Monday, 5 December 2016

My Academic Journey Through a Course Like no Other

My Academic Journey Through a Course Like no Other:

Throughout this term, I, Sahil Arora was a student at Cedar Ridge High School, who participated in a unique course called, the 21st Century Literacy course. This course was able to further develop my literacy skills through the incorporation of two courses, in English and Business Technology. Throughout this course which operated for 13 weeks, I have gained a deeper understanding on many skills, and have used many skills such as, oral communication, reading, writing, media studies, and the use of desktop/design software. Through the incorporation of all these skills, I have been able to produce and publish several pieces of work, which you can see by clicking here anytime.

This course really stuck with me, and I personally believe that I was able to thrive under pressure, in order to complete my tasks on time. I also strongly believe that my high-tempoed, disciplined, and organized mindset, really played a key role in transforming my work into the best quality of my ability. Many of my previous educators have told me I was a dominate writer and oral communicator, but one thing I personally believed I was lacking, was the ability to read for recreation.Throughout this course, I have been able to practice my reading skills with all three of the books we conducted in, Flowers for Algernon, All American Boys, and King Lear. All of these have aided me within the area of reading, as I now have a different perspective on books. I can officially say I have developed my former reading habits, as I am open to reading a book pretty frequently.

Every week, we (students) would receive a weekly task list which contained all of our tasks which we would have to complete for the week. Along with the weekly task list, we were given a specific theme to focus on while conducting our work. Over the course of the 13 weeks which this course operated for, we were given the following themes to focus on; Getting on the Same Page, Leadership, Technology/Poetry, Project Management, Individualization, Curiosity, Organization, Design, Respect, Perspective/Point of View, Adaptation, Responsibility, Self Regulation, and Initiative. These themes really helped me, because I then knew what themes to focus my attention on while producing work. I also feel like this was a great tool to help improve upon themes which I might not have had much experience on, or was lacking. I was often told to separate from one group of friends in particular, which I was spending way too much time working with, because our work was ending up almost identical. On week five, I really feel like I kickstarted my road to working on the theme of individualization, as I tried to separate into different environments, which ultimately led to finding my unique voice for future weeks. One theme which I found I used more often than not was Technology. I feel like this theme was very important, because I found myself using technology in everything, from presentations to writing a post for my blog. Finally, I found myself working on different aspects of the theme perspective/point of view. Whether it was the book All American Boys or just the presidential election, I often found myself making my own conclusions, because we often see a point portrayed in a controversial way. This ultimately allowed me to use my critical thinking skills, and come up with a conclusion which I felt best matched my current understanding.

One of the units which I conducted was a comparison between the book “Flowers for Algernon” and the film “Charly.” This book/film was a very heartwarming story, which featured a 32-year-old man named Charlie, who was born with a mental disability, which ultimately limited his ability to process and retain information. Charlie undergoes an operation which restores his ability to retain and process information, but this ability soon recedes after he conducts reports on the experimental operation itself. Throughout this unit, we split up into reading groups in order to discuss different events which occurred in the book Flowers for Algernon. From here we gained a deeper understanding on events which occurred in the book. After concluding the book, we watched a film called “Charly” which gave a brief understanding on the book which we read in Flowers for Algernon. Once the film concluded, I conducted a detailed comparison between the film and the book which you can see here anytime. This unit really corresponds with the theme of perspective/point of view, because many people concluded with different perspectives on the book, and it was great to see all of the different perspectives from members in the group discussions. It is also great to see how your perspective/intake on the book can be different than mine even though we underwent the same unit. This unit also helped me with my area of need in reading.

Another unit which was involved inside of many other units was “Presentation skills.” Some key factors in an effective presentation are, limited text, substantial amount of quality images, projecting voice, attentive body language, and limited speech off of a script. Some key assignments which presentation skills came into handy was; The Gord Downie poem analysis, Ethics presentation Business summative presentation, Weekly slideshow, and an optional King Lear Scene Study. I think this unit best corresponds with the themes of Technology and Individualization. All aspects of the Audio Visual presentation require technological skills, such as making the actual powerpoint itself and inputting the text into the powerpoint. This also ties in with the theme of individualization, as your presentation should really be unique to you, as you want your creativity to show while you are presenting.

