This holiday, in addition to grading IAs, I also graded a couple of biology extended essays (EE) that students at our school are submitting for their IB diploma. I took a similar approach to that approach of grading the IAs in carefully combing the assessment criteria for the EE. I read through the examiner statements from last year and applied that guidance towards evaluating these essays. I like the freedom of being able to provide more feedback on an EE, as compared to the IA. In some ways that makes the EE a more meaningful learning experience than the IA, at least in the Group IV Sciences. I am happy to realize that even if these students make no changes to their EEs, they will “pass” this portion of their diploma. However, I hope they take the suggestions to push themselves to submit excellent rather than good/mediocre work.
I sit again with the perspective of both parent and teacher as I read through the EEs. My daughter is submitting an EE in English while my son is one of the two students submitting a biology EE. As a teacher I am convinced of the “worthiness” of the EE endeavor. The process of completing the EE does, indeed, as the IB suggests, “promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity” (IB Extended Essay Guide). I am truly impressed by the creativity and intellectual discovery that both biology EEs generated. As projects they were both outright interesting and engaging to guide and follow as the students progressed. Reading the final products was truly enjoyable. The students have something to be proud of.
As a parent, I’m grateful that my own children are part of this experience. Already, having had a vacation week for my children to catch up on the IB diploma obligations, things in our household have settled down a bit. The stress levels are residing. Additional crunch times lie ahead to I continue to withhold final judgment until the last exam in May has been written.
Tonight, however, my yo-yo experience with the IB has swung up again and I am enjoying the great aspects that this program has to offer. Namely, tonight I am appreciating the process of the extended essay.