In-Depth Blog Post Number 5


Spring break was relaxing, yes, but I have been swept up in a wave of poetry and have done more poetry stuff in the past three weeks then I have ever have in my life. It’s been intense but I have loved every meeting I’ve gone to so far (six, as it stands).

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. A decent amount of time ago, before Spring Break, fellow TALONS students Emma F and Jamie approached me and asked me if I was interesting in joining their Hullabaloo team, which is a competitive event dedicated to spoken poetry. It sounded great so I agreed. Things picked up about a week and a half after that, when I performed a poem in front of a a couple dozen people in the TALONS room. It was not as good as it could have been and I was admittedly  a little under-prepared for it. However, it was my first step into the poetry world and our first steps aren’t often pretty.

Soon after my blunder onto the poetry scene I was attending meetings with Emma, Jamie, and their mentor Jacob Gebrewold. Jacob is a phenomenal poet and an equally excellent teacher of poetry and more. He has been indispensable asset to me and the rest of the team, and because of him I’ve completed one solo piece and am on my way to a second.

With Bayleigh, my former mentor, missing in action, I am shifting my primary mentorship to Jacob. His expertise has been invaluable and he is an excellent mentor.

In addition to solo pieces, every Hullabaloo team must write three team pieces between them. Jamie and I have been working on one about the dangers of team literature and we are confident in it’s hilarity. The piece itself grows nearer to completion. Mwahaha.

Reflection Questions: 

1. On our last meeting, Jacob had Emma, Jamie and I analyze rap lyrics for poetic devices, and then perform them in Starbucks. As a group of suburban white kids, we were a little embarrassed but eventually got over it. I can say with confidence that you won’t get bored while belting a few bars of Childish Gambino while the barista gives you a dirty look. Jacob uses many tactics like this to keep things fresh and interesting, which makes it easier to work through a four hour poetry meeting like we did last Sunday morning. It is through these activities that Jacob shows us that poetry is in more places then one might think, in songs, rap, and many other places.

2. As I said before, new learning often comes from Jacob’s massive wealth of experience and expertise, material which is well-supplemented by jokes and fun little games which keeps things fresh. He is excellent at only enforcing a topic until it is understood, and then moving on. Things are always fun and spontaneous, so we’re never bored and can easily absorb new information.

3. Jacob seems to understand that as gifted learners we are proficient in understanding something quickly and our general dislike for excessive repetition. As a former IB learner, Jacob uses methods to review topics without feeling like a chore or studying, and keeping everything time effective.

4. As a group our discussions are about 70% poetry or competition related, 15% is discussion of life or other goals, 10% is general small talk or joking around, and the other 5% is a contagious, thoughtful silence. Often, our meetings will open with a casual update on the events of the last week, telling of any funny anecdotes. At which point we will get down to poetry work, which as I stated before is always something new. It is after reading of poems or watching of poems that the thoughtful silence will occur. As Jacob or members of the team articulates feedback and responses, we usually rock back in forth in our Starbucks chairs and snap our fingers. The discussion of life and goals is often interspersed throughout the meeting, as we go off on tangents.

5. I think that one thing that is going on with our team and Jacob is our casual demeanor with each other. I think that once you move away from being so stiff and constantly second-guessing what you are about to say you are able to complete much more in much less time. I really enjoy our meetings because Jacob does not demand much in terms of our manner, and that level of comfort with each other is a great thing in a mentor-ship.

6. As I stated before, Jacob is a big fan of tangents on life, and the future. He is an excellent conversationalist and takes a genuine interest in those he talks to. I’ve learnt that he is an extremely independent man and holds a lot of responsibility for someone just out of secondary school. He has talked to me about how I viewed myself and much to my chagrin has made me throw my general modesty to the ground in an attempt to improve what I saw in myself. He is an incredibly easy person to talk to and it is easy to be authentic around him.


It’s been an excellent few weeks of poetic madness, and I look forward to the future of this!



In-Depth Post #5

Friday April 4th 2014: only 7 weeks away from the “big night”. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I intend to present at in depth night. However, with “AprilMayJune” in the way, it is very difficult to predict how far I will get during my study of Mandarin. My goal is to be able to efficiently read text and confidently pronounce Chinese words and sounds. My mentor, Hannah Duan, mentioned that writing is much more difficult so it will be quite challenging. Nonetheless, I hope to have the opportunity to get that far in my studies and be able to write as well as read on in depth night.

