30 August 2013

Applied IR Theory for the Zombie Apocalypse

Mmmmmm....brains! (lesson here)

The War of Law

To what extent do rules govern international politics?

Kyl, J., Feith, D. J., & Fonte, J. (2013, June 17). The War of Law. Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from (PDF here). 

In their 2013 article, Kyl, Feith, and Fonte outline a case that currents examples of international law undermine the sovereign power of the United States. I'll leave it up to you to determine the veracity and the accuracy of their argument. However,  the authors do make a compelling case that state sovereignty remains an important topic in global politics.  

Please feel free to read the article, create a Google Document and tell me what you think of Kyl et. al. position. I will provide feedback to everyone who shares their work with me. Thanks.

29 August 2013

Fish Forever

We'll round out our preliminary coverage of oceanic geopolitics with this lesson (game included).

Student thoughts on the Arctic


The Glopo Year 2s began their work this year by focusing on the geopolitics of the world's oceans; specifically, the Arctic. As a reflection, the students engaged in a Sentence-Phrase-Word visible thinking routine (full lesson here) to capture their thoughts and ideas from both their assigned article as well as the entire class period's worth of content and discussion. The word clouds above capture the students' take aways from their first day of work in class. You can read their complete set of responses and analysis here.

28 August 2013

Because we can learn so much from comics

Most, if not all of you know Bill Watterson's work. If you're having trouble placing the name, think about a timeless comic strip involving a young boy and his BFF-a stuffed toy tiger. While this clearly has nothing to do with world politics, this cartoon and Watterson's commencement speech at Kenyon College has everything to do with life. Read, reflect, and enjoy. 

(via Slate) Bill Watterson's "cartoonist's advice," in comic form by Zen Pencils, aka Gavin Aung Than.

GLOPO goes to EPCOT!-updated

[Now with new and improved travel dates]

Yes, you read that correctly; we have the opportunity to go to EPCOT as a part of our coursework for IB Global Politics. NBPS partners with Disney's Youth Education Series each year to bring a group of students to Disney's Introduction to Global Citizenship. Here, you'll have the opportunity (among other things) to consider and synthesize your understanding of concepts such as complex interdependence, cosmopolitanism, and communitarianism outside the friendly confines of the classroom; albeit in the friendly confines of the most magical place on earth. While we've run this trip primarily for 9th graders, I see two reasons why you should attend this trip. First, the topic of global citizenship is near and dear to all that we study. Second, none of you went on this trip as 9th graders. The trip will occur on Friday 1 November; we'll be up and back in the same day. The price of the trip is $189 and includes breakfast or a snack in the morning; lunch and dinner vouchers in EPCOT; transportation; and Park and Youth Educational Series tickets.

Please let me know if you're interested in attending this year's trip by (1) commenting to this blog post and (2) downloading and completing both the enrollment and medical forms, and (3) submitting these forms no later than 30 September. This is a fixed deadline for enrollment, so please make sure that you're submitting your required forms promptly.

27 August 2013

The Arctic

Our inquiry into the geopolitics of the oceans, specifically the Arctic, continues with this lesson here.

One World, Rival Theories

Our first pass at International Relations theory begins with this lesson here.

26 August 2013

U.S. Mideast Policy Has Failed -

U.S. Mideast Policy Has Failed -

Some interesting reading on how the U.S. has managed to pursue its interests in a rather volatile part of the world. Mead throws a lot at the reader here, but this is worth digesting when you have the moment to read it.

A great start to the school year!

via xkcd

So, I'm sure you all had many a question today. Thankfully, we'll have the opportunity over the next he next year or two to explore these in greater depth. Here's what we have on tap for tomorrow (27 August):

Glopo Year 1

Please read the Introduction to Global Politics: Levels of Analysis blog post. You'll also want to preview our first set of work here. You may also want to do a little reconnaissance and find an article you wish to analyze for tomorrow from any of the following sources:
Glopo Year 2
Please review our initial foray into the study of the oceans here. Please download or otherwise save a copy of Brigham, L. W. (2010, September/October). Think Again: The Arctic. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from We'll read this in class tomorrow. If we finish early, we'll move onto the next section of The Oceans unit.

23 August 2013

IB Glopo students: listen to The World Next Week

'morning folks. Please take the time (only about 20 minutes) today or this weekend to listen to The World Next Week podcast from the Council on Foreign Relations. You can also subscribe to this podcast-great to listen to while at the gym-from iTunes by clicking here.

22 August 2013

Lynn University Model United Nations

Lynn University Model United Nations (LUMUN)

When? Thursday 13 November 2013 from 8.00am to 4.00pm.
Where? Lynn University, Boca Raton Florida Earth. 

Our first Model United Nations simulation will take place this fall at LUMUN. This year's topic is Children and Security. Within this, two distinct yet related subtopics will be individually addressed: 1) Children and Armed Conflict; 2) Children and Education. Thus, the students will be engaging situations such as South Sudan and Syria as well as the Millennium Development Goals and various global education initiatives. The cost of registration, which includes all materials and lunch for the day, is $15. Please confirm that you wish to attend this simulation by commenting to this blog post no later than Friday, 30 August.

If you're interested in going, please fill out this survey to request a country to represent.

21 August 2013

The Oceans-Introduction

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a fantabulous summer. We'll start off the day with some nuts and bolts, distributing IDs, reviewing emergency/medical procedures, our Fire Drill, Lockdown, and Lightning alert procedures. Once we've finished with those; please read and navigate all of the components of this lesson as we begin our inquiry into the study of The Oceans.

