TPOL 2022

“Thank you for coming to my presentation of learning. I am the expert on my own learning. I am also responsible and accountable for my own learning. You can expect me to give an honest evaluation of my progress. We will discuss my strengths and opportunities for growth. Thank you in advance for listening and for offering feedback that I can use to improve as a learner.”

Hello all and welcome to my very last tPOL…eeeek. It is truly nerve-racking to think that this time next year I’ll be graduating, but let’s get onto this presentation shall we? 

I want to begin this tPOL with the goals I set in my mPOL earlier this school year. My first goal was that of Communicating which meant that by the end of the year, I wanted to feel more comfortable and confident while speaking in front of others. Around the time of my mPOL, I would get excessively nervous before and while I had to speak in front of others. Now…I still get excessively nervous. However, there were still ways that I actually improved in this competency. Coming into this project that we just completed for the spring exhibition, there were two opportunities in which heavily included speaking – Socratic Seminars and presenting our products at the exhibition. 

Looking back at the Socratic Seminars that were held the semester before, I hardly spoke if anything not at all. On the other hand, I had spoken much more when it came to the set of Socratic Seminars held in this project. This is because I put in the effort to make myself feel much more prepared before the seminars. I decided that I would not only heavily review my notes on the text,
but do additional research as well as read analyses made on the films. Doing such made me feel much more sure about what I had to say, making me therefore feel more confident. This also applies to presenting my portrait at the spring exhibition as I had done extensive research on my Community Impact Maker which was well received by those that I was presenting to.

My next goal was in regards to Collaboration – using leadership skills in a group context that fit best with my strengths and weaknesses as well as taking on leadership roles more often. I believe that the spring exhibition is a good example of how my leadership skills have grown. The “Service” group in which I was in was only working together for about a week, which is what made working as a team very important. I took on a leading role in this group, but that didn’t just mean I was telling everyone what to do. I was aware that one of my biggest strengths is organization, so my priority was to make sure that we were getting everything done and staying on task.

Some of the group members I worked with this last exhibition!

This school year, I’ve ultimately gained a new understanding for the term “leadership” and have started to apply it to actual projects. Being the “leader” of a group project doesn’t just mean you’re bossing people around, it means that you are ensuring every member gets their ideas in. The final execution is not only limited to the leader’s own vision, and the leader should strive to bring the people and ideas together because everyone needs to collaborate. Where I really think I’ve represented this was in the Spring Exhibition because I used my strengths to my advantage which lead to the success of my group’s area. *


My number one objective for next year is to finish my last year of PLP with no regrets, I’m also applying this to every other aspect of my life. I did however have one primary regret from this school year, the Macbeth production. We started this project after I had finished my mPOL with the goals I stated earlier in Collaboration and Communication. In this production I could’ve participated in either by taking on a big role in a department or taking on an acting role. I unfortunately did neither which lead me to highly regretting the ends of this project. I consider this to be my F.A.I.L of the school year, but now I know that it won’t happen again. 

Another lesson that I learned from this school year came from the Manhattan Project Project and Winter Exhibition. I took a risk in having my project’s topic to do with the effect of chemo therapy. I later realized that it was perhaps too sensitive, personal and sometimes even tragic to talk about especially in a exhibition setting. Presenting to others during the exhibition became very uncomfortable and I came to regret both my topic and art choice. Although I regret it, it was a huge learning experience for me. 


Now onto something I feel I should celebrate. Obviously, I felt my Spring Exhibition went successfully but I also consider the Playlist of My Life project to be quite worth celebrating. Although a short project, the Playlist of My Life showcased the best of my skills in text analysis. I was able to naturally integrate poetic devices as well as describe my connection to the songs in perfect detail. Most importantly, I went deeply into my own interpretation of the meaning behind each song – well explained and found as interesting by my peers. 

If you look back at where I was at in grade 8, coming out of an entirely french school in which I was “learning” english as a second language – my writing wasn’t all the greatest. Now I’ve improved immensely and have finally gotten to the same level as my peers. 

