Friday, May 19, 2017

Images of Greatness

Images of Greatness Night
         My image of greatness was Sojourner Truth. Sojourner was a slave who got her freedom and then traveled as a preacher. She was an abolitionist and an advocate for women's rights. What I admire most about Sojourner is her strength and perseverance. Sojourner had a lot of trials and tribulations being a slave, and even as a free person. In the 1800s, being a woman was enough to make you a second class citizen, let alone an African American woman. Still, Sojourner never gave up and kept fighting and speaking up for what she believed in. Sojourner valued justice and freedom and spent her whole life fighting for them. The part of my project I am most proud of is my display board. I worked really hard to make it look original, but still make it fit Sojourner's time period. I really like how I put up quotes of Sojourner, and even an excerpt from one of her speeches. I think the most challenging part of this project was deciding who my image of greatness was going to be in the first place. There are so many amazing people in the world who deserve to have their stories told, but I'm really glad I found Sojourner. Thanks Google! I think I grew as a learner and as a person by doing this project because it is so much more than just learning about a person. I really had to think about what I think makes a person great and how the person I chose fit in to that perception of greatness. This helped me grow as a student because instead of just choosing a person and making a project, I actually had to think and make connections. This helped me grow as a person because now I know what I think a great individual looks like, and I can try to go out into the world and be a great person myself. The part of my project I think I would want to improve upon is my costume. It looks like what Sojourner wore, but it definitely isn't. The material is not what an 1800s skirt would have been made out of. I would try to find a better material that looked and felt more like what Sojourner would have worn. I think the best part of the Images of Greatness celebration was the Bio - Riddles. I wasn't too nervous and I had fun being on stage. It was also really cool to hear everyone else's riddle and learn about new people.

Images of Greatness Field Trip
         My favorite educational part of the trip was going to the World Food Prize building. The building itself was really beautiful and I learned a lot. This was actually the part of the field trip where I learned the most. I didn't know anything about the World Food Prize, but now I know about the award itself and what it takes to receive it. The people who do win the prize are so dedicated and it was really interesting to learn about those individuals. This tied into our images of greatness theme really well. I really enjoyed learning about Norman Bourlag because he was from Iowa. The thing that most surprised me on this trip was how much I enjoyed the art museum. I like art, but to be honest, I don't really understand it all that often. At the art museum, it really helped that there were descriptions for each piece. This helped understand the meaning of the piece and enjoy it more. Also, it wasn't just paintings. There were all different types of art, which made it more interesting. For my Famous Artist category I chose an Andy Warhol painting. It was called Diamond Dust Martha Graham. I really liked this painting because with the glitter it really did look like it could be diamond dust. The glitter actually kind of reminded me of stars. My group unfortunately did not escape the Escape Chamber. We came really close and I think we would have gotten out if we had a little more time. We did take a lot of time on the  very first clue, which kind of set us back for the rest of the time. Overall, this trip was really fun. I can't decide what the most fun part of this trip was. I did have a lot of fun at the hotel and at the IMAX movie.
          I think the best part of our GOAL class is the camaraderie. I really enjoy being able to have the same kids in my class every year. We really form a strong bond because we get to know each other so well. I think that the best way to succeed in GOAL is to do your best and share your ideas. In GOAL, you get to learn about things you might never have thought about, and sometimes you might not like what you're learning. However, if you try your best and keep an open mind, you'll end up having fun. One thing I would warn future students about is the reflections, like this one. You have a lot of them ahead of you, so be prepared! Future GOAL students should be excited about mock trial. You get to participate in a (somewhat) real trial. It is really fun to show off your lawyer skills. The thing I'm going to miss most about GOAL is the bomb teacher. Mrs. Edlin is so amazing and I'm going to miss being able to see her everyday. I learned so much from her.

Monday, April 10, 2017

History Day Reflection

        Our project was a performance on Irena Sendler. Irena Sendler was a Polish woman who helped save children from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. Our project focused on what Irena's life was like before and during the war and how she got children out of the ghetto.

        I do agree with what the judges said about our project. They said that our project was "technically tight" which I'm glad to hear since we did work really hard on polishing our performance and making sure everything ran smoothly. One thing the judges would like us to add is how Irena was discovered by the Nazi police. I also think we should add this information to just make our performance a little more historically accurate. The judges also said that we should do more to tie our topic to the theme, which I think is a good idea so that people can clearly understand how Irena took a stand in history.

