Category Archives: Extended Essays

Extended Essay Materials for Juniors

As the juniors were briefed on the extended essay today, I just uploaded my guidelines, timeline, and EE agreement on my website:

Please review these relevant materials completely before asking me to serve as your advisor. I do require that my advisees take at least the first year of the IB History course sequence. I also require original research, meaning primary sources and archival materials (if accessible.)


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Filed under Extended Essays, IB Contemporary History

Extended Essay and Internal Assessment Writers: A Good Guide for Avoiding Passive Voice

Passive voice is the bane of good history writing, but often proves a difficult concept to explain to students.  Mrs. Harrington has just passed on a hilarious help for finding passive voice in your sentences.  Just insert “by zombies” after any verb, and if the sentence makes sense, you have passive voice!


“My extended essay first draft was written by zombies.”

“Sorry I’m late, Mr. Harrington.  I was driven to school by zombies.”  Explains a lot.

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Filed under Extended Essays, IB History Course, IB History of the Americas

Happy Thanksgiving, and a Recipe

Please accept my belated best wishes for a happy time of thanksgiving and fellowship with your family and loved ones.  I promised my butternut squash soup recipe to fourth period, but we ran out of time Tuesday.  I realize it’s too late for Thanksgiving this year, but here it is for what it’s worth.


1 large onion, rough chopped

3 cloves garlic, rough chopped

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped into eighths.

1 large or 2 medium butternut squashes, peeled, halved, seeded, and then rough chopped

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup half and half

Sour cream or plain yogurt and chopped chives or scallions as a garnish


1.  The prep work is the most difficult part of the recipe, so leave enough time, especially for dealing with the squash.  Butternut squash can be peeled with a knife, or better, with a potato peeler.  Be careful and use a sharp knife with the squash, since it is notoriously hard to chop.  First slice off the top and bottom, and then peel the squash.  Seed the squash after halving it lengthwise by scraping out the seeds and fiber with a spoon, then rough chop.

2.  Saute the onion and garlic in your stock pot (or whatever large pot you’re cooking the soup in) for about four minutes, or until soft.  Be careful not to brown the garlic.

3.  Add the potatoes and squash.  Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add chicken or vegetable stock to cover.  Bring to a boil, and then turn stove down to medium heat and simmer for twenty minutes, or until the squash and potatoes are soft.

4.  Take the pot off the heat.  Blend the soup either with a stick blender, or in batches in a blender (carefully–you don’t really want boiling soup flying about the kitchen!)

5.  Add the spices and half and half.  Stir well, and simmer for a few minutes.  Keep warm until you are planning to serve.

6.  Serve with ground nutmeg, sour cream or plain yogurt, and chives or chopped scallions.  This is awesome with grilled cheese, or leftover turkey sandwiches.

7.  Fortified with hot soup, now you can work on your extended essay revisions!

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Filed under Extended Essays, Just for Fun

Reflections on Writing a Good History EE

I have received the Extended Essay grades from last year, and was in general pleased by what I saw.  I noticed some common features that distinguished the EEs that received high marks, A’s and B’s, from the more average EEs (C’s.)  The following are thoughts which I have emailed to the students I am advising on their EEs, but I thought they might also be helpful to the rest of the class.

1.  Primary sources

Original research is the sine qua non of the extended essay.  High scoring extended essays show that extensive primary source based research took place.  The most reliable sources are close in date and proximity to the events being described.  Mine every resource you can to gain access to good sources.  If you use the internet, make sure you include the date you accessed the material (web sites change frequently.)

2.  Secondary sources

Make sure your secondary sources are the best and most reliable for the event.  Again, the high scoring essays relied upon peer-reviewed, print books and articles.  This is where you need to avoid not only the internet, but also print encyclopedias for anything other than a means to find more useful sources.  Again, you are not trying to just get by and slap together 4,000 words, you are trying to write an outstanding essay.

3.  Organization

The highest marked papers had a clear outline, with labeled sections that demonstrate the logical flow of the essay’s argument.

4.  Conclusion

The students arrived at original conclusions that demonstrated independent analysis of the research.  A and B papers went beyond mere repetition of the arguments of other historians.  The thesis of the paper was clear, bold, specific, and based upon evidence.  If you merely repeat existing arguments, you are guaranteed a C.

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Filed under Extended Essays