IB Writing Guide (for the Math Studies IA

Formative Student Work and Formative Assessment
According to the IB guide to the Mathematical Studies program:

It must be emphasized that students are expected to consult the teacher throughout the process. The teacher is expected to give appropriate guidance at all stages of the project by, for example, directing students into more productive routes of inquiry, making suggestions for suitable sources of information, and providing advice on the content and clarity of a project in the writing-up stage. IB Guide, Mathematical Studies (p 37) This suggests a collaborative process in which the teacher works with the student to complete each part of the project and compile a finished report. At the same time, the document indicates that: It should be made clear to students that all work connected with the project, including the writing of the project, should be their own. IB Guide, Mathematical Studies (p 37) The teacher therefore adopts a supporting role and can help the student to work in what Vygotsky refers to as the ‘zone of proximal development’ (Vygotsky, 1962; Vygotsky, 1978). This is the range of achievement between what the student can do on his/her own, and what the student can do with support from others. The teacher offers‘scaffolding’ for the construction of learning but only the student can do the constructing (Wood et al, 1976). The intention of the teacher must therefore be to set formative tasks and assign formative assessments at the appropriate level of challenge for the student at a given

time. As the course progresses the requirements for each new assignment will become increasingly demanding. For a major piece of writing such as the Mathematical Studies Internal Assessment (IA), the support needed by most students includes: guidelines on the structure of the student’s investigation, an understanding of the assessment criterion and guidance in the writing process that results in a final report. The teacher can guide students by breaking the larger task of completing a major report into smaller elements that, with teacher guidance, can be synthesized into a complex piece of writing appropriate for the IB internal assessment.

In this context, appropriate scaffolding has two major aspects, the expected structure of the finished piece of writing and an understanding of the writing process itself. The ‘IB Writing Guide’ does this by introducing students to a range of smaller project-based tasks that prepare them to tackle the final IA in a systematic way. Since this process takes place over more than one year, it is reasonable to expect significant student learning. In addition to building student skill, confidence and fluidity with the writing process, the ‘IB Writing Guide’ builds the student's self-awareness as a writer. Through practice in a supported context (scaffolding) students should become more confident in redrafting their own writing in terms of content, awareness of audience and structure.

The Writing Process
It is possible to see writing as a recursive process which carries the writer from initial conception to publication but contains a number of loops, during which a draft is revised or expanded. Writing is therefore seen as the result of several distinct skills, which can be

learned. The central idea is that all writing has an audience, serves a purpose, and passes through some or all of several clear steps (Emig 1971). The number of steps and the descriptions offered can vary somewhat between theorists, but a fair outline of the process would be: Pre-writing planning, outlining, diagramming, clustering, mindmapping Draft - in prose form Revision: modification and organization (by the writer) Editing: proofreading for content (preferably by another writer) clarity, conventions, style Publication These steps are not necessarily performed in a prescribed order. For example, prewriting techniques can be used if the writer is stuck for ideas at any stage in the process.

The ‘IB Writing Guide' employs introduction writing as a planning tool. It provides a checklist of 9 questions which prompt the student to include relevant information (http://ibwritingguide.wetpaint.com/page/Writing+the+Introduction). Projects 1, 2 and 3 include 'Introduction' as a focal criterion and it is anticipated that this repeated practice will make students more adept and confident in pre-planning.

Learners will begin practicing peer assessment and self-assessment before starting Project 1, by participating in mock-grading exercises using the IB assessment criteria, applied to project reports generated by students in previous years. Formative feedback during Project 1 will be teacher and student generated and, as part of Project 2, students will

engage in a peer review process in which each draft report will be graded independently by two peers. Other aspects of the writing process are implicit in the practice of drafting, posting the draft on the ‘IB Writing Guide' wiki, accepting feedback, redrafting and publishing.

Growing expectations and changing assessment criteria
As we have already seen, the ‘IB Writing Guide’ uses introduction writing as a critical part of the pre-writing process. This is practiced early and repetitively. In addition, projects 1 and 3 invite learners to focus on data collection (Information/Measurement) while, over the four projects, students focus in turn on Mathematical Processes, Validity, and Interpretation of Results. In each case, the assessment approximates the actual IB assessment criteria, though these may be truncated to accommodate the level of student learning at that point in time. As the process proceeds and student understanding increases the assessment criteria become systematically more demanding and the full IB assessment criteria are increasingly employed - where those aspects are the focus of a particular project. This progression is represented graphically in FIGURE 1. By Project 4, students face a set of demands comparable to the IB internal assessment itself, assessed by a slightly truncated set of assessment criteria covering 18 out of the 20 points of the full IB assessment criteria. At this point, the students are well-prepared to write a final IA with a minimum of teacher support, as they have become more proficient writers.


Project 1 0

Project 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1

Project 3

Project 4 2 2 2 2

Introduction (2 Marks)

0 0 0 0

2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3

Information & Measurement (3 Marks)

0 0 0 0

Mathematical Processes (5 Marks)

0 0 0 0

3 3 3 4 4 5

Interpretation of Results (3 Marks)

0 0 0 0

2 2 2 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3

Validity (2 Marks)

0 0

Structure & Communication (3 Marks)

0 0

1 1

BIBLIOGRAPY “Diploma Programme Assessment: Principles and Practice” (2004) International Baccalaureate Organization, http://www.ibo.org/diploma/assessment/documents/d_x_dpyyy_ass_0409_1_e.pdf accessed August 2008 Emig, J (1971) The Composing Processes of Twelfth Graders “IB Writing Guide”, http://ibwritingguide.wetpaint.com/ Murray, D (2004) Writing to Learn, 8th ed. Wadsworth. Vygotsky, LS (1962) Thought and language, New York: Wiley. Vygotsky, LS (1978) Mind and society: The development of higher psychological processes, Cambridge:Harvard University Press. Wood, D, Bruner, JS and Ross, G (1976) “The role of tutoring in problem solving”, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17: 89–100.