Why do I feel I am ready to advance to the next grade level? On the outside I’m not, in fact I’m terrified to start grade 12 next year just like any other high-schooler. However, on the inside I feel as though I have adapted to a senior level of education in humanities. I have well developed skills in text analysis as well as in persuasive writing. I’ve improved my leadership skills and broken “speech related barriers”. Finally, I’ve finally started to find my voice when it comes to my blog posts. Blog posts aren’t particularly meant to be as formal as a traditional essay, so I’ve always carried that kind of mentality with me – which has allowed me to better express my personality through the media and writing used in posts. Through that, I’ve found how I’d like to represent myself to those viewing my university applications – because this is ultimately what the purpose of my learning portfolio has been all these years. *

Mighty Impactful

In this year’s spring exhibition, the grade 10s, 11s and 12s all collaborated together to showcase a project called “Cray, Cray Yay! Yay!”.

What Makes Someone A Community Impact Maker?

We first began with an introduction to the term “crazy ones” through an advertisement for Apple Inc. created by Steve Jobs in the 2000s. After developing a strong definition as a class, we went along and watched three consecutive movies that all represented one or more so-called “crazy ones”. Those movies were Hidden Figures, Amadeus and Gandhi. After we reached the end of a movie, we conducted a Socratic Seminar to showcase our detailed understanding as well as deeper thoughts and connections we might have made. Compared to the Socratic seminars held last semester, I would say that I’ve gained improvement in this area but not as much as I was hoping for. I would love to participate in more next year as I believe that they are a great way of getting me out of my comfort zone in expressing thoughts and opinions in-front of my peers. 

Next we got into our individual products. We each chose someone who we considered to be a “Community Impact Maker”, which is essentially a “crazy one” but on a slightly lesser scale. We would also be personally interviewing and inviting these impact makers to our exhibition, so we gave them a name that would sound less controversial. 

Some literature notes on my research

I decided to base my project on David Foster, the founder of the Harvest Project (and not the famous music producer). In choosing him, I found out so much about how big of a role this organization plays in our community. I gained the most knowledge through my
interview with Joe McGuinness, the Community Engagement Coordinator at Harvest Project. I learned lots about their history and their continued impact today, as well as struggles they have faced as a foundation through obstacles such as COVID-19. 

My Original Design

Finally, let’s get onto the creation itself. Our class was tasked with creating a portrait to represent our Community Impact Makers. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted the main focus of my portrait to be a lot more symbolic rather than showing many details of David Foster’s physical appearance. From that, it meant that I would keep it more simplistic to not distract the audience from the main focus. In my portrait, I wanted to represent the slogan at Harvest Project: “Extending a hand up, not a hand out”. To portray this, I wanted a hand to be pulling another out of a “black hole” which could be seen as poverty or whatever challenges one of Harvest Project’s clients may face. As you can see from my original design, I was hoping to use hands made out of styrofoam as I felt that they would look the most realistic. In the end, I had to use latex gloves that I would stuff with tissue paper that ultimately turned out better than the styrofoam would have.

Once our portraits were done, we had a limited time to prepare the set up for our areas. Everyone’s presentations were separated into different categories: Environment, Business, Arts, Athletics and Service. As the Service section of the gym, my group had a good challenge in decorating an area with this broad
topic. However, we were all quite happy with the way it turned out and managed to have everything fit the theme, even the food. We had Lemon-aid, Caring Cookies and Purposeful Popcorn. Cheesy I know, but it worked!

Me with my final product, credits to my mom

Overall, I believe that this exhibition was actually one of my best. I showed the right level leadership with my exhibition group and broke a small barrier within my speech comfort zone in both the exhibition and Socratic seminars. Through this project, I’ve come to learn that a Community Impact Maker is not just someone who’s done something to impact the community, but also how they’ve inspired others to do the same. This is why I couldn’t have
picked a better person to base my project on, as it was more than just about David Foster’s legacy, but how a dozen staff and hundreds of volunteers continue to help countless individuals and families in a number of different ways every year.

 

I’ll Change Your Mind

Hi everyone, welcome to another one of my project reflections. Now this one was another short project, but I’m actually starting to quite like these lengths- as often times they require developing our writing skills. In our final product, our end goal was to have persuaded an audience of our choice through text. 

“How can we use our voices to effect change?”

