SLC’s the Eighth: tPOLs

It’s that time of the year again, where we reflect on all that has transpired, and prepare to move into the next year. PLP is a program focused on growth, and this year I have strived to go further than I have before. From leaving my comfort zone on Field schools, to running a class project, everything this year has pushed me farther along the path to success. For this tPOL, I’m going to draw from three different projects that really stretched my thinking, and reflect on how they have prepared me for the future.

What skills did you use and what skills do you want to continue to develop?

One thing that has definitely been a challenge over the past few months is learning online. It has not been easy, even for PLP. PLP was definitely quicker to adapt than some of my other courses, but having no contact, really, with a lot of the teachers has been extremely difficult. Being in PLP, though, has definitely been an advantage. I was able to use skills that I developed in this program, that made the switch a lot easier. From being comfortable on a device, to just straight up having applications on our devices, made online work seem more accessible. Even with all that, it’s still a struggle to motivate yourself to get things done. I’ve had a very hard time with exactly that, motivation. With school, and work, it is hard to get everything done. So I’ve had to use a lot of skills from our PGP course to help. Making to-do lists, tracking habits, it’s all really helped. The ideas that we’ve learned from that over the past two years have been incredible beneficial in this crazy time.

Did your goals for your work change as you worked on it?

Speaking of habits and PGP, I want to talk about our most recent PGP project, and how my ideas, and goals, changed as I worked on it. So, basically, as a summary of the project we were reflecting on all that we had learned from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Now, I started out wanting to make a little, like, vague habit tracking book, where you could have a physical place to mark off what you have done. But the I took another look back at atomic habits, and looked at the laws, and saw how I could incorporate more of those ideas into my journal. And once I had done all of that, I was pretty proud of myself. I took a flimsy little idea, and turned it into something I am really proud of. It became something that anyone, whether or not you had read the book, could use to help them with their goals.

What problems did you encounter? How did you solve them?

The final example that I’d like to bring up is the Macbeth project. This was probably one of the most difficult projects that I’ve ever done, and not even because of the subject matter. That was confusing an a whole other level. The difficult part was being the producer. I’ve always struggled with group work, because I find people weird and confusing, but this took it a step higher. As producer, I had to work with everyone, and not act superior, but also be their superior. We have some strong people in the class, and so already when roles were chosen there was a bit of strife. Add to that the fact that we basically had two and a half weeks to write, prepare and film the movie, well, I started stress baking. It was difficult to try and work with others who were very set in their ways. Our key creative team, though, did pretty well under the circumstances, though. We tried to solve disagreements in a calm manner, and spent a lot of time working through tough patches. We were pretty adaptable, and when everything started to fall apart I tried my darnedest to keep it together. Overall, I learned a lot about myself, and the other people in the class.

And that concludes my tPOL. Thank you for listening to me, and I would just like to leave you with a question: How have I demonstrated teamwork in the past, and how have I progressed since then?

10 Week Habits Journey

Hello and welcome (again) to PLP, specifically PGP, during quarantine! As you may know, if you’ve visited past PGP posts from this year, we’ve been studying a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book is basically about how little habits you do every day will help you achieve your goals. There are 4 Laws of Atomic habits, which are

Make it obvious
Make it attractive
Make it easy
Make it satisfying

And so, for our final project of this here course, we were tasked with creating something that would demonstrate our understanding of the book, and these laws. And, since I know how to book bind, I decided to create a tool to be used alongside atomic habits, to make keeping track of your daily journey, well, obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying!

What I have created is basically a goal journal, where you track your habit everyday for ten weeks, in hopes of motivating you to complete your habit. It comes complete with explanations on why, a habit contract for you and your accountability partner, intention statements, and so much more. In the rest of the post, I’ll outline how the book demonstrates each law, and hopefully inspire you to try out the journal (At the end I’ll explain how you can do this!).

Let’s start with make it obvious. Even the cover was created with the intent of this habit, making it a bright yellow, hardly ignorable, with a very straightforwards title. Atomic Habits Goal Planner; 10 Week Journal of your Habits Journey. I wanted to make sure that the intention of the journal was obvious even before you opened the book. It also starts with an explanation of the book, and how each feature of the book works together to help you on your way.

The second law, make it attractive, was definitely more tedious than id hoped, but I think it paid off. The cover design, as mentioned above, isn’t super fancy, but I tried to make it look a bit nice, at least. There is definitely a theme of clocks and stars in the book, which I wove throughout the book. Each weekly planner has a different layout, which I thought would keep people more interested, so every week doesn’t look so bland. Each week also has a motivational quote, which I think is pretty great, and something I really like in my own planners.

Make it easy, the third law, was something I was really working hard on in this book. I wanted to make it so there were no external hurtles for you to jump over outside of the book. Having everything inside the book, from the habit contract, to the intention of your habit, and even the final reflection, its in there to make your journey easier. The weekly design definitely took that into consideration as well, making your habit tracking very simple and straightforward.

