GCD – Academic Skills

At the end of each semester, over the course of my high school, I’ve had time to reflect on my classes and the ATL’s for each of my subjects. Here are three ATL’s that I have shown in two or more subjects.


One clear area of research done in a subject was in my Extended Essay on music, where I focused on the Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and the themes created for each of the characters. The Extended Essay is a huge research project, involving several different secondary sources, while doing my own primary research based directly off the sheet music. The secondary sources were used from various sources on the Internet such as HookTheory, which helped me understand the fundamentals of music theory, which aided me when analysing the music directly. Other sources from sites such as Britannica were used to further guide me when explaining the importance of certain musical techniques, such as tone or rhythm. A large part of the research done for my EE however was all primary and done by me. Most time was spent on annotating the sheet music, marking down certain types of chords and the emotion that they portrayed, and other musical techniques like that. This was the first time that I had ever done a research project like this, so I was able to gain various skills when it came to analysing music, something I was always interested in. When it came to secondary sources, multiple sources were used to back up the information found in order to ensure that the information was accurate. All of my sources were cited in the essay using the MLA8 format. My Extended Essay can be found here.

Another research project was the Internal Assessment for Geography. This projected involved collecting evidence and comparing it to theories. Various different sources was used in this assessment. Often information was taken from text books from class, such as talking about the characteristics of a destructive wave, while other times sources were taken from the Internet, either in text for or in picture form, such as the formation of a sand dune. Often the sources from the Internet was backed by the theories that were taught in class or in the textbooks. This was a large research project due to the fact that the evidence found had to be explained through theories, leading me to often research more about theories and ideas that I only knew the basics of. My Geography IA can be found here.


There is one class that I have been able to connect theories and ideas from other classes into. I take biology at a standard level, while taking geography and psychology as a higher level. One unit that I’ve learned in biology is ecology. The ecology unit has a section about global warming and how greenhouse gases work. This is similar to a unit in Geography about the environment. While naturally in biology, there is more focus on the science behind greenhouse gases and global warming, whereas in geography there is more focus on the geographical consequences of global warming. However, there is a lot of overlap, and being able to transfer the information between classes is quite helpful during revision time. Along with this, techniques for writing long answer questions  that I’ve learned in geography have proven to be useful in my biology test. For one question, focusing on antibiotics, I was able to gain several extra points by following the main rule ingrained into my brain from geography – define and explain terms. Small skills like this for organisation have been quite helpful for several other subjects as well.

Another area of transfer has been between psychology and biology. In psychology there is a unit focusing on the biological level of analysis (BLOA), whereas in biology the options unit is neurobiology. In psychology, there is focus on areas such as localisation of areas of the brain, or the role of neurotransmitters such as adrenaline or dopamine. These aspects are also explored in biology, but just to different extents. In biology the development of the brain and the different sections are heavily focused on, whereas in psychology this is not as important. However, it is pleasent to see the similarities and connections between the two subjects, especially when recognising some of the aspects from one class – such as mentioning Broca’s area or neuroplasticity in biology, and already recalling the case studies or experiments towards this ideas from psychology.


First of all, my GCD’s are one example of reflection done on several subjects and activities that are a part of my life. However, there are other cases of reflection in my school life as well.

There was much reflection done in preparation of many English assignments. Firstly, for our TransLit Essays, we had done one introduction paragraph and one first body paragraph for each of the possible books that we were allowed to write the essay on. Reflection had to be done for each of the practice paragraphs based off the grades received as eventually we would have to chose one of the essays to continue upon for our final essay. There were different aspects that had to be considered for each practice essay. I didn’t chose the essay topic solely based on which had the highest score. Instead I considered the grade, but more on how passionate I felt about the thesis of the essay, along with other factors such as organisation of the evidence. Based off this, I decided to write on my final practice essay, as it was one of the better books out of the selection, had the most interesting thesis, and had one of the better scores.

Another aspect of reflection is one that is done at the end of every semester, where students are asked to reflect upon their work and development in school and activities. By doing this every semester allows me to look back and see how much I’ve improved throughout the months, but also gives me motivation to realise where I currently am, and areas that I can continue to improve upon for the next semester. Here is one example of my reflection from the first semester of 11th grade:

I was nervous starting the IB this year, and I truly felt the pressure with my grades. But with that being said I don’t think that I’m doing too bad so far. The subjects that I’m doing best in are the Geography and Psychology, which are lucky both my HLs. These two classes, along with my other HL English Literature are the ones that I’m enjoying the most. But, when it comes to my SLs, I’m having most difficulty with Japanese and especially Maths. The level of math that I’m learning this year is completely different to what I learned in previous years, so I’m finding it difficult to adapt to the level that everyone else is at, but I think throughout the one semester I’ve worked well attempting to understand the units learned in the class. Japanese is another subject that I’m struggling in, as my Japanese level has been quite low, and I’m finding it hard to catch up to the level being expected of the class.

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