Where is the key to purity? – August, 1794

I watch the walls become greyer and greyer around me each day. In the pits which I pee the portrait of my son is a growing mirage with every passing hour. The lone window slices me open like a perfectly placed rapier, it is but too high to see out of but less too small to block out the world entirely. Instead, it burrows into my soul, cutting into my memories, my thoughts. My head burns from its brightness. This light has no more place in this cell than I a place in that world. I have a place in that world! AAAAHHHHH. What have I become? Was I never more than a try-hard ‘bout to get barred? I am a prisoner of my own goodness, the truth is that I don’t know what not being a prisoner is like. My Declaration was the key, turns out it was the key to my cage. I am now locked in my own doings, none of which I am not proud of, but to speak loudly of any which set of my actions in front of any which group of people would be a death sentence. I guess trying to be nice is a death sentence. When you play too many cards you may as well not play at all. How am I still even playing? Why? At least there are four nice things in this world still. Nothing and no one will ever take away the crown jewels of my monarchy, the suns of my world. I will wait until I hold them again, whether it be in death or in life.  I’ll say it not, but for what those fools think of what I have done, it may be said that they are taken dead than rather alive. What I would give to throw myself in place of them for any mortal wish they face, even to kiss their cheeks clean of dripping tears before their heads are torn from their torsos and drips of blood replace them. I know not what has occurred, nor what is occurring, nor the fate of My Dear Heart and my dearest children. But they are now the only key that can unlock me. Their tender faces, so pure. Hands clean of civil blood. They are the real suns in my darkness. To hold them I wish. Everyday. Feel their warmth fill me with joy and love for love is lost in my soul in this cell. Everyday. Oh please, if my one wish can escape this prison, let it be love, let them live. 

The Declaration of the Rights of Man of the Citizen – FrenchRev


Above is an artistically designed representation of the Delcaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which was originally proposed and then signed in the National Assembly in 1789. This artifact is a particularly special and relevant document to my character, the one and only Lafayette, as he was the key creator of the document. He had the assistance of Thomas Jefferson before he left to return to the newly founded United States, but Lafayette was the passion behind the creation of this document for France.

Here is a link to an English translated version of the document that clearly shows the different points of the Declaration.

The Declaration plays a very large role in the French Revolution starting right at the beginning in 1789 when it is accepted by the National Assembly in August. The King is later forced to sign an agreement to the document when he is being held in house arrest at the Tuileries Palace in Paris, bringing it to the national forefront. It remains a key driving backbone behind the beliefs of the revolutionaries throughout the revolution and the events that follow years after. In fact, the Declaration officially remains in the French constitution today.

The document shows us how the many French were unhappy with the treatment of people from all backgrounds: race, religion, class. It states that they want equal representation and treatment in the court of law and opportunity to participate in society.

Lafayette wrote this to outline what was important to the people and why they wanted change. It was the beginning of his ideas of an ideal nation and what needed to become of the country. However, as radicals became more and more in power, the document was taken on backroads and roller coaster rides Lafayette may not have intended it to go on. With the extremist groups rising and the violence being created, Lafayette may not have intended the document’s meaning to stretch so far as to justify such actions. Nonetheless, in the end, it had its glory, and the real fight, for the rights of man, came true.

My Dear Nation – August 29th, 1781

My Dear Heart,

I’ll be home. Whilst my heart is with this fight, it is also with you. My Dear Heart, I know you are strong enough for us to be apart for else I’d not have left you for this time. Please know that. But I must have this fight. This fight is for my Papa, for me, for us. I pray for nothing more than this to be us one day. You cannot understand the want I have for our own freedom in France. To create what we are creating here: There would be nothing greater for our nation. This war will give us that chance. I will come home, to you, and Henriette, and Anastasie, and my dear little son Georges. Oh I do hope Georges is well. I trust that the deliverer of your next letter can tell me of this, of our child’s state. Please pass this on to me, for I wish to love him and to see him and to hold him. I do wish I could be there with you now as he comes to be a young boy but I shall be there soon. We shall finish this battle soon. I trust we’ll not be longer in this fight.

It’s been very hot here of late. We sit in our canvas tents by night, awaiting any sign of the British. I have been moved to Malvern Hill where we are expecting a large contingency of British any time now. I can hear the York River nearby, and all the peaceful birds that accompany its existence. It is so at peace with itself, with the rest of nature, it occurs so fluidly. I dream that maybe one day we can live in such a way, that people of all religions and beliefs can coexist with equal rights for pay, land, and vote. I know it’s a big dream, but I think we can do it my Dear Heart, I truly do. With these men I have come to know as my brothers and cousins I believe we could do anything. With Washington at the lead, guiding us as a father, down the streets of history and through roads that which we’ve not seen before. Washington has helped me more than I could have ever asked for. Upon my return he has taken even greater action in making sure I am respected amongst our fellow Continental militia. He is making sure that I am being valued for my intellectual skills that can help us conquer the British in seemingly insurmountable circumstances.