In order for our products to be successful in the end, we had done several activities and assignments. What I believed helped me the most when it came to the success in my persuasive text was reviewing the 6+1 traits, reading examples of persuasive texts as well as reflecting on them and keeping my writing record throughout the course of the project. The 6+1 traits and persuasive text examples were very effective in giving me inspiration, as well as figuring out what approaches I would take to persuade my own audience.

The next step we took in our project was to choose and narrow down our topics. Although I really enjoyed the freedom of choosing a topic that I was passionate about, this was probably the least enjoyable part of the project for me as it required me to change my topic a few times. As this was a short project, I wasn’t able to choose one that was too complex as it would require much more time. I finally decided that I would convince my little brother to shave his facial hair – making the topic and audience not too complicated, while still giving me a decent challenge as my brother doesn’t enjoy being proven wrong. 

My Empathy Map

To take the first step in creating my persuasive text, I had to put myself in my brother’s shoes to figure out the best techniques I could use to convince him. I figured that I would approach things that are of value to him, as well as things that he knows will be in the future. I also needed to make sure my word choice would be done correctly, as to not make him think that I’m attacking him, but looking out for him. I followed up with a short interview with him, which confirmed what I had already thought and provided me with a few extra things that turned out to be quite helpful. 

It is humans’ given right to do whatever they please regarding their individual looks. However, as it is also humans’ given right to free speech, I am here to persuade you into otherwise shaving your moustache. Shaving facial hair is a valuable skill that will likely be of use to you for your future milestones. You still have coming: job interviews, prom and working in a professional environment. I won’t speak for you, but being your best for those would be a priority. Although you have some worries and doubts (such as getting nicks or cuts), with the proper instructions from our father, you would have no issues with that. As it could still be possible to get nicks and cuts, it would be more ideal for them to happen now rather than before something important. Although you probably wouldn’t wait until prom to shave your face, I know you would hate to look back at those photos. So, why not start now? Now that you aren’t worried, and know your future milestones, what about that future career? You wish to pursue a career in Dentistry and possibly Orthodontics, where hygiene is an essential part of these jobs. It would be difficult to pursue a career in this field if hygiene is not something that appears to be valuable to you, as that could possibly reduce your chance in being successful in that career. Zach, I am looking very far forward into the future here. But let me ask you this, would you trust a dentist that had a perfect smile, but a moustache like yours? Maybe, but would you trust one more with the same smile and a well shaved moustache? Shaving facial hair is the inevitable reality for men, and as you move into this next stage of your life, it’s now time to embark into this next transition.
My brother with a facial razor

After writing up my first draft, we had a critique session in class. My classmates gave me some advice on what I could tweak a little that would make all the difference to persuading my audience. There was one sentence in particular, regarding hygiene, that stuck out from the rest of the text and came off a different way than I had hoped. After creating my second draft, I presented it to my brother. He had a couple things he said he didn’t like such as mentioning “crushes” and saying a couple words that I wouldn’t usually use while speaking to him. On the other hand, he told me that he was convinced and asked our mom to buy a razor the next time she goes shopping – so overall…a success! 

Some Literature Notes from this project

This was actually a great project for me, as I’ll always enjoy learning ways to improve my writing. The skills I learned from this will definitely be somethings that I’ll find quite helpful in the future. Coming out of this project, I feel much more confident in my own persuasive writing skills which will definitely be something beneficial to me in the near future. Something that I would’ve done differently however, would’ve been creating more literature notes from those examples we read in class, much earlier on in the project rather than the last two texts we read.

 

Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair…A Macbeth Production

*video*

Well hello there, welcome to another one of my blog posts. As you’ve seen above, this last project was quite interesting, and clearly required a lot of collaboration as the whole class was in on it. 

“How might we create a compelling vision of “Macbeth” set in the 1950s?”

This project started like any other, we’re given the spiel of what we should be expecting, which includes the new driving question (as seen above). We were then taught the knowledge necessary to completing the final product of this project, which was compiled of two separate topics –  The Cold War and infamous play Macbeth. By the time our final film production is compete, we would’ve ultimately connected the two topics to compile them into one engaging story and production. In order to learn about these two subjects, we were given a series of lectures on the Cold War, and read the play, as well as watched a film based on it for inspiration.