        The most interesting thing I learned about our topic was that Irena had such a large network. Before this project, I kind of thought that Irena was the only person rescuing these children and that she was acting alone. Through our research on Irena, I learned that she actually had a network of 25 people working for her. I had never realized how complex the whole organization was. If you think about it, 25 people is a lot of people to keep something as big as rescuing children a secret. Still, everyone who worked for Irena had a job to do and they were able to pull it off.

        I think that the hardest part of a project was finding primary sources. It was really difficult to find primary sources about Irena because everything she did was so secretive. Since Irena worked so hard to stay unknown, there simply were not very many primary documents for us to find. We had to work really hard to find first hand accounts of the ghetto and what Irena did. One thing that helped us a lot was a documentary that we watched. The documentary had real interviews of Irena and some of the people she worked with. This was probably our most important primary source.
        As a student, I think annotating our bibliography really helped me grow. I had never had to annotate a bibliography before this project so it was a completely new concept for me. I never had to think about how I used my sources this much. I think writing these annotations helped me grow as a student because they really helped me understand what information I got from my sources and how I was going to use this information.
        I think one way we could improve our project is adding music. I think that our project is already pretty powerful but I believe that music would just enhance what we are already trying to convey. The music would really help people feel what we are trying to get across with our performance.

        The part I'm most proud of our project is that we were able to write a whole little play to help people learn how amazing a woman Irena was and all about her life, while still making the performance entertaining and enjoyable. I'll admit, I was quite pessimistic throughout this whole project. I was worried that our performance was too long, then that it was too short, and whether we were good enough actors to really pull it off. However, I had a great group and we were able to work together and make what I think is a really emotional performance that really gets through to the audience.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Independent Project Reflection

For my independent project I focused on the Great Depression. I found it interesting learning how people lived during the depression. Most of my project focused on how the depression affected certain aspects of people's lives, like school, jobs, and what people did for fun. What I liked most about my project was that it was well organized. I felt that people could follow what I was saying easily and the order of my slides made sense. I think the hardest part of this project was the research. Sometimes I would get so wrapped up in what I was reading and I would forget to take my notes. Also, I spent so much time on one source I didn't have a lot of time to explore other sources for my project. During this project I grew as a student because I really had to manage my time. Like I said before I didn't have a lot of time to read deeply into other sources because I didn't have as much time. Time management is definitely something I need to work on. If I could do my whole project over again I think I would have added more pictures to my presentation. I feel that a picture is worth a thousand words, and especially with my topic. If I had more pictures in my presentation more people could clearly see what it was like to live during the depression.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Shakespeare Reflection

     When I first heard we were going to be doing a Shakespeare I wasn't overwhelmingly happy, but I wasn't really mad either. I just kind of thought okay, well this might be interesting. Now, I really feel that this was a good unit for us to have. I thought it was really fun. Being able to read and act out one of Shakespeare's plays was really cool. Also, the books we were reading the script from were really helpful. Since the books showed us what the fancy words actually meant, we could understand it better. The Taming of the Shrew was a lot funnier when we knew what they were saying.  I feel The Taming of the Shrew was a really good play for us to read because it was so funny. It made the unit a lot more enjoyable for me.
     In The Taming of the Shrew, I don't think Kate was tamed in the end. I feel that she just wanted to prove to everyone that she wasn't a bad person. She obviously wasn't going to prove this by being her normal self, so she put on an act. She was offended that the widow was calling her a shrew so she made it seem like she wasn't. I think Kate is still the sassy, spitfire she was in the beginning of the play, but she was just showing everyone that you can be shrew and a good wife at the same time. She was also showing them that being a shrew isn't a bad thing.
     I think that Shakespeare's First Folio is important because a lot of his work wouldn't have been published if we didn't have his First Folio. Some of Shakespeare's great plays like The Taming of the Shrew and Macbeth would have never been published, and we probably wouldn't even know about them today. Also, on our field trip we learned that folios weren't really used for plays because plays weren't very important. Folios were normally made just for big topics like science and religion. Shakespeare's First Folio kind of paved the path for plays and other "cheap" entertainment to take the spotlight.
     When we performed some of Shakespeare's death scenes and made up some of our own insults it really helped me understand what Shakespeare was all about. Some of the death lines were pretty gruesome, and the insults pretty wacky. I knew that these plays weren't going to be all fairy tales and rainbows. This helped me know what to expect so I was more confident reading one of the plays. I was even able to read Kate's long speech in the last scene of The Taming of the Shrew.
   I think it's still important to learn about Shakespeare because he has influenced our literature so much, even if we don't realize it. A lot of our phrases and words that we use today come from Shakespeare. We wouldn't even have knock knock jokes if it weren't for him. Also, there is a Shakespeare play for everybody. He wrote so many plays that there is bound to be a character in one of them that you can relate to. It is so much fun to be able to find bits and pieces of yourself in characters that are over 400 years old.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2016-2017 First Blog Post

