Thursday, May 18, 2017

Middle School Goal Reflection

My Image of Greatness was Temple Grandin. Temple is an extraordinary woman because she has autism. In spite of this, she graduated from college with a doctoral degree and became a household name due to her revolutionary cattle chute design. Temple has proved that mental disabilities don't necessarily limit a person, but can make them unique. I admire Temple because she is brave and does not let other people's opinions. Because she was a woman and autistic, Temple faced lots of judgment and discrimination, but she did not let this stop her from following her dreams. The part of this unit that made me the proudest was my display board. I worked so hard on my exhibit and I'm extremely impressed with the way it came out. The hardest part of IoG was the essay. Although I liked the way my paper came out, it took a long time to type and attempt to perfect it. I have become a more organized and responsible person throughout this unit. Deadlines were very prominent and time flew by. I had to learn how to balance my IoG and my personal life. I think if I could've taken more time on my timeline, I would've. It was a little rushed and I'm still not happy with it, even after re-doing it again. That's probably the perfectionist in me, but it could have been better. The best part of IoG was the portrayal. My nerves kicked in backstage, but once I got on stage, it felt natural. I think I did a great job and seeing everyone trying to figure out who I was portraying was quite entertaining. At the end, I got pretty emotional. Realizing that this was our last thing together as a goal family is heartbreaking, but I'm so proud of everyone. Sharing our riddles after all our hard work was awesome.

My favorite educational part of the Des Moines trip was the art museum. I learned about many new artists and discovered their inspiration. I realized that things I would have previous thought as weird were suddenly unique and modern to me. I find abstract art pretty cool and my favorite painting at the museum happened to be abstract. I also thought the courtyard was beautiful. It was a nice place to relax before heading back to the hotel. I learned the most at the Historical Museum. When I first heard that we had to go on a scavenger hunt, I was annoyed. Turns out, running around three floors of exhibits was pretty fun. I viewed many things and it was eye-opening to see the history of Iowa. The most surprising thing from the trip was the I-MAX movie. I thought it was going to be really boring, but it ended up being AMAZING. The way the screen and speakers were set up made the whole thing super realistic and the soundtrack was extremely catchy. I learned so much watching the engineering movie and actually ended up getting engrossed in the storylines. Under my "Why is This Art" category, I wrote something about cups. Seriously. In the corner of the second floor, there were just 6 cups in a circle sitting on the floor and it was an exhibit. I was so confused. Anyone can place cups in a circle. My group did, in fact, escape out of our escape chamber. I believe this is because we had a very well put-together group. Each and every one of us brought a unique skill or talent to the room. By all working together, we could figure out locks and decipher clues. I think that the breakout room was the best part of the trip. I've wanted to do one for so long and it was great to do it with a talented group. It was surreal, challenging, stressful, and exhilarating, but it was all worth it in the end. I had lots of fun with the Normies. :) (We love you, Lisa.) 

The best part of GOAL is the family. Every time I come to GOAL, I feel like I'm in a different place. We all get along and have a truly special bond. I like that we can tease each other and have a good time. I really love having a class where I feel special and important. Advice that I would give to future GOAL students in order to succeed is to be yourself and always have a growth mindset. GOAL is not your average class. It takes a positive attitude to have a good time. Things get harder the more you age, and GOAL is just an example of that. You will get along with other students so much easier if you don't force yourself to fit in. And no one likes a suck up. I would warn future students about History Day. You need, need, need to work your absolute hardest to meet deadlines and complete your project to quality. It is the hardest project of middle school by far. You cannot screw around. Future students should be excited about the experience. GOAL is something truly unique. You need to enjoy every minute you can because it's over before you know it. 

I will miss every single thing about GOAL. I am so blessed to have been apart of this family for 4 years. I will always miss Mrs. Edlin and every single one of the students. From mock trials to Images of Greatness, there was never a dull moment. I'll forever love this class and the memories tied to it. GOAL will always have a special place in my heart, and I'm fortunate for this experience. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

History Day Reflection

Throughout third quarter in Goal, we worked on a project called National History Day. The theme of History Day this year was 'Taking a Stand in History'. My group and I chose for our project to revolve around Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton falls in the theme because throughout his entire life, Alexander worked for one thing: a standing legacy. Although Hamilton wasn't the most perfect founding father, he did have a goal for life. He wanted to make America into something great. He did this by fighting in the Revolutionary War, originating the National Bank, and much more. Even though he worked throughout his life for this legacy, he wouldn't be well known today if it weren't for his wife and Lin-Manuel Miranda, both who have devoted many years just for Alexander.