Finally, we have the make it satisfying law. One thing about goal tracking that I really like is seeing everything filled in, a fancy, colourful wall of your accomplishments. I really tried to make that idea of colouring in something when you’ve completed it very prominent. There is a place at the beginning of the book, which documents your whole 10 week journey through colour, as well as in the weekly planners many places to rate your week through colouring! I’ve also included a colouring page, so even if you have nothing left to colour in, you can colour that in!

Overall, I wanted to make something to motivate you to do your best, and document your success. ‘Cause that’s really what it’s all about. The journal can inspire you, sure, but it is still only a tool to help you. In the end, it’s up to you to stick to your habit. I just want to show you how far you’ve come since the beginning, and encourage you to keep going, because these habits don’t just end after 10 weeks. You have to keep pushing forwards!

Now, as I mentioned above, I want everyone to be able to use this journal. There are, of course, two ways in which you can do this. The first, which would depend on your access to technology, is digitally. In that case, you would download the PDF file of the Full In-Order Book, and export it to an application where you could annotate it. The other way to do this is a bit more complicated. Through this method, you would create a physical journal, but it is a bit labour intensive. First, you would download the Printable Book, and, this is important, print double sided flipping on the short edge. Then you would have to bind all of the pages together as one text block, including the title (which I printed on card stock but it really doesn’t matter) and there you go! Either way, you get your own habit tracking journal. You could also, of course, contact me through my blog and I could make one for you or something.

This journal really means a lot to me. I put a lot of thought into the good parts of habit tracking, and other features I’ve seen in planners, and tried to make one that would be useful for any goal you would want to accomplish. Because like I said before, the journey is yours to take, I just want to help out!

 

 

Think and Create: Essay time

These think and create posts are harder than you’d think. We cover a lot of content, but it’s not always easy to find, or rather, come up with a feasible connection. I came up with this idea, actually, after talking to my grandpa about school when he was a kid in Vancouver, around the 50s. Drawing from his experience, the book Dear Martin, and our discussions in class, I have written an essay on segregation within unsegregated schools. It’s an interesting topic, one that I have found interesting opinions on.


Essay: Self Segregation 

       Throughout history, people have been judged by the colour of their skin. When you picture a racist, though, you can’t fully have an idea of what they look like. It’s not always white men with pitchforks in KKK get up. It can be parents, people drilling into their young child this idea of segregation. Sometimes it’s not even on purpose. Hate is easy, jointing a mob mentality can bring you closer with your peers. When people get to high school, in unsegregated schools, they sometimes segregate themselves, on purpose or not. It can be hard to notice, but from the 50’s, till today, it’s still there. 

In Dear Martin by Nic Stone, the main character is pushed in this direction of ‘self segregation’. He has internal struggles when he wants to date a white girl, for example. His mother, growing up in a time when it was very frowned upon for an African American man to be with a white woman, drills this idea into his head, until he makes decisions to push this girl away for his mother’s sake. Also, when his best friend is shot, he seeks comfort in his old, bad neighbourhood, wanting to be around people he thinks will understand. He separates himself from his best friends white friends, for other people like him who are bad influences. In both scenarios, he does understand the risk, but the racial pressures set upon him urge him towards a stereotype that will do him no good. He tries to do better, but this separate idea always comes to his mind. 

Although in the 1950’s in Vancouver schools were not segregated, people still divided according to race and ethnicity. In one example from Frank Ward, who went to a mainly white school with some people of East Indian descent, there was a very large culture barrier. The white boys and East Indian boys formed tight cliches, avoiding each other, but often getting into brawls. While this was surely discouraged by the teachers, the brawling part, it helped maintain the divide of culture, and this idea that a non-white man couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be with a white woman. Whether drilled into them by their parents, or the media, this idea would have shaped not only the boys in the cliches, but the younger students and siblings. It can be hard to change a behaviour you’ve never been told is wrong. 

After the Brown vs the Board of Education case was settled, and the United States declared that ‘separate but equal’ was not fair, integration of African American students into white schools began. Or it sort of did. There was nothing to say how soon this desegregation was to be done, and so it was up to the schools and communities to sort it out. One school that did integrate, though painfully, was in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nine African American students were enrolled to go to the school, but of course this was absolutely appalling to the white folk. There were riots and death threats as the children tried to enter the school, and the POTUS ended up having to send down the 101st Airborne Division to help them enter the school, but once they were in the school, they had no further help. The 9 students endured terrible abuse at the school, forcing upon them that they were not welcome to attend a school which the law said they could attend. They suffered for years because of this idea of segregation that had been drilled into the white children’s heads, that African American people were not people, and they had no respect for them.

This idea of segregation has done terrible damage to the world and its people, but it doesn’t seem to ever end. The stereotypes that were introduced then still impact our world today, shaping the minds of young children who know no better. Though having a rallying point is strong core of many communities, one so deep in hate should not be allowed. It can be hard to undo the past generations hate, but it is every generations job to learn about what happened before, and make sure it never happens again.


