TOK Essay Schedule

NOTE: Final essay due 10:00 PM on Wednesday,June 10th.

Here is the assignment schedule, if possible:

1. Review materials in Weeks One & Two and submit your essay prompt by May 15th – just the prompt you’ve decided to use

2. Submit your first draft no later than May 29th

3. Submit your final essay no later than June 10th


Goals for this week:

* Students gain a basic understanding of the Essay

* Students analyze previous essays

1. Review TOK Essay Writing Guide It’s slightly outdated, but most of it is still very useful. Identify three pieces of information in it that you think will be useful to you, along with at least one question.  If we do this in class, we’ll go through it two pages at a time.

2. Here’s an extra chapter to our textbook on writing a TOK essay.  Identify three pieces of information in it that you think will be useful to you, along with at least one question. If we do this in class, we’ll use it as a “jigsaw”

3. Six Steps To Writing A Good TOK Essay. Identify three pieces of information in it that you think will be useful to you, along with at least one question.

4. Here is an outline students should use for their essay (NOTE: You also have the option of using this outline instead)

IMPORTANT! Here is an essay written by a student in 2017.  The other essays in this post are good, but students had several months to write them in their senior year.  This one, on the other hand, was written in four weeks, is very well-done, and I would suggest you regularly re-visit it as your model.  It carefully follows the outline.

5. Model of Completed Outline from 2015

Here is what the completed essay using that model looked like in 2015 (you don’t need to look at it for right now)

6. Second model of completed outline

7. Here is what the completed essay using that model looked like in 2015 (you don’t need to look at it for right now)

8. Read the following essays from former students and note:

* How many Ways of Knowing are discussed and what were they?

* How many Areas of Knowledge are discussed and what were they?

* How many explicit textbook connections did you find and what were they?

* How many non-personal examples came from the textbook and how many were original ones?  What were they?  Were they used in the style of a story – beginning, middle, end.

* How many personal examples were used and what were they?

* Were there any hypothetical examples used (“Suppose this was the case and that happened”)?

* Were the examples explicitly connected to the thesis statement?   Did every example or paragraph end with making that connection to the thesis statement?

* How many counter-claims were used?  What were they?  Did they have a source, or did they just use “Some people might say….”

Essay 10

Essay 9

Essay 8

Essay 7

Essay 6

9. If you want (but you don’t have to), you can also review these other essays by former students, along with the essays connected to the outline examples listed earlier in this post:

Essay 1

Essay 2

Essay 3

Essay 4

Essay 5

10. Here is the TOK Essay Rubric from IB

11.  Here are two essays from 2021:

Viviana’s Essay

Ariane’s Essay


Goals for this week:

*Students choose their essay prompt and begin work on their outline

1. Review the potential essay “titles” that can be found here and pick one. They cannot be prompts that have been covered on any of the ten sample essays on this post, so you want to take a quick look at all the essays to see what prompts they use.

May, 2016

May 2015

November, 2014

May, 2014

May, 2013





2009 – 10


* Review TOK Essay Tips

* Begin work on your outline. The first draft will be due by Friday

*Here is specific advice based on recent feedback from IB Examiners to our students:

Four key points that IB Examiners made in essays from last year were:

* Don’t use hypothetical examples. In other words, when you support your thesis with stories related to different Ways of Knowing and Areas of Knowledge, make sure they are real. Don’t say something like, “Suppose this was the case and that happened.”

* Make sure that ALL of your examples and points are explicitly connected to answering the prompt. End every example or point making that explicit connection.

* Make sure that you include counter-claims in your essay. In other words, what would people say who disagreed with your thesis and what would be your response to them?  These should have a source. In other words, don’t just write “Some people might say…”

* You can use TOK concepts from the book, but don’t use specific examples cited there to illustrate them. Instead, come up with your own examples.  It’s okay to use some personal examples, but a majority should be more “academic” ones.



* Work on outline and complete a revised draft by Friday OR a first draft of your essay by that time.



*Work on essay.


Final essay due 10:00 PM on Wednesday,June 10th.


Class Schedule 2016-17

Theory Of Knowledge Schedule 2016-17

Mr. Ferlazzo’s Email Address:

Class blog:


* The homework schedule can be found on the next page.  You are expected to read each chapter and complete the same assignment for each one (see homework example sheet) by the due date.  Homework is always due on a Monday.

This homework should be completed by the beginning of the second semester.  At that time, we’ll focus on our two major projects – a group Oral Presentation and an Essay.  Those two projects will make-up ninety-percent of your second semester grade.

