by Neha M '14

IB Changing

As the BSGE community embraced a new and better school year, the new juniors and their teachers welcomed a changes to the IB curriculum for certain courses.   With the introduction of such modifications, teachers and students alike have been adjusting to accommodate for the new assessments, topics and focuses.

The subject with the biggest changes in its curriculum was IB Math SL. The IB organization has altered the sequencing and the scope of the course, focusing in and placing more importance on certain topics rather than others. All students are now required to use the Third Edition Math SL Textbook rather than the first edition one. Jim Napolitano, BSGE’s Math SL teacher stated, “Certain things such as matrices have been moved to the senior’s curriculum while juniors will be dealing with other difficult topics, like rational functions.” Prior to the change in the IB curriculum, students were forced to complete “portfolios”, which focused on fostering every student’s individual math curiosity. However, now juniors have to do “explorations”. According to Jim, while the focus is similar, portfolios were harder and required a “different mindset and thinking process” than explorations.  In addition, new class sizes and the time constraint have made these curriculum adjustments harder on everyone. “The entire dynamic of the program is vastly different”, says Jim, who says he believes to be managing quite well.

The Second/Foreign Language course was also changed. The Chinese IB curriculum has added a new component to the oral section, where students are given a picture and asked to talk about it for a given period of time.  They are given five to ten minutes to prepare their notes on an index card, memorize them and present their image.  Ms. Shen, BSGE’S IB Chinese teacher states, “The new curriculum is actually easier on me and the students; it’s mostly a lot of memorization in a shorter period of time, which I like.” This new aspect to the exam aims to work on the student’s conversational skills, where they have to “think on the spot” and do not have something planned beforehand. She believes the only difficult thing is that every student learns differently and their skills vary (in reading, writing, listening, and speaking) which makes it harder to assess and help them.

Even IB Visual Arts underwent minor modification over the summer.  IB art students are now required to send a digital copy of their journal to graders, as opposed to mailing them pages from it.  Students also must record and send a digital video of their artwork to reviewers. Ms. McCabe finds this approach easier but sometimes harder to grade the students without actually having the work in front of the reviewer.