Friday, May 19, 2017

4th Quarter Reflection

     My image of greatness for this project was Florence Nightingale (what a cool name, right?) I think Florence is great because she risked contracting a disease or sickness every day to care for soldiers that were wounded from battle. Many male doctors did not think she could do that or make a difference, but Flo proved them wrong. Not only that, but she ended up being in charge of the whole hospital camp!
    Out of the whole unit, I am the most proud of my bio-riddle. A bio-riddle is a clever (sometimes rhyming) description of an image of greatness. We had to write our own, and the audience had to guess who was who. Although my riddle was one of the longest, I worked extremely hard on it, and had some really good rhymes in there too :). Many people told me later that they were impressed with the riddle and over all costume and portrayal, which meant a lot to hear.
     The most challenging part of the unit for me was writing my paper. It wasn't that I didn't have enough information, it was that I had so much that I struggled to turn it in on time. I had learned so much about Florence Nightingale, and every part of her life was so fascinating to me. When I sat down to write and was still going through childhood on page three, I knew that it would be a really time-consuming assignment. The requirement for our paper was two pages I believe, but I wrote nine...
     As a student and learner, I grew a tremendous amount during this unit. It taught me about time management - having to prioritize so I could meet the deadlines that were set. Another valuable lesson I seem to learn time and time again is: procrastination is never the answer. Always, always, always do your work as soon as you can, trust me you will not want to do it later. Especially learning a bio riddle. But some more positive things were I learned how to sew (see the dress) and made a very neat board and timeline I am very proud of (see exhibit.)
     If I could improve my project in any way I would maybe add more to my display board, because in my opinion it did look a little bland and sparse. I would also have gone over my research (and paper), and decided what was really relevant, and what was just taking up space. Usually for projects, something I want to fix jumps out at me, but I'm very proud of this one and had to think for a long time about what I would change.
     Overall, the best part of the whole Images of Greatness night was getting to see all of our hard work pay off, supporting our classmates as they said their riddles, and receiving support when you said your own. I really felt the goal family vibe, and was sadly reminded that it was the last time I'll do something like that with them. (Goal kids, if you're reading this, I love you all <3). I'll never forget the Images of Greatness night, and how proud I was of myself and all my friends.

Images of Greatness Field Trip

     For me, the most educational part of the trip was the Des Moines Art museum. I didn't learn actual facts like I did at some of the other stops, but I learned some important things about art. For example, I used to always think that art had to be pretty and complicated. But some of the "art" I saw that night didn't fit my standards at all. Apparently, a pile of sunflower seeds is art, or a sign simply bearing the letters "P" and "B." But once I looked further, I learned that each sunflower seed was hand painted and the the "P" and "B" stood for Phantom Limb, two silent letters on the outside of the phrase. It opened my eyes that not everything has to fit into a little box, and that anything can be art.
    I think the stop I learned the most at was the World Food Prize. I had no idea how many people had made such huge leaps and bounds in the food area (like Norman Borlaug) and once again it opened my eyes to all the great things people have accomplished.
     The most surprising part of the trip was how much I enjoyed and appreciated the art museum. I gained a new respect for art that I didn't know was in me. I dreaded 9 o'clock when we had to leave, because I was having so much fun, walking around with my friends and looking at the great works of art. Who knows, maybe I'm more of an adult than I thought!
     One of the categories from the art museum that intrigued me the most was "why is this art?" There were lots of pieces that I didn't consider art, but then I started thinking, what is art? Why is one thing more "art" than another thing? It was kind of a deep conversation with myself. I realized that really anything could be art.
     We did not break out of our escape room...but we were so so close.  Literally one number off. For the rest of my life I will be bitter about the number 9. But I am still very proud of our group for being that close to breaking out. That room only has a 5% success rate, and it is the hardest one they offer. We just forgot to add the number 9 (the number of bullets we collected) to the combination. Again, I'm still proud of our teamwork and group.
     The most fun part of the trip was just getting to spend time with all the kids that I've known forever and love to death. Swimming together, playing games in the hotel room, rolling down the hills, taking pictures together, going on adventures in the State Historical Museum, the list goes on and on. I don't think I could pick one thing that was my favorite overall, although I am certain that is the best field trip I will ever go on :)