Yesterday, I met with Hannah to continue learning from where we left off. Since she was on a family vacation in Puerto Vallarta, I didn’t get to meet with her last week. However, I continued to practice my pronunciation with the Chinese textbook she gave me on our first lesson. Yesterday, Hannah continued to walk me through more of the textbook. She taught me more complicated combinations of letters and sounds, including words with “zh” , “ch”, and “sh”. Believe me when I say this, those three combinations are real tongue twisters. Hannah told me that in order to correctly pronounce words with these letter combinations, I have to bring my tongue to the roof of my mouth and then pronounce the letters, following “pinyin” of course. You try it! Try saying a sentence while having your tongue at the roof of your mouth… Challenging isn’t it? In fact, Hannah told me that these word combinations are the most difficult for foreigners. A lot of practice is the only way to allow difficult sounds like “zh”, “ch”, and “sh” to fit comfortably in my mouth. Next week, we will continue to practice learning more difficult words while honing my skills on the basics, such as pinyin and the four tones. In addition, Hannah will begin introducing me to various texts and mini stories. The actual Chinese characters will come later.

Now, I will address a few of the questions Ms. Mulder stated in her blog:

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

Hannah introduces me to many textbooks and stories to expose me to new learning concepts. Near the beginning of my study, we were investigating textbooks to cover the basics of the language. Furthermore, Hannah is giving me workbooks to help practice writing “pinyin” out with the four tones. We are still going through textbooks for extra practice, however, Hannah is going to expose me to a lot of text and short stories in order for me to apply all the skills I have learned thus far. When I start exploring the Chinese characters, I am positive that I will be exposed to more textbooks and workbooks to help me learn the intricate yet gorgeous Chinese characters.

When you get together what do you talk about?

As mentioned earlier, Hannah is currently giving me a walkthrough on the pronunciation of pinyin, the four tones, and small words and phrases. During the lesson, we specifically talk about the pronunciation for the majority of the time. Hannah gives me strategies on pronouncing challenging words and phrases. She also talks about what the words I’m learning mean. This helps widen my vocabulary during my study. Since I speak Arabic, I can occasionally link words that resemble words I know in Arabic or even English! For example, the word tea in mandarin strongly resembles the word “tea” in Arabic, in pronunciation. In addition, the words for mom and dad also sound the same. Even though words like “mama” and “baba” are universal, my connections can show Hannah that I am paying attention and learning new words. I hope to learn a solid set of words by the end of my in-depth study.

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

Something that is going particularly well in our mentoring relationship, I feel, is how much we understand each other. Hannah understands the type of student I am and she does her best to direct her teaching in the way I learn. For example, Hannah has gotten to know that I am a quick learner, so she is constantly challenging me and introducing me to new concepts. I really appreciate that because that tells me that Hannah feels that I am making great progress and that I have real potential in effectively learning Mandarin at an introductory level. Hannah’s encouragement and support is what will motivate me to continue to work hard at my study and hopefully present an excellent performance on in-depth night.

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In Depth Post #5

It’s the first week back from Spring Break and I’ve got to say, it’s  been one of the busiest weeks of this whole school year. I ended up coming back from an 8 day trip from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on the Sunday night near midnight, and went straight to school Monday morning. I haven’t gotten much time these five days to edit many photo’s, but on a brighter note, I took some of the most spectacular photo’s while on my trip.

Mexico was truly one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to. The culture and the scenery in Mexico is something you can’t explain, you must see it for yourself. The people in Mexico were extremely friendly, and I even got to learn some Spanish while I was there. The view from almost anywhere in the resort is a beautiful ocean view, and in the evenings, the sunset was bright and very red. During the evenings, the sunset gave the opportunity to take silhouette photo’s. I noticed that if you take a silhouette photo of someone from a straight angle, the persons figure wont be very dark. However, if you put the camera near the ground, and tilt the lens upwards, the figure of the person will be black and the sunset looks more vibrant. This is because the lighting changes depending on where the camera is placed. I also learned that if you put the focusing on the person itself, the sunset in the background will basically turn into a white background. The key to the quality of a photo is where you focus the lens. I also got to learn about the ISO function on the camera. It turns out this tool is really helpful when trying to take pictures in bad lighting. Turning the ISO function to 6400 makes the room brighter. In other cases it’s most convenient to keep the ISO at auto or around the middle.

Before leaving to Mexico, I did meet up with Lucien again and I can honestly say, he is the most interesting and outgoing mentor I could ever ask for. Lucien has given me opportunities to not only learn lots about my camera, but also feel very comfortable around him. I feel like sometimes, I get awkward talking to adults, but Lucien knows how to joke, and we get along great. We’ve strengthen my learning by honestly taking breaks once and a while. Sometimes, taking breaks in between working helps my brain rewind and help me with producing my best work. By not being very strict, and being able to talk, I feel that’s been the key to acceleration of my learning. It’s a great feeling that I can meet up with Lucien and we can talk about almost anything, from a TV show to my homework. I’ve learned lot’s of information about what music he liked when he was a kid, events he’s gone to, and how he really got into loving photography. I’ve gotten to see one of the new lenses he bought. I can’t quite remember the size of the lens but it was very heavy just to put the camera around your neck.