It is very hard to write an essay after being away from school for months, not to mention being in a room that smells like paint (long story). Essays are sometimes hard to do, but I felt is was a medium I could express these ideas on well. This is a very interesting project we are working towards, and each day teaches us more about the mistakes people have made and how we have to learn from them.

Too Many Hours in the Day

We are living in an incredibly odd world right now. While staying in our houses, we are forced to look at how we spend our time now, wether it be productive or not. In PGP, we’ve been developing the skills to do this, and with help from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, I hope to help myself, and others, take a look at how we spend the hours in the day.

Our assignment was to find an article from Mr. Clear’s website, and write a kind of reflection on it. We could choose any article from the website, which, if you’ve been on it before, you’ll know what I mean when there were options. I decided to go down the rabbit hole of decision making, on the vein of productivity. While there were many that fit the bill, I chose the short and sweet How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”.

This article was basically about Dwight Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, and how he used a powerful decision making tool called the ‘Eisenhower Box’ to help him make decisions on what needed to get done.

In the first box, you have the urgent and important tasks, the ones that you will do immediately. In the second box, you have the important, but not urgent, tasks. These are the tasks you will schedule to do later. The third box is urgent, but not important. These are tasks that you can delegate to others. I’m not sure if this box would be super useful in the day to day life of a high schooler, but who knows. In the fourth box, you have the not important or urgent tasks. These are the things that you would eliminate, the ones that have no purpose.

The article talks about the difference between urgent and important, and how using this framework, you can make those decisions time and time again. He also talks about mindless productivity, that I think can be summed up in this quote from Tim Ferriss.

“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

I found this to be a really powerful article today, because now we are faced with these tough decisions of how to spend our time, now that all we have is it. The framework of this ‘Eisenhower Box’ is one that is so simple, and yet so powerful. As Mr. Clear said,

‘The great thing about this matrix is that it can be used for broad productivity plans (“How should I spend my time each week?”) and for smaller, daily plans (“What should I do today?”).’

Having school online is great and all, but sometimes I find it difficult to actually get up and do the work. Our routines are broken, and in trying to piece them back together, I hope to use this strategy that has helped others. So I decided to make one for myself, for today. It was harder than it seems. You have to make decisions about what is urgent and important, and the opposite.

In this assignment we were also asked to take a look at our competencies, Connect: How do I communicate and collaborate to build understanding? and Reflect: How do I reflect to build knowledge? The latter was a bit easier than the first. In reading this article, I had to reflect on some of my habits, and the things I do to stay ‘busy’. And they aren’t always good things. I tend to scramble for things to do sometimes just to keep myself busy, but I know now that that isn’t good. By using this tool, I can stay busy, but doing something that actually needs to get done.

The connect competency was a bit more difficult. Luckily, though, I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Good old Emily, she reached out to me with an idea about how we could collaborate. We each read each other’s article from James Clear’s website, and wrote a short little review about it.

How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- I really like how this article approaches productivity. It gives a specific example from a historical figure, and how he used it to create an amazingly productive life. Also, James Clear shows how he uses this tool in everyday life. Productivity for the sake of productivity is useless, and this article really drives that home. -Alivia

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Excellent article. I think it helps simplify complex task management systems into something comprehensive and can be applied to pretty much any lifestyle. It’s like a task management / decision making tool built into one! -Emily

 

Inversion: The Crucial Thinking Skill Nobody Ever Taught You

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Excellent article. Explains something so simple yet counterintuitive that you’d never think of it, and yet it is such a key part of success. If you want to improve your decision making and critical thinking skills, I would highly recommend this. -Emily

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- Good article. I thought it explained the idea of inversion with multitudes of examples and facets of everyday life that this concept is used. I can think of several projects I could have used this on. It really makes you think about success and failure in a different way. -Alivia

I thought it was really cool getting another person’s input on the article that I chose, and also seeing what interests other people. It’s interesting to see just what draws everyone’s attention, and how it reflects back on them.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this assignment. I’ve been blogging in a new space at home, so that’s been fun. This odd time is the perfect time to take a look at this stuff, and I’m super glad we got to do it, and that Emily and I have found a way to connect our project even though we haven’t seen each other in over a month!

Improving 1% at a Time

In our PGP course, we try to better ourselves, make ourselves more efficient, and ready for the real world. Last year, we read a couple self-help books. This years book, Atomic Habits by James Clear, is probably the best one we’ve read. It is again a self help book, but it focuses more on why it works. Also the other ones we read were very teen-focused, which I found a little odd. This one was for all ages, and it focuses on the little things, the atomic things.

Law #1: Make It Obvious

The first ‘law’ of the book, Make It Obvious, focuses on just that, making it obvious. Each thing we do, each little habit, has different cues. For old habits, these cues can be invisible, unnoticeable. Until we can recognize the habits, and the cues that trigger them, we can’t change them. 