GOAL Overview
     Sooner or later I'm going to have to accept the fact that GOAL is nearly done, and I can't even put into words how much I'm going to miss it. The best part about goal is how close our little family has grown over the years. Even though we're in separate classes, when we are all together we have the best time. Getting to know these great people has been one of the best experiences of my life.
     Some advice for students who will be in GOAL for the years to come: You are capable of anything you set your mind to. I didn't think there was any way I could memorize a page and a half and say it on stage, or create a historical play and move on to state. But I did those things because Mrs. Edlin believed in me and I believed in myself. The skills you learn in GOAL will not only benefit you in other classes (like making bibliographies) but they will follow me for the rest of my life.
     And some warnings: it's not going to be easy. The projects I did in here are some of the hardest things I've ever done, but they have helped me grow the most as a person. You're going to have to stay up late some nights, and I won't lie, it's pretty stressful. But you can do it. If I can do it, so can you :) If you have never been in GOAL, I'm telling you now, don't be nervous. Be excited :). There are so many great opportunities ahead, and you will learn so much. Soon, GOAL will start feeling like a little family, and you'll never forget the many memories you'll make.
     What will I miss? So, so, so much. I will miss Deep Thinking Friday debates, and being able to just rant and be listened to. I'll miss having a small relaxing class full of mature people that I can trust and talk to. I'll miss independent projects and read-alouds, and every single one of you. I'll miss getting to know you all personally. GOAL has changed my life, guys, thanks to you. I love you all :)

Monday, April 10, 2017

National History Day

   "Irena Sendler was a Polish woman who was inspired to take a stand by her father's words "If you see a man drowning, you must try to save him even if you cannot swim." Irena Sendler lived these words through her actions as she saved thousands of desperate children from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War Two. Sendler did what she believed was right, not for the promise of recogntion, but from the meer goodness of her heart. She silently stood up for what others feared and changed the stories of 2,500 children."

     She is the woman that Clare Else, Yana Gaskell, Amiritha Kumar, Abby Schaefer, and I researched for NHD. We created a performance based on her life, and went to state with it! :) Our group is beyond excited and a little nervous too.
     I totally agree with the judge's comments about our performance. They hit on some of the very things we were insecure about ourselves, and gave us suggestions on how to improve. We will use those as much as possible when modifying our project for state. In fact we found out later that one of the judges went to nationals herself, so we know their opinions are valid, and from their own experience.
     The most interesting thing I learned about Irena Sendler from research was how willing her friends were to risk their lives to help her rescue these children. It made me really want to meet Irena, a woman who could persuay over 25 people to help her during a time when back-stabbing was expected and no one could really be trusted. She must have been very admired and respected. It also fascinated me that not a single one of them betrayed her. That's some serious loyalty.
     The hardest part of the project was finding primary sources. Irena Sendler is not very well known and there was not a lot of information on her, let alone primary information. Once we found one lead though, it was as if we had opened a gold mine and the rest kept coming. We had to spend a lot of time making sure the information was valid, and trying to check it with other sources (which were few and far between.) Irena sure did a good job of making herself scarcely known!
     This project has totally improved me as a student, as a learner, and as a person. I got the satisfaction of working, and working, and working, and having it pay off. I learned a great deal about time management, organization and team work too. Plus, because this was the most difficult project I've ever done, I learned a lot about stress management too.
     I think if we added more information to our project it would greatly improve it. Even though we don't have a lot of wiggle room, the more we can pack in, the better. I think it would also help us to practice reading our lines really s l o w l y. Watching the recording I can see that we go a little too fast!
     The thing I was most proud of in our project was the emotion we were able to successfully portray in it. We made people in the audience cry with our final scene! The fact that five teenagers can put something like this together and do that to people makes me extremely proud of us. I am also very proud of the amount of our own time we have put into the project to make things happen. Without outside of school practices I don't think we could have pulled off our play! Overall it was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am really looking forward to where nationals will take us!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Titanic Presentation