I am extremely grateful for my time in the 21st Century Literacy Course and I hope I can do it again in the future. I praise all of the skills which I was able to retain from this course, and I was happy that I was able to develop my weakness in reading. I am also grateful for all of the new things I was introduced to such as the critical thinking chart. At the beginning of the term, I am almost certain that my critical thinking skills were hitting the Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, and Analysis stages, but now I truly believe that I have been able to hit many aspects of the Synthesis and Evaluation categories. Although I have not been able to officially master the Synthesis and Evaluation categories, I am certain that I will continue to further develop my skills in these categories.

1.)"Flowers For Algernon - Google Search". N.p., 2016. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.
2.)"Flowers For Algernon". emaze presentations. N.p., 2016. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

3.)"CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS CHART - EFL Magazine". EFL Magazine. N.p., 2016. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Algernon’s Point of view

Journal entry one:
my name is Algernon, I am a little white mouse who has never fit in with the others. The only thing keeping me going is my courageous attitude. All of the others think they are better than me because of their abilities to maintain knowledge, and their general intelligence level. This hasn’t stopped me though, because I have always dreamt of going to Beekman University, and I won’t stop until this goal has been completed. Everyday I imagine myself showing the other mice my ability to complete the toughest mazes in the world, and then just imagine their reactions! My intelligence will rise, and so will I!
Journal entry two:
Today I met three men by the name of, “Dr.Strauss,” “Professor Nemur,”and “Burt. “I met them because one of my other friends recommended me for some kind of operation, which can apparently increase my intelligence. I didn’t even know this was possible, but all three of them seem nice, and I am really considering undergoing this operation. They told me I would be the first living creature to have ever undergone this kind of operation. At first I was a little scared knowing I would potentially be the first creature they tested this operation out on, because if something went wrong I would never be the same, and they haven’t guaranteed this will work, but then I realized I have nothing to lose.

Journal entry three:
I've made a critical decision, which I think will pay off in the long run if it works. I have officially agreed to partake in the operation. Strauss, Nemur, and Burt reminded me of the potential side effects, including not working at all, but I am highly motivated to succeed and I know it will pay off. Well the operation just finished, and i’m feeling highly motivated to learn and compete, as I want to showcase my new skills.
Journal entry four:
Today the doctor’s took me up to the 4th floor of Beekman University, because the laboratory is there. I also met a strange man named Charlie, and from what I heard he is also on a quest to gain more intelligence, and prove to his friends that he can keep up. I wanted to show Charlie how smart I was, as I gained three times the amount of intelligence I had previously. To demonstrate this, Burt put me inside of a maze and started to time how fast I could complete the maze. My strategy is simple, I go in a direction until I am unable to continue, and once I hit a dead end I reset and proceed to go in the other direction until I am able complete. Not to be cocky or anything but I do finish pretty quickly. Charlie was very keen on racing me, and frankly I wanted to prove to the doctors that I could beat an actual human in a race, so Burt set up my maze differently in order to make it identical to some sort of writing maze, which Charlie had to complete. The race began and boy was I ever excited, I ran through the start and moved quickly through the maze. I couldn’t really tell whether or not I won, but judging by Burt’s reaction it was pretty evident I won. With some clarification I was able to pull off the victory, but Charlie wanted a rematch. Well we didn’t only have a rematch, we competed 10 more times, and I was able to pull off the victory in all 10. I hope we can do this more often to prove to everyone that I am indeed intelligent.
Journal entry five:
Well today I was brought back to the laboratory because the doctors wanted Charlie to race me again. They gave us a series of races to see who would finish first, and I am very excited to say I pulled off the victory in all of them. I am starting to think Charlie has grown to be angered with me, because I keep beating him in these races. Well I hate to say it but Charlie actually beat me in a race. I got a little bit of redemption as I beat him the second time, but then he beat me eight more times continuously. I didn’t know whether I was angered, surprised, or happy, because I don’t want to get beaten, and I know I can beat him, as I beat him numerous times in the previous session, but at the same time i’m happy, because I learnt he also decided to pursue the operation, and he is finally gaining intelligence to understand his friends.
Journal entry six:
Well yesterday was interesting and today was even more. I was able to experience my first plane ride yesterday, and today I get to experience an event in Chicago, in which I will be one of the main attractions. Well I didn’t think I would get this irritated but the smoke, the buzzing, and unaccustomed surroundings were making me nervous, and to make matters worse, I was trapped in a cage. Well finally it was my turn to showcase my skills, as the doctors put me through a test where I would have to show my steps in order to get my meal. Well I was really eager on getting out of the cage, and Charlie helped me out. I’m not quite sure why he helped me, but none the less I bolted out of that cage, and scampered across the long table and then onto the platform, and then onto the ground. Dr. Nemur then noticed me, and screamed at people to catch me. They all tried to corner me but I managed to escape and make my way to some kind of ladies washroom. I then heard them scream, and tell people I was in there, but luckily Charlie came in and put me into his pocket. He then put me into his pocket and told me to be quiet. I’m not sure where we were going, but all I know is that we left Chicago on a plane, in which I was forced to spend in a shoebox.