One thing the book says to do to help you with this is the habits scorecard. The habit scorecard makes you write down everything you do in a day, and mark it as positive, negative, or neutral. Doing this helps you become fully aware of what you do each day, each habit that your brain does automatically.

I decided to only look at the mornings and nights for these, because they are usually constant, while my after school activities are constantly changing. Once I had all of these written down, I could see what needed to be changed. Each of these things I do automatically, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but cues in the environment impact each of these things. For example, waking up and going on my phone right away is not necessarily a good thing, but I can see it is triggered by my alarm going off. By changing what my alarm is in the mornings I can stop myself from going on my phone. 

One thing I have been trying to do this year is read more. Using the implementation intentions from the book, and the habit stacking, I can do just that. 

Implementation intentions are a kind of command system for what you plan to do. They are structured in a way that makes them very clear and to the point. I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]. By having them set out in a very specific way, you can’t really escape them. For my reading goal, I have created an implementation intention.

 

The next part of the process is habit stacking. Again, structured in a very clear way so as to make life easier. Habit stacking uses another habit that you do already, and makes that a cue for your new habit. After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]. The old habit that you do automatically sets you up for your new habit.

Law #2: Make It Attractive

The second law of the book, Make It Attractive, focuses on, well, making the habit attractive. The opposite also applies. If you want to break a habit, make it unattractive. There are a few ways to do this. One of the ones that stood out to me was using temptation bundling.

Temptation bundling works for me because like habit stacking and implementation intentions, there is a formula laid out for you. In this case, the formula is: After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED]. After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT]. This works because it again applies to a current habit. This anticipation of something you want coming after the habit you’re building can make you more likely to do it. This temptation bundling really has worked for my reading goal, because sometimes all I want to do is go to bed, but I know I should read.

Law #3: Make It Easy

The third law makes a lot of sense, and has made the habits I am trying to master a whole lot easier, hence the name, Make It Easy. This law focuses on reducing the friction of your habits, or increasing them in some cases. 

For the case of the habit I want to start, the reading one, I’ve tried to decrease the friction in a few different ways. First, my book is on my bed, right beside my pillow, so when I get into bed I don’t have to get up to get the book. This also gets rid of my excuses of ‘being to cold to get the book’. I’ve also used the two minute rule, which makes the habit seem like less of a chore sometimes. Basically, what you do is make the habit into something you can do in two minutes. So even if I only read for two minutes, I have read. Sometimes I’ll start with that intention, the  end up reading for the whole 15 minutes.

For the opposite side, creating more friction, I’ve been working on going on my phone less. Using the screen time features that Apple has, I set a timer for 1 hour on social media. There is no password, so I can ignore for 15 minutes, but it still creates that friction that says ‘instead of going on your phone, maybe do something else’. It doesn’t always work, but these things take time.

Law #4: Make It Satisfying

The fourth law, Make It Satisfying, has really helped with my reading goal. Using the idea of a habit tracker, I’ve been keeping up with my reading, which has been fun and rewarding.

My habit tracker is a reading planner I got for Christmas. It has monthly reading goals, a place to review books, and a bunch of other cool things. The thing I have found the most useful out of it is the weekly planner. Each day, it asks you to write down how many pages you read. Having a chain that doesn’t end is so satisfying, and at the end of the week, when you add up how much you’ve read, it really does add up!

The other part of the fourth law I’ve found helpful is a habit contract. The habit contract makes sure you do what you are supposed to do by making you report to a designated person. So now, I’m not only letting myself down if I don’t do the habit, I’m also letting someone else down.

Overall, this book was super helpful. I really like the concept of breaking things down to the ‘atomic level’, and sorting them out from there. It makes things look more achievable!

 

Beelzebub on a Stick

Leadership is tricky. Power is a balance. And every human is capable of ‘sharpening a stick on both ends’. Welcome to Lord of the Flies.

For this project, we had to read, you might have guessed, Lord of the Flies by William Golding. This book, though old, relates on a very deep level to our society, and how pretty much tribalism runs our society. Now, tribe is a kind of loaded word. You may be thinking of ancient man, but the actual definition of a tribe is “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.” So you can see how this definition of a tribe can actually apply to our society. The driving question for this project is actually 

What is the Role of Tribalism in Society?

Before we get to that, I’m going to talk about, well, the book. 

THIS PORTION OF THE POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ LORD OF THE FLIES, SKIP OVER THE BOOK SECTION.


William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was written to sort of make a point. He is quoted as saying “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if I wrote a book about children on an island, children who behave in the way children really would behave?”. This quote is directly attacking R. M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island. In this book three English boys, Jack, Ralph and Peterkin, are the only survivors of a shipwreck. In the book, they quickly decide on Jack as the leader, and have many great adventures with inhabitants of the surrounding islands and themselves.

 

Golding didn’t think that was realistic. He wrote the Lord of the Flies to show how, when unbounded by the rules of society, people will resort to savagery. In the book, it was boys who lost society, but the idea applies to all humans. He just used children because they would lose their civility sooner. 

