The EE Under COVID-19 Rules

Well, 2020 has certainly been a year like no other.

Photo by Edward Jenner on

Our students were in the throes of researching and writing their EE’s when we were faced with school closure at the end of March / beginning of April. Singapore went into a nationwide partial lockdown — or circuit breaker — just after half term break. All lessons were to be conducted remotely or online. This could have been a problem for those students who needed to use a science lab or collect data, but luckily, we quickly went into solution mode.

Most of our students who were planning a primary research EE were offered the option of switching to a World Studies EE (WSEE) or using secondary research. Since we don’t have many examples of successful secondary research EE’s, our students opted for a World Studies approach. To be honest, I think the WSEE has been a sigh of relief for some of our students. Many of them were excited to conduct lab-based research, but with that comes the pressures of the lab: what if the experiment doesn’t work? what if the materials are insufficient? what if more time is needed? Writing a WSEE alleviated these potential issues as students instead used resources such as self-generated survey data, reports of experiments, interviews, film, works of art, etc. As long as their resources provided sufficient evidence to help develop and support their arguments, then students could easily write their WSEE’s from the comfort of their own homes.

At UWCSEA, students who opted for a WSEE combined diverse subject areas such as Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) & Economics; Geography & Biology; Maths & Psychology; Design Technology & Physics; and Chemistry & Economics, just to name a few.

“Under Covid-19, it wasn’t possible to find something practical [to research] so my best idea was to do something theoretical. This meant I had to make sure it was applicable within the real world and had a local manifestation.”

Grade 12 student, initially set to write a Physics EE, who later decided on a WSEE during Singapore’s circuit breaker.

Currently, Singapore is still under Phase 2, with an eventual move to Phase 3 on 28 December 2020. In compliance with Phase 2 rules, we introduced the Extended Essay to our Grade 11’s this year via video. These were pre-recorded and included all the information needed for the Class of 2022 to start thinking about their EE’s. Students watched the videos during their morning Mentor block, and their Mentors forwarded any student questions to me. All they need to do now is determine their top three subject choices (including at least one World Studies option) and submit them to me by 13 January 2021.

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has had a significant global impact on our day-to-day well-being; it has affected the way we work, the way we learn, the way we teach, and most importantly, the way we live. I don’t want to call what we are currently doing “the new normal,” but seeing the resiliency in our students makes me incredibly proud. This past year hasn’t been easy, and indeed, some have struggled more than others, but I’m happy to see that our students have “[embraced the] challenge [of Covid-19] in order to maximise their potential” as lifelong learners (“Guiding Statements”).

I look forward to seeing what our current Grade 11’s will achieve with their Extended Essays over the course of the new year.

Works Cited

“Guiding Statements.” UWCSEA | International School in Singapore, Accessed 23 Dec. 2020.

A Year in R(ee)view

It’s been a very rewarding school year and it’s hard to believe that in a few days’ time, it will come to an end.

Our Grade 11’s began the Extended Essay (EE) process back in November 2018 when they were introduced to the idea of researching their passion. As EE Coordinator, I have dubbed myself Queen (B)EE, the one who guides and supports her bumblebees — our students — as they extract knowledge from various sources and eventually compose a 4000 word research paper.

Ah yes, there are so many bee analogies to be made (and I’ve made plenty!) Some are met with laughter, some with an eye roll. It doesn’t matter — the important thing is that our students realise they can take any topic, any idea, and transform it into a question worthy of further research.

In December, our students attended EE Carousels — a market, of sorts — where Heads of Faculty offered 20 minute information sessions on their subject areas.

What does it mean to write an EE in Biology?

What kind of data will a student need to collect for a Geography EE?

What are the options available for an English EE?

Students gathered information, asked questions, and slowly began to make sense of what they’d be required to do over the next few months. During the December break, students considered what they would like to research and submitted three different research proposals for consideration both by me and the respective departments.

By February, each student had been assigned a supervisor and made plans to have their initial discussion meeting. We have close to 250 Grade 11 students who are being supervised by nearly 100 teachers. This year, we have a record number of students (89!) writing World Studies EE’s. We also welcomed Sports, Exercise, & Health Science as well as Language A: Hindi to our wide range of single subject EE’s.

As the month of May approached, students prepared for EE Writing Day where students are off timetable and have the opportunity to conduct research, meet with supervisors, attend workshops, and begin to write. The day was punctuated by an inspirational speech by Pat Desbarats, one of our University Advisors.

It was the perfect way to lead our students into the final hours of the day.

Now as I sit here and reflect on this past academic year, I marvel at how much our Grade 11 students have accomplished. The EE is one thing, but they also had so many other assignments, activities, and tasks to complete at the same time. Sure, there were moments of grumbling, but for the most part, our students have finished their penultimate year of high school with perseverance and grace.

This Queen (B)EE is proud of her bumblebees. As they head into the summer months, I truly feel they have a clear vision for their EE and will be more than ready to submit their initial drafts in August.



Preparation for EE Writing Day – 03 May 2018

It’s hard to believe that your time in Grade 11 is almost over. When I count down to the end of the year, it gives me a bit of anxiety to think that we only have eight weeks left until 22 June, but it also makes me excited because it’s such an adrenaline-filled time of year!