Not quite a month ago I was alone with only a small number of troops when the British set siege upon us from every angle. I organized expeditions run by small groups to do the same to them, and while we executed short and powerful sessions against them they became fearful there were more of us than there were. This led to their retreat only a week later. Washington has recognized my abilities and trusts me to get the job done whatever the situation.

He has become a father to me more than my own ever got the chance to be. Though I hold it not to be the one who wishes against my birth parent, George has done more of a job than I could ever imagine a father could do. He comforts me in the quiet of his home on leave, but allows me lead in the heat of battle. He cares for me with more honour and heart than anyone ever has before and I don’t know in what position I would be without his support to this point. I don’t know how I would be here, and without you, surviving if it was not for his words of love. I’ll not look ahead to the time I must bid him adieu, to the time beyond when I can no longer embrace him after an unpleasant adventure or a a disappointment that breaks me to the bone of my heart. ‘Twill not be a pleasure for the neither of us. I do wish he could come and live with us, a a grandparent to our little ones and teach them as he has taught me, all the most important and moral lessons of one’s life. But that, for obvious reasons, will not be a feasible future.

However at the present I am still here, and the good man has told me of our plans for the battle to end it all. Yorktown shall be the place, a fight for the history of our young nations. Not only shall we overcome the British but this shall prove the possibilities of belief. From here we can bring these ideals to France and our beloved people. Washington, Jefferson and the others can help me prepare for our own fight. I promise it will be the best outcome for you and our young children, I would not nothing more than to provide your babies with a society of utmost civility and liberty.

Upon my last visit, though short, I was able to gain some support from the reluctant French militias, and with the surviving Continental contingent I should think it likely we can pull off the victory.

Oh how I do wish to see your face my Dear Heart. When my brothers have their women about them at night I imagine myself with you in your gracious presence, and how you would outshine them as the brightest star fills the night sky. You are but the Sun in my universe and I will revolve around you my Dear Heart. For this time parted is not of my enjoyment. Please forgive me for my absence, for  upon my return I’ll have though of you every step of the journey.

Please set a kiss upon the heads of our little ones, and though I think it not necessary to present, I only wish to set a kiss upon yours my glorious Dear Heart.


Hop In to the Hype! – Final In-Depth Post (#6)

Well, it’s coming to a close again. It’s been a mix and mash of chaotic events the past couple of weeks but I’ve made some significant progress on my In-Depth and started working towards my presentation!

After my last post, I was able to contact Minlyn about setting up a session to learn a few moves. He was kind enough to work with me during a lunch time last week and he showed me a few pretty cool things! He taught me four different moves that you can use in different ways or scenarios:

  • Handstand; can be done stationary or while walking on hands.
  • “Pop and lock”; with the arm over your chest and popping your
    One-hand-stand; http://best-sports.tumblr.com/

    shoulders and upper body side to side or in other ways.

  • One-hand-stand; specifically a kick up with both feet and a grab
    A Stall; http://chris-fiction-mae.skyrock.com/3223776871-chapitre-98.html

    with your free hand to the closest foot.

  • A “stall”; often referred to as the “baby freeze”, a balance on both hands leveraged on your hips with your feet in the air.

I struggled with most of these moves as they require a lot of strength, and most importantly, practice. They are all breakdancing moves, which is what Minlyn specializes in, and he gave me some tips for practicing them on my own and for how to execute them. For example, with the one-hand-stand, he showed me how you want to enter it from a virtually sideways position like you would a cartwheel. Then it’s just a matter of kicking up as high as you can and maintaining that flat sideways position, not falling to either side or bending over. It was very new for me to try these types of moves but it was a lot of fun because I have always admired breakdancers and their wicked moves. This certainly reinforced the message that it is a lot harder than it looks and this form of dance particularly requires an especially large amount of strength in each individual move.

Breakdancing is also sometimes referred to as “B-Boying” which is a term I heard a lot when I watched So You Think You Can Dance back in the summer/fall! Another cool connection is from a song I heard a lot as a childhood that many people would recognize from Hannah Montanna, an old kids’ show, the Hoedown Throwdown! In probably the most famous part of the song she sings…

Pop it, lock it, polka dot it
Countrify it, hip hop it
Put your hawk up in the sky, move side to side
Jump to the left, stick it, glide

This is pretty cool because I actually know what all of these different words mean now! Pop and lock is basically when you isolate a part of your body in movement while the rest of your bod stays “locked” in place. And gliding is a form of footwork in hip hop or breakdance where you have your weight distributed on your feet so that you can move one of your feet with it looking like it is “gliding” over the floor, almost like anti-gravity.

I have also watched a lot of online videos and picked up quite a few other new moves, many of which are quite complimentary to the tricks Minlyn taught me, or vise versa. I also learnt about the popping,  locking, and gliding that I talked about above in these! I’ve listed a few of the moves I learned below.