* Group TOK Presentation – It will be videotaped. Substantial time in class will be provided to prepare, but outside time will also be needed.  Your grade on this group presentation will be one of the two primary components of your official grade from IB.  You may make two group presentations on two different topics .  The one with the higher grade will count.

* TOK Essay – At least one essay where substantial time in class will be provided (assuming we can get access to computer lab), but outside time will also be needed.

* If you are an IB Diploma candidate or are seeking an IB TOK Certificate, you will also have to write a TOK essay in the fall of 2017 during your senior year that will be submitted to IB and will comprise the second component of your official IB grade (the Group Presentation will be the other portion).


Class work:

* You will keep a well-organized folder in the class “box.”

* You will each have a green binder in the box in the back with your name.

* You’ll have a manila folder to go into the green binder

* You’ll be getting packets from each for each Way of Knowing and each Area of Knowledge we study.  We’ll be using them in class, so you want to make sure you keep them here.  If you want to keep them with you and are responsible, that’s fine. I will not be happy if you don’t have it or lose it.

* You can leave the older packets in the green binder once we have finished that unit and keep the packet we’re using in your manila folder.  You’ll need the older ones for your major projects during second semester. You’ll get them when you come in, and you need to be seated before the bell rings.  You put them back in when you leave – unless someone wants to volunteer to collect them at the end of each class. Don’t take the green folders, they’ll stay in the same place in alphabetical order.

* There will be some assignments each week related to the packet and, with few exceptions, there will be plenty of time in class to do them, including warm-ups.   You’ll keep what you’ve written until each Friday, when I’ll collect them.  If you are not here one day, check with a classmate to see what you missed so you can catch-up.  You’ll staple them in chronological order – so, each day, when you start with your warm-up, you’ll write the day of the week and date.  You don’t have to use separate sheets for each day – just start the next day where the last day left off.

* I’m trying to make things easier for you  so you don’t have to bring in your textbooks all the time, don’t have much to carry, and it’s clear what assignments are due in case you miss a class.  Also, by collecting everything just on Friday, it’s easier for me to handle the marking.

* We’ll try it out and if it doesn’t work well, we’ll change it



This schedule is subject to change in consultation with the class.  The order of the assignments will not change.


  • Introduction to TOK
  • The Problem and Nature Of Knowledge, p. 3-40 — two chapters (homework due 9/19)
  • Allegory of the Cave
  • Perception p. 88 -105 (homework due 9/26)



  • Language p. 47-79 (homework due October 3rd)
  • Reason and Logic 111-141 (homework due Oct. 10th)
  • Emotions p. 145-169 (homework due Oct. 17th)
  • Imagination, Faith, Intuition & Memory (no homework)
  • Knowledge Questions



  • Math p. 187-213 (homework due October 31st)
  • The Arts p.328- 356 (homework due Nov. 7th)
  • History p. 300-322 (homework due Nov. 28th)



  • Ethics p. 363-396 (homework due Dec. 5th)
  • Natural Sciences p. 220-250 (homework due December 12th)
  • Human Sciences p. 256-288 (homework due December 19th)



  • Religious Knowledge Systems p. 403- 431 (homework due January 17th)
  • Indigenous Knowledge Systems (no homework)
  • TOK Presentation Planning – Decide on topic and group by February 1st. Assuming we can get access to the computer lab or laptops, you will have four class periods each week to work on it for four weeks. Your written draft plan will be due on February 17th.



  • Work Presentation in February
  • You will make your presentation in early March. Presentations will be video-recorded
  • The class will decide if it wants to move immediately into preparation for the second Presentation or if it wants to spend the first two weeks of March “teaching lessons.”

For teaching lessons, small groups will pick from a wide choice of materials for each Way of Knowing and Area of Knowledge.  Each week, groups will prepare short lessons on the material they chose to present to a small group.  You will be provided a guideline, and creativity will be encouraged.  You will have one class period to chose and  prepare; there will be one-to-two class periods to present.



  • First two weeks of student-created lessons or immediately begin preparing second presentations.
  • Begin work on TOK Essay in late April



  • Work on Essay
  • Essay due on May 30th
  • Final group project due on June 9th





Oral Presentation Schedule



Group, Topic, Primary Knowledge question – handed in by Feb. 28th

Claims (for one-or-two person groups), Counter Claims and Secondary Knowledge questions (for three non-IB Diploma student groups) due by March 6th

Draft presentation outline due by March 20th

“Final” presentation outline and slideshow due by April 3rd (Guinea Pig presentations on March 30th and 31st –  they are critiqued publicly by Mr. Ferlazzo and the rest of the class can learn from it)

Wednesday, April 15th: Presentations begin today.  We will be doing three-to-six presentations each day in each class (maybe fewer on Thursdays). Students get a one-half grade upgrade (for our class, not for IB) if they are ready to present on their scheduled day. If you are absent on the day of your presentation, you must present Mr. Ferlazzo with an excuse written by your parent or doctor.  If you are absent or not ready the day of your presentation, you must present to Mr. Ferlazzo during lunch the next day. If you do not, your presentation grade will be reduced.