     I just finished my final independent project for goal! I researched the Titanic, and I wish there was some interesting meaning and hidden explanation for why I chose it, but honestly I just thought it was cool and wanted to learn more about it. I had three sections to my presentation: before, during, and after (during being while the ship was sinking). I used Prezi to create a slideshow and took some notes up with me (color-coded of course :).
     My favorite part of my project was a little extra thing I made for the kids in my class. There were twelve people and since a third of the people survived, I was originally going to write on 4 slips of paper "survivor" and on 8 slips, "dead". But that wasn't enough for me I guess, so I researched famous people who were on the ship and made the front of the envelope like a description of them, with one of their quotes while they were still alive. Then when I got to the part of the presentation when I talked about the death count, I let everyone open the envelopes. Inside was a paper telling if their person lived or died. If they died, their last dying words were included, and if they lived, a reflection on the event was included. I thought this made things a little more relatable, plus they could visualize the survivor to dead ratio.
     The hardest part of this project was that there is SO MUCH INFORMATION TO COVER! And it's all very important to the overall project. I talked about the economy and competition, ship construction, locations, first second and third class, passenger activities, the actual sinking of the ship, the death counts, the discovery, avoidable mistakes while on board.....I did my best to at least skim over it all, but not go too in depth. But even so my presentation took 3 classes to complete. Oops...
     As a student I think I improved my public speaking skills and research skills a lot. I am always nervous to get up in front of all my classmates, but by the third day I was confident and even made some jokes that I hadn't thought of before. I had everything written out on a note card, but I also learned that sometimes it's best to not rely on them. If you lose your train of thought, then maybe, but you can connect, and relax better, as long as you know your information by not using them too much. Plus I had to do a lot of work outside of class to pull this all together, research, research, research! Lots of late nights and time management, but it's good practice for high school next year.
     If I did this whole project over again, I would find even more sources to validate my facts (there were a couple I wasn't sure about). I would do work outside of class right away to prevent working until 11:30 on my project every night. I might also cut some things out, that were just filler, or that I thought were really important but really weren't. And lastly, I would tell myself to not be nervous about it. I knew all my information pretty well, and a day or so in, once I was more confident, it was actually pretty fun!
     The only suggestion I have for Mrs. Edlin is this: I love the read aloud book and I love that you read it to us, but if we waited to start until after the presentations, took a break from reading it while we present, or had finished before the unit, I feel like we would have more time to present and it would get done a lot quicker. Sometimes it was hard to get back on track when you have to stop in the middle of a presentation because of the bell. But other than that I really do enjoy these projects a lot, it's so nice to pick what I want to learn about instead of being told what I have to learn about! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Shakespeare Unit Reflection

        When I first heard we were doing a Shakespeare unit, I was admittedly not too happy. Shakespeare? Goal had always been fun, but I was wondering if this would break the streak. But, I never should have doubted Mrs. Edlin. Because this Shakespeare unit has been one of the most fun and educational units we have done,  and I find myself wishing there was a way for us to read all the plays and learn more and more. There were many laughs during this unit (ponchy ill-neutered malt-worm) and frankly, I don't understand why I thought Shakespeare was so boring for most of my life.
        The Taming of The Shrew is easily a controversial play. Many people say it is sexist and I agree with them some of the time. The fact that Kate had to be "tamed" for her husband is wrong. I think the best qualities a woman can have are spirit, and feistiness, and energy like Kate did in the play. They make someone happy and full of life. So the fact that Kate has to be "tamed" and be a quiet obedient house-wife is sexist too me. And it's clear that Kate is unhappy this way, but times were different then and I'm sure that was the norm. But I still like to think that Kate wasn't "tamed" even though she appears to be and she still is full of energy and life.
       Shakespeare's first folio is pretty important, probably more than we realized. When we went to see it at the University of Iowa, the fact that the case couldn't be touched without the room locking and the police being called, should have told us. And like the tour-guide said, this is truly was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It's amazing that the folio was preserved so many years and is still in good condition. It's important because it was like the beginning of Shakespeare. His ideas, thoughts, words, everything that made up the plays are in that first folio. And to think that some of his most famous plays would not have been published if it hadn't been found. Crazy!
        My favorite part of the unit was the Shakespearean insults and death scenes (particularly the insults). Not only was it hilarious to call our classmates kidney brained mugger-muggers, but it helped us to learn a bit about words and phrases used during that time and it really was a nice intro into the unit.
       To finish up here, I think it is really important that we still celebrate Shakespeare so many years after his death. He is the author of some of the best plays ever written, and I truly think every kid should learn about him at some point. Even though some people may think Shakespeare is boring, it doesn't have to be that way. For me Shakespeare was a lot of fun, and I think everyone should get to experience that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2016-2017 1st Blog Post

       Only the second day back and we're already writing a blog post!! Our GOAL teacher Ms. Edlin asked us to set some goals (haha get it? Goals in GOAL)? so here are mine for the 2016-2017 school year as an eighth grader.

       Academic Goal -  My pretty general academic goal this year is to get good grades (all A's if I can). But the more specific goal is to maintain the 4.0 GPA I've miraculously kept all through 6th and 7th. Hopefully I can keep it going! But those are just goals and my own personal high standards for myself. The world will not end if I get a B or drop the GPA a little bit. The goals are just things I like to strive for.

       Personal Behavior Goal - This one is not really an issue for me, I guess I don't really make a habit of getting into trouble and I can say the same for the rest of the class! But what I think Ms. Edlin is asking here is more than just not getting into fist fights in the hallways. My personal behavior goal will probably be to go out of my way to be nice to people and include/help them.

