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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

The End is Near: Creative Reflections for the End of the School Year


I’ve been reviewing some of my old Theory of Knowledge (TOK in the International Baccalaureate) curriculum as I prepare for a creativity workshop, and thought I’d share two really successful challenges (I hate the word “assignment”) I gave my students – one at the end of the semester and one at the close of the year, though both could be used at either or both times.

The Listicle

This is based on the concept of a “listicle”, made popular by Buzzfeed. Usually listicles are in the form of a bulleted list, but I wanted students to beef it up with some metacognitive annotations and some metaphorical imagery.

I asked my students to think about the following:

1. Your favourite activity

2. Your favourite project or assignment (completed by you)

3. Your favourite PEER project (produced by a peer)

4. The best external (not student-produced) VIDEO (TED talk, etc.) we watched.

5. Most INTERESTING concept/ idea / topic/ fact you learned about.

6. The most USEFUL concept / idea/ topic / fact you learned about.

7. The best tweet (either you or a peer authored)

8. An idea for the future (what you’d like to study, as it relates to TOK, or some activity or project that would be interesting, or a great question you’d like to focus on

9. A “TOK moment” you’ve had (in another class or in your real life – a time when you’ve realized how relevant what we discuss in TOK is, or you find something that would be applicable to our TOK class)

10. A photo/ image / OR word that sums up TOK succinctly

The instructions were as follows:

“Make a creative Listicle reflecting your experience with the First Semester of TOK. You must seek to answer these 10 queries, but you can do more if you like. It’s implied that all of these include the “and why” factor: that is, you must indicate your reasoning behind selecting them for the list. Finally, you must try to publish to your blog by the end of the 90 min class. ***you can work alone or with 1 other person

A few things to note: 

I really wanted to stress the importance of social learning, and therefore included the bits about a peer project and a tweet from the class hashtag (we did a lot of backchannelling). In previous years I even asked students to include hyperlinks referencing their peers’ work (it helps if everyone has a blog portfolio).

You might not want to ask about external videos – instead you might want to ask about a particular person you studied, field trip, lab, poem or novel excerpt. Feel free to customize for your particular course.

Number 8 ended up being extremely valuable to me. My students had amazing ideas and I ended up compiling them into a Google spreadsheet, which I shared with the class. Everyone could see the suggestions and we had a discussion as to which were the most do-able or would be the most beneficial. I implemented some of them the following year.

Number 9 is about relevance, and of course about connection to other courses. TOK sort of applied to all disciplines but I would challenge students to think about how their art class connects with math, or how history could connect with science, for example. I discuss more about “knowledge as connection” and making “connection maps” in this post. 

Number 10 asks students to essentialize the entire course into one image or word and defend their choice. This was by far the most interesting to me, and if I did it again I would require both.

Also notice in the directions that students were given the opportunity to work with another student if they wished. Only a few did, and those who did each contributed their own favourites for most of the questions, and simply compiled their answers in the same presentations.

Methods of Madness: Getting Creative with Presentation Tools

For almost every project I offered a variety of suggestions for ways of accomplishing the task. Personally, I hate to have someone dictate the way I should creatively express my thoughts and I carry that through in my lesson design. Here were some of the options, though of course I was open to different, student-suggested tools (if they proposed and defended them).

Besides the usual Powerpoint, Prezi, Projeqt, or Google Slides:

___VINE video smashup ( or Instagram)

___VISUAL THINKING / SKETCHNOTES  (digital or manual)

___ COLLAGE annotated with THINGLINK ( try Picmonkey Collage if on laptop)

____ INFOGRAPHIC (digital or manual) ***you can choose to do voiceovers for any of these as well, if you film them.

I’ll post the things to exemplars and tools at the end of this post.

Finally, I reminded students of all the places they could rummage through to get inspiration:

  1. our class blog

  2. peer blogs

  3. our class Twitter handle

  4. our class G+ community

  5. our class YouTube playlist

  6. books we’ve read

  7. our class Storify (used for archiving backchannel chats)

  8. their own personal blog and all assignments

  9. collaborative notes (in Google docs)

VIEW samples:

These two students created a hand-drawn sketchnote

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 12.32.34 PM

And using an Infograph digital tool:

And…a combination of analogue and digital…

5X5: 5 Takeaways in Five Minutes

The second “final exam” reflection I proposed was called 5X5 – I wanted the students to boil it down to the basics- what are the 5 most “sticky” pieces of learning? Moreover, students need practice in “micro-content”…so much of what they do is overly lengthy…they need to be able to create some bite-sized-yet-filling media.

I’ve had a lot of success with vlog reflections in the past, and I encourage you to join my G+ community on “Vlogging for Assessment and Critical Reflection” and view some examples. Basically, vlogs highlight more emotion – you can really tell a lot from the body language and voice intonations.

Here is the link to my post in which I describe the (specific to my course) vlog requirements. However, a more general description would be:

“Summarize 5 of your personal highlights from your year in this class. Think of it as a course trailer, of sorts, or a cinematic portfolio.”

I asked students to provide specific references and make connections to other courses as well as their personal lives.

Since this was a vlog, I asked them to try to do 5 min but to at least keep it in the range of 4-7 minutes (in the past I would have students submitting 20 minute vlogs!). They could do any style (see below under “resources”) but I asked them to keep it in the first person.

Change it Up!

You could ask students to do a 5X5 using images, paragraphs, quotes, nuggets of learning or concepts, for example. Just so that it’s 5 takeaways in 5 ________.

This one is purely Voiceover



Really, all is open to you. You may do any of a variety of styles, though you must have voiceover, as it is tedious to read the amount of text required to fulfill the task. Some ideas are as follows:

• traditional VLOG (webcam or ?)

• VLOG with images or cards or other visual aids

• Mash-up of images and video clips with voiceover (and titles)

• Stop-motion with voiceover

• “Common Craft” style e.g.

• “RSA Animate” style e.g.

• Documentary-style with “host”

• Camera insert with live screenshots of desktop like

• News show or PSA

• Music video/rap (keep in mind you still have to meet the requirements in your lyrics)

• “Choose Your Own Adventure” on YouTube using the Spotlight tool to have other vids hyperlinked within the video (see links below) make-an-interactive-lesson-using-youtube/ v=OCVUXBvq8dE& ***If you have a more creative idea, just let me know- I’d love to hear about it!






video: how to use hand-drawn notes and film them

video (for ipad):

VideoScribe (free trial)

Video: visualizing complex ideas:



Thinglink (sign up for free acct):

OR try Glogster for a multimedia poster:

see this annotated infographic:

@Braddo’s sketchnote + Thinglink


My Diigo list of resources

20+ Tools

Best Tools List for Infographic Creation

For HAND-DRAWN, search “Infodoodles”



#reflection #vlog #vlogging #tok #listicle #media #assessment #studentwork #amyburvall

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