Without civilization, humans resort to savagery.

All power needs to be balanced by a shared responsibility.

Innocent people have the ability to become evil when removed from civilization.

When no longer bound by the confines of societal consequences, humans feel free to act upon their initial instincts and detach themselves from civil society.

In the absence of societal structure, humans fall back on their violent and destructive nature. A primordial instinct is released.

The book is full of symbolism. Each of the boys represent a different part of society, and the different styles of leadership. One of my favourite pieces of symbolism in the book is that of the fire. The fire, the thing Ralph clings to for most of the book, represents their ties to society, their ties to civilization. At the beginning of the book, the ties are still there, and the fire burns well. The first time the fire goes out, when they killed their first pig, they lost a part of themselves. They killed a living thing, and that took something from them. As the book goes on, the fires continue to die, until at last, there is no society left. The final fire, the one that ravages the island, has no ties to civilization. It is just destruction, chaos, and everything the boys become.

The book was very interesting. Honestly, the ending was more traumatizing than I thought it would be. There was so much more death than I thought. Also, Rodger is a total psycho. I can forgive him for the Piggy thing, but wanted to behead Ralph and mount his head on a stick is a totally different issue. Children are psycho. 

As I mentioned before, the project was on tribalism, like the tribes in Lord of the Flies. Tribes run our society, groups of people brought together by common ideals. In this project, we were studying some of these tribes. Some examples of these are self help groups, gangs, fan bases, but the tribe our group decided to study was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police!


The RCMP is a very interesting tribe, and a vital one in our society. They have a recognized leader, common values, and have a great sense of pride in their identity. We were actually able to interview a retired RCMP officer, Mr. Bob Bell.

Emily- What is the identity of the RCMP? What is their image, their values, what are they trying to preserve? 

Mr. Bell- The RCMP has a proud history. Formed in 1873 by the government of PM John A McDonald as the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) the objective was to protect the huge empty territory between the new provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia. There had been a massacre at Cypress Hills there was fear of US military intervention, violence against the indigenous people by whisky traders. 300 NWMP officers marched west on July 8th 1874 to protect all of those issues which they did very quickly. The NWMP became the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP) in 1904 and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 1920. When the Headquarters moved from Regina to Ottawa. My last posting before I retired was in Regina and my office was that of the Commissioner of the RNWMP. Cadets are taught and immersed in that proud history, taught those values and taught to preserve the image and values of the proud history of the RCMP.

Emily- How do you think having an identity benefits the RCMP (perhaps focuses missions, gives the public role models, etc.)?

Mr. Bell- The RCMP have a world wide reputation. The iconoclastic uniform is known everywhere. With Liaison Officers at embassies around the globe the RCMP Foreign Service  have  contacts with police officers and investigative agencies, for two examples, the FBI in the USA and the Australian Federal Police in Australia. ( I was a liaison officer in London, England and Washington DC at different times in my career. ) So the identity of the RCMP and its members gives the public a role model in towns and villages across Canada as well as helping the RCMP in their mission worldwide.

Logan- How would you des ride the community inside the police force?

Mr. Bell-  All cadet training is carried out at the RCMP Training Academy, Depot Division at Regina, Saskatchewan. Every cadet must live in the barracks. Even if your home is in Regina you have to live in. Troops are formed 32 at a time. Cadets come from every corner of Canada and the course lasts for six months. So in terms of group dynamics, each cadet troop forms an identity, comradeship, an esprit de corps and friendships which last a lifetime. I graduated more than sixty years ago and I am still in touch with troop members although the numbers get less every year. Every year there are Troop Reunions, often held at the Training Academy, fifty, forty thirty years, after graduation they get together to swop stories and compare notes about their careers. For those who have retired from the RCMP there is the RCMP Veteran’s Association across Canada one in Victoria and another further north on the Island. So that tells you about the community inside the RCMP. I ended my career as the Commanding Officer of the Training Academy and Depot Division in Regina.

Alivia- Why did you join the RCMP? Did you always know that you wanted to be a RCMP officer?

Mr. Bell- I always had an interest in police work. I was bored with my office job as a cost accountant, living in Toronto, looked into joining the RCMP and had no interest in the Toronto City Police, I wanted adventure  and thought that the RCMP would be more adventurous by sending me somewhere across Canada. Got that right as the cadet from Toronto was sent to Prince Rupert as my first posting.

Our final product for this was a keynote presentation to the class. My group, which you may have been able to discern, was Logan, Emily and I. It was a very interesting group to work with, seeing as we are all leaders in our own way. But it was a successful though interesting ride, and I think our final presentation reflects that.

Overall, I think we done good. Though it was difficult at first, finding deeper messages within the text really helped me understand the book, and it’s ties to our world. I also learned a lot about the writing process. We had a lot of writing in this project, including a literary analysis test and journals, and all that writing really helps. Sometimes in projects we don’t do a lot of writing, other than the blog posts, but in this project we were able to practice our writing skills. Also, I had a lot of practice doing MLA’s, because I did all of ours for the project. I enjoyed this project because I was able to improve some of my skills that aren’t often used!