At the History Day competition, my group had an interview. Here, we were asked multiple questions about our project. Today, we looked over a review sheet and got to read comments the judges made about us. A couple things that came up were that we were very knowledgable about our topic and we focused a little too much on the Hamilton musical. I agree with the fact we knew a lot about Hamilton. We worked hard in class and had a lot of quality research. I can see where the judges were coming from about the focusing too much on the musical aspect, but I also disagree a bit. We may have mentioned the musical a lot, but we also included how that tied in with the real world, and how Lin contributed to that point in history. I think we were also a little nervous, so it was hard to focus on three things at once. If the judges mentioned the musical, we were more likely to talk only about the musical, rather than everything as a whole. 

The most interesting thing I learned about Hamilton while conducting research was how truly passionate he was. Alexander did many stupid things in his life, like having an affair, but he always showed the world his motives, and his always made up for it. Hamilton had one goal in life, and that was to make sure his name lived on, but in a good way. Even if he'd done something wrong, he'd prove the reasons behind it, and try to clear up the rumors. For example, Hamilton was blackmailed by his mistress' husband. When other men in his workplace found documents of expense records, Alexander was publicly accused of embezzling government funds. Instead of letting people believe he was a liar and a thief, Hamilton published a book about his affair and how he didn't spend government funds, but rather his own money. Although many people look at this scenario and think, "Wow, what an idiot," it was really Hamilton's own way of defending himself. 

I believe the hardest part of this project was getting started. Since Alexander Hamilton is such a well known name, searching for sources was very overwhelming at first. Source after source. Every single time we tried searching for a small detail, things would pop up like crazy. After we got our basic information, it started becoming easier to find other details in various documents.

As a student, I improved during History Day. I learned how to handle deadlines much better. I also learned how to sort through lots of information in order to find what I need and how to correctly cite and annotate various sources. I think I became more mature during this unit as well. If I wanted to get something done, I'd work hard on it all period. I don't like to screw around; I want to accomplish things with quality.

I could improve our project by polishing up the website more, using media, and finding more pictures. The main reason we lost points was because we focused too much on the musical portion of Hamilton. I think we had a fair amount of information about the musical, but I think we could have used more information about Hamilton's legacy itself. If I could go back and fix this, I'd add more to the paragraphs explaining how the whole project tied together.

I think I'm most proud of the fact that our group overcame obstacles and worked together. At first, we had a lot of arguments and someone was always upset with another member of the group. By the end of History Day, we could all easily get along and worked hard to reach the final deadline. Even though we didn't make state, I think regionals was a fun experience and I'm proud that our project was there among many other talented students.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Independent Project Reflection

I did a project on paranormality this year. I chose this topic because it has always interested me, but I never got to learn much about it. In my project, I focused on popular subjects such as the ouija board, poltergeists, and other types of supernatural powers. I presented my work through Prezi.

The thing that I liked most about my project was the poltergeist section. That's where I had the most information and I thought the facts were accurate and good. Poltergeists were my favorite thing to learn about during research which made it fun to present as well. 

I think the hardest part of my project was finding reliable facts. The paranormal is such a controversial topic and could lead to false information. Many argue that ghosts aren't real, so some articles and websites could be biased that way. That made research difficult. 

I think doing my project made me a better student. This year during presenting I became somewhat more comfortable speaking in front of a group and was interested in what I had learned. My topic gave me the chance to decide what I believed in and how to express my thoughts.

If I could do my project all over again, I would take more time and find more information. I feel like if I would've gotten more facts and not waste so much time, my project would be a lot better. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Shakespeare Reflection

     When I first heard that our first unit was going to be about Shakespeare, I wasn't the least bit excited. I didn't understand the language, and I had no interest in trying to learn about it. After about a month of the Shakespeare unit, I've come to enjoy it. When the language was explained to me, I started to understand the art of Shakespeare's work. I looked forward to coming to class and reading bits from Taming of the Shrew. I think what really changed my mindset about Shakespeare was actually acting out scenes. When you have something visually right there, it makes it a lot easier to understand. 
     I truly believe that Kate was tamed by the end of Taming of the Shrew. Over time, her attitude became better, and she became a lot less aggressive. She was slowly being tamed over the course of the play. I think her long speech at the end was her climax in being tamed. She was finding out that she truly loved Petruchio and it all built-up. She broke through her attitude and decided it was time to finally be obedient. 
     Shakespeare's first folio is so important because without it, many of Shakespeare's plays wouldn't have ever been published. Work such as Macbeth would be non-existent. The first folio is also important because it was the first time all of Shakespeare's work was published together, entirely. On the field trip, I learned that there are 288 folios in the world, and that each one goes for about 6 million dollars. 
     Shakespearean insults and death scenes helped my understanding of Shakespeare because it was one of the first times I read language from that time period. Knowing what kinds of words were used and what they meant made reading the actual plays a lot easier to understand. Having the death scenes explained to me made me want to read more of Shakespeare, because I actually understood it. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2016-2017 1st Blog Post

