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Sunday, May 8, 2011

I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~Eartha Kitt

Last Blog of senior year…

I have learned a lot about myself this year. I have learned that there are things that I feel strongly about and things I wish I could feel more strongly about. Education is one thing that I feel strongly about. Being inspired by a teacher to divulge into a subject is exhilarating, talking to your friends about the meaning of life is mind boggling, and consuming yourself with a good book is always interesting. However, there are other aspects of school that are just as imperative to ones development. For example, extra curricular activities are great ways to open your mind to new things, meet and interact with new people, and work your mind in a different way.

Reflecting back on high school, there are a lot of things that initially I was hesitant to try. Luckily, with the push of my parents and encouragement from my friends I tried a ton of different things in high school and as a result, I have a lot of fond memories.

Looking back on my high school experience, I feel a lot of joy. I worked hard in school, got involved in an amazing club, played basketball, and built relationships with people who I will be friends with long after high school is over. Sure, there were times when I wished I didn’t have to do my homework or dreaded going to a class to take a test I wasn’t prepared for, but I approached high school with the mindset that if i preformed well in the classroom, I would have opportunities outside of the classroom to have a lot of fun.

The balance that I was able to keep between academics, athletics, and other clubs and activities allowed me to have four amazing high school years. Some people have too much “fun” in high school and some people spend too much time on their academics to really enjoy their life in high school. I will strive to maintain this same balance in college. School will be even more intense at the University of Chicago but there will also be so many opportunities to get involved with the school and with the city of Chicago.

I have learned that the classroom is not the only place to learn.

Through analyzing education this year on this blog I have discovered that learning is not just about getting a good grade, it is about enriching your life. I also realized that learning happens everywhere, be it in a traditional classroom, watching TV, going out with friends, or taking a moment to listen to your parents. These moments will teach and prepare you for almost anything that you will ever experience in life (comment if you have a counter argument). So why do people, especially teenagers, write off education?

I hope to never lose my passion for learning and understanding the world and people around me. I shall leave you all with this final quote,

The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think - rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men. ~Bill Beattie

Until next time...


Sunday, April 17, 2011

If you want to be happy, be

The other day in the mail I received a letter, it was from my 8th grade self. I have been waiting for this letter for the past four years, and finally getting it was surreal. Upon eighth grade graduation my English teacher prompted my classmates and me to write letters to our high school senior selves. She gave us envelopes, promising to mail them to us in four years.

My letter…

I wrote about everything that seemed important to me then; my relationships with my family and friends, the high hopes of playing division 1 basketball at Duke or UConn, and my hope to be popular in high school. My eighth grade self hoped that I would have boyfriends in high school, make friends, and excel at school. Although most of the thoughts on my mind as an eight grader were poorly articulated, the goal I wanted to accomplish in high school was to be successful. Successful in academics, relationships, and be successful at being happy.

Would my eighth grades self approve…

YES!!! I have a great relationship with my family and friends, I am playing basketball in college, I had a few boyfriends along the way (I don’t think my eighth grade self would ever believe that!), and I am excelling in school.J

On a deeper level though, I broke out of the shell that I had built up throughout middle school. I gained confidence in myself and I feel like I experienced a lot of different things in high school.

Most of my ideas in the letter were not developed. I just briefly touched on things that were not great in my life and things that I wanted to maintain. This letter that our teacher made us write was informal, it was for only our eyes, and it could have been about anything. For whatever reason though, I set small goals for myself and subconsciously and consciously, worked to maintain those goals. There are statistics proving that you are more likely to accomplish something if you make it a goal, and then you are even more likely to accomplish it if you write it down.

I wonder what would happen if teachers used this method to help their students. What if at the beginning of the school year each teacher asked their students to write a letter to themselves that they will open after they complete that grade (or any period of time). The teacher could promote writing about work ethic, schoolwork, friendships, social skills, but promise that no one would read it. The privacy that I had when I wrote my letter allowed me to express and address some of my deepest thoughts. Also, our teacher told us a day before to think about what we would say to ourselves four years later. When it was time to write, she gave us a whole class period and encouraged us to write a lot.