  • Lower Body Isolation; turning on your heels either with or without your upper body at the same time, creating a robotic movement.
  • Head and Neck Isolation; a stepping down or up movement of your head separate from your shoulders, you can add different arm movements or positions to it for more emphasis.
  • Arm Roll; the classic, I’ve always wanted to properly learn this so now I have, although it is very difficult as you want to really emphasize the different parts of the motion. You maintain a straight line with your arms that is only broken when the wave arrives at that section.
  • Arm Popping; tensing and releasing of your arm/s for an instant to create a locked position almost like you are being electrocuted.
Basic Glide Footwork; http://i.makeagif.com/media/4-30-2016/BfpO6p.gif
  • Glide Footwork; I’ve known the basics of this for a long time it turns out, but the tutorials gave me some ideas of how to use it in different ways to move around. You use different weight distributions between your heel and toe to move in circles or just from side to side. I’m definitely excited to apply this move in some cool ways in my performance!
  • and many more…

These have helped me a lot in preparation for planning my performance and they have given me a lot of ideas for some different things I can include! A lot of these are also a more ‘raw’ style of hip hop, as opposed to a more ‘feminine’ type which was what our class was focused on, so this has been really fun getting to try a different sub-genre, so to speak!

I have also just started to plan for my performance! I’ve gotten it down to about five songs but I’m going to leave it for the night for you all to find out as there will be a little bit of a surprise in the music I’m dancing to!

Lastly, our group, Elyssa, Alyssa, and myself, are going to be starting work on our group routine this Sunday and we plan to meet quite a few times over the next few weeks. We will likely also put in some time at school to practice things together. Hopefully this Sunday we can get out song “locked” down and start some choreography together! This will also be a great opportunity for us to share some of the things we have been working on and give each other some support and feedback. We’ll be able to help each other a bit in preparing our performances which I think this will help when it finally comes time to step on that stage and break it down, as I am starting to get pretty nervous about that. It is sure going to be nerve-racking being up there all on my own, but I think if I just focus on having fun and I’ve prepared well then it will turn out fine. Plus, we will be able to practice in front of each other lots to get more comfortable.

So, that’s where I’m at. Hopefully I can “glide” right into my performance without getting “locked” up anywhere. Although if there are some mishaps, which there are sure to be, I’ll just have to find a way to “roll” through them! So for now, until my performance, best wishes to you, and I’ll be hip hopping into the hype of the show!

Spin Around – In-Depth Post #5

Hello again! Well I hope you all had a wonderful break either at home, or away, with friends or family, or on your own. I had a nice get away to refresh myself and I’m back at it for the conclusion of this improvement.

I’m at a bit of a turning point in my project, hence “Spin around”, okay sorry, that was not really even a good pun. Well I finished off my last dance class right before I went away wherein I got to be a part of the video of the dance we have been working on all along! So without further ado, as I’m sure you’re all curious, here’s the link to the video, edited by our instructor Bev Soh, of our dance to the Demi Lovato song Confident!

I’m not in quite as many clips as some of the other dancers as I was not there the first day of filming however it was great that I was able to be a part of this and have this to document what we’ve been working on!

In addition to this over the break I did practice a few times just messing around with some different moves and watching a few videos and trying them out! One particular session, I had a little personal dance workout earlier this week to the musical Hamilton, that many of you have probably heard about, while listening to it for the first time for Social Studies. That was a lot of fun, and it was actually really good practice for some of the different moves that I have seen and just experimenting on my own! I will now be looking to get into a regular practice schedule of at least twice a week for an hour on my own now that my classes with Bev have ended.

This is  not the end of my mentoring however, as I noted at the beginning of this project, I am now on the search for a mentor to guide me through my development in the last couple months of the project or possibly another class that could supplement this role with some extra individual sessions on the side. I have already spent some time looking into some local classes but I am really trying to find an individual who is willing to be my mentor on a regular mentor for these last two months. If you know anyone who might be right for the job please comment below, and I was also recommended a few people recently who I will be trying to contact this weekend.

So for the sake of this week’s blog post I’ll be reflecting on my mentoring relationship with Bev and looking forward to what comes next for me.

What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

With Bev it was mainly a teaching focus with her at the front of the room and going through the various steps and then the whole dance multiple times as a group. Something unique she used in one of our later classes was peer feedback. This was when half our group performed for the other half without her leading and we gave them feedback, and then we switched.

What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

Bev was very good, as I’ve mentioned before, at sending us a video of our most recent rehearsal every week so that we could follow along and practice the dance on our own. This was very useful for reinforcing individual learning because I was able to replay certain parts that I really struggled with and just watch that part closely until I got it. Bev was also supportive and always offered for us to come early to class, especially on the performance(filming) days for extra assistance and review if we needed it.

What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

Some things that are really going to help me know as I try to do more on my own are online tutorials and thus personal practice time. Another opportunity I will be taking advantage of is a fellow classmate who is very skilled in hip hop and breakdance and has agreed to help me out in my project, Minlyn! I will be setting up a session with him for sometime in the next couple of weeks likely as an extra learning session.

When you get together what do you talk about?

Well as I was participating in a class our mentor-mentee relationship was a little different. We didn’t really talk in a one-on-one setting or develop a more personal relationship. I am hoping that this type of individual connection and support is something that I will be able to have with my soon-to-be-unknown mentor.

