Individuals and Societies

Social Science TEACHERS

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Celebrating History with Arts

The Grade 5 students had a blast understanding important events in African history through visual and performing arts.

For African culture, each student was given the choice to make an African mask or create an African drum. All of them used recycled materials like tissue rolls, old containers, or paper plates. They enjoyed painting their work and some took the extra mile and added decoration for that extra oomph.

For our discussion on West African kings, they had to create a puppet show depicting the likes of Mansa Musa and Sundiata. They created backdrops and puppets again out of recycled materials. So proud of their hard work! Mask1 Puppet show Mask2

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Ancient Africa: Gold and Salt Trade

For the 2nd Quarter, the class has been learning about Ancient African Empires. We focused on Ghana and discovered how salt was very much valued. In fact, Africans even traded gold for it! One activity the students did was to perform a salt preservation experiment. Using apple slices, they submerged them into different solutions using lemon, vinegar, and salt. The control variable was an untreated apple slice. After about four days, the students were pleased to see that the slice treated with salt solution was the most preserved. Here are my kids’ experiment:



They also watched a Teded video on how ancient Egyptians used various alkaline salts to preserve mummies. They agreed that salt is indeed important!

We also did a simulation of the ancient gold and salt trading that occurred in Western Africa. The students were divided into groups, namely Wangarans, North Africans, and Soninkes. Then, they had to do ‘silent trading’ with the help of the Soninkes. The objective was to collect as many pairs of salt and gold as possible despite the obstacles set-up in the classroom to imitate the African geographical landscape.


Here are the kids hurdling the obstacles!

IMG_1741 IMG_1742

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BM Exam tips

(adapted from Business Management, 3rd ed., Paul Hoang. pp. 582-591)

Tip #1 Learn your command terms. Refer to your notes and  BM subject guide.

What is “evaluation”?

  • Evaluation compares different views about a business management issue or problem.
  • Views and arguments are substantiated with examples and evidence provided where possible.
  • Evaluation requires a reasoned (justified) conclusion.
  • Judgment is made about which argument holds most significance.

What is “examination”?

  • ‘Examine’ means the assessment of a business management issue or problem.
  • It requires he weighing up of the relative importance of different arguments.
  • ‘Examine’ as a command term considers a balanced, two-sided argument.
  • It requires current real-world examples to add substance to your answers.


Tip #2 – Learn the structure of the exam papers

Paper 1 assesses all five topics of the syllabus. It is based on a pre-seen case study, usually around 10 pages in length, and based around a hypothetical organization. There will be additional unseen material added to both sections B and C in the final exam. The Paper 1 examination accounts for 35% of the exam and consists of the following structure:

• Section A [HL and SL] – answer three of the four structured questions (30 marks)

• Section B [HL and SL] – answer the compulsory structured question (20 marks)

• Section C [HL only] – answer the compulsory question using mainly HL topics (20 marks).

Paper 2 is the largest component of the exam, accounting for 40% of the examination. All assessment objectives(AO1 to A04) are tested in all three sections. Paper 2 consists of the following structure:

• Section A [HL and SL] – answer one of the two quantitative questions (20 marks)

• Section B – SL students answer one and HL students answer two of the three structured questions from Units 1 to 5 of the syllabus (20 marks per question)

• Section C [HL and SL] – answer one of the three conceptual essays with a focus on the CUEGIS concepts that underpin the Business Management course (20 marks)

Tip #3 – Plan your revision carefully.

It is easy to leave everything at the last minute. Avoid using your gadgets and social media. Do NOT procrastinate! Revise sections of the syllabus in manageable sessions, following a well-structured revision timetable.

It is vital to build in revision time to learn your quantitative methods. There are plenty of formulae to learn, especially as not all of them are given in the formulae sheets (pages 87-89 of the Business Management guide), including:

  • Average costs (Unit 3.2)
  • Break-even output (Unit 3.3)
  • Closing balance (Unit 3.7)
  • Margin of safety (Unit 3.3)
  • Net profit (Unit 3.4) Payback period (Unit 3.8)
  • Reducing balance depreciation (Unit 3.4)
  • Variance (Unit 3.9)

Below is a list of some of the things you could try as part of your revision plan:

• Use the BM syllabus (pages 24-49) as a starting point when planning your revision.

• Draw up a revision plan for each week – and stick to it! Some flexibility might be necessary but remain focused and disciplined.

• Take careful note of the Assessment Objectives in the syllabus as examiners use these when setting exam questions!

• Allocate more time to the topics that you find most difficult.

• Build in time for sufficient rest breaks and recreation; a refreshed mind is a more productive one.

