I, along with many other TOK teachers, find the use of a TOK Journal an invaluable tool in helping students understand and apply some basic concepts of TOK. Students are often misled by the title, “journal,” which reminds them of superficial self-reflection from an elementary school class. The journal, as I have used it, has students practice the most important mechanics of what they should be doing in the course and, more importantly, on their assessment. Briefly discuss a specific real life situation (RLS), raise a relevant knowledge question, then discuss that knowledge question and connect that discussion back to your RLS. The struggles students have on these assignments are often the ones they have on the assessments so we are able to deal with them in a much more low stakes setting. I cap the word count at 600 though it often is not enough for students to be as thorough as they need to be.
Here is the basic journal assignment I give my students.
With the new course format, posing KQs is not as important so I’ve modified the assignment to let kids choose from among some of the given KQs from the course. I really don’t like how this has changed the course or the journal assignment. Students do a far worse job answering KQs when they don’t pose them themselves but here is a copy of one of the assignments I’ve given kids with KQs to choose from.
Below are some samples that I think are attainable for most students. What I like about the first sample is that it connects to a very specific and personal experience but then asks meaningful questions about it. It goes back to the original RLS in light of the discussion of the KQ which is one part students often struggle with.
Here are a few more samples that I think demonstrate appropriate skill.
Earlier on I’ll let students choose anything of interest to them but later on I’ll ask them to focus on a particular area of knowledge or topic we’ve been focused on.
Sample Art Journals
Sample Ethics Journals