hint: his answer is implied, not literal)?

2  What problems arise if “historians…[have] difficulties in distinguishing the ‘scientific’ component of past observation and belief from what their predecessors had readily labled ‘error’ and ‘superstition’?  [When they study discarded ideas, they realize] those once current views of nature were… neither less scientific nor more the product of human idiosyncrasy than those today? ”

  • Paraphrase his argument in this passage. 
  • What does Kuhn suggest about the ability of scientists to know the truth? 

On page 3, Kuhn arrives at the idea that “these historical studies suggest the possibility of a new image of science.”  From what you know already, what does Kuhn see as this ‘new image of science’?  How does Kuhn see science and scientific development? Respond on the back of this sheet.

On page 5, Kuhn discusses the Education that scientists go through to become scientists.  What impact does this education have on science?  Explain.  Be as specific as possible.

On the bottom of page 5, Thomas Kuhn uses the term ‘normal science’ as a concept.  By ‘normal science’ he does mean the way that scientists function normally, but he also implies several other things.  In what ways does normal science limit what scientists can learnWhat else is involved in ‘normal science’ according to Kuhn?

7  What does Kuhn mean by ‘scientific revolutions’?  Use a diagram to further clarify your explanation.

How do scientific revolutions impact the development of science?[see page 7]

  “New theory implies a change in the rules governing the prior practice of normal science”  “seldom or never just an increment to what is already known”  reconstruction of prior theory and the re-evaluation of prior fact”            Did Einstein change science or “history” and “myths” of science?  Is there a difference?

Could it build on prior results but abolish prior interpretations?  Does it just change the schemas?

Growth spurts, continuous growth, or both?  Why can’t there be less revolutionary findings?

  “does not simply add one more item to the population of the scientist’s world”

Does everything necessarily alter the schema?  Do all things do so to a meaningful extent (noticable)?