In the hustle and bustle of teaching all the required curriculum, assigning last minute projects, etc. Maybe the best thing a teacher can assign his or her student is a reflection piece. Give the student time to think critically about their life and prompt them to write about it. I will cherish this letter forever, and I know a lot of other students would love the opportunity to participate in something this meaningful.

Until next time,


Monday, April 11, 2011

Put your future in good hands - your own.

Next year I will be a student at the University of Chicago! I am so excited to be a college student in the best city in the world J Every few days I get a mailing from them about programs they offer, dates to save, and Saturday I got an Insider’s Guide to the University of Chicago. This week I will be going to campus for an overnight stay with a lot of the other admitted students. I get to sit-in on classes, meet other admitted students, and spend a night at my future home!


1. The wide variety of classes

2. Playing Basketball

3. Living in the city

4. Being on a diverse campus

5. Living on my own, but being close enough to home to see my family. (My mom and I will have lunch downtown often :] )

6. All the people I am going to meet J

7. Eating and shopping in the city

8. Community service opportunities available

9. All the performances and events that UChicago has

10. Learning at one of the best schools in the world J

I am grateful to know where I am going to school next year. I spent a lot of my time in high school planning, worrying, and researching where I would end up, so now that I know it is a relief! If there are any young reader's out there reading my blog, know that with determination, a positive attitude and hard work you can do anything. However, remember that rarely nothing is ever given to you...I guess that is true for most things in life as well.

All in all, I am so excited about all the opportunities and possibilities that UChicago has to offer :)

Until next time…


Monday, March 14, 2011

Learn Like You Will Live Forever

I was sitting at the library today, researching psychoanalysis with some classmates when my eye caught a pamphlet that said, “Learn like you will live forever.” I have heard similar sayings like “Live like you will die tomorrow” and “Love like you will never get hurt.” Both of those versions are powerful in their own right, but the library’s quote resonated with me more so than the other two. In todays world, there is so much going on, so many perspectives, so many different types of people, and so many conflicting ideas. At first glance, “learn like you will live forever” seems like a cute saying one finds in a library, but it could not be more relevant in today’s world.

Personal Confession…

I guess I sometimes try to only know enough. It is easy to only pay attention to what happens in my hometown and block out the rest. Global warming scares me, people’s prejudice towards homosexuals and other races makes me sick, and hearing about mass poverty and illiteracy makes me feel helpless. This blog is my decision to be here (Present in what s happening now. Not trying to avoid things or ignore things). So I have decided that every day I am going to take at least 10 minutes and read. Read the news, I think cnn.com will do the trick along with Christiansciencemonitor.com. I will also read blogs. I know my friend Kyle writes a phenomenal blog about LGBT issues that I will try to frequent more often.

I guess the main thing is that I know how detrimental ignorance can be. I am by no means ignorant about the topics mentioned above, but as a young adult about to enter college, these issues are important and I should be more versed in them. The thing is, most of the problems we face in the world arise from the fact that some people decided to stop learning. For example, a lot of people in the older generations have chosen not to believe in global warming because they didn’t learn about it growing up. Of course, I am not saying that one should believe everything they read, but informing oneself is imperative in the process of finding who you are and what you stand for and what is right.

At the end of the day, staying on top of news will only help you understand the world more. You don’t have to believe or subscribe to anything, but, at least you are seeking to understand.

I have spent the last 15 minutes reading different articles. I hope you will follow suit and either start this process by yourself or click on the links below.

Japan Tsunami

Upheaval in Libya

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Until Next time,


Monday, March 7, 2011

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

In my English class, we just finished reading Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. While reading the play we focused on the different lenses that it could be read through: formalist, psychoanalytical, mythological, feminist, reader response, and Marxist. All lenses provided a different insight in to the play, and made Hamlet much more interesting to read. The lens that I liked the best was reader response. For the reader’s response lens, we looked at lines that could portray Ophelia as innocent and needing guidance and protection vs. rebellious and in need to rules. The character Polonious could also have been read in a number of different ways, his lines could be taken as wise or as pompous. Lastly, we focused on Hamlet as crazy/mad vs. incredibly intelligent.