In between now and June, you have SO much going on, and it’s vital that you remain organised and focus on your priorities. Between Project Week, IA’s, IOC’s, field trips, Group 4, and of course, the EE, you’ve got a lot to do. Google Calendar is a great tool to keep track of classes and assignments, but I’d also like to suggest Google Keep. Don’t know what this is? You can check it out here.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 10.37.19 AM

This is just one way I use Google Keep. It helps me to keep track of the things I need to do this week.

With EE Writing Day coming up next week, I want you to feel as organised and confident as possible so that you can have the most productive day. Below is the slide show I presented this morning. Have a look through, check out the links, and ensure you have yourself organised.

Remember, Beyoncé is always prepared. Are you?

The EE in 2018 — What’s Your Jam?


My favourite is raspberry. What’s yours?

I attended a workshop last week about the benefits of blogging in education. You know me … I love to write and blog and link and record and reflect.

That’s my jam.

But what happens when your jam jar is empty? What if there’s no more jam??

One of the things I learned from the workshop is that the moment you begin to feel like you have nothing to say is the exact moment you should begin to write. The reason itself makes a lot of sense.

Blogging is the best way to work things out. Not everything we write down has to be perfect; it just has to be. Usually, the process of writing in a stream of consciousness helps to clarify and organise your thoughts. So this is what I’m doing now: writing down my thoughts about the EE for 2018 and organising everything as I go along. Here’s my list so far:

  1. Thank you to all of you for submitting your proposals on time. They are now in the hands of the heads of department and are currently being shared with teachers. Supervisor allocations will come out after Chinese New Year break.


2. In the meantime, I’d like you to add an EE category to your digital portfolios (or blogs, as I like to call them). Not sure how to do it? Check out Tricia’s instructional video below:


Over the course of the EE process, you’ll be writing three separate reflections and your blogs are a great place for you to keep track of your own thought process. Also, they will be so easy to share with your supervisor.

3. We hosted a Grade 11 Coffee Morning for your parents last Friday. If you’d like to have a look at what we discussed, you can click below:


What’s your jam for 2018? Leave me a comment below. Maybe we can have a jam-jam.

(That’s a homonym. Deal with it.)


World Studies Extended Essay


… and how can these be explored through a WSEE?

According to the IB, the World Studies Extended Essay (WSEE) “enables students to engage in an interdisciplinary examination of a topic of local and global significance. Students develop their understanding of their chosen topic by drawing on two Diploma Programme disciplines, one of which they must be studying already” (“Teacher Support Material”).

This is an exciting option for students to consider and one that should be encouraged as they begin the EE process. Essentially, the WSEE allows students to study and research two IB subject areas and connect them to an issue of contemporary global importance. The WSEE also allows students to focus on a local manifestation of a particular issue and should fit under one of the following themes:

  • Health and development
  • Culture, language, and identity
  • Environmental and/or economic sustainability
  • Science, technology, and society
  • Equality and inequality
  • Conflict, peace, and security

Paul LaRondie (PLR) hosted an assembly this morning based on the WSEE. During his presentation, he went into more detail regarding the WSEE and possible approaches students could take. If you were absent during his presentation, you can find his informational slide show below:

There is a hyperlink on the first slide of sample WSEE research questions (RQ’s) in case you’d like to see how past students have combined their passion for two different subject areas. If you are excited at the prospect of writing a WSEE and would like to meet to discuss it further, please leave a comment below, drop me a line via email, or come and see me in my classroom.


“What’s it about?” Sharing information about the WSEE with our Grade 11 students.

Works Cited

“Teacher Support Material.” |The International Baccalaureate|Le Baccalauréat International|El Bachillerato Internacional|(2), Accessed 6 Dec. 2017.

Information & Guide to the Extended Essay. Two Different Slide Shows. Two Different Purposes.

Last week, I sent the current Grade 11 students an email outlining upcoming events taking place surrounding the Extended Essay. Mainly, I wanted to share the EE Information & Guide slide doc with them in preparation for today’s assembly, which had a bit of flair to it.

Here is the slide doc I shared last week, chock-full of information regarding the EE:

… and here is the presentation I showed the students today (thanks Beyoncé!):

As you can see, the two slide shows are quite different.

The reason I did this is because the slide doc is not meant to be presented. It’s meant to be a portal for information that is easily accessible and read by its intended audience. Today’s presentation, however, needed a little more Sasha Fierce. It doesn’t need to be read so much as it needs to be SEEN!! How else do you hold the attention of nearly 300 Grade 11 students?

More information will be forthcoming as we get closer to launching the proposals. Do let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.


Sample Viva Voce – 4 Voices


Elvis Presley (I’ll bet his Viva Voce would be amazing!!)

For a supervisor, I believe the most satisfying part of the entire Extended Essay process is the Viva Voce.

(who else is singing “Viva Las Vegas” in their heads right now …?)

Anyway, I digress …

What I love about the Viva Voce is that it is a chance to really celebrate what our students have accomplished. For the majority of our students, the EE is a great way for them to showcase their passion for a subject area, their research and writing skills, as well as their critical thinking skills. In the Viva Voce, students can reflect on their EE journey and talk about the process in a thoughtful and compelling way. It’s always so nice to see students consider their past struggles and make the connection to how it’s brought them to their present state of being a more refined and enlightened young adult.

Am I being too idealistic? I don’t think so.

Have a listen to the following audio recordings of four different students. You’ll understand what I mean once you hear their voices.