Presentations completed by May 7th.

Party on May 8th

Begin work on May 11th (Note that Mr. Ferlazzo will not be at school on April 28th, 29th, 30th or May 1st.  Because of that, students may begin preliminary work on their essays on some of those days).

Final essay due 10:00 PM on Wednesday,June 3rd.

June 6th, 7th & 8th, 9th – Final “Exam”

Instagram Videos

You must create three short videos (or one longer one) communicating the meaning of three important TOK concepts. You can work alone or in groups of two.

You can see examples here.

Your grade in the final quarter will be composed of forty percent for Oral Presentation, forty percent for the essay, ten percent third quarter homework and warm-ups, ten percent for the final videos.

You can receive extra credit for your Final by creating an infographic explaining the Theory of Knowledge class. You can see an example here. You can use any tool you want, including pen and paper. Free online tools include Visme, Piktochart, Venngage, Infogram or Easelly.




NOTE: This schedule has links to all necessary resources.  However, if you would like to see even more examples from previous years’ classes of videotaped TOK Presentations, outlines, presentation planning documents and PowerPoints, click on this Oral Presentations tag and scroll down.



* Students become familiar with basics of TOK Presentation

* Decide if they are going to do it on their own, work with one other person, or work with two others

* Decide on topic (start by making a list of things you are interested in) and Primary Knowledge Question (Some advice: Once you come up with a Knowledge Question you like, look at it again to see if you can make it more broad. For example, if you want to do it on Bullying, think about what is its cause (maybe a need for power or dominance) and/or what is it a symptom of (maybe people feeling powerless in other parts of their lives).  Then, develop a knowledge question focused on that cause or symptom and use bullying (or whatever your interest) as one example to help illustrate the knowledge question. Also, look at it and see if it is more like a topic that would be appropriate for English or Social Studies class.).  You can see one way a student group did this process here.



1. Review Topics and Primary Knowledge Questions  (from 2016 class)

Primary Knowledge Questions From 2017 Class

Knowledge questions from 2018 class

Knowledge questions from 2019 class

Knowledge questions from 2020 class

2. Review the qualities of a knowledge question

Good knowledge questions often start with:

To what extent….?

How far…?


What role does…?

Under what circumstances…?

How can we know…?

Here’s an example of what happened with a group last year:

They had chosen bullying as their topic and began with a primary knowledge question of “How can we stop bullying?” I pushed them to consider that bullying was a symptom of something, to talk among themselves about what might the “disease” or “cause” might be, and to base their primary knowledge question about that. Ultimately, they developed this excellent one: “How does power influence how we treat each other?” 


3. Past Topics, Primary Knowledge Questions & Secondary Knowledge Questions (these are particularly useful for Groups Of Three Non-Diploma candidates who are presenting)

4. Presentation Outline For Presentations for One or two students.

5. Presentation Outline For Three Students (They cannot be IB Diploma Candidates).  You can see a video example of a good presentation using this model below the videos of Michelle and Jose.

6. Exemplar Outline for presentation from 2016 class (This exemplar is for groups of three students).  If you are presenting alone or with one other student, see the outlines for Jose or Michelle, which can be found under their videos a little further down in this post.

7. Here is the official Presentation Planning Document for the 2017 class – only needs to be completed by IB Diploma Candidates.  It is best if you use this editable Word version instead of the PDF.

8. Exemplar IB Presentation Planning document. Here is one with notes on how to complete it. Only needs to be completed by IB Diploma Candidates.

9. Exemplar Presentation Planning Document from IB Only needs to be completed by IB Diploma Candidates.

10. IB Presentation Rubric

11. Watch videos of previous presentations:

Michelle did this exceptional Oral Presentation in 2017. You can find links to all her materials after the video:



Oral Presentation Outline

Presentation Planning Document

Jose also did an exceptional presentation in 2017. You can also find all the links to his materials after his video:

Presentation Outline

IB TOK Oral Presentation Form


This is one from the 2016 class. This group uses the three-person presentation model only available to students who are not Diploma Candidates.