We also discussed how stage directions, costumes, and gestures of the actors would also play a huge factor in making the audience believe one persona or another. For example, we could position Polonious a little bit higher up on the stage to make him seem more important, we could make Ophelia avert eye-contact to show rebellion, and we could make Hamlet pace around and act crazy. We could dress Ophelia in white and put her hair in a braid to make her seem more naïve, and put Polonious in gaudy cloths to make him seem pompous. All of these elements that the director decides on will play a huge role in the way each player is portrayed.

Hamlet outside of Hamlet…

The thing is, Shakespeare’s writing was meant to be preformed, so even though his writing is incredible, especially from a formalists point of view, there is so much meaning to be found in the tone used, the way the actors interact, and the clothing and props used. I have been paying attention to the people around me, the programs on T.V. and the pictures in magazines. It is very interesting to see how all the analysis that my class did about what actions, clothing, and tone would make an actress seem innocent or rebellious, wise or pompous, intelligent or mad.

This picture is of the cast in a hit T.V. series called Gossip Girl. The picture accurately portrays each of the characters in the program, starting with the girl on the left, Serena. Serena is wearing a black short dress, it is more reveling than the dresses that the other two girls are wearing and her head is held a little bit higher than the rest. Her posture and clothing choice she is more outgoing, sexier, and attention hungry than the other two girls. The girl in the middle, Blair, is much more covered up, making her seem more sophisticated and mature. The hand on her hip shows she has a lot of confidence and is powerful. However, from this picture you can tell that there is a power struggle between Blair and Serena. Blair is in the middle and Serena, though on the side is standing closer to the camera. It is unclear from this picture who the leader of the girls is, but if you are a follower of the show you know that the power shifts between the two often. The blonde on the right, Jenny, is in an harmless looking spring dress. The mixture of her posture and hands behind her back lead us to assume that she is more timid and new to the group. The color of the dress and the hair covering part of her face makes her seem innocent compared to the others.

I enjoyed analyzing the text in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but I enjoyed thinking deeper about HOW these famous lines could have been interpreted. So then I thought about how in real life people dress or act in order to carry-out a vision of themselves. Everyday when you wake up you decide what “character” version of yourself you want to play. The outfit Shakespeare might have chosen for Ophelia could have been an all white cover some dress vs. a busty red dress, we will never know, but which ever outfit she did wear, tells a lot about who she was and what she wanted people to think of her. I think that that point is important for people to remember in today’s world. There are a lot of opportunities to portray yourself as one thing or another through the things you wear to school to the pictures you post on Facebook. After reading Hamlet and realizing how much room there is for interpretation, I realized the same holds true in all of our lives. Because we don’t know how his character’s were supposed to dress or act, we have to decide for ourselves. Although this unknown part of Shakespeare is interesting to explore, I don’t want people to make assumptions about me. So even though the characters in Shakespeare can live mysteriously in the plays they live in, we don’t have the luxury of just being judged by our words. Our actions speak louder than words often time, and I am going to do my best to always keep this fact in my head.

Until next time...


Monday, February 28, 2011

The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do. ~B.F. Skinner

When the time comes to choose between the Internet and a book for a research project, I usually choose a book. Between skyping with a friend and talking with them in person, I choose the latter. However, I will be the first to admit that when it is late at night and the library is closed or when a good friend is away at college, technology is a fabulous tool. With the information revolution raging on in full force, I thought I would use this post to illustrate how technology has impacted my family….

I have a younger sister, Elizabeth. She is 10 years old, and a genius (at least I think so). Technology is becoming a huge part of her life. She makes imovies when we go on vacation, arranges her own songs in garage band, writes poetry on her laptop, and downloads all the latest apps for her itouch. She knows how to use almost every form of technology, and she is creative with it, for example, she does not have a cell phone but she was able to figure out how to text her friends, FOR FREE, through her itouch. She also figured out how to set up her own skype account, which she uses to talk to her cousins who recently moved far away. I consider myself “tech savvy” but Elizabeth is on her way to becoming the most wired kid I know.

