Which option?

As the academic year draws to an end I thought it would be worth planning ahead and thinking about the options.

We will deal with the big question in a moment (ie, which option?) but it is also worth planning ahead and asking yourself the question – when? (will I do the option?)

You may have already informally have started your option teaching – the new guide makes the links with the core and AHL part of the so easy to see and spot that if you have been really clever you will have already dropped in some of these concepts (for example, ‘atom economy’ comes in option A, energy but you may have took the opportunity to teach this concept when you covered the ‘quantitative Chemistry’ part of the course – topic 1).

However, it is very likely that at some point you will need to decide when to formally teach the option. This time of year is, in my opinion a good time to start teaching it. You may not cover it all between now and the end of term but it offers a good end of year to the students as well as being something ‘different’.

If not now, when will you teach it? At the end of the course? If you do decide this please please please be careful and don’t teach it as an add on topic at the end. Do a good job teaching it. The options have been made much more equal and rigorous than in the last version of the course and in the past some teachers did ‘teach’ the option as a bit of a ‘do it yourself’ topic – if you fall into this trap now your students may become unstuck as the options are harder than before! – you have been waned.

So the big question – which option will you do? Will it be Materials (A), Biochemistry (B), Energy (C) or Medicinal Chemistry (D)?

My feeling is that to start with it should be your option (not necessarily the students) although if you are fortunate enough to work at a large IB school you may be able to divide up classes into ‘option classes’ as I heard from some participants on a recent workshop. Maybe as time goes on and you become more familiar with the course you may branch out and teach different options but as everything is still so new, why put extra pressure on yourself and potentially the student results.

You may also think the option A and C and ‘physics’ type options, whereas B and D are ‘bio’ type options but please don’t fall into this trap! The options have been split up to make them equal in terms of content and difficulty.

All four option have a quantitative thread, an environmental thread, a n organic thread and an analytical thread. So for example, in option A, Faraday calculations would be part of the quantitative thread, IR analysis of plastics is the analytical thread, the Haber-Weiss / Fenton reaction is an organic theme and removing heavy metals would be an environmental theme.  By the way, these are not the only threads – there are many more!

You should be able to carry out a similar type of analysis for the other options as well. Something that I would recommend doing is going through your chosen option with four different highlighters to signpost these threads for yourself. I’d also pass this information on to the students.

So, coming back to the original question …. Which option will you teach?

I’d love to read some of your thoughts and ideas below so please feel free to post some suggestions and ideas – it would be great to read your thoughts!