Google Slides from above presentation or view as PowerPoint

Oral Presentation Outline for the above presentation


Watch this next presentation. It was done prior to the changes IB made in their presentation expectations, but is still very good. It doesn’t exactly follow our outline model, but make notes about what you like about it.

Here’s a link that won’t be blocked by YouTube Safety Mode: TOK Presentation

One of the elements in the above presentation  is their sharing the results of an experiment they did themselves.

12. Turn in your topic and primary knowledge question to Mr. Ferlazzo by the end of Friday – either on paper or by email larryferlazzo at scusd dot org.



By Tuesday night, you should have copy-and-pasted your Oral Presentation form (Presentation Outline For Presentations) into Google Docs with your approved Knowledge Question and the narrative of your real-life situation.  Send it to larry-ferlazzo at scusd dot edu.


*Identify your real-life situation.  View the beginning (first three minutes) of the videos (at least four) above to get some ideas.  They can be personal stories or from the news, and have to be told in the style of a story.

Remember the model that Abraham Lincoln used:

(Part 1) In the past…

(Part 2) Then something happened . . .

(Part 3) So now . . .

(Part 4) In the future . . .

Your real life situation doesn’t necessarily have to follow this model precisely, but must demonstrate good storytelling skills, including drama!

* Identify your claims.

See these suggestions for finding claims:

* Begin by typing your Knowledge Question (or a portion of it) into a browser search bar plus the word “theories.” Your results should show many possible “claims.”  You can “copy & paste” many of those claims into your outline.  You must have at least four claims.  You can quote and cite claims, but you must also put them into your own words.

*Make sure your claims and counter-claims are stated as answers to your Knowledge Question. Cite an authoritative source for your claim and, if you use a quote, make sure you also restate the claim in your own words.

Here is an example from Bruce Ruiz (he has sources for his claims and counter-claims, but I don’t show them here):

To what extent does humor reflect ethics and morals?

Claim #1: Ethically, Humor is  just Jokes, And shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Claim #2:If you make a sexist, racist, or homophobic joke, it shows what your ethics are, and makes you sexist, racist, and homophobic.

Counterclaim: If you make a sexist, racist, or homophobic joke, you are pointing out the absurdity of the joke.

Claim #3: Humor is used to demonstrate superiority and vulgarity

Counterclaim: Humor is used to demonstrate friendly communication and to lighten any tension between people.

Claim #4: Humor is used to point out absurdity in peoples ethics, morals, and overall outlook on the world and what surrounds them.

* Your most important thinking will come by having to make multiple TOK connections to each claim, developing stories and examples to illustrate and support them, and applying those claims to your real-life situation.  You’ll want use at least three Ways of Knowing and three Areas of Knowledge within your claims.  You can see them listed at the bottom of this post as reminders.  You will want to make it very clear – both in the introduction of your presentation and in its body, which Ways of Knowing and which Areas of Knowledge you are including.

* At least two of your claims must also have counter-claims to demonstrate that you have the ability to see both sides of an issue.  More counter-claims are even better.

*By Friday night you must have written your four claims and two counter-claims in the Oral Presentation outline on your Google Doc – six sentences, along with your source.  Remember, your claims must come from authoritative sources, not just from your head.  Choose two of your claims to develop counter claims.

* Put each of your counter claims at the bottom of the claim section which the counter claim is specifically challenging.  Even though these sections are not in the outline form, you primarily need:

-The Counter claim

– Its source

– evidence and example

– An opposing argument – how is this counter claim not successful in questioning the validity of your claim.



Goals for this week:

* Review more presentation basics

* Complete most work on your draft presentation outline

* Every claim, counter claim, TOK connection MUST have a at least one story/example connected to it (beginning/middle/end). Ideally, you will share multiple stories. These stories must help explain the TOK connection and claim.See the second half of The Best Digital Storytelling Resources to learn about how to tell stories and their importance (start from the bottom). Your stories should be a mix of personal ones and ones you’ve learned from texts, movies, history, etc. IMPORTANT: When you tell the stories, be sure to connect them back to the knowledge question!  You can also refer back to Lincoln’s storytelling strategy.

*Many easy TOK connections can be made by looking through the textbook and the packets.  Don’t forget looking through the packets!  Stories must be specific events – not generalities.  Again, you should use at least three Ways of Knowing and three Areas of Knowledge.  Look at each claim, then look at the list of Ways Of Knowing and Areas Of Knowledge at the bottom of this post.  Identify which WOK and AOK have the most obvious connections to your claims.

*Your drafts should include at least seven – and ideally more – claims/examples/stories from the TOK textbook and/or the packets. Other claims/examples/stories can come from your research and personal experiences.