What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

Well, for our classes, I’m done! Not so much that, but rather, I performed! Now it was in a slightly different form than a normal performance but I did have to dance in front of the rest of my class at times and put myself on the internet. This is definitely a good step towards stepping on the stage in my final performance at in-depth night, which, by the way, is not worked out yet, however I believe the three of us are planning on at least a bit of a group dance and definitely live performances in general!

What are you learning about one another?

This is again also something that I didn’t develop much for from my relationship with Bev as I didn’t get to know her very closely. However, I will say that as I mentioned earlier in the project, something that I have learned about Bev is that she is very passionate about dance and that is one of the very important and special things in her life. She is always ready to go and fully energized for our classes and she even brought extra materials for our last class to make sure everyone had accessories that fit the group theme. Not to mention she is the one who takes the time to edit all the clips and angles together to make sure everyone is in it and everyone looks great!

Overall this was a very fun and positive experience for me as my first formal dance training in a while, and it was a great way to introduce me to hip hop and get me going. I hope that I can build on this in the next few weeks and also I will definitely incorporate some of the moves and skills that I learned from this class into my final performance in May!

Have a great week, and remember, there is nothing wrong with being confident!

The End of it All. Actually. – Eminent 2015

Well that’s it I guess. Like, really it.

With a total of three field excursions, three interviews (both locally and globally), 13 blog posts, 2 speeches, and countless hours of research and preparation, I am finally done. Done it all, sadly, yet gladly. Many are joyous right now, that they have completed it all, finished all the tasks ticked all the boxes, not to say of course learnt tons along the way as well. But I am somewhat sad, or almost in between the two emotions somewhere.

This year’s eminent was very different from last year’s for me. It came at me out of the blew, I wasn’t ready to decide who to study, not ready to go on my last library field trip with my amazing classmates in TALONS, not ready to prepare my speech or even write blog posts again, but it happened. It came, and it went, as everything does in this world. Nonetheless, it is not merely sadness nor in any way regret for this project that sits with me now as I write my final eminent reflection, but rather a sense of pride, hope, and completion. Unlike last year’s post where I was so overwhelmed with all the newness of  everything that happens on a big TALONS night in and I finished with my word that I chose at closing circle, I am going to start with my word, and talk about what everything meant to me this year, how I felt.

This year, we did not formally have a closing circle at the end of the night at least we didn’t go around and reflect on what we had just done like last year. However, many of us still thought to ourselves that night of a word that described what we individually had just experienced, a word that showed how we had done, how our friends had done, and how the guests had been, a word that suited us and also our projects. This is a fairly difficult task as you could imagine, considering all the different parts that go into such a big culminating event. There are two ways to approach this sort of task, I have learnt since last year’s eminent night, choosing a word off the top of your head that comes to mind at first thought, or thinking long and hard about the perfect one that you will remember forever. All in all, the results of these two options are often the same. Nonetheless, as I was already at home when I remembered to do this, I took the long route, unlike last year.

When all was said and done, I settled on the word ‘love’. As I’ve mentioned before, and am beginning to realize is somewhat of a continuing theme and also goal for me this year, is how special spending time with friends is and developing new relationships.

This theme came in to play from the beginning of the night when we were setting up our learning centres. A friend from outside of TALONS offered to help me, which I greatly appreciated as I had a very extensive centre especially in terms of set-up and, difficulty of set-up shall we say. As they say, many hands make light work, and as there was two of us hanging my giant sandbag wall from the ceiling at the front of my locker bay became a lot easier as we could have one person on top of the bay and one ripping tape below. This was such a kind act that really helped me stay on track and on time as like last year, I almost didn’t finish before dinner, additionally, in similarity, I had to make a couple last minute paint touch ups to finish off my centre and I almost ran out of time. And it didn’t exactly help that we had a surprise early guest arrival, but not in any way am I going to say that this arrival was a bad thing.

You see, this guest, was the one and the only TALONS alumni, Kim Venn. Now some of you may remember that Kim was the afternoon TALONS class’s peer tutor for second semester last spring, and then also joined us on the adventure trip. Let’s just say, that I highly respect her and all the amazing work that she does in many different areas. I also got to know Kim a bit on the adventure trip and also through Me to We last year, so it was sad when she graduated as she is four years older than me. Anyways, I had just been rushing back to the TALONS room to grab some red paint for a couple spot touches, when I peeled around the corner and Elyssa calls to me while doing so that Kim has arrived. So, as you may expect, I was quite excited, I proceeded to sprint to my station and drop the paint and brush down in the hall in front of it, meanwhile Nicole, who also knew Kim quite well, and I am very good friends with, comes rushing over to me and points down the stairwell to where none-other than Kim is standing. Long-story short, we had a nice reunion downstairs as well as getting some expert tips on our speeches before returning to finish up prep on our stations. I thought it was very nice of Kim to spend some time giving us some very useful tips on how to practice and be confident in our speeches, and some tools to use if we ever got stuck.

Then after our final preps, and our tasty dinners, we had our last rehearsals on stage. Getting those jitters out didn’t really come till when it was all over for me, and even then there was positive jitters. I had a practice with my sound effect for the ending of my speech, and began to feel the elevation of the stage, physically, emotionally, and mentally. But there was still around an hour to go. An hour until I set foot into the battlefield of Pervyse, and dashed out in to No-Man’s Land to save lives.