In the Middle of the Desert at 5am

One thing I don’t think people talk about enough is the fact that there is a huge cultural difference between the different parts of the United States of America. It’s not that surprising, but actually experiencing it is a whole other thing. Before this trip, I had only been to the west coast of the United States, which is similar enough with culture to Canada’s west coast. This trip was something truly different.

First of all, I had no idea where New Mexico is. No idea. I knew it was kinda south, but I definitely couldn’t have pointed it out on a map.

 

The trip was the destination for this project, but before we went, we had to learn about where we were going. I can honestly tell you this is the most informed I’ve ever been on a trip.

This project kicked off in the middle of summer vacation, I kid you not. We were assigned summer readings. Our class had one book to read, and I quickly made the connection between the book and the New Mexico Field School. Knowing this, I was enticed to read the book, to get a head start on the new school year. It was difficult at times, because the book, Age of Radiance by Craig Nelson, had some very scientific knowledge that I did not have. At times it was hard to follow, but making notes helped a lot.

Reading the book, though confusing at times, was hugely helpful in understanding what we were going to be doing on the trip, and in the learning before hand. I had that insiders knowledge, and I think that made the trip, and the project, the success that it was. If I were to go back and do it again, I think I would try and do more research while I was reading the book, and have a better understanding of each thing they talked about.

The next ‘milestone’-ey thing that I thought was really helpful, or interesting, was the Manhattan Project Character Card. This is something that the teachers had very strict guidelines for. They were also not present while we were doing this milestone, which made things, well, interesting.

Us, as a class, had to pick the 16 most significant people to the Manhattan project, and each person in the class was assigned one of these people to make a ‘character card’. Except it wasn’t make, it was fill in a very restrictive template. Some people fought this more than others. I thought having a template pre-made would make things easier, but it didn’t. The template had a very small area for us to explain who the person was, what they did, and why they were significant. It’s that word again. Significant. This is what the entire project was on.

How did the development of the atomic bomb change the world in a historically significant way?

This milestone helped us have a better understanding of the driving question, stated above. Why were these people significant, and why were they more significant than someone else. My person, Klaus Fuchs, had a very interesting story, which you can read all about on the card!

Now, we come to the final product for the trip, our books. In grade 8, and grade 9, for field schools, our teachers made book templates in book creator for us to fill out during the trip. They had photos, videos, audio clips and text. Our job was to make a book that answers the driving question, using the trip to gather evidence.

At first, I thought I had a good idea. I was going to follow a theme inspired by —. It seemed like a good plan, and was commended by the teachers. Once I did it though, I was not pleased. I had all the content I wanted, the information was, I thought, pretty solid. I just HATED how it looked. It was awful.

It took me a while, but with help from my friends, I scrapped that entire theme and started again. I kept the content, which took a while to collect and I was very proud of, but I changed everything else. Also remember, this was during the trip, at the airport. I have a post all about how I used efficiently, but that’s not the point. I realized that I could do another theme, which I am very pleased with.

I’m very happy with my book. If I were to go back, I would definitely have done the newspaper theme the first go around, but it worked out just the same. I think the time I put into it really shows. Something about this really sparked my interest, so I wanted to do a good job. There were maybe more opportunities for long and well edited videos, but I did my best to capture everything I needed, and was flexible with my ideas.

And now, drumroll please,

This was probably the coolest field school I’ve ever been on. We had long days, jam packed with learning and other things, but it was amazing. I also got a lot of patches, which is some good I collect and am really happy about!

As I said, this trip was packed full of crazy stuff. So I’m just going to talk about a couple places we went to, the ones that I think best describe our trip.

Los Alamos Historic Sites Walking Tour

This was the first stop on our trip. And honestly? It really was a great first introduction to New Mexico, and The Manhattan Project. Our guide, Aimee Slaughter, was amazingly knowledgeable about, not just the Manhattan Project, but of the history of the area. She told us about the Pueblo people, the First Nations who lived in Los Alamos before the Manhattan project, and how they all tied together. She told us a really cool story about someone who lived on the land before, worked in the town, and has relatives there today. That story is in my book.

National Museum of Nuclear Science and History

One thing about learning about radiation is that it’s kinda scary. It’s this awesome power that can blow up cities, but it’s also everywhere. We did an amazing workshop with David Gibson about radioactivity. We got to use geiger counters and everything. I thought it was cool to know that radiation is everywhere, because atoms are constantly decaying and letting off radiation, but that doesn’t hurt you. It’s called background radiation!

Meow Wolf

There are no words for this. It’s like a trip of hallucinogenic drugs, but you are definitely not on drugs. There are secret passageways, slides through washing machines, portals with doors that open with hand prints, like honestly, you kinda have to go there. You could spend hours exploring that place.