Now onto the film process. Out of all the projects I’ve done in PLP, this one has been the most difficult for me. Less on the content and assignments themselves (although they were still challenging), but because I had the most difficulty in trying to find my place in this project. I didn’t get to participate in this project as much as I had hoped in order to begin to achieve the goals I had set out in my mPOL. Although, I regret not applying for a bigger role, as head for one of the departments for example. 

An excerpt from the annotated script

The role I was given in the production was Sound Assistant, working with Noah who was head of the department. The placings weren’t very relevant however, because our roles and jobs were the same. Our camera guy made a last-minute decision to not need a boom mic, so instead of focusing on the sounds while on set, we only focused on the sounds that would be added during post-production. We annotated the whole script to figure out places where certain sounds could be added. I then wrote up a list in Basecamp to put all the sounds needed in one place. Finally, we found/created some of the sounds that we’d like to be used. 

The competency I decided to focus on was Collaborating, previously mentioned in my mPOL. This meant that I would be able to not only work well with others, but also take on a leading role. As I said before, I really regret not applying for a bigger role, as it would’ve enabled me to accomplish this competency much more successfully. Being Sound Assistant allowed me to collaborate and lead to a certain level, but not nearly at the level I had hoped to be. Another competency I could’ve focused on was that of Communicating, which would’ve been effective in a big acting role but there were complications that lead to me not applying for one. 

Some of the Literature Notes I made this project

Despite the tough situation, one thing I learned and made sure to keep in mind during the entirety of this project was to focus on the things I could control. I may not have been able to have as big of a role in this production, but there were other things we were being graded on. That’s why I tried to focus largely on the writing portion of this project – my Zettlekasten as well as an Act Quest on the Macbeth play. 

Draft 1

Now onto the Act Quest, this was an analysis written on the first three acts of the play Macbeth. This assignment was first assigned to be written up in class under a certain time constraint, where we had to discuss the play in regards to theme, plot and character. I was decently happy with my first attempt, but it was not exactly what our teacher was looking for and I still could’ve done much better. I wasn’t specific enough when it came to the plot and took the wrong approach when I chose to connect the play’s theme to something in our world, when I should’ve stuck to that of the play and connected it to us as readers. As I was determined to get the highest grade possible in this assignment, I went to the teacher a few times before/after school to achieve a better understanding of what she was looking for, in order to make my text the best it could be. If you’d like to read my final Act Quest, click on the accordion bellow. 

“Had I but died an hour before this chance, I had lived a blessed time, for from this instant There’s nothing serious in mortality. All is but toys. Renown and grace is dead, The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees/Is left this vault to brag of.” The King is dead, all is lost. All Macbeth has to live for is the remains of wine at the bottom of the barrel, as life has been drained from the kingdom. This was likely a common feeling throughout the kingdom, but more specifically relates to Macbeth’s direct suffering after committing an act of treason from killing Duncan himself. This passage from the play also represents irony as everyone around him believes that he had said that in result of the death of the king, when it was in reality Macbeth speaking of his own murder of the king. Immediately after doing such actions, it’s pretty clear that he feels some sort of remorse or guilt as he dramatically implies that the blood could stain the world’s oceans red. In other words, the consequences of his actions will not be easily hidden and he will forever be a changed man – which is inevitably true for his character as he doesn’t ever turn back from his tainted future. This specific passage is one of many representations of Macbeth’s past, present and future. Past, as it is no secret that he had spoken about this dark desire before (but after it’s done, he and his wife’s thoughts change as their lives drastically change). Present, he had just killed Duncan, and is now realizing that his life will never be the same. From this moment on, there is nothing left to live for. If only he had died an hour before this event, he could say he’s lived a blessed life. Finally future, as he steps in deeper to his new “legacy” as a murderer as he later accepts the fact that there is no turning back – it would take just as much effort to reverse what he’s done as to keep killing. This is one of many lines that represents the reoccurring theme and message throughout the play. Shakespeare is telling us, the readers, that before making a decision, you must first consider your own actions and judgement to assure that it is not being influenced by others. It’s not ideal to be the type of person who is so easily manipulated, as it will involve major consequences. Macbeth’s only form of motivation to commit treason was his ambition. He then allowed himself to be easily swayed by his wife, as he was then suddenly very set out on his decision.