Although I know that Elizabeth is gaining skills and experience for her future with all of this exposure to technology, sometimes I can’t help but worry about her and her friend’s idea of a good time. They spend it playing computer or itouch games, surfing the web, or playing Wii. After school, when she is done with homework, she gchats her friends or skypes with them. Don’t get me wrong, it is amazing to see her taking advantage of such technology, but after reading reports from social scientists and child psychologists, I worry that all of this technology is preventing her from developing strong bonds with friends and inhibiting her from gaining important social skills.

“For one thing, text messages are not capable of revealing facial expressions and body languages, which makes a substantial impact in communication. Empathy is not a product of text messages but more of a reaction to the emotional expressions of the receiver in communication. I doubt whether all advancements in the visual and video technology can substitute for the observation, feel and touch factors of communication of interpersonal communication. The big question is whether true friendship and social interaction can be possible without empathy.”

To read more go here

Technology is taking us to places that we have never gone before. Social Networking tools like Facebook is acting as the catalyst for the protests in the Middle East, blogging and twitter are allowing people to leave a digital footprint, and our smart phones help us stay more connected than ever.

Is this fabulous, is this bad?

I would love to hear your reactions to this technology takeover J

Until next time…


Monday, February 14, 2011

Lady GaGa, a Possible Role Model to Teachers Everywhere?

As another year’s Grammy Awards come and go, Lady GaGa is still one of the top people to watch in the music industry. So the question is, what sets GaGa apart from her counterparts? I made a list J

1. Her ability to consistently

create exciting, iconic, and memorable songs and performances for her audience

2. The public only knows her as Lady GaGa. Not a lot is known about her private life except the fact that her real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

3. Her outfits and costumes are always the most anticipated part of the Red Carpet. At last year’s Grammy’s, she showed up in an outfit made of meat, this year, she showed up in an egg-like capsule, with an entourage carrying her.

4. She keeps people guessing.

5. Even if someone doesn’t like her, they can’t help but follow what she is up to. She is so over the top that people can’t help but pay attention to her.

People’s infatuation to Lady GaGa’s made me think about a teachers appeal to his or her students. What could teachers do to capture the excitement and interest of their students in the same way that GaGa captures the attention of her audience? Think about it, what if students were always excited to learn from their teachers? Always looking forward to what the teacher would do next? With GaGa, even the people that don’t like her can’t help but watch and follow what she does. I am not suggesting that it is easy or a practical request of the teachers, but I found a few teachers that are trying to make their students go GaGa for learning and school.

One teacher recommends creating a theme for your classroom.

When walking into a classroom, first impressions can set the tone of what is being taught and how. Classroom themes have long been used by elementary teachers as a way to capture a student's attention, reinforce teaching, scaffold learning from one area to another and create a cheerful environment for study. However, they are also an invaluable tool for upper grades.”

Read more here

Other teachers put themselves in vulnerable situations to encourage their students to not fear stepping out of their comfort zones. Lady GaGa pushes the boundaries just enough to make her fans interested and inspired by her work; teachers can do the same by putting themselves in the hot seat on occasion to show their students that taking risks and opening their mind to new experiences can be thrilling. Here is a blog post about a teacher who challenged his students to give him a random topic to write a Haiku poem about. His response to the experiment was,

“I've found that if I get excited, perplexed or nervous about the process myself, the students get more involved and I become more empathetic.”

I found this last article to be most inspiring. The article was based around teachers that were nominated for American Teacher Awards. The article has different tactics and teaching technics that these phenomenal teachers use in their classes. Like Lady GaGa, these teachers think outside of the box, they take risks, and they don’t always follow the lesson plan. Out of all the things that these top-tier teachers said, this quote from Myra Dietz is most impactful,

It's important to challenge students to have their own points of view, to not just accept something because an adult told them it was so."

GaGa is extreme, and although she may not be the perfect role model outside of her music career, there are some interesting parallels between her music career and a successful teacher’s teaching strategy. I would love to hear your reaction to this connection or any stories you may have about a great ‘GaGa’ teacher.

Thanks for reading J

Until next time,