This hour was where I really got the word love from. I think this was my favourite part of the night. The two hours it all happens. You clear the stage a final time, the curtains are closed. Then, you hear the guests load the theatre. As I had pictured, and remembered, and watched last year, we as a team of tens, not only classmates or friends but a true team for a night, with one goal and purpose, huddled up backstage.


(Photo Credits to James Liggins (grade nine backstage project manager))

Putting out arms around each other we knew that we were all in it together. I was still super nervous, oh yeah definitely, that did not go away, but I felt confident, and that my purpose was not only to make sure that I nailed my speech, but also to make sure everyone else did as well. Then we split up one final time, our first act group remaining behind the curtains, prepping, and practicing, and talking, and breathing, and focusing, and remembering, and then…

it began.

Once one goes, there is no turning back, you will be up soon. I rehearsed my speech many times backstage, silently and whispering lightly behind the second curtain. I also helped Julia work through hers many times so that she was as comfortable as possible for that moment when she walked on stage. We worked through the speeches. One would go on, and a minute or so later come off, breathing or laughing or smiling or wanting a hug, they had done it. This was where I felt the real love of the night. Our ‘team’ was so supportive of everyone. I had to wait till second last in the act, but everyone even if they had already gone was so positive and reinforcing. the kept saying that I was going to kill it, I was going to do fine. And then the moment came, Chris, the performer before me, went on stage. There wasn’t enough time to practice again, I had no choice. Just ‘breath’ and make sure everything is ready. Everyone gave me some final reassurances as I really began to panic. And then I went into the curtain.

That five seconds before I stepped onstage were some of the most nerve-racking I have ever experienced, and then you just have to step out.


Me writing in my war journal about the daily struggles (my speech)

At the end of it all I got to go for a run, down out into No Man’s Land, and then back behind the trenches again. When I reached the top of the stairs seeing a couple of my friend’s faces, I fist-pumped and jumped about three feet in the air. I was just straight pumped. I had done it. I had made it back from No Man’s Land alive. I hadn’t been killed or shot done, and I hadn’t forgotten the soldier along the way.

The  we got to relax and watch all the other speeches upstairs. It was painful watching a couple of our teamates stumble on a few words, we were all wishing them to success, we all supported each other no matter the outcome. In the end we all did survive. And as Mr. Jackson said, we are now what you could call “Senior TALONS”.

I enjoyed visiting with some old grade 11 classmates at my learning centre, though I was in character. I did my best to answer guests’ questions as best I could trying to cover all perspectives while in the one voice of Mairi Chisholm. I did my best, trying to answer questions such as why did you choose Mairi Chisholm by explaining how we weren’t just ordinary nurses and we really were just doing our part with the men. I was also very proud of myself for keeping up my British accent the whole night, and this was particularly fulfilling when I got the honest approval of a few Brits themselves who visited my station!


Me as Mairi Chisholm in front of my sandbagged Cellar House (learning centre).


Makeshift medical treatment bed in our cellar house with dirtied brick wall.


An old chair inside our cellar house with my satchel and a spare shirt(authentic Second World War use by my grandfather).


Some stored materials in our cellar house.


Table with hot chocolate set up for wearied soldiers in from the trenches (modern kettles used for actual hot chocolate served) 


A look at our small workspace in the cellar house.


Some of the important tools handy for quick use: a lantern, water, string, scissors, morphine. 


Me in my cellar house posing on the bed.


A red cross on the outside of our house to make it clear we aren’t here to do any harm. Just inside you can see a dirty stretcher.

I think I can say that I tried my best to represent the truly outstanding person that Mairi Chisholm was and also her partner in Elsie Knocker, and I hope that if either of them could see me on our Night of the Notables that they would be proud of me and more importantly them. I am very glad that I managed to find such an amazing person to study for this project and I will always remember her remarkable story. And in regard to the love theme, well I just loved studying these two and this project in general, I had so much fun!

That love amongst our team was felt right to the end of the night when we all said bye to each other. And as we didn’t do an official closing circle, I think it was in a way symbolic. That for us as tens, though it is the end this project forever, it’s just the beginning of a future, beyond TALONS, and as a new program this year, it is just the beginning of something new! So as they say in High School Musical, “It’s the start of something new,  it feels so right to be here with you”, because it truly did.

Let’s Get Wet from the Sun! – Library Field Trip 2015

I know, my title may seem a little abstract, so let me explain.

The concept of getting wet originates from my word that I chose to describe Night of the Notables at the end of the night last year, “splash”. This field trip and event was the beginning of your new project, a new year, a new person to study, and I am now getting wet from that splash we set into action a little under a year ago. The sun comes from two things, one, it was a beautiful day on our field trip this fall, the sun was out in full force from the get go and it stayed that way, but two, it is rising on the dawn of a new day, a new project, and a new TALONS.

This year the TALONS program has changed, it is different from all past years, as it always is I should say. Nonetheless there are some more major changes in place starting this semester, these include the facts that the grade nine learners are in a separate class to us now grade tens. Additionally, all of our courses are linear so for me this means that I will not have as significant of an amount of class time for this project this time around. However, the TALONS program is still the TALONS program and as awesome as it was before.