Introduction to Global Politics: Levels of Analysis

Welcome back! I hope that you all had a fantabulous summer. We'll start our first day with a bit of housekeeping regarding dress code (pg. 33 in the Handbook, in case you were wondering). Afterwards, we'll play a little game to introduce ourselves. Once we we'll dive right in to this lesson as we begin our initial foray into the world of International Relations theory.

Advanced Placement classes failing students - Stephanie Simon -

Advanced Placement classes failing students - Stephanie Simon -

Simon's article documents the degree to which taking an AP class alone does not translate into broad educational gains for many students in the United States. Most of this information about test results is necessarily novel, especially for those of us who are or have facilitated AP courses. There are a variety of factors-including increased accessibility and enrollment to these courses themselves-that explain the decline in passing rates for these exams in recent years. However, most staunch supporters for AP courses often point to the fact that the preparatory experience of the AP course itself is valuable for students themselves. Simon's article argues, however, that this is not the case. "Advocates often argue that students benefit from being exposed to the high expectations of an AP class, even if they don’t pass the test. Yet there’s no proof that’s true. In fact, taking an AP class does not lead to better grades in college, higher college graduation rates, or any other tangible benefit — unless the student does well enough to pass the AP test, said Trevor Packer, a senior vice president at the College Board." If the preparatory environment of an AP class only assists students who would have already passed the exams anyway, then the "treatment effect" of taking an AP course becomes irrelevant. While colleges and universities recognize the rigor that can be found in AP courses, exam results and classes themselves are not universally accepted for credit by institutions of higher education in the US. The most recent information published in Simon's article should giver further pause to the idea that simply taking as many AP classes as possible has tangible effects for students in the long run. 

In contrast, there are several published and ongoing studies (here, here, full list here) find that participation in International Baccalaureate coursework and the Diploma Program provides a broad range of students with opportunities for successful learning in the courses they take, as well as in their university studies beyond High School. Lewis (2012) suggests that the impact of globalization combined with the global cache of the International Baccalaureate Diploma allows students even more opportunities to pursue their higher educational interests, often, regardless of borders. In surveying 112 university admissions officers in the United States, United Kingdom and 14 different European Union states during 2011, Lewis reports that the number of applications to universities continue to increase; with this trend expected to continue for the foreseeable future. In the United States, 65% of university admissions officers surveyed report an increase in the number of applicants with IB Diplomas, leading Lewis to conclude that, “It is clear from the 2011 survey results that the IB Diploma is held in high regard by admissions officers across the UK, Europe and the US. 

There is no system of curriculum that is universally applicable to all students, in all environments, and at all times. However, Simon adds to the body of compelling evidence (here, here) that AP courses may not offer a meaningful vehicle for educational reform in the United States. 

20 August 2013

It's Time to Stop Averaging Grades

Via Joe Bower's blog, for the love of learning: It's Time to Stop Averaging Grades

Rick Wormeli makes strong argument that pokes considerable holes in the idea the quantification of grades is the only, or even an appropriate way to assess student learning. Take 10 minutes out of your day to read, reflect, and discuss Wormeli's ideas; it will be one of the best things you do today.

15 August 2013

Summer Reading: The trouble with grading

Bower, J. (2011). The trouble with grading. Iowa Science Teachers Journal38(3), 18-21. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from

This reading is our second foray into understanding the arguments against grading. By now, you've hopefully read the syllabus for IB Global Politics and possibly my own argument supporting a moratorium on grading in the classes I facilitate. My hope is that you come to understand, as well as critically appraise, the role of grades and grading practices in contemporary high school class settings. By way of context, Joe Bower is another educator who has helped me articulate and amplify my teaching voice in the past few years. In his article (2011), Bower argues that grades distract, distort, or otherwise disrupt the natural relationship between student and teacher by constructing obstacles in the assessment process.

After reading the article, we'll all participate in a "Sentence, Phrase, and Word" routine (scroll down the page for the description), posting our ideas as a comment to this post. After reading each others' ideas, we'll then want to look for common themes and discuss the implications of our ideas. 

As always, I look forward to reading your ideas and thoughts.


01 August 2013

Summer Reading: The case against grades

Kohn, A. (2011). The case against grades. Educational Leadership, 69(3). Retrieved July 14, 2013, from

I hope that everyone has had a pleasant and restful summer. I wanted to give you some thoughtful and provocative readings as you all ease back into school later this month. Kohn (2011) makes a well informed and impassioned argument against the way that most schools use grading. While I have my own thoughts on the subject, I am far more interested in your ideas on Kohn's article and the nature of grading in school.

Please also take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with this blog, although some of you already started reading this blog towards the end of the last school year. My plan for this year is to post all of the classwork (games, simulations, projects, readings, written prompts, and more) to this blog. This means that for the 2012-13 school year, both Glopo HL1 students (11th graders and Glopo HL2 students (12th graders) will be reading, writing, and interacting together in this shared space. As such, I think we have a great opportunity to start off our year by reading this article carefully at your convenience and then providing written commentary and questions to this post. You may choose to respond directly to my questions (listed below in bold) or craft your own narrative; the choice is yours to make.

As you read and reflect on Kohn's article, we'll all participate in a "Sentence, Phrase, and Word" routine (scroll down the page for the description), posting our ideas as a comment to this post. After reading each others' ideas, we'll then want to look for common themes and discuss the implications of our ideas

I look forward to reading all of your thoughts and ideas in the coming weeks; have a relaxing remainder of the summer.