Journal entry seven:
     Well Charlie and I have moved into an apartment in New York. I’m not exactly sure of the whereabouts, because Charlie kept me in his jacket pocket on the way here. Charlie has also been generous, as of late, because he let’s me eat, even when I haven’t completed a tough challenge, unlike the doctors. Well Charlie built me a three-dimensional maze, which I am proud to say I can easily complete, even when he increases the level of difficulty. I am just wondering why he doesn’t give me a reward for completing them, but none the less I have joy just solving them. I’m not sure why, but I get very angered during some of the tests, and I even throw myself against the wall. I’m not quite certain what is causing this anger, but I know I am fully capable of completing the mazes very rapidly. Charlie also met a new friend, she’s a girl and I’m pretty sure she lives in this building but I’m not sure. She’s very nice, today she brought another mouse who is a girl named Minnie, and so far she’s fine. I don’t know what is happening to me but I seem to be getting more violent everyday, because I bit Charlie’s friends thumb, and I bit Minnie, while she was in the reward box. I really want to learn why I’m getting violent but I think I might know why.
Journal entry eight:
Today Charlie and I went back to the laboratory to conduct some tests in mazes I have done in the past. I was having a lot of difficulty in one of the multiple problem boxes, and it looked like Burt was becoming disappointed, as I was able to complete these before. Even I didn’t know why I was having so much difficulty with this, and I just hope it’s because of my time away from the laboratory.

Journal entry nine:
Today Charlie conducted some more tests on me, and at times I was able to complete them, but other times I had lots of trouble, specifically when I met a dead end, I would act violently and throw myself against the wall. Now days I don’t even feel like doing anything. It’s almost like my intelligence is going down, or maybe something more, which I am currently unaware about.
Journal entry 10:


Keyes, Daniel. Flowers For Algernon. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966. Print.(Keyes 6,7,8,18,19,31,156,157,162,163,164,165,172,179,188,189,214,216,239,258)

Monday, 14 November 2016

Cedar Ridge design sprint 2016

The design sprint

The purpose of this design sprint, was to fall in love with an occurring global issue, which you feel most passionate about. You were then tasked to focus your time on finding a solution to this issue.

What is a design sprint?

A design sprint consists of generating creative ideas in a rapid amount of time, to keep new and creative ideas flowing. For example, we had to do many mini-tasks, in a short amount of time to come up with one topic and a solution. Keep in mind while doing this process, you must have “moonshot thinking” which basically consists of thinking 10x more critical than you usually would, to open up more possibilities.

Creative constraints:
Before we kicked off our journey into the design sprint, we were all asked about creative constraints. We were asked if you could be creative even if you had to work within certain constraints. For the most part we all said yes, but a few of us said you couldn’t. This design sprint really tested this theory, and either justified why you can, or can’t be creative within constraints.