     I'm actually really happy to be back in school. I'm making some goals for myself, and I think they're all important. My first area of improvement I think I need to focus on are my grades. Yes, I get mostly A's, but I feel I need to push myself a bit harder. My academic goal for 8th grade is to maintain no less than a 3.85 GPA each quarter.
     My next goal I have set for myself is for my behavior. I have a lot of classes with my friends, and this often makes it hard to focus in school. I'd like to stay more on task, even when my friends socialize with me, tempting as it is. I also hope to not get sent to the principal's office, or have any tardies/unprepared.
     My last major goal is to just make myself better. Being a better friend, being more attentive, getting higher grades, improving myself in every way I can. I know if I push myself just a little farther, I'll be so much higher than average, and it'll pay off in the future, and right now.
     I believe all three of my goals are important for me to grow in general, but especially in school. Having higher goals for myself gives me motivation to do all my work, to my best potential, and then some. If I live up to my expectations of myself for my behavior, school performance, and improvement, my work that I hand in, and my participation in class will improve greatly. I think it's always good to set goals for yourself, and make them a challenge sometimes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Breakout Boxes Reflection

     Breakout boxes are like puzzles, except they involve many clues and moving around. A breakout box requires teamwork and cooperation to get it open. You have to use a certain clue to open each lock, and there's generally 4-6 locks on each box. It's kind of like being a little kid again, going on adventures and finding clues to open the 'treasure chest.' And there's always a prize inside, which makes them especially fun to break into.
     One of the most important skills in solving a breakout box is teamwork. Everyone in a group has to work together and combine their knowledge. Each person might understand a different part of the box or clue, and when everyone works together, it makes it easier to figure out. Another important skill is being able to think outside the box. Yes, there are times when some clues don't need to be investigated all that much, but you need to be able to solve some riddles to open each lock.
     A skill needed to be able to create a breakout box is creativity. If your box doesn't have a theme, and the clues are bland, it won't be fun for the people who are trying to open it. If you're not having fun making it, it's unlikely that the people opening it will be having much fun either. Creativity is also needed while designing clues. If you can't think of anything for a clue, well, you're out of luck.
     I think something that went well when the other teams tried to solve my group's breakout box was the balance. Some of the locks, they got off really easily and pretty early on. Other clues took them awhile to figure out, and I think that's honestly a good thing. You don't want your box to be too hard, but it also shouldn't be the easiest thing to open.
     An unexpected challenge that I saw the other team have while solving our box was how much they over-thought the final clue. I think the reason for this problem is because we didn't specifically tell the groups which clue went hand-in-hand with the final one. It was confusing for them, but my group thought it was one of the easiest clues. They did end up opening the box, though.
     Another setting I think would work well for a breakout box is outdoors. I think this is a good setting because; there's plenty of room, there's endless possibilities for clues, the students would be moving around more, and I feel like it would be a bit more fun for everyone.
     Overall, I really enjoyed this unit, and I think future classes will enjoy it as well.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mark Twain Field Trip

     Our goal class has been studying Mark Twain and his work for awhile. On May 13th, we visited Hannibal, Missouri, as a way to end out unit. Hannibal is where Mark Twain grew up, and where most of his stories take place. We got to visit the locations where his stories were influenced such as; Mark's childhood home, the Hannibal caves, the local shops, and much more. Seeing all of the locations in real life really helped me understand and visualize Mark's work.
     The most educational part of the trip was the trolley tour. We learned a lot about each specific place, and the history behind how it influenced the story. Each part of the tour gave me more information that I would not have known if we hadn't taken the tour. It was really cool to hear about how each place had an effect on his life and work.
     The most fun part of the trip was for sure the caves. It was a little intimidating at first, knowing we were hundreds of feet underground. But I really liked exploring the caves and understanding where each part of the stories took place in there. It was cool how our tour guide demonstrated how dark it would've been for Tom and Becky when their candles burned out, and little stories that make the caves unique. Seeing all those autographs that dated back to the 1900s, even 1800s, was so cool. It made me feel like I was witnessing history.
     I think something that could make the trip for next year's group more fun would be changing it up a little. Everything that we did was super interesting, don't get me wrong, but I saw a lot of other things to do and places to shop. Maybe taking a vote of what everyone wants to do before the trip would make it so that everyone is having lots of fun.
     I think reading and learning about Mark Twain helped me get the full experience of the Hannibal trip. I would've had no idea what the tour guides were talking about in the caves or on the trolley. I think it's good that we read chapters of Tom Sawyer before the trip. It helped me understand how everything influenced the story a lot better. Plus, seeing the island that Tom and his friends ran away to and their homes helped me make a connection to our earlier reading.
     Overall, I really enjoyed the trip. The unit wasn't something I greatly looked forward to in the beginning, but in the end, I'm glad we learned about Mark Twain. It made for a good experience.