For me, this trip felt like the beginning, the start of something new, but also the same. It came at me somewhat unexpected, and upon the eve of the trip whilst I was planning and setting some goals for the following day, I felt a certain reminiscent feeling, nostalgic even.  I wrote this short poem quickly about the starting of our new journeys this year.

And so it is we return

survived the head rush and the sunburn

we now apply sunscreen

but this beach is still a first

there are new shells to be discovered

with new creatures whom which will make them filled

and all these pieces of sand

that make it so new to tramp on

we have begun our new expedition

uncovering treasures far and near

and on this very adventure

it will all be new what we do find here

for our last adventure is complete

but not anew one obsolete

we must climb our tall sand towers

and seek the drum of our heartbeat

for once again we reach the bell tower

ringing dull or ringing clear

but we must now move forward

and not bring with us any fear

(Sorry that’s kind of long with the extended spacing formatting of this blog, can’t figure out how to change that.)

I have come into this year knowing so many more people in the TALONS program, or new people from last year. In the short time that we have been in class together this year I have made many new and close friends, and this trip was a great bonding experience for those relationships. I was looking back at the photos from last year and some of my eminent posts, specifically the TALONS program picture from our field trip last fall, and I can say that I am now friends with almost everyone in that picture, closely, and I plan to be for a while, at least I hope.


Some of my amazing new friends after getting off the bus. Nicole, Julia, Mira, from left to right.

Moving into this project, a piece of advice that one of my tens told us last year at closing circle, was not to try to make this year like the last., you can’t. And so, knowing that I didn’t know the nines as well going into this trip I had to accept that and try to take it as an opportunity.

I had some other more physical goals for this trip which included taking some pictures of the architecture ad the city, which I was able to do, possibly getting to know some of the nines more, and enjoying the solo spot. I succeeded in almost all of these and when I searched for books on my eminent person at the library, I was pleased to find one actually on her specifically, and her partner in action! Even better, they had one copy at the central branch, where we were going!


The Vancouver Public Library building.


TALONS faces from the end of my solo spot.


Entrance to MacLeod’s Books store.


I picked these up along with multiple other books at both the library and MacLeod’s Books. As hoped, I very much enjoyed visiting MacLeod’s as I love books and old stores like that but I don’t often get the chance to check some of them out. I was very overwhelmed by all the amazing books at the library and MacLeod’s and how much love for books there is in those stores. In the library, I was completely taken aback by the huge section they had for the history of World War I and II specifically! It was amazing! It was also just such a cool feeling in the library as there was so many people there of all different walks of life. It really felt like it was a home bookcase to anyone who so chose to upon it.


World War I and II section in the Vancouver Public Library.


Me with my book on my eminent person in the extensive World War I section.


I think everyone really enjoyed having that sort of experience as tourists in our own town for a day and getting to experience many new things right where we live. The mood was relaxed and exploratory, if I had to describe it. I think because we’ve had a very chaotic beginning to the year, as per usual, and this was a good chance to step out of the normal activities and get a breath of fresh air, and also explore some new things for the enjoyment of it, as well as gaining some valuable information for our eminent person studies.


Looking up from my solo spot, the city of Vancouver.

Overall it was a great day. Very different from last year, but that’s good, this is the start of a new project, a new year, and a new TALONS, and the sun is only just coming up.

(More pictures can be found on y Flickr page, linked in all of the pictures.)

T’was the Many Days of Learning – Socials Midterm

T’was the night before confederation and all through the country, every creature was stirring, even the housewives.


Wait, cleaning the floors?  What? No I meant  they were actually pretty agitated.

screenshot debate 1 class confed pic
Make-up picture for my improv speech as Laura Secord in our first confederation role-play. Picture actually of me performing my slam poetry piece at Cafe du Soleil. Link to this performance here.

That’s more like it.

Oh, and then there are the politicians of course.

Politician debate class screenshot
Me as Samuel Leonard Tilley presenting Atlantic Canada’s opening statement in our mock confederation conference role-play.

Amongst, I mean, the beavers, and the bears, and the moose, and all the other truly Canadian animals who were probably going about their usual 19th century business of finding a comfortable place to sleep at night, without being disturbed by any rebellions of course.

beaver nap sleeping moose bear sleep

Leading up to Confederation, there was a lot of action, and I had a lot of action in my learning as well, like the former action, not the latter, animal nap, “don’t bug me”,  type of action.

To start off, I began my pursuit of social studies learning at the start of the year. The earliest specific piece of evidence for an achievement of a Prescribed Learning Outcome was my slam poetry performance in class, however, I am sure that I have been learning and developing social studies skills the entire year and really my entire life. This presentation represents the outcome A3 in the first section of the suggested achievements of the curriculum. This covers my ability to demonstrate effective oral communication skills individually. Below is a picture of me presenting my piece to the class.

class slam poetry grade 9 screenshot fgri fin

Additionally, to further advance my learning in that outcome, I completed my grade 9 eminent address(speech draft here) and, most recently, my final address as Laura Secord in our Confederation roleplay(speech text can be found here). Pictures of both of these can be found below.

eminent address grade 9 screenshot final address laura secord roleplay confed

In terms of communicating from a group standpoint, “collaboratively”, I covered this in the Confederation conference roleplay. It was in this discussion, I had the opportunity to change identity in the hope of having more power and influence than what I did as a woman, in Laura Secord.