What breaks your heart:

During this process, we were given 10 minutes to think of three ideas, which we knew needed further attention to find a solution. We were all given three sticky notes to write our real world problems on, and then we were told to categorize them up at the front of the room.

Mind Map/sketchnote:

This part of the design sprint required us to pick a problem from the sticky notes listed at the front of the room, and expand on them by making a mind map/sketchnote, with as much detail possible, in a restricted amount of time. For this part of the design sprint, I selected “The youtube guidelines.” I think this is a huge issue, because substantial amounts of revenue are being taken away due to the unclarity/unfairness of the guidelines, as you can see in my sketchnote.
My sketchnote


Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 8.59.18 AM.png This step requires your listening, as you will be given a lesson on empathy, and the different forms empathy is used in. In our case we were shown a couple videos and


The whole point of this step was to create two different views of people who are currently being affected by this issue, and look at what they need and want. In order to complete this step, you must partner up with two different people,who will be referred to as “extreme user A and B.” Next you must explain your real world problem, along with the point of view they will have on this issue. For this part of
the design sprint, I told extreme user A that they would be a “youtuber whose profit is going down-hill, as you can see below. Next, I told extreme user B, that they would be someone looking to start a career as a youtuber, as shown below.


This step requires the use of creativity, and you must come up with a “how might we statement,” which should address your real world issue. For my how might we statement, I said “How might Youtube create a more sustainable/user friendly set of guidelines?”


Crazy eight’s:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Without a doubt, this was probably the most helpful, yet hardest step of the design sprint. This  step requires you to generate eight different ideas with only 40 second per each idea. The first three were easy for me, but the rest were very difficult as I found myself expanding on previous ideas. If I were to change one thing, I would maybe give a little bit more time on the
last set of ideas, in order to generate the ideas up to your best quality.


For this part of the design sprint, you will have to pair up with a new partner and briefly explain your real world issue. After you have given some insight on your topic, your partner will have to right four more solutions to your issue. In my case, my partner was set on contacting youtube to fix this issue.



Ideate/newest iteration:

For this part of the design sprint you will develop your main idea, by giving three elements of your real world issue, and finally give two solutions. This should also include pictures, an attention grabbing title, and it should be self-explanatory, as shown in my newest iteration.

This step requires the use of dots. You will be given a sheet of dots, which you will have to put on any statement, idea, or phrase, which you agree with. Once you have finished this process, you will be given three bigger dots,(super dots) these are to be used on any real world issue which you agree with, but don’t waste them because you only have three.  


    This step requires you to be in a group of people, as they will be critiquing your idea. They will critique your solution and the ethics/reasoning of it. This step requires a little bit of time for them to read your idea, and for you to respond to their questions.           


Overall this design sprint was a very engaging process, and it had me thinking of solutions which I probably would have never thought of, in such a short period of time. Listening to the instructions given during the design sprint aided me a lot while writing this text, because I knew what steps to right down. Reading the Cedar Ridge design sprint slideshow also helped me, as I was able to find the amount of time needed for each process/step. Writing the actual content displayed in the images throughout the text made this a very smooth process, as I was able to refer back to my own writing. Finally, speaking in groups throughout the design sprint made it easier for me to develop my text, and make it richer.

1.)"Design Sprint Cedar Ridge October 26-28, 2016". Google Docs. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.
2.) “"Design Sprint Handouts". Google Docs. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Google Forms survey results

21st Century Literacy
Racism in today’s society, survey report

This survey was conducted in order to see various outlooks on racism, by a group of people who haven’t directly had tremendous amounts of exposure towards racism. The results were not extremely surprising, because most people had the same answers for most questions. However there was still a different range of answers, which was ultimately the main goal of this survey.
A series of questions were asked to the participants to fill out. The following are the questions, and several forms of charts showing the results from this spreadsheet.