Tip #4 – Learn the quantitative methods

The BM syllabus incorporates many quantitative techniques (HL topics shown in italics) such as:

  • Decision trees (Unit 1.7)
  • Investment appraisal (Unit 3.8)
  • Budgeting(Unit 3.9)
  • Cash flow forecasting (Unit 3.7)
  • Balance Sheets (Unit 3.4)
  • Depreciation (Unit 3.4)
  • Profit and Loss accounts (Unit 3.4)
  • Ratio analysis (Units 3.5and 3.6)
  • Gantt charts (Unit 1.7)
  • Market share (Unit 4.1)
  • Costs and revenue (Unit 3.2)
  • Break-even analysis (Unit 3.3)
  • Cost to make (Unit 5.5)
  • Four-part moving averages (Unit 4.3)

It is important to learn these quantitative techniques and to be able to use them to aid decision-making. Whilst students are given a formulae sheet in the actual BM exams, you are not provided with the formula for the following:

    • Average cost
    • Break-even point
    • Capital employed
    • Closing balance
    • Cost of goods sold
    • Gross profit
    • Labour turnover
    • Lead time
    • Market share
    • Net assets
    • Net cash flow
    • Net profit
    • Payback period
    • Re-order quantity
    • Safety margin
    • Straight line depreciation
    • Total costs
    • Unit contribution
    • Variance
    • Working capital

Again, make sure you learn the definitions and the formulae for the above.

Tip #5 – Practice, practice, practice

Have a go at answering the questions under timed conditions – especially the quantitative questions. There’s nothing like applying BM to a case study about motivation or leadership to really reinforce your knowledge and understanding.


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Applying Economics

When students comes in to class, usually the usual subjects that they would love to be good at is either Math, English or Science, sometimes Physical Education, Art or Music. Sometimes, something that is really fun like Chemistry or Biology or a practical one like Physics. Most actually wants to get away with Social Sciences like Political Science, Anthropology, International Relations, History and probably most of all Economics.

Well, we could blame them for their choices, don’t worry, Social Science is not my favorite subject when I was in high school, and it was surprisingly Chemistry! You can’t blame me since most often or not, I am interested in one of man’s obsession, the magic potion for love. Yes! I know, I am  just crazy in following such thoughts! Well, in my mind, it is one of those crazy dreams that I want and will still looking in my retirement.

But what makes me wonder and choose Economics and other Social Sciences? Why I didn’t pursue it?

There are several reason to this, but the important for is that, when I started meeting the subject, it seems that I could actually hit two birds at one stone. How?

In studying Social Sciences, I learned that I don’t simply need to master one subject but have to learn how to be dependent on other subjects as well. This is known as Interdependence. For example, the usual method, History was taught using historical dates, names and places. You have to memorize a book full of names and will end up not remembering anything at all. Well, that is what we experience before. But now, modern means of teaching which involves different subjects like Math, Science, English and sometimes Psychology. It plays a major role in changes in terms of teaching. The important aspect of an event became a focus and pins down underlying understanding and skills each student must have to remember. It is like getting all those things in a nutshell, the very significance of everything in human history with all the subject being used in order to understand the past, the present and may help predict the future.

But wait, I am not here to touch the Social Sciences more but would like to talk a branch of it that I think is very important to learn,(which I think I might find a solution someday-remember the potion thing?!!).

To run through, Economics is a Social Science that deals with the study on how choices affects behavior and make choices. This choice has an impact on him, his family, friends, countrymen and the world. On the other hand, Chemistry is a science that deals with the structure and properties of substances and the chances they go through (don’t worry is not about Stoichiometry, the Hydrocarbons, the Lipids, the Carbohydrates nor the Fatty Acids).

Well, how those two worlds could actually collide?

It actually boils to one thing-Human Behavior. (I know behavioral Economics is coming in the IB 5 years from now! But don’t worry, you may not have it!)

In Economics, choice is essential, since resources are not readily available. (I know, there would be people asking, how about the richest people? You have to consider that they only represent the 1% of the population. Even, the richest man like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, does not have all the resources and I think you know what it might be…Aha…Ok…Keep on guessing…Aha..You are so close…

Alright, let’s cut the chase, one of the resources that everyone does not have even the richest man in the world is TIME…(Some may say, it is still relative!!!) Anyway, you may agree or disagree but I will use this one as part of the diagram I will be using later. Yes, DIAGRAMS!!!

How about Chemistry? One of the enduring problems is that, are we capable of making someone falling in love? Is there any potion that could make our crush or beloved person to be with us by formulating a combination of compounds? I will use the concept of LOVE and use the different biochemical’s that we produced when these emotions have.

Let us start with a simple illustration of the diagram.



The Vertical Axis in Economics is usually represented by price, in the above diagram; I use time or the interest of target as my independent variable. On the horizontal axis, we usually use quantity (demanded or supplied); I use the amount of effort any individual will use in order to pursue his or her person of interest.