Here are some photo’s I took or edited from Mexico:


My mom was excited to take photos
My mom was excited to take photos
hiking on the island
hiking on the island
Silhouette photo
Silhouette photo
View from the resort room
View from the resort room
The streets were small downtown
The streets were small downtown
Walking on the beach
Walking on the beach
Sunset from the beach
Sunset from the beach

In-Depth Post #5

Hello all! This is the first post after Spring Break… There’s not much time left until presentation day. Some TALONS are already very close to finishing their In-Depth projects, which, I have to say, is turning out to be totally awesome and impressive. Wow!

Over the Spring Break, I had absolutely no internet (therefore no distractions of any kind), and every day was packed with activities. To at least be somewhat productive, I started spending hours cross-stitching. On the plane, during car rides, before bed, free moments, time I use to be lazy and slack off… All of Spring Break, I buried myself in cross-stitching. As planned, I managed to do a lot during this time frame. I have finally finished my phone-chain (it took forever), and started on a new project, which is harder and much more time consuming.

Good news! During my stay in China, I got to learn the art of silk-flower crafting. I only managed to squeeze in two one-and-a-half-hour sessions, and I didn’t get to know my mentor very well, as my time was limited. Here are some photos:

The shop in which my mentor teaches and sells crafts
Some of the silk materials that are available for customers to choose from


Shop sample: Chrysanthemums (I didn’t get a chance to learn these)
Shop sample
Shop sample: Peonies
Shop Sample
Shop sample: Roses (I didn’t learn these)
Tools&materials for making a lily.
My first lily! (My mentor helped!)
Pink&Rose lilies













I’ve also learned how to make tulips and peonies. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures for tulips, but I will post pictures of peonies on the next post.

The process is fairly easy for me, but like cross-stitching, it takes a lot of time and effort. My mentor (she’s not comfortable having her face or name mentioned) also said that it is a delicate job for hands with high control. I play the piano, an instrument that relies on the hand’s control, so I’m confident that I can do this right.

Now for reflection questions…

Both of my mentors provide lots of hands-on opportunity to help with my learning. After they demonstrate, they ask for me to try. This not only increases my understanding, but also enables me to practice right before their eyes. As people say, the first try is the most important. As soon as I do something wrong, they are there to correct me. An opportunity that might accelerate my learning is watching other people besides my mentor reform the task. I’ve never actually observed anyone cross-stitch. It is a long and boring process– it seems that only the final product is looked at. As for making synthetic flowers, I was lucky to have the opportunity of observing another customer learn how to make lilies. No offence, but humans generally see others’ mistakes more than our own.  This is an unfortunate fact that I can use to my advantage. By witnessing another person’s errors during the crafting process, it is likely that I will remember their mistakes more than my own. From what my mentor told me, beginners like us usually make the same mistakes. Moving on, what do I talk about when I meet with my mentor? I will be focussing on Edline here, as I didn’t get much time to associate with my other mentor. When I meet with Edline, it usually starts with pointless chatter. This is a good way to relax around each other and catch up on some events that happened since the last time we met. When we start to get focused, I first run through what I’ve accomplished, then I voice my concerns over some of the problems I’ve had to face. Edline responds to my questions, telling me how she overcome those problems, and adds in some tips from her experience. When there’s nothing else she has to address (until I have another question), then we turn back to just chatting casually until we wrap up. I find Edline to be a very brilliant mentor. She strategically makes our meetings productive. When my eyes blur and my head hurt from staring at the needle in my hands for too long, she takes over and performs some techniques, even if they won’t be used in that particular project. At the same time, Edline thinks I’m a very fast learner. She has told me that she really enjoys my company, and it is fun for her to mentor someone who shares her interests. It’s a pleasure for me to work with her.

That’s all for now! Adios!

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Indepth #5

Hello everyone! Sadly I haven’t been able to meet with my mentor much because of competitions and hikes, however just this Wednesday, I was practicing and my ballet teacher was popping in and out, observing and correcting me. Though this is not a ballet dance, it was great to get some advice on my technique. Though it’s getting really busy, I’m trying to get in more times with Ms. Lindsay. When we meet up, we often talk about how to improve the jumps and turns that I’ve been working into the dance. We talk about common corrections that I get in my other dances and where they show up in mine as well. It’s great that Ms. Lindsay can really read where I’m at with my dancing. She can tell when it’s the choreography that I’m having problems with and when it’s just me having an off day. It’s nice that in these practices, Ms. Lindsay is starting to learn my personal style and not just how other people’s styles look on me. I also love that I’m learning a lot more about her past dance life, stuff that I don’t often learn from my dance teachers.

I’m really happy because the first draft of the whole dance is done and all that’s left is the tweeking, adjusting and the cleaning.