1.)”Do you think racism is a relevant issue?”
As shown above, all 12 respondents believe racism in an extremely relevant issue in today’s society, because all of them selected option “yes”. This proves that racism is currently playing a huge role in affecting lives all over the world. This has been proven because, even people who haven’t been victims of racism noticed all of the racial acts occurring in the world, and feel this is an issue which needs to be further addressed.
2.)”What is your current understanding on racism around the world? If none, give insight towards what racism is in your opinion”

1.) “Racism is the act of discrimination due to a person's race.”
2.) “That it is a very large problem and causes lots of issues”
3.) “Racism is prejudice against a group from a group that has more power.”
4.) “Racism is a prevalent issue in today's society.  We, as a society, likes to think we have become more open and understanding of different cultures ( I mean we have a little compared to the 1950s and 60s), BUT we still function in a way that oppresses and excludes even targets certain people based on the colour of their skin.”
5.) “People believe that racism is no longer relevant but it really is.”
6.) “My current understanding on racism in the world is that some groups of people are not treated the same as others and this affects a lot of people all over the world.”
7.) “That it still there is a lot of it and all the problems it has created due to the point of view of those who are racist.”
8.) “I think racism is a huge problem, even in today's society. Although we abolished segregation for the most part, people of various ethnicities are stereotyped and harassed solely based  on their skin colour.”
9.) “it's a big issue that have had people killed in the past even today.”
10.) “people say they're not racist but when something happens involving another race everyone says oh it's the black people, school shooting oh those damn white people at it again”
11.) “Racism around the world is a terrible thing, people are punished and are being beat brutally for their skin tone and colour”
12.) “There's a lot of racism around in the word even if people don't realize it. In the US, there are a lot of problems with cops profiling people based on their race.”

Looking at these responses, many people think racism is the act of discriminating a person based on their skin colour. Many people also think racism is an extremely prevalent issue in today’s society. Many of the responses included great knowledge and insight towards racism, which really shows how knowledgeable this group is about a national issue.
3.) “Have you ever witnessed or been in a situation where racism has come into play? If not explain how racism could escalate into becoming a criminal offence.”
1. ) “I have witnessed situations where racism has come into play.”
2.)”People use racism as an excuse to commit other crimes”
3.) “Yes. I have heard kids using racist terms against one another in hateful, ignorant ways.”
4.) “Unfortunately, sometimes people use race as an excuse of a encouragement to commit criminal offences. For example: police brutality, terrorism, etc.”
5.) “Yes but it did not escalate into becoming a criminal offence.”
6.) “I do not think that I have been in witnessed or been in a situation where I have seen racism. This could escalate to a criminal offence because you can not discriminate against any group of people.”
7.)”No I haven't. Racism could escalate into becoming a criminal offence because the victims due have power and can stand up and create many statements.”
8.) “I have witnessed small acts of racism but nothing too serious. I've heard a lot of people use discriminatory racial slurs and disregard the offence that they carry and I think people need to stop thinking that's okay.”
10.) “I have been in many of these situations but we all laugh with each other because we're all so close racism doesn't offend our friend group it's just bonding.”
11.) “Yessssssssssssss”
12.) “Acting on racism is a criminal offence on its own. This could be discriminating against people or using hate speech.”

Roughly 58% (7/12) of the respondents have witnessed a small, yet hateful act of racism. Meanwhile, roughly 42% (5/12) of the respondents did not experience or mention a previous act of racism occurring, but they gave amazing information about how racism can become a criminal offence. For example, racism can be used as an excuse to trigger other brutal acts like, police brutality, terrorism, and much more.

According to the results, above 50% (5/10) of the respondents had tremendous knowledge about racism already. This means the video presented did not change their outlook on racism. Meanwhile 30% (3/10) of the respondents were unsure about if the video changed their views on racism. Lastly 20% (2/10) of the respondents were moved by this video. This means the video conveyed a strong message which truly spoke to them, and changed their perspective on racism.

5.) “In your opinion, has racism affected different communities around the world?”