Trinity

On July 16th, 1945, the first ever atomic bomb was dropped in the middle of the New Mexico desert. This one event completely changed the world, ushering in a new age of science, technology, warfare, and so much more. We got to go there. Where it all happened. It was so cool. Jesse and I spent a while conducting interviews of people, just regular people, to see why they were there. Everyone had their own reasons, but the core message was the same. This is where it happened. This is where the course of the war changed. This is where the world changed.

This was an amazing trip. We’re not that far away, and yet, there are so many differences between our culture, and the New Mexico culture. Though we have different food, and different ideas, there’s one thing we can all agree on. There was a time before the bomb was dropped, and a time after.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

PLP 11. Wow, I’m old. Since coming to this program in grade 8, I’ve learned so much about thinking flexibly, and on the recent Albuquerque, New Mexico trip, I did just that. It was 6 days of waking up ridiculously early, learning about bombs of all things, and collecting evidence.

For the Albuquerque trip instead of, as many of our field schools are, just collecting everything you can on the trip without knowing what the final product was, we did actually know what we needed. It was still a race to get information, but we knew specifically what we needed. See, for this project, we were making a book. I talk more about it in the Albuquerque trip post, but basically we had to use this book to prove that the atomic bomb was a kind of turning point for the world, that there was a time before the bomb was dropped, and a time after. Which it really is. The world has never been the same. But more on that in the other post.

For the trip, I knew a moderately vague outline of what I needed for my project. I had what goes where, all that, but I wanted to collect as much as possible so I would have it when making the book. The first thing I decided was to ask Emily if I could use her mic. PLP has lapel mic’s, but Emily’s you can just hook up to your phone, and record holding it. At first when I asked, she said she wouldn’t have room, but I said I could pack it. And I am so glad I brought it. It didn’t only help me, either. We did a lot of media sharing on this trip, between classmates. I think that decision was a huge help in all of our projects. Maybe if you didn’t get exactly what you needed, someone else did, and you could share.

Another thing that I think was a bit of a risk was talking to strangers. When we were actually at the Trinity Site, Jesse and I went around to people who had come to the site and ask them why they came. It was a risk because we didn’t know exactly how those interviews would work out. Originally, I was going to ask people about their opinions on nuclear power, but some people might not have answers. I had to adapt my book to what happened, and boy, did it pan out. I got some amazing interviews with people who came to the site. Most people wanted to come here because it changed the world, and that’s exactly what our books are about. How this one event changed the world forever.

Another thing that I did on the trip was to take advantage of time. The first draft of my book had the content I wanted, but the theme looked like literal garbage. I knew that due to the early mornings, I wouldn’t have tons of time at night to edit, because we needed as much sleep as we could get. So while driving, and even on the plane, I edited. I used the extra time, so I wouldn’t have as much work to do on the trip. Also, but constantly adding things to my book and editing it, I knew what I still needed to collect from the sites.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. Talking to so many people, it was amazing to hear how this still impacts people today. I learned so much, so much of it that I wouldn’t have been able to learn in a classroom.

Dear Past Me…

This year was the launch for the new PLP course PGP, or personal growth plan. In this course, we learned strategies to help us with our other classes, and over all. This was a very interesting project, and I am taking a lot away from it. 

In the course, we had three main topics, though all are very linked. They were as follows.

PRODUCTIVITY

GOAL SETTING

7 HABITS

So, as most of my posts do, I’ll explain each area and what I took away from it. But first, I want to talk to the reader specifically. Our final project for this was the time machine project, where we were to create an artifact that if we sent to ourselves at the beginning of this year, we would have been more successful. I made a puppet show!

I decided to make a puppet show because I like seeing, and I thought it would be a fun way to represent my learning! This was a bit difficult, making all the little props and things. It definitely took a while to sew all the puppets, make all the props, and set up the scene.

I think this final project was really cool. It made you take a look at everything we’ve learned over the last year, and choose what really helped you. I know I’ve always had a hard time organizing my time, and having these visual things really helped me this year. We also had a lot of creative freedom when deciding what to have as our artifact, which was really nice. Sometimes having to much creative freedom in a project is bad, but I think this was a project it worked really well for. I’m excited to see what other people are doing for theirs!

 If I were to do this project again, or any other project involving puppets, I would create a more interesting set. I also did have a bit of a hard time filming the puppets while moving them with both my hands and not having them come into frame. I do believe you can see my hand at one point. Overall, I am pretty proud of this!

In the video, I touched on each of the three sections, but I only represented some of each of them. Remember the three titles? Well, now I’m going to walk you through all of them!

PRODUCTIVITY

This was the topic most represented in my time machine project. Productivity is really important for high schoolers, because we have so much going on. There were kinda two main points about productivity that we learned about. 

