April 30, 2008

A Simplified Story of How I Moved and Then Moved Back.

I had just finished fourth grade. I was ten years old. And I was moving.

I had been at the same school since kindergarten: five years. Five years was a whole half of my life! Now, I had to start over in a town that I had never heard of. I had lived in the city my entire life, and this new town was definitely not urban. There were woods in our backyard.

Moving also meant that I had to leave my friends, the people I had grown up with. Now, I don’t make new friends easily. I am a quiet person. So, this revelation that I would be alone was quite tragic.

We moved in the summer, after school let out. Down the street lived two other girls my age – perhaps I could make a friend there! Unfortunately, they had grown up together, so I found it hard to break in to their bond. On top of that, we had nothing in common.

Eventually school started, and I was still my quiet self. I didn’t make friends. Luckily for me, we had assigned seats at lunch, so I started to talk a bit to Kelsey, a girl at my table. She and her friends were all nice and a little weird, so I fit in well. If you’re a non-social person like me, it’s always safe to hang out with the other non-social people. We had a lot of fun at recess playing with beanie babies.

So, eventually I made friends. Making friends takes time. You have to get to know people a bit, to make sure that you actually like them before you start hanging out with them. It may sound obvious, but if two people don’t like each other, they’re not going to have fun together!

It may sound like that’s the end of they happy story, and me and my new friends walked off into the sunset and the rest of our lives. However, that would not be true.

I had just finished eighth grade. I was thirteen. And I was moving.

This time, the move was familiar: back to the city from whence we had come! This time the move was joyous. Sure, I would miss my new friends, but honestly, a small town was just not the place for me. We had grown apart in middle school, unfortunately, and I was beginning to dislike our moving out of the city in the first place.

This second move came right before high school. In high school, everyone is new, because admission is from all over the city, so there are 100 people in one school coming from fifty different middle schools. I was going to attend the Science Leadership Academy. I walked into the new student orientation, and sitting right there in the second row is my best friend from elementary school.

We now attend the same school, and it’s almost like I never left. We’re BFFL: Best friend for life ☺

“Make new friends,
and keep the old.
One is silver
And the other’s gold.”

April 25, 2008


It's just one of those days.

April 21, 2008

Meme: High School Daze to Praise

Meme Rules:

- Select and briefly review one teen novel, classic or modern, which is a sure antidote to the daze of high school.
-Title your post Meme: High School Daze to Praise
-Include an image with your post.
-Tag four blogger colleagues.

After a couple of days of not being able to think of a book that would get my lazy classmates to read, I finally thought of one. I’ve read a few blog posts lately (A Writing Curbxstomp and Soojin, and perhaps others that I don’t remember) on comic books, manga, and graphic novels. Then – aha! – it hit me! Duh, a teenager would love to read a graphic novel, and there are those out there with the potential to spark great discussions. And forget the rules, here are two:

Option 1: Maus, by Art SpiegelmanI absolutely loved this book, especially because I could relate to many of the characters – Art reminds me of my father, and his father reminds me of my grandmother. I’m sure students could recognize their relatives in these nagging characters. Soojin commented that in comics, Americans all look the same – in Maus, characters are drawn as different animals to represent their nationality, so no confusion there!

One of the best things about Maus for the classroom is the interdisciplinary material. It is about the Holocaust, and so could fit in nicely with a history course. It could be used in conjunction with an art class as well due to the format. Actually, both of my suggestions could be used in history and art class. Graphic novels are fabulous!

Option 2: Persepolis, by Marjane SatrapiAgain, expressive drawings, and intricate plot with lots of relevant topics. The writing style in Persepolis is a bit hard to get used to, because Ms. Satrapi writes very directly, so it can feel a bit jerky at times. However, it’s an extremely rich story, with a lot going on, and much of it (if not ALL of it) teenagers can relate to today (in some way, shape or form).

Okay, I tag:

Lehmann (has he been tagged already?)