 

Although this may have been a tough project, it was a memorable one. It is quite exciting to think of the fact that our class created a whole movie…and the acting wasn’t that bad either ;). Not only that, but I did also learn a valuable lesson – choosing to focus on what was within my own control, those of which I thought went pretty successfully. However, if I were to do a project like this again, I would certainly apply for a bigger role in the production or as an actor. 

 

It’s That Time of The Year Again – mPOLs 2022

“Thank you for coming to my presentation of learning. I am the expert on my own learning. I am also responsible and accountable for my own learning. You can expect me to give an honest evaluation of my progress. We will discuss my strengths and opportunities for growth. Thank you in advance for listening and for offering feedback that I can use to improve as a learner.”

Hi there, welcome back. Today’s blog post is about a yearly tradition amongst PLP, mPOLs. Although we skipped last year due to Covid-19, I am ready to reflect on my growth as a learner so far this year and what I can do to improve myself as a student before the end of the school year. 

My Learning Plan

Something new from these last couple years is what’s called a Learning Plan. Near the beginning of the year, we filled out a statement of learning intent, plans to accomplish goals and choosing “Profiles” representing different levels of certain Core Competencies that we hope to have achieved by the end of the year. At this year’s mPOL, I will be discussing some of these competencies and wether I think I have improved so far in them or not, as well as discussing aspects of learning such as, revision, teamwork, responsibility, and production of high quality work in my Humanities class. 

One thing I’ve been working on this year so far is Communicating. More specifically, speaking in front of others in a confident and engaging way. Speaking in-front of people has always been a bit of a struggle for me, especially these last couple years, which is why I find it as something very important to be striving to improve on. By the end of this year, I want to have become much more comfortable and confident when communicating in-front of peers, classmates or anyone in general.

Presenting my “Playlist of My Life”

So far this school year, I believe I’ve shown improvement in this competency already. I felt much more comfortable when speaking in front of my peers about my “Playlist of My Life”. Not to mention, I knew my presentation by heart and hardly needed to look at my notes, as well as managing to keep my audience engaged. This was also the case when it came to presenting the idea behind my conceptual art piece at the winter exhibition. On the other hand, an area for improvement when it came to this competency was our class Socratic Seminars. Although I have improved much on my analysis skills which would give me more confidence when it comes to my ideas that I would share, it would still be quite challenging to me as it involves sharing personal opinions in-front of my classmates. Yet, the only way to improve in this area is to go out of my comfort zone as much as I can, which will be then again be pretty challenging, but something I’m definitely willing to do. 


The next thing that I’ve been working on this year is Collaborating. This means that I can not only confidently work with others, but can also take on a leadership role, and do a good job doing it. – ie. being open to new ideas and possibilities, as well as understanding that there is no “right” way to do things. Furthermore, one goal that I’d like to accomplish by the end of this school year is to further improve my leadership skills and to take on leadership roles more often. 

Picture from our Political Party Ad

Now for this competency as well, I have shown aspects in which I showed leadership – the politics project and winter exhibition. However, it’s not the level in which I want to be. What I’d like to do is to create an even deeper understanding of my strengths and flaws in order to build an authentic leadership style that fits best with me – in order to be the best leader I can be. This also means demonstrating qualities such as flexibility, open-mindedness and creativity. 


My Agenda

As I’ve been talking about competencies that I’ve shown and would like to continue improving in, I’d now like to talk about something I’d like to “celebrate” – and that is keeping very organized and making sure I stay motivated and disciplined. This could also be connected to the “Personal Awareness and Responsibility” competency. In the past year, I have figured out what I want my future to look like, which I think has made it slightly easier to keep up the motivation to stay organized and determined – especially since I want to go into the medical field, so this is a crucial trait to have in med school. I think this has always been a trait that I’ve been very good at, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had times I’ve struggled with it. I’ve had weeks in which I’ve felt very disorganized, which lead me to feeling more stressed than I would’ve been.

