Friday, December 9, 2016

A New Approach To An Age-old Subject

A New Approach To An Age-old Subject

A revolutionised subject is what I experienced at Cedar Ridge High School 21st century literacy. Since I began my school and career I have always struggled in the subject of English. I have always had trouble expressing my thoughts and ideas and putting them down on paper as well as getting the correct grammatical pretences and using the correct diction to communicate my thoughts clearly. Coming to Cedar Ridge I had no expectation that anything would change in English, I thought that I would be writing essays, reading novels and studying Shakespeare, same as I always had. Luckily for me, Cedar Ridge High School changed my view of the way English could be taught learned and even how unique you can may your pieces of work. I never thought I'd see the drastic change in the way I learned the English curriculum until I got my first set of assignments, seeing this first set of assignments showed me that 21st century literacy wasn't just a name it really was revolutionising the way that we learn English, (and dare I say maybe even making English fun)  I mean the first set of assignments I got allowed you to consult the teacher on how you wanted to deliver them.(That was unheard of at any other school I had ever attended!). For the first set of assignments I tried to do as a mean of them as I could in presentation from because I have always felt that that is my strong suit, but as the term went on I got better at writing documents, editing and even discussing. I will recall some of the lessons I  learned through the weeks at Ceder Ridge participating in 21srt century literacy.

Week 1 Getting on the same page

Week 1 of Cedar Ridge flipped my idea of school upside down. I was working with all different ages and personalities on unconventional projects I have never attempted before. The activity that stood out most to me in week one was when our educator Shawna asked us to demonstrate what  literacy was to us. The first draft of this project I wrote a paragraph or two on what I felt literacy was and thought I would do a speech on it. After talking to my classmates I decided that this was too conventional and decided to scrap it. Instead, I created a collage of different pieces of literacy that I felt had a big impact on me throughout my life and talked about  my experiences with them and how they represented literacy to me. I will never forget the time that Shauna, our educator asked each of us where we would like to present this project to the class and one of the students, Alex said she'd like to present on the playground outside. Of course, we went outside and we presented the next couple projects on the playground. This kind of behaviour encompasses the unconventional style of learning that we experienced every day in 21st-century literacy. In that same week we talked about getting on the same page, although I thought it was ridiculous at the start that we were spending so much time talking about getting on the same page I found it to be extremely helpful because it allowed each student to understand each other and the environment they would be learning in. This allowed us to be effective and have a mutual understanding of what we wanted our space to look like, feel like and be like. I think this is a crucial step that has missed quite often in traditional public schools. After we came up with a set of guidelines that we thought Cedar Ridge would look like to best facilitate our ideal learning environment we started working on creating guidelines and ideas for what we thought the different policies and assignments we will be given. An example of this was when we were asked to come up with a cell phone policy. This is yet another example of how Cedar Ridge was so different from the average public school. Normally the teacher would explain to the students what they felt was an appropriate use of technology and if the students didn't follow it they would be punished. In this situation as a class, we came up with the set of guidelines each of us would follow to best use technology phones computers and any other devices most effectively in the workspace. Although I found this activity tiring after awhile I would learn to really appreciate the customisation options Cedar Ridge allowed for its students and how that may be all the difference in the Student Success.

Week 2 Leadership

This was the week where is Cedar Ridge attended Red Pine camp. We played many games and activities at Red Pine camp that seemed like all fun and games,  and in fact taught us many lessons about coming out of your comfort zone, teamwork, leadership and friendship. Our time at Red Pine Camp really helped us as a  class to bond as a community. We learned more about each other through spending time together, and most importantly we have great memories together. I also have the great privilege of meeting my new grade 12 companion Connor who I was introduced to for the first time on the first day of Red Pine Camp. After meeting a graduate by the name of Grace who would be  facilitating many of the activities we would take part in we Got to the fun. On the first day I specifically remember some activities that we did that focused on teamwork and team-building such as the human knot and get to be where we had to flip a tarp over while all standing on it these activities help build our communication end help cement comfort  around one another I think you're doing these activities allowed me to better understand how I could more effectively communicate with my peers I think it gave me a sense of who they are and how they function. Although I thought I had great leadership skills coming into Red Pine it proved to be more difficult leading some activities, like a game we called Consensus. This game drove me mad and really highlighted my areas of leadership and adaptability that I needed to work on. I’m so glad we go to have the experience at Red Pine and I know everyone learned something about themselves, as well as how to improve their weaknesses.

Week 3 Technology

This week we were introduced to the idea of creating a blog and uploading all of our completed work on to it for the world to see. At the time I was hesitant in creating my blog, I thought that it might be make a negative impact on the opinions of potential future prospects. Although we still don't know how people react when they see my blog and how it may shift their opinion of me, I have a feeling people find it impressive and it shows them that I have initiative though putting my assignments online. A huge benefit of the block was the ability for me to be able to direct people that I was interested in connecting with,  (like the professor of landscape architecture for example)  to a place that showcased my talents and made me seem like an ambitious young man. But above all I think running a Blog pushed me to create work that I was really proud of. I noticed when I started posting work on my blog that I put more effort into the work and pushed myself to make and outstanding product. I found that though technology and the ability to share my work with people greatly improved the quality of my work. This blatant difference can be seen when looking at a time tabel of work I have handed in, as well as assignments I was asked to share. I’m glad that Shuna introduced me to this idea for two reasons; I think the ability to share my work on a social platform will be greatly helpful in years to come, from exposure to important people, as well as a reference. The second reason I’m glad is that after getting the blog I learned that I work harder and put more pride into my work if I know it will be public. This will help me all thought my life as I can apply this lesson in different areas of my life. I can bring the knowledge that I try and work harder if I know peoples opinions are on the line to many situations.