1.) “Yes.”
2.)”It has made different stereotypes of people and caused issues”
4.)”Absolutely, communities around the world are functioning as individuals rather than a global community often due to the biased nature of racism. Society will alter its actions to both cater and in some cases exclude themselves from being associated with certain races. for example, airport security is heightened (in general for good reason) and suspects people of Arabic/Middle Eastern descent to be a "terrorist".”
5.)”Yes I believe so”
6.)”Yes, I think that different communities around the world will be racist towards different groups of people.“
7.)”Yes because it has made lives better and worse.”
8.)”I think that racism is prevalent in all modern communities. It may be subconscious and not be an act of hate but it still commonly happens.”
According to the responses listed above, all 12 respondents think racism is very prevalent in societies all over the world. All of the respondents also agree with the fact that racism has affected different communities, including the global community“often due to to the biased nature of racism.”

6.)”If an act of racism occurred in front of you, would  you help?”
According to the results posted above, all 12 respondents would aid in any kind of racial situation. Two of the 12 would also call “911”(police) if an act of racism occurred. This means all the respondents are strongly against any kind of racial harassment, and would pounce on a situation to aid the victim.
7.)”How can the world work towards eliminating racism?”

1.) “The world can work towards eliminating racism by helping if a situation occurs.”
2.) “I'm not sure”
3.) “We need to understand people better. Humans are humans are humans. Despite different backgrounds, cultures and skin colours, we are all equal and should be treated as such.”
4.) “Understand that we are all human and just because someone has a different pigmentation then you doesn't make them any less or more of a person. We need to learn to function as a global community not as a society that fears difference.”
5.) “It is not possible but we could still work towards being more acceptive form one and another.”
6.) “The world can work towards eliminating racism buy having very strict laws and punishments for people who are racist so that everyone can have an equal life.”
7.) “The world can teach the youth about this topic.”
8.) “I think everyone just needs to continue to build a tolerance for all others and ignore trivial facts such as race and religion.”
9.) “start an a group like the black lives matter and show racism is alive and we need to stop it.”
10.) “stop looking at people in different ways that offend others”
11.) ”Standing against people who are racist and to start a protest”
12.) “As individuals we must try and rebalance our biases and help people out if they are being discriminated against.

The ideas presented by the respondents were for the most part different, but they all agreed that racism is an issue which the world needs to intervene further with. One idea included teaching the future generation about how to be respectful towards every culture, which could enforce the importance of not being racist from a young age.
8.)” How can you help in your community?”

1.)”Starting an organization and helping if I witness a situation I can help in.”
2.)”I'm not sure”
3.)”Get to know as many different people as possible. Understand your implicit biases. Make every effort to be kind to everyone.”
4.)”Educating people on differences and how they don't define someone. Also we need to create a more accepting and understanding society in general.”
5.)”By being positive and whenever someone is being racist to another, try and help out. “
6.)”I can help in my community buy helping people that are being discriminated at.”
7.)”Take part in protests, stand up for what you believe and participate/support victims or a movement.“
8.)”I think I can just focus on accepting all others and hopefully that encourages others to do the same.”
9.)”by starting a revolution”
11.)”I don't know”
12.)”Help people and alert authorities if someone is being discriminated against.”
According to the results above, most people think if everyone works towards being more accepting, racial issues in their communities will decrease rapidly.

9.)How might I improve my google sheet skills for next time?

1.)“Make your survey smaller so it fits with the rest of your work”
2.).)”If I were you, I would only put one question in each section. Yes and no questions are fine. You don't need to include, "If not.." answer this other question. Also, you can alter the size of your survey on your blog so it doesn't overlap with your sidebar.”
3.)”I really liked it overall, i cannot think of another way to improve the form!”
4.)”This was great. Next time maybe make less "required" questions.”
5.)”You did a really good sheet but maybe next time for multiple choice questions have an "other" option.”
6.)”no comment it was awesome”
7.)”No way, its rly good”
Referring to the information above, the respondents thought I did a pretty good job, but I will have to improve on my technical skills within google forms for my next survey.

Overall this survey was able to prove the opinions of a group who has not been affected as deeply as some other communities around the world. This survey was also able to show the impact of racism around the world, and how the different racial acts spread globally.This survey was also a great eye opener to those who might not know as much about the racial issues occurring in today’s society. If you have any further questions please let me know.

Sahil Arora