When it came to completing my four final analyses for my “Playlist of My Life”, staying motivated and organized was essential. I had four days to complete them all, with things such as soccer and work to also keep in mind. Now this was something everyone in the class was assigned to do, but it was an accomplishment for me. I usually spend way too much time than necessary while working on assignments that involve writing, as I excessively re-read them many times to make them as good as I can possibly make them. I still think this is something important to do, but not to the same extent. That weekend, I was able to find the right balance, and with that I learned to be much more efficient with my time when it came to writing assignments . 


Part of my Zettlekasten

Now that I’ve already answered the driving question “How have I demonstrated growth as a learner so far this year?”, I’m going to answer the next one – “How can I sharpen my Learning Plan to ensure I will reach my learning targets by the end of this school year?”. In summary, I hope to reach the levels of “Communicating” and “Collaborating” in which I set in my Learning Plan at the beginning of the year, and stated in this presentation. I will however strive to take my organization and determination to the next level by bumping up 1-2 “profiles” – where I’ll be able to take responsibility for making ethical decisions and become even more self-aware of my own strengths and flaws (which also ties into improving my leadership skills). In addition to staying organized and efficient, I’d like to take more time into using my Zettlekasten, as it will be beneficial to future writing assignments. 

“Rolling in The Deep” by Adele – Analysis

I’ve been listening to Adele since I was very little and she has always been a favourite artist of mine. While listening to her, I’m given the feeling of nostalgia. While I love many of Adele’s songs, this one is one that reminds me of singing my heart out to at six years old. After all this time, it remains one of my favourite songs – I could be upset or stressed and this song would be able to cheer me up.

The tone of “Rolling in the Deep” is wrath, displeasure and heartbreak. Adele is describing her state of mind in result of this heartbreak and betrayal she has endured. She does so in forms of hyperboles, metaphors and symbols. Using the lyric “reaching a fever pitch and it’s bringing me out the dark”(0:10), is a symbol for her anger and rage bringing her out of the dark. In this case, “out of the dark” is referring to her happy, past self, becoming angry and now seeing him “crystal clear” – no longer seeing him as she did before. She then stresses the emotions she’s feeling in the metaphor “there’s a fire starting in my heart”(0:33), because fire resembles anger and pain. And finally, as an example of hyperbole, she uses the line “the scars of your love leave me breathless”(0:52). This explains that this betrayal left her shocked and astonished, but she is obviously not shocked enough to go physically breathless. 

In this song, Adele paints a very clear picture of her feelings with her words, giving the listeners an impression of a broken woman as she feels deep heart-felt emotions caused by someone who used to be very close to her. This betrayal not only led to her heart breaking but experiencing dark thoughts, desiring to get revenge and make the person feel more hurt than she did. When I listened to this song at a younger age, I felt a sense of confidence in her voice’s tone. Yes, she was feeling anger, but after experiencing this, she became stronger, more sure of herself and confident that she wouldn’t let someone walk all over her like that anymore. 

The combination of her powerful voice and engaging lyrics permits the listeners to get a front row seat of the exact emotions she’s feeling. The personification of “love” in “the scars of your love”(0:52) highlights how much she has been hurt. In real life, scars don’t typically come from a minor bruise or scrape – they come from much deeper wounds. So, let alone the deep cut, she was able to pick up the pieces and partially heal, showing the strength that was required to do so. 

“Rocket Man” by Elton John – Analysis

“Rocket Man” has always been a family type of song for me – one that my parents listened to in their youth and passed down to my brother and I. One that we all know by heart and would sing along to anytime it played. It reminds me of a number of times we would sing to it in the car – on our way back from soccer/hockey games, nights out or while on vacation. Or, even just playing it at home where we all sang at the top of our lungs and most likely disturbed our neighbours.   

While the song is referring to astronauts and space, it’s a metaphor to the feeling of loneliness – feeling separated from one’s home and loved ones. In reality, the song is comparing the life of an astronaut to that of a regular working person – it could even be referring to fame and how lonely it can be. Looking at “Rocket Man” in a certain way can actually make it sound quite depressing. The smilie “high as a kite”(0:15) could be quite literally referring to drug abuse in response to the depression caused by this separation. “I miss the earth so much, I miss my wife”(0:29) is an allusion that could be referring “earth” to “home”. To go deeper into the word’s meaning, loneliness is the realization that an individual is separated  from the entire world, that nobody properly understands them. This description reminds me much of what a large majority of teenagers tend to feel and go through. 