This year in school I really want to try and get the Presidential Academic Award. To receive this award you must keep a 3.5 GPA or higher for five of your six semesters at the middle school. I would also like to try and be a nicer person this year. I would like to try and make somebody smile everyday, even if I don't feel like smiling myself. In addition to these two goals I would like to improve my typing skills. I can't type very fast and I feel like that is a skill that would be very useful to me in the future, like when I have to type these blog posts.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Breakout Box Reflection

A breakout box is simply a box with different types of locks on it and it is your job to open the box. There normally are 4-6 locks on a breakout box. There are clues that lead you to the combination of each lock to open the box. The clues can all be related in a theme or not related at all.

The main skill needed to solve a breakout box is teamwork. You need teamwork because one person is not going to be able to figure out all of the clues. If you work together you can use all of everybody's knowledge to open the box. After all, two brains are better than one. You also need to be open minded to solve a breakout box. You can't think in just a certain way, you need to explore all possibilities. Some boxes might require you to think in a more logical way, while for other boxes you need to think outside the box! Ha, ha.

The most important thing for creating a breakout box is to make sure you're not making it too hard. You really need to think about whether you would be able to understand the clue and figure it out if you were the one solving the box. Also, communication is key (also ha, ha)! The ability to make your clues clear and understandable is very important.

I think one of the reasons the group who was solving our box did so well was that they used their resources. We had one clue that talked about a chapter, so they immediately went to the book we provided for them. They were also using the computers a lot and making sure they understood everything.

The most unexpected challenge for the team solving our box was probably how hard it was. When you're the one making the clues it can be easy to make them really difficult to solve. The main cause of this is misinterpretation. We had a clue that was supposed to tell them to use the UV light but they mistook it as the clue for which envelope to open.

One topic I think would make a great breakout box theme would be current events. You could have the number locks be dates and have newspapers, magazines, and news websites for sources. You could learn more about what is happening in the world while having fun.

Monday, May 16, 2016

7th Grade Goal Trip to Hannibal

This year for our goal field trip we went to Hannibal, Missouri. In class we had been learning about Mark Twain and his literature. Hannibal is where Mark Twain grew up and a lot of his books relate to things that happened there. On our trip we went to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. There was quite a bit of information there that we hadn't learned in class. After this, we went to the house of Tom Blankenship, who became Huckleberry Finn in Mark Twain's stories. There were lots of gift shops we stopped at after this. Then we went on a trolley. On the ride we got to see lots of old houses of people who were in the stories of Mark Twain. Later, we went on a tour inside the caves of Hannibal. The caves play a very important role in many of Mark Twain's stories, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
I think the most educational part of this trip was when we went to the museum. They had a lot of information about Mark Twain that I didn't know about. I learned a lot about his family and that Mark Twain didn't always live in Hannibal. His family moved there from Florida, Missouri when he was still around the age of four. I also learned that Mark Twain blamed himself for his brother's death because he was the one responsible for getting his brother that job on the steamboat.
The most fun part of this trip was absolutely going into the caves. It was really cool how our tour guide kind of told us the story of Tom and Becky as we went along. The autograph hall was really interesting to see. Also, the fact that Jesse Jame's gang was there was also pretty interesting.
I think the only thing to make this field trip better would have been to go on the riverboat instead of the trolley.
My research helped get me ready for this trip because when any of our tour guides were talking about something, I could understand and get a lot more out of the stories than I could have if we haven't done our research.