Time Blocking 

Time blocking, which I kinda explained in my time machine project, has really helped me this year. Time blocking is a really cool feature of pretty much any calendar app. You can make events for anything, really. I have all my classes time blocked, my sports games, any homework I have to do, work, holidays, it’s really everything. I even time blocked time to do this blog Post! I really find it helpful to find time to work on projects. If I have something due in two weeks, I can look ahead in my time blocked calendar to see when I’ll have time to do it. Time blocking is one of my favourite things to do now, because now time isn’t just this concept in my head. It’s an actual, semi physical thing that I can add things to. Speaking of things…

Things 

Things is an app. It is an amazing app. It’s kinda like reminders, but way better. You make to do’s, about projects or whatever. You can even have project folders that can organize all the work for one project in one place. I have all my subjects as folders, and if there is a humanities project we’re working on, I can make a section in the folder about that project. 

The app works very well in tandem with time blocking. If you have something that you want to complete during a time blocked section, you can set it as a task in things, or vice versa! Say you set a reminder that in two days you need to finish an assignment. When setting up your time blocking, you can check things to see what you have to do and by when. Using Things and Calendars together has really helped me stay on top of everything!

Oh, I almost forgot about the other part of productivity, the Weekly Review.

The weekly review is something you do, well every week. First, you clear out all of your inboxes. You make sure you have checked off the tasks you’ve completed in things, check your email, that kind of thing. Then, you look back. In things, you can see everything that you have completed. You can also look back at your time blocking to see what you did. This also involves keeping a journal type of thing, where you document all of this. Next, you look ahead. Check your things, time block for next week, and see what you are looking forwards to.

I didn’t really find the weekly review that helpful. I understand the purpose, and I did try it for a while, but I always found myself dreading it. I kinda just time blocked when I was bored, or finished my work. I also kept time blocking the weekly review for Sunday’s, and I work Sunday’s, so it never worked out that great.

The next two sections went along with books, which was interesting. I have never really read self help books before, and I don’t think it’s something I would want to do again. They really made me look at myself with a new perspective, but two is enough.

GOAL SETTING

The book we read was called What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go for It! by Beverly K. Bachel. In the book, we learned about ourselves, and like it says, what we really want. Each part of the book would teach you about something, and then it would have a worksheet thing for you to fill out. I thought this was cool, because you had to really think about what you had read, and yourself, to fill out the worksheets well. It wasn’t only worksheets though. 

The coolest part of the book was when we had to create the dream board. The dream board shows you, your goals, your passions, all that stuff. It was really cool to see this physical manifestation of myself. I had to actually think about myself, my passions, and my future. It was a fun time.

The goal setting skills really fit in with the productivity part of PGP, specifically Things. There are sections of Things where your can put to do’s in Someday. This can help you organize your goals, and having these in Things can encourage you to work towards them. If the first step of your goal is to read a book, then put it in Things. You can even time block time to work towards the goal!

Goal setting is really cool, I think. All these tips I learned in the book can make me reflect on my goals, and make sure they are achievable. One of my goals is to go to Post Secondary, and I can start working towards that now. Knowing my goals can help me make sure I do everything to achieve my goal. For this specific goal, I know I will have to research what courses I need to get into university, and plan my courses accordingly. I will also have to get good grades, which I can work towards everyday. Goals are very important if you want to be productive. Hey, they really are connected!

7 HABITS

The other book we read was 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. This was a very interesting book. I don’t know what else to say about it. Again, you had to look very inward, but I thought it was a bit strange. It was formatted strange, switching between stories about people, the knowledge part, quotes, and other stuff. I may just think this because the book ended up being weird in Books, but it was very, interesting.

The seven habits were very helpful, though. The were as follows.

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  6. Synergize 
  7. Sharpen the Saw

A lot of these intertwined with the other things we had learned. An example of this was Begin with the End in Mind. This kinda followed up on what we had talked about with regards to goal setting. When you start something, you should know where it’s going. Having the end in mind can help you make sure you stay on track, rather than derailing to something completely different. I have a it of problem with this. Sometimes I have an idea of the end, then my train of thought veers onto another track, gets blocked and has to turn around to find another route, or falls off a cliff to a fiery death. 

Another thing that connects these habits to the other parts of PGP is Habit 1, Be Proactive. If you handed in a project late, it’s not because the teacher didn’t give you enough time. You can’t blame other people. There are 24 hours in a day, you just didn’t prioritize the project. The time quadrants from Habit 3 fit into this also. If you spend all your time in quadrant 3, quadrant 4, or even quadrant 2, you obviously aren’t going do fantastically. You do have to find a balance, like it says in Sharpen the Saw. Everything in life is about balance. Time block some relaxation, to make sure you can decompress. Add it to Things. It never good to overwork yourself.

Overall, this PGP course was really helpful. With all of these tools in my toolkit, I’ve been able to really stay on top of everything this year. Staying on top of everything has really helped my mental health this year. Last year at this time, I was not doing great. Now, I know how to cope with tons of work! If I were to go back and do this again, I think I would’ve made more notes within the books for me to reflect back on. I know the gist of each of the books, but having the overviews in note form within the book would’ve helped me understand what I was learning a bit more. Also, having these would be helpful if I wanted to remember the main ideas without rereading the book!