While “Rocket Man” is a song referring to the feeling of loneliness, it is also about others having a different view or opinion of yourself than who you think you are. When Elton sings “I’m not the man they think I am at home”(1:04), it leads me to believe that he is seen as a sort of “Rocket Man” to others but in reality, to his wife and kids and himself, he is just a man, dad and husband. As I previously said, if this is referring to fame, it also fits perfectly – he misses his family as he is separated from them for some reason, possibly being on tour and it’s going to be a “long long time”(0:56) until he sees them again. This could even be looked at in the opposite way, where he sees himself as a “Rocket Man” but his wife and kids have a contrary view of him. 

In summary, these two meanings from “Rocket Man” can make the song much easier for listeners to connect and relate to. Not everyone is an astronaut, believe it or not – but everyone has felt lonely in some point of their lives, and it is quite common for others to think of you differently than you view yourself, or the other way around. 

“Vogue” by Madonna – Analysis

One of my most fond childhood memories was going to Sun Peaks with my family and our close family-friends. It was tradition to fluctuate from having dinner at each other’s place after a long day of skiing. During the night, we would play board games, dance and play old music videos. Inevitably, it seems one of the videos we would watch was the iconic “Vogue” by Madonna.  There was just something special about the power of the video and what Madonna represented – a spirited, independent, successful woman despite all the hardships she endured in her early years.

The Vogue song itself, is a powerful piece of modern dance and pop music. Madonna’s song is also all-encompassing – using the cliche “it makes no difference if you’re black or white, if you’re a boy or a girl”(2:30). Equality is a big part of Madonna’s morals, as well as one that I undoubtedly agree with. In fact, before she popularized “Vogueing”, it was a common dance move done in New York clubs by people of colour and the LGBTQ community. It was “vogue”, pardon the pun, at the time to reference it doesn’t matter your ethnicity (e.g. Michael Jackson had a similar verse in his song “Black or White”).  However, cliche or not, her message was on point none the less – back then and now.  Madonna reached a level of success “Queen of Pop” in which she was influential – and she was going to use this to do what she could to change the inequalities in life existent in society. 

This song is one with a quite upbeat and optimistic tone, where Madonna presents the “dance floor” as a place where people can escape all of their worries or troubles – especially in the first stanza. She gets a bit philosophical and acknowledges that at times people have to deal with both internal and external issues. She then suggests that there’s a place where “you can get away” (1:49), called the dance floor. This also reminds me of times my mom has told me about dancing to this song at clubs in Montreal at 20 years old. 

The fourth stanza is arguably the most-unique part of “Vogue”. Here, Madonna makes allusions to pop-culture icons from the 40s and 50s ; “Greta Garbo and Monroe, Dietrich and DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean, on the cover of a magazine…”(3:58). They are put forth as examples of people who had “grace”, ie. who would be effective on the dance floor. By using such allusions, it gives the song a sense of classiness or celebrity relation, so the listener may be more willing to participate. I also believe that the rhyme scheme AABB in these three stanzas adds to the “grace” given from this part of the song. This is done against the background of the singer telling people to “move to the music”(2:01) and “go with the flow”(2:09). So more than anything, this song is suggesting dancing as a big form of stress relief and personal edification. 

In summary, the song Vogue by Madonna became widely popular, I believe, for a number reasons beyond the upbeat “danceable” melody. More importantly, as you listened to the lyrics, you felt an overall sense of self expression, equality of individuals and being true to oneself – ideals that I always have believed in. 

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson – Analysis

Grade six was an important year for me as it marks a pretty big turning point in my life. It was my first year ever trying out for my elementary school’s track team. Beating the most athletic people in my grade, to making the podium at Swangard Stadium for all three events I tried out for helped me gain confidence. It wasn’t track itself that holds a special place in my heart, but the fact that I was able to discover something I knew I was really good at. To this day, these moments stay very important and influential to my life. At this point in my life, I was going through a huge phase, where much of the music I listened to consisted of Michael Jackson. Listening to his music reminds me of times I was dancing and singing to him with my best friend from elementary school, as well as this core event from my life. This was the song that started it all. 