No, I’m just kidding! I chose to change characters to represent a second politician and personality from the Atlantic Provinces in our mock Confederation conferences as they were in dire need of additional members and I am very interested in the Maritimes, especially as I have been there before and thoroughly enjoyed it. Nonetheless, it was in this setting that I had the opportunity to collaborate with my fellow east-coasters to prepare and present our position and position paper to the other provinces. A picture can be found above, at the beginning of this post showing my participation in the Confederation conference as I present our opening statement on behalf of Atlantic Canada.

I also demonstrated effective written communication skills(part of A3)  through my in character blog posts. Here is the first and second blog posts I composed in character as Laura Secord. Through the process of writing these, I found myself develop an attachment to my character and empathize with her through my writing. I feel that this contributed to my ability to present her feelings and my skills of effective written communication.

As a second learning outcome that I feel I was strong in completing, I chose A1 for reflection, Going back to my roleplay as Laura Secord and our in-class discussions and debates, this is where I feel I accomplished this outcome. The curriculum describes this outcome as applying critical thinking skills through many different forms including defending a position which is the form that I feel I particularly completed during our first class debate. Unfortunately video footage of my rousing improv speech was lost to the unkindly politicians of the Upper Canadian reformers, however a picture can be found above a the top of this post that took its place(otherwise known in the modern age as “the ipad storage ran out”). In this roleplay debate I defended my position as Laura Secord of remaining  a colony to Britain and expressed my thoughts on how the Americans would be waiting with arms should we detach to become an independent nation. Might I add, that I also completed the sub sections of this PLO “questioning” and “comparing” in this debate, as I made my point of throwing stones at the rising Upper Canadian Government and also comparing the risks of independence to other options.

Furthermore, I worked at a more in-depth position of this “critical thinking” skill when throughout this semester I have pursued the topics further  in various ways. I took notes on some class discussions and mind maps, had discussions, or should I say, at times debates, with my dad about current events, and posted some thoughts about empires and other areas of study on Facebook and Twitter. Here is some evidence of my critical thinking and analysis(part of A1). As my Facebook is private, I’ve screenshot my thinking posts for you to see.

socials thought facebook screenshot 1 socials thought facebook screenshot 2 socials thought facebook screenshot 3 socials thought facebook screenshot 4 socials thought facebook screenshot 5 facebook phil thoughts screenshot 1 facebook phil thoughts screenshot 2 socials post laura womens day international talk facebook post screenshot

Notes from a class empire discussion.


Sorry for the blurriness, you can double click on the screenshots to view a more clear version.

Finally, a third PLO that I feel I accomplished in a highly sufficient manner this semester, was C2. This outcome asks students to analyse political, economic, social, and geographic factors that led to Confederation. I accomplished the various aspects of this outcome through multiple different tasks throughout our classroom journey to to Confederation.

I compared the positions of the various provinces prior to confederation in my review and preparation for our mock Confederation conference, as well as during the conference itself. Below is a picture of my notes for the class debate as well as the different position papers.

IMG_3600 IMG_3604 IMG_3598

I also thoroughly researched and read about the three main conferences leading to Confederation using the resources provided in class as well as some resources from home and online.

Additionally, I gained significant knowledge on the threat of annexation by the Americans from my position as Laura Secord, and a brief background knowledge on the Fenian raids through my research in consideration of different characters(Thomas D’Arcy McGee).

Areas for Improvement

beaver what moose disturbed bear mad

Okay, they might not want improvement. I think they were happy just sleeping in peace instead of having a new nation, that would run over their homes, formed. Some people were like that too, like Laura Secord, the Loyalists.

Anyways, there are some areas that could use some improvement in my social studies learning, or should I say, could use a little more development of knowledge.

The first area learning outcome that I feel I could further expand in is B3. This outcome is the evaluation of influence on Canada caused by immigration. Though Laura Secod immigrated to Canada herself, and so in a sense I had a first hand experience, I only learned of one form of immigration and its effects, and not in great depth. I would love to learn more about the Canadian immigration and how the immigrants were treated as well as how they effected Canada. Some events I am somewhat uneducated in are the Great Migration, and the Irish potato famine. However, I did obtain some knowledge regarding the underground railroad through my CRAAP testing article about “Black History” in Canada, and my analysis of the timeline in my resource blog post.

Another area of learning that I feel I could improve on is learning outcome B1. Again, although I had some experience with a portion of this topic in my role as Laura Secord, I don’t feel that I have fully reached a level of strong understanding for the multiple aspects. Outcome B1 is the analysis of Canadian society in terms of gender roles, ethnicity, daily life, and the arts. As you may conclude, I gained some background in the gender roles and daily life sections of this PLO, however Laura Secord only gave me one outlook on these happenings and I was not entirely exposed to some of the daily activities for women and men respectively. I also have a large amount of room to grow in my knowledge of the 19th century Canada areas of the arts, and ethnicity. Upon thinking about these topics, I am unsure as to how the arts world was impacted by, or effected, the Confederation of Canada. I am also a little hazy as to what were some of the minority groups within Canada and how they were affected by the changes.