Week 4 Project Management

This week we were given a whole slue of tasks, project management was key in staying on top of it. I have always struggled with effective project management, In the past I have been known to procrastinate my work to the last minute, like many other students. But I think this week as well as many of the other weeks really helped to teach me how to effectively manage my time. Because of Cedar Ridge’s unique “weekly task list”  approach to the english curriculum I was forced to manage my time on my assignments and projects every week. I think that the skill of project management was improved further than most out of the other skills that I gained and improved at my time in 21st Century Literacy. Coming out of 24 Century literacy I have a different view on completion of tasks, instead of procrastinating and waiting for the last minute I tend to “chip away”  at the task in smaller chunks over days. I've noticed a huge Improvement in my work as well as significantly less stress surrounding projects, because of these two factors as well as others I notice that I have more time to do other things that are unrelated to school,  this is a massive benefit and is an extremely important skill in my view because to get through university takes a mastery of this skill. Another great thing about improving this skill is it can be applied to all areas of life, though I’ve noticed its effectiveness most in written work and reading tasks. I see the improvement in most documents I produce these days and I attribute this success to the extra time I have because I manage my time more effectively. Effective time management allows me to take time to fine tune the product and make sure there are minimal errors. I think this English summative is a great example of effective time management, I’m sure the final copy would have been of a lower quality hadn't I had time to make sure I thought it was perfect and hit all criteria.

Week 7 Organization

This week more than other weeks focused on organisation, in previous years I’ve had trouble with the organisation but coming into this year I thought that I should really take initiative in keeping all of my notes, binders and computer organised. This week showed us new strategies such as creating folders in on the drive which proved to be helpful in making sure my Google drive was tidy. We also focused on how to effectively organise our notes so that they were easily accessible and helpful in the future. During this week I remember established a plan set up priorities and follow that plan to achieve desired marks at a relatively fast pace. After this week I  tried to implement a plan and set goals for myself, this is been extremely helpful and managing the work at Cedar Ridge and I'm sure will be an effective strategy in University. I really needed to demonstrate organisation this week because need finished my ethics presentation which is no small task while balancing the other tasks and still being able to facilitate Flowers for Algernon discussions for the younger grades. I found the skill extremely helpful in finishing my ethics presentation because I set goals for myself, which allowed me to take the work in bite size pieces. As the work rate ramps up I'm sure the skill of organisation will become even more crucial in time management and creating quality work.

Week 9 Design and Respect

I had the privilege of being able to experience and learn about the design sprint process this week which highlighted an effective way of bringing an idea to life. Knowing this design Sprint process will allow me to more effectively engage ideas that I have and Implement them in the real world. I hadn't thought about how to do something like this prior to partaking in the design Sprint so I'm glad I was able to get some experience with it. As well as having a blast during the design sprint I think I took something else from this week which was; respect and how important it is to have a functioning community and to understand each other's views and ideas. I got a great taste of this when in the respect phase of the design sprint where we learned about our target audience’s needs through pretending. Respect was also learned when talking to each other about the different issues in the world and hearing each other's points of view and respecting them this is important because although you may not agree with someone you have to live with the way they feel, especially in a class of 20. I'm glad I learned some compassion and understanding, as well as furthered my ability to  be more tolerant of others ideas, which will serve me well when trying to live in conjunction with others who may have different opinions than me.

Week 10 Adaption

This week we focused on the important skill of adaptability. I demonstrated fluent adaptability  during many tasks this week but I think the most predominant use of my adaptability skills was when I did my POV and “text and film comparison” for the book: Flowers For Algernon. I think to successfully do the comparison I need to think of how the different characters saw each other and what their feelings were, this really helped to gain a better understanding of the general feel and tone of the book, which I thought was a crucial part of this task. Although I feel that I have always been a very adaptable person, this project forced me to use not only adaptability but also think deeply of the characters perspectives. I think during the POV project I really tried to put myself in a similar mindset that Mr Donner would have and how his experiences with Charlie shape his overall view of Charlie. Doing these projects really helped me to fine tune my adaptability skills as well as my skills in putting myself in other's shoes and understanding their perspective. I think because of the time I took studying Mr, Donner and the book I was effective in using language and tone to develop a unique voice.

Week 13 Initiative

Being one of two grade twelves I found I had to use initiative all thought the trimester, I found I had to balance workloads for different courses and make sure I was staying on top of things. A huge responsibility I found I had to take was setting a good example for the younger grades, In past school experience, it was rare that I had to set a good example for the younger grades from an academic standpoint. Though my time in 21st Literacy I grew to really enjoy their presence I got to the younger grades, I found them to really grow on me and after all we've been though I love em. As for helping them with academics, there is one activity I really enjoyed doing above all which was partaking in their discussions for Flowers for Algernon, I loved facilitating the discussions and hearing the student's thoughts and opinions on the story as well as their opinion on characters. This was interesting because I knew them personally and was around them often so I had some knowledge of their biases and motives on certain topics, this made the discussions all the more interesting. When I talked to my group about the younger group’s ideas and topics we all gained the unique insight of from each person's point of view of insight from each other which provided a depth and understanding of the story unachievable from just reading the book alone. Anyway although we didn’t discuss Flowers for Algernon this week because we were reading King Lear I thought I took initiative  in the previous weeks with the discussions, landscape projects, and all around workload more than this week.

All in all, I learned lots throughout 21st Century literacy, I gained new and  important skills as well as improving existing skills. For examples of my learning and consistent improvement throughout 21st Century Literacy, I urge you to look through other blog posts of mine HERE. I think my English teacher Shauna did a wonderful job of creating the course as well as facilitating it. I appreciate her dedication to her students and her contagious positive attitude

Below is our 21st literacy class at Escape Manor