It could be seen in the diagram that as effort increases,(demand or supply) the initial response is that individuals tends to have a lesser interest which is represented by P2  and Q2 in the diagram. This simply shows that individuals who tend to have more effort will result to have lesser attention to be given by the person that they are pursuing. As the effort decreases,(demand or supply) the response is that individuals tends to have a more interest which is represented by P3  and Q3 in the diagram. This simply shows that having a little interest to someone you meet, that people around you find too attractive, must not be given too much attention for they already know that people around them will find them attractive. People being ignored in a selected few in the crowd will have a tendency to be curious why the few chose not to be put or give attention on them.

It is said that having too much and too less is bad for everything, but once we have exact quantity of time and quality of effort being given to the one we like, it will result to an equal opportunity which may in turn equal interest. This equilibrium may be the start of a journey as couple or being in a relationship.

Where is the Chemistry?

When you start to like someone; oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline and even testosterone levels actually change.

If a guy for example exerted an effort to impress a girl, there is a tendency that the quality and the quantity of the effort are being measured. There is a tendency that if it goes beyond, the other party will either be bored which will result to rejection. There are cases that if It lacks, the pursued party may look for more.  This will now create the imbalances. But if the pursuer finds the right quantity and quality (equilibrium), both parties will exhibit satisfaction. This behavior is greatly affected by oxytocin or the love hormone (cuddle hormone).

If the pursuer wants the pursued to be interested by increasing the oxytocin level, simple gesture like making them smiles, making them happy by various methods or effort. There is a big chance the one being pursued will eventually release signals in a form of behavioral changes like sweaty hands and even dilated pupil. This is due to adrenaline and dopamine.

Making someone happy through our simple gestures like and time listening to the one we like will increase the chance that they appreciate our effort and reate biochemical changes in the body. When someone is happy, oxytocin is released and as a result will make an individual fall in love.

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Grade 5: Roman Aqueducts

For the First Quarter, the Grade 5 students have been learning about Ancient Rome and Christianity. The kids enjoyed participating in simulations (Patricians, Plebeians, and Slaves), arts and crafts (Punic War clay coin), and film-viewing (Hannibal Barca and Teded videos).


However, it was the first time we did an experiment! I came across this interesting STEM challenge of building a Roman aqueduct from Pinterest ( I’m grateful for this activity since it could help the kids realize the monumental task of building aqueducts.


The class was divided into three groups and were given a set of materials to work on. The objective was to build a leak-proof aqueduct with three pathways. The kids had such a wonderful time that they couldn’t stop working on their aqueducts even after the set time! They wanted to keep on improving it. All groups had leaks on them, however, it was amazing to see the water we poured flow into the different pathways! More importantly, it’s such a fulfilling sight to see the kids work and brainstorm together and find ways to modify their creations.


aqueduct aqueduct1

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IB Psych S2/H2: Simple Experimental Study

Psychology 12 students opened their senior year with a simple experimental study, an internal assessment for IB Psychology.

SL and HL students grouped themselves accordingly and conducted separate experiments, with our high school students serving as participants.  Before proceeding with this quarter-long activity, proposals were presented to me and Mr. Jourdan Gan, our IB Coordinator and a fellow IB Psych teacher, to ensure that all participants will not be subjected to any unethical practice and that the researchers are on track.


HL presentation of Nikka, Pam, and Nandika doing a Glanzer and Cunitz, 1966


SL group of Ben and John doing a Loftus and Palmer, 1974

Both focused on Cognitive Psychology, the SL group worked on the reconstruction of automobile destruction while the HL group worked on recency effect in free recall.


HL students conducting an experiment on serial position effect


“Researchers” in action.

For the SL experimental study, a speed racing video  was used to apply the theory of reconstructive memory.

Now working on the finishing touches of their write-up, these students are ready to move to the Options chapter of the curriculum, starting off with Abnormal Psychology in the second quarter.



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World War II in the Golden Age of Radio

The Golden Age of Radio, also known as the Old-Time Radio Era, began in the early 1920s and lasted until the 1950s. It was called such because the radio was the dominant entertainment medium in people’s homes.

Radio reached its peak popularity in the 1930s and 1940s—this period included The Great Depression and the Second World War. Radio and its wide range of comedy, variety shows, dramatic programming and live music served as a welcome escape from these troubled times.

Radio also actively covered news, and it did very well at it. It did especially well at covering World War 2.

 For the first time, families listening in heard wartime news in real time. On September 3, 1939, radio listeners heard Britain and France declare war on Germany and speeches by the UK Prime Minister and U.S. President Roosevelt as they happened. 

The war also influenced radio entertainment broadcasts, becoming a topic in radio serials and soap operas, often with racially charged caricatures of the Axis powers playing the villains. 

In this light, the Grade 10 class came up with their own radio broadcasts and radio plays, inspired by World War 2.