       Improvement Goal - Lastly is the improvement goal. This is a big one for me. As much as we all like to think we're perfect, none of us are and there is always something we can be better at. For me, my improvement goal is to not worry and stress about school and grades as much as I have in the past. Those things are really important but not enough to stress over and ruin a day. "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow but today of it's strength" -Corrie Ten Boom. This is a quote I read over the summer in a book and it really stuck with me. So overall I'll worry less and focus on enjoying my last year of middle school.

       To conclude, these are all important areas because if we can meet or make progress towards our goals, we can really become better people and leaders.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Break-Out Boxes

     A break-out box is, ironically, a break-in box.

      There is a box that has anywhere from 3-6 locks on it and the goal is to break in. You are given clues to get you started, and some other things can be used to make the process more difficult such as UV lights and other boxes that contain clues. Sometimes there is a time limit, but it's not a necessity. If you open the box, you win!  It sounds simple but it actually is quite complicated.
     There are a few skills you need to possess to successfully open a break-out box. The number one skill, as cheesy as it sounds is teamwork. Especially if there is a lot of people working, you have to all work on it together because sometimes one person will know something useful, but if they don't say it, it doesn't do anybody any good. With a break-out box it would be very easy to just sit around and let the others do the work but that's not participation, really. There is always something to do. Some other important skills might be: logic, communication, problem-solving, reasoning/process of elimination, and time management.
     Designing a break-out box is a lot different than solving one. The most important skill we needed was consideration. Once we had some clues figured out, we figured our box was pretty easy and that we should make it harder. But we realized that the reason it seemed so easy was because it was our box! And we kind of had to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who were solving our box. We realized our clues might actually be difficult and we shouldn't make it too hard. Some other skills we needed were: creativity/imagination, and knowledge of our topic
     What went well when the other kids solved our box was that everything ran really smoothly. There weren't any kinks in our clues and they got the box open with some problem-solving and teamwork. The only challenge I can think of was with a math problem we gave them. They were way over-complicating the problem and we were afraid they would get the wrong answer, open the wrong envelope and lose. But luckily we guided them a bit and they figured out what they were doing wrong.
     I think a break-out box would be more fun to do at a larger scale. Such as, we are stuck in a room and we have to break out of the room. It might increase the suspense and determination to get out and there would need to be even more teamwork. But no matter how it is done, a break out box is always a fun and challenging thing to do.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mark Twain Trip

     So this past Friday, our 7th grade goal class got the privilege to go to Hannibal, Missouri to learn about Mark Twain, (Our most recent unit in goal). We started the day going to see Mark Twain, Tom Blankenship and Becky Thatchers homes (they are characters in Tom Sawyer based off of real people). We went to a few informational buildings that I guess would be described as museums. They were really interesting, giving visual examples of the things in Tom Sawyer , and also providing the real explanation from Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) of some events in his book. We went on a trolley ride that lasted about an hour all over Hannibal, to see all the Mark Twain landmarks from afar, since we could have never seen them all in one day. After lunch, we went into Mark Twain Cave, the iconic cave mentioned in Mark Twain's books. This was really interesting and fun to trek through and see where the famous characters once played and had fun. We ended our trip with a run all the way up to light house (244 steps!!!) and all the way back down. And ice cream of course. :)
     I think the most educational part of the trip was the cave itself. We had a really good tour guide who told us all about what the kids did and where they might have played within the cave. He knew what he was talking about, plus he helped us relate to the kids by turning off the lights so the only glow was from a few feeble lanterns scattered around. He tied certain places in the cave to events in Tom Sawyer ( such as, this is where Tom comforted Becky when they got lost). I definitely learned a lot from that!
     The most fun part of our trip....hmmm. There were a lot of fun things. Some that stand out are - Going up to the light house (it was tiring but still fun), getting ice cream afterwards and hanging with friends, and exploring the caves. Sometimes when the tour guide wasn't talking and we were just walking to another location, some of us would try to scare each other, or look at all the signatures on the walls of the cave. And of course, the trolley ride was fun too, especially our stop at Riverview Park.
     What I would improve for the next class that goes to Hannibal is I would give them more free time, just to walk up and down main street and look around at their own pace. Most of our day was on a schedule so we didn't really have a lot of time to browse around.
     My prior knowledge about Mark Twain really helped me on this trip. When our tour guides told us about Tom and Becky in the cave, and Injun Joe, I knew exactly what they he was talking about. I felt like I knew the characters really well, from reading about them. It meant that much more to see where they grew up and lived because I knew who they were. I'm glad we spent time on Mark Twain now because it made the trip much more memorable