1. Review this short presentation guide from Identify two pieces of information from it that you think will help you in your presentation.

2.Read this guide and discuss – identify at least three useful pieces of information and one question (if it is blocked by school filters, access it here.

Giving a Good TOK Presentation by Michael Smith

3. Review Nobody Wants To Hear Your Academic Gobbledygook. Go to the link in it about telling stories.

Write three important points you learned that will help you with the presentation.

4. Turn in your claims and counter-claims by Friday.

5. Decide if you are going to do a “Human Science Experiment” and/or a survey by Friday.

Review Surveys & Experiments For Oral Presentations to get more ideas for experiments you could do related to your presentation. What ideas are you coming up with?




* Developed a conclusion

* Final Outline of presentation due by Friday (if done earlier – all the better!)

* Work on your Google Slide or Prezi – this is also due on Friday

*Guinea Pig group or groups chosen

Review the end of each of the presentation videos we viewed in the first week to get an idea of what your conclusion should look like.

In your conclusion, make it very clear what you think (the conclusion is where you should be sharing your opinion, not in the body of the presentation) the implications of your research has for your Real Life situation and other real life situations. In other words, how are you thinking differently about your real life situation now after all your research than when you first developed the question, and how might it inform your thinking about similar real life situations in the future?


1. Review PowerPoint from Jose and Michelle’s presentations under the “First Week” section, along with the one from the three-person video. What are three things you notice that would help you?

2. Student Models Of PowerPoints For Oral Presentations are from older years prior to IB’s changes, but are still useful.  What are three things you notice that would help you?

3. Review Final Hints For Oral Presentation & PowerPoint

4. Review The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations – What are three things you learned that would be useful to your presentation?

5.Review Presentation Checklist.

6. Check out this Oral Presentation rubric that was put into clear language by TOK teacher Roo Stenning

6. Turn in your outline to Mr. Ferlazzo by the end of Friday – by email larryferlazzo at scusd dot org.




*Guinea Pig group Presents


* Students finalize their outline and PowerPoint

* Presentation schedule set

* If you are an IB Diploma candidate, complete and submit your oral presentation planning document.

In your IB Presentation Planning Document, please make sure you review these three links: Exemplar IB Presentation Planning document. Exemplar Presentation Planning Document from IB. Here is one with notes on how to complete it.   Your Presentation Planning Document should look like the two exemplars! Remember, when you submit your final Presentation Planning Document, I must receive one from each of you if you are a two-person group (they can look the same).  I only need one copy of the overall, complete outline.  You should be able to copy-and-paste your Knowledge Question, real-life situation, claims and TOK connections from the longer Oral Presentation outline you have submitted.

1. Guinea Pig group presents and is critiqued by Mr. Ferlazzo in front of class.

2. Other student groups get two days to make revisions and complete all presentations by the end of next week.

3. Complete final PowerPoint or Prezi and send it to Mr. Ferlazzo by 8:00 AM of Monday of Week Six.  Get his feedback prior to emailing it, if possible.  Final Oral Presentation outline sent, as well.  All IB Diploma Candidates complete the  official IB Presentation Planning Document and email it to Mr. Ferlazzo (larry-ferlazzo at scusd dot edu: Presentation Planning Document

It’s a “fillable” PDF document, but will not work if you save it in your browser.  You must download it to your computer and then fill it in. Please use Firefox.  Every person in your group can have the same document, but you must email it to Mr. Ferlazzo separately.

Here are two more examples of excellent Presentation Planning Documents.  They are in a Word Document, but have the same questions as the PDF:

Official Presentation Planning Document

Official Presentation Planning Document


4. Begin practicing your presentation




* Presentation Practice completed

*Presentations begun

1. All groups practice presenting to at least two other groups.

For three-person groups, use this checklist to anonymously evaluate the presentations made to you.

For one-or-two person presentations, use this checklist.

2. Presentations begin

We will be doing three presentations each day in each class (maybe two on Thursdays). Students get a one-half grade upgrade (for our class, not for IB) if they are ready to present on their scheduled day. If you are absent on the day of your presentation, you must present Mr. Ferlazzo with an excuse written by your parent or doctor.  If you are absent or not ready the day of your presentation, you must present to Mr. Ferlazzo during lunch the next day. If you do not, your presentation grade will be reduced.






* All presentations completed

* If students decide they want one, plans are made for a pot luck the following week to celebrate completion of the Oral Presentations

1. Presentations done
















Natural Sciences

Human Sciences


Religious Knowledge Systems

Indigenous Knowledge Systems