April 16, 2008

A Mini-Rant on Signals

This is my rant for tonight…I’m a bit frustrated…

If, on a social network or aim, a person does not wish to talk to someone, they should really just say so. Saying something really short and with no substance like “thanks” or “no problem” or simply “yeah” is rude, because the person receiving the message doesn’t know what to do with that. It’s not clearly stating that the person sending it wants to sever contact, but it doesn’t exactly allow for a response. The receiver is then left in the predicament of how to respond. Should they post back with a message of substance in hopes for a meatier response? Should they not respond and let communication die off? Be clear in what you want! Do you want to converse or not? Let me know.

If you cannot tell by now, I’m in the receiver’s position… So, Ilan, do you want me to stop talking already?

April 9, 2008

Math Class Madness

It’s hard for a student to know how they learn if they’ve only ever been taught one way.

I am a year or two above everyone in my school when it comes to math. This year, in tenth grade, I am taking pre-calculus. Most people are taking Geometry or Algebra 2. Since I am the only student who needs pre-calculus, there is no class for it. There was a little bit of scrambling last year figuring out what to do with me. They came up with an independent study class – I would sit with one of our genius teachers (he seriously is) for two periods a week, and the other two would be independent. Now, our school hasn’t done that before (we haven’t done a lot before, considering we’re barely two years old), so what it would look like was pretty up in the air.

In the beginning of the year, the class was talking about the overall topics when I had a teacher, and me pretty much just sitting there amazed at how much there is to know in the world. On the other days I would attempt math problems from a pre-calc textbook. Then, we switched to worksheets that were fairly similar to the textbook. I still wasn’t getting it. For some reason, I was just in way over my head and I wasn’t getting anything from doing these problems. The math wasn’t sticking. When I wasn’t in the classroom, I was banging my head against the wall at one a.m. because I simply did not understand the math.

We then switched to multi-step problems on websites, and that didn’t go too badly. I got more sleep. On Monday, I asked for a test because I had finally figured out that I hate repeatedly doing math problems and then just getting assigned…..more math problems. Exciting, no? It’s easier to know what you don’t like. I realized that I don’t like endless problem sheets with no end in sight. I like having an end goal towards which to work. Now that there’s a test, something real to say, “I’m learning this for that.” I had no incentive before. Maybe it’s weird, having a test be my incentive. But maybe I’ll retain trigonometric proofs. We’ll see after Monday.

Math class won’t automatically improve now that I have a test to look forward to. I am a traditionalist in math. I like pencil-and-paper worksheets. I miss having a real class. Having people to interact with and complain about the work with is really an essential element of the classroom. And now I know that. I’ve only ever had that kind of class. This year, with my independent study, I learned how I learn in math.

There is only one marking period left, and then summer. As for next year, perhaps I’ll take calculus at the Community College or at Drexel. It is to be determined.

Photo: "hard math" from misterbisson

April 3, 2008

I <3 Banjos

Isn't it pretty? I hope to get it for my birthday so I can teach myself!

The Season of Chaos without Sleep

Ahh, benchmark season. The chaotic, stress-filled work sessions of doom. I have seven classes. That equals seven major projects all due in pretty much the same time frame. All final products due in the same week. Now, if you’re like me, you tend towards procrastination. So, in the process of frantically finishing large important projects, I haven’t done much else in the past few weeks.

However, there is definite value in having to juggle multiple projects. Time management. I’m learning. I rarely need to stay up past midnight to finish a project. This is a definite improvement, and one that I am proud of.

Grades go in tonight. That means most benchmarks are done. You can visit my Biochemistry benchmark here, and blog section of my English benchmark here.

Now, you may wonder, projects? Not final unit tests? No, I tell you, because I go to a project-based school. We at the Science Leadership Academy believe that tests are not an accurate representation of learning. Projects challenge learning and necessitate understanding. On a test, all you need to know are dates and basic concepts. You might even guess on a few questions and magically get it right. However, you cannot guess on a project. You need to understand the deeper concepts of the French Revolution or Their Eyes Were Watching God in order to analyze their importance. You cannot make a multiple choice test question out of why Janie stayed with Joe even though he abused her. There are multiple reasons why, and different people will interpret the relationship differently.

I learn at my school, and I retain what I learn. I think that’s pretty darn important.