In one of MJ’s first hits “Thriller”, it’s obvious that his intention was set out to capture the feel of a scary movie, though in a song. His story telling ability helps allow the listeners to feel the thrilling and creepy tone. Yet, MJ also manages to make the song exciting and enjoyable to listen to. In the song, he serenades his audience about how there is always something lurking in the gloomy shadows, even if you don’t always notice. This song is fundamentally based on the same tropes films belonging to the horror genre tend to use  – an evil or monstrous enemy stalking a defenceless woman, who can only be saved by her romantic interest. In fact, if you listen closely, there can be a romantic undertone to “Thriller”. More specifically, MJ’s character is hoping that the woman will be so terrified by the “terror on the screen” that she’ll have no choice but to seek safety in his arms.  

While this song may seem simple, it is actually much more complex than you might think. Michael includes a number of literary devices in his song, and while he represents the “evil lurking” as zombies in his music video, this could even be considered as a metaphor to an aspect of society or one’s life. To name one, “Horror” is personified quite often; “as horror looks you right in between your eyes”(1:25) and “you try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it”(1:21). Horror/terror is not a living thing, therefore cannot “look you in the eye” or “take the sound”. However, using personification in this sense, adds to the dramatic tone that is brought through the song. The hyperbole in this song also adds to this effect while exaggerating the smell of the dead as they rise from their graves in the line said by Vince Price, the best-known American horror actor at this time – “the foulest stench is in the air, the funk of forty thousand years”(5:14). Furthermore, imagery also played an important role in “Thriller”. The lines “something evil’s lurkin’ in the dark”(1:02) and “you see a sight that almost stops your heart”(1:09) could provide the listener with a mental image of an evil sight and add to the story telling sense of the song.

“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz – Analysis

It was a warm sunny day in late July 2020, and I was laying down in the grass with my best furry friend knowing that this might be one of the last precious moments I might have with him – listening to one of my favourite songs at the time – I’m Yours (Jason Mraz). Pender, who was born a year before me, was a constant companion throughout my life – however at this moment almost 16 years old, was having serious health problems. It’s funny how a song can bring back a special moment. 

This song’s cheerful melody makes one feel content, and it’s lyrics are filled with positive messages which add further to that feeling. However, I believe this song can also make one feel a sense of “grief” for the joyful moments that they would attach to this song. Even without the memory that connects me to this song, it reminds one of a typical warm summers day – feeling the sea breeze, the birds chirping, the waves of the ocean, waterfalls and nature itself. One thing Mraz used often in his song was repetition. He would repeat single words such as “love, love, love, love”(1:10) and “loved, loved, loved, loved, loved”(1:24). In the last line from his song, he used repetition to prove a point – “do you believe, you best believe, I’m yours”(3:54). And finally, the song’s chorus of course, which is inevitable. Repetition in music is correlated with popularity, which is one of the many reasons why this song became popular. Additionally, this term makes the song easier to grasp, to understand and to remember – and as this artist wants the listeners to change their point of views to more positive ones, this song helps with his exact intention. 

When I originally listened to this song, I thought that the artist was singing to a particular person or romantic interest. However, after putting more thought into the meaning of this song, I believe that the “person” the song is addressed to is actually “life” itself. In the first stanza, he describes how life has thrown him a few curve balls, and he’s surely taken notice – “well you done, done me and you bet I felt it”(0:13). On the other hand, towards the end of the stanza he describes that he’s got a new attitude. In the chorus, he states throughout the song that he is giving himself to life – that there’s no time like the present to change your point of view. In the third stanza, he is advising the listeners to do the same as him – to open up our minds and see like him. In the second to last stanza before the song comes to an end, he restates – as he does throughout the song but in various ways – that life is too short not to live in the moment. He tells the listeners that “there’s no need to complicate things”(3:18) – that this isn’t something which requires significant mental energy, it is purely based on coming to this realization. 

The cliché “our time is short”(3:20) that the artist includes in “I’m Yours” was one that spoke to me. After my dog passed away, I learned a valuable lesson – to not take anything for granted. Because often, I did take him for granted. And realistically speaking, life really is short, especially for a family pet. Live in the moment, in the present – to avoid subjecting yourself too much to worries and stress. Otherwise, you may take the things that matter most for granted.