As a final area for improvement, out of many of course as you can always get better at anything, I hope to grow on my ability to fulfill learning outcome C4, “describe the evolution of responsible government in Canada…”. Although I have certainly been exposed to the governmental structure at the federal level during this time period(1815-1914), I am interested in learning more about the provincial and municipal governments and their rights and responsibilities in the governmental hierarchy.One could assume that it is the same as today, but I would be interested in learning about individual influence and more in-depth on how one might get involved in politics during the given time period, as people then were very passionate about their opinions.

Overall, I have very much enjoyed my look at Confederation from different character perspectives and I feel I’ve gained many new viewpoints, opinions, and much new knowledge of the various events involved. I guess that’s it for confederation for now…

But I heard John A. say as he rode into parliament, happy Confederation to all, and to all a Good Future!

The Secret Ingredient – In-Depth Post #4

Well another two weeks have gone by and my baking endeavour continues. Jumping right in to de Bono’s work, he talks about how listening is one of the most important aspects of learning, and if done well, you can obtain much greater value out of what the person is saying. I have definitely found myself listening much more than talking in the first few weeks of my mentorship. I have been trying to pay attention to all the details and fully understand what my mentor is saying.

Through all the pieces I have been picking up during my mentor sessions over the past few weeks, they seem to be forming a single picture as they come together, a secret ingredient you could say. But this ingredient may not be what you expect. From all the intricate designs of icing, and complicated recipe steps, the secret ingredient is the most simple of all.

What I have gathered so far as the key to baking, is that it is not solely your knowledge or skills in the area, but rather your creativity and joy for baking.

Once you have these, you can make anything; the possibilities are endless. Your creativity will take you to the next level, and the touch of a perfect cake is really the touch of the heart.

Continuing, while I have only been saying a little, a lot of what I have been saying is questions. Expanding on this, using de Bono’s two types of questions, fishing and shooting, I have mostly been asking shooting questions. Some of the questions I will ask are things like “Is this the right shape/size/thickness?”. I generally ask these questions to confirm and check on the techniques I have been taught, and am practicing, to ensure I am executing them correctly.

One question that I asked using a multiple choice format was “Do you flip them because they are thicker or because there is more in them?” I used this when we were removing some cookies from the oven to flip before putting back in for a second time facing the other way. I found this question format very useful as it digs even deeper into the topic and in this case cause my mentor to further explain the process. Her answer to my question was actually neither of my two suggestions, which gave me even more reason to have asked the question. As I hadn’t thought of the answer she gave me myself, this gave me more knowledge of why we were doing this. Her answer was that we were actually flipping them to create a more crunchy texture of the cookie, as they were a biscotti style.

Additionally, while spending time with my mentor, our conversations often trail to other topics. This past visit, while waiting for our latest batch of cookies to bake, my mentor told me some tales of her childhood in Croatia. It was very interesting to hear about the different way of life and it gave me a new perspective on some of the things we do here. I again asked some basic questions that spurred more in-depth discussions and explanations.

I am hoping to spend some time this weekend to do some baking of my own and try out some of the techniques my mentor has been teaching me. It should be interesting to see if I can execute the skills without her guidance.

I have been taking photos of all our recipes to keep track of everything we do, and also for practice myself. I may try some of these or try out some of my own. Further to what I talked about earlier on the secret ingredient, her recipes are all written out in hand. She has rewritten them her own style and in very basic form. This allows her to make as she goes, or should I say, bake as she goes, bringing out creativity in every dessert.

I am hoping to capture some of my own baking creativity and bring it to life in some of my own pieces very soon! Brining to life that picture puzzle of the secret ingredient.

P.S. Oh, and sorry, I wasn’t able to capture any pictures of my desserts this time around as they seem to have all magically disappeared somewhere.


Well, here we are. I never actually made it this far last year because I didn’t finish my posts, but now here I am and it feels good. Also, happy birthday to me!

Here is everything I used over the course of this project:

Wikipedia article: The general wikipedia article for Banksy. This includes a general overview of his career, information on the possibility of his identity, notable artworks, technique, social and political themes, and his critics.

Banksy’s Webpage: Banksy’s website, includes photostreams of public arts, photostream of sketches and drawings, information about films Banksy has produced and directed, and Q+A.

Wikipedia article (Graffiti): General information on various types of graffiti, legality, etc.

Exit Through the Gift Shop: Film directed by Banksy, discusses works both public and private by Banksy and other street artists.

/r/graffiti: Subreddit about graffiti, less focused on art and more on ‘tagging’ (the act of painting your name or graffiti handle in public spaces. Interview source.

/r/streetart: More general subreddit of other types of street art such as stencil art, wheat paste, and 3D installations.


Art installation featured in ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’, piece built by ‘Mr. Brainwash.’