That’s all for now! Bye!

In-depth post #5

I finally have live action shots of me at the Royal City Archers, so as stated in my previous post, I will post them in this blog today. Over spring break I wasn’t able to get along as far as I hoped because of the fact that the facility was only open the first week due to renovation the second week. Yesterday was my first archery session after spring break and I could tell that some of my skills were slightly rusty from the break, but I soon got the hang of it again after a couple of rounds (rounds are a group of 3 shots).


Since my last blog post, on top of my usual routines, I also experimented with different types of sights (mechanism that you attach to the front of your bow to help accuracy). It is completely your choice to decide if you want to use a sight or not. They can be as complex as the sight shown in the photo or just as simple as a horizontally facing sewing pin, but truthfully the more complex sights tend to serve their purpose better due to their accurate stability. Personally, I found that sights are useful if you have your own equipment, but with rentals that any people use throughout the day, it isn’t worth the trouble. During  the time it takes for you to set up your sight each session if you don’t have your own equipment, you could have shot about another 3 clean rounds.

Two weeks ago, I also tried a compound bow for the first time. These bows look very complex compared to any other bow, but in fact they are just as simple. I dislike these bows compared to the recurve bows that I usually use because it requires much more force to draw the string back than any other type of bow. The advantage is though that these complex mechanisms/pulleys allow you to hold on to the string once it is fully drawn with much more ease. This allows you to take more time to aim without getting as tired, but the general mass of a compound bow is much heavier than the light wood in recurve bows.


In my last post I started writing a little bit on the Junior Olympic Program standards, and I think I’ll elaborate on that today. It is basically a program for youth that allow them to progress through stages in archery, all the while earning badges and certificates. Since I only take private lessons I’m not an official member of the program, but this is really only meant for someone who really wants to pursue archery for the long term. This following picture shows the stages in development and the levels that juniors can work towards. (click the photo to zoom in)


I also stated in my last post that by this time, I will try to form a more definite goal for the end of in-depth other than just learning the sport. I decided to at least score 200/300 on a 60 cm target, following the JOP standards by the end of my project. I feel that this would help get the momentum that I had when I first started going once more. 

Now for the actions shots! I also have a couple of photos on my progress so far. (if you click on the photo of my, it’s apparently a gif)


Now to address some of Ms. Mulder’s reflection questions for this blog post. So far, things that been going very smoothly with my mentor. I was lucky enough to be provided with a new learning opportunity by my mentor, which I unfortunately had to turn down due to scheduling conflicts, but this learning opportunity was one of the limited spots in the actual JOP program. This opportunity could have provided me with the chance to meet other students interested in the same sport and it could have put a competitive edge to it as well, but let’s not dwell on the missed opportunities. There was another opportunity presented to me by my mentor. This opportunity is a bunch of 3-D shoots held around the lower mainland for fun and competition because I told my mentor that I was more interested in outdoor shoots. This opportunity would truly provide me with a new perspective on archery while giving me a boost in experience and mental stamina. I am still considering this opportunity, but I am interested so for me, this is a maybe.

Overall, I really enjoy this relationship with my mentor at this moment as I feel like we’ve come quite a long way, especially on the communication part. The asking and answering of questions has improved along with communication based on scheduling and timing.

Anyway, this was quite the photo filled post, but I hope you enjoyed it and more updates are coming soon.


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The Desert is Cold, Bring a Sweater! (InDepth Post #5)

Snowy Desert


As mentioned in my previous post, I did in fact go and spend a good deal of time with my mentor. Doing this not only allowed me to get a few of my questions answered, but to also spend a little one on one time with my mentor and enjoy a few casual discussions.


With learning new things comes new learning techniques and styles. My mentor would do one that I find quite effective, though some might say otherwise. I like to call it “Give a Little, Get a Lot” . In this my mentor would provide me with a little snippet of information or a small task that I would then take and research or put into practice, this would have me daisy-chaining for hours on end looking at linking information.

Though I know we do similar things within the TALONS classroom, I did find it to be different, in structure if nothing else.


Now, with reinforcing new learning we seem do find a demonstration of gained knowledge as a solid option. This could be a poster, a poem or story, photos, paintings, or any number of other things. Now, this wouldn’t be a big project, not your final project or anything like that, but a small way to show your mentor or teacher what you have gained from their teachings and what you have retained over the time period. This is easily comparable to a pop quiz, or any unit test you may do, but not your final exam.


Accelerating learning is a different thing altogether. Just in the name itself, it doesn’t state whether or not you have to retain a lot of the information (though it would probably be ideal), but how much faster you are able to learn the information. To accelerate learning I have seen pre-printed notes as an excellent option, allowing you to read a summary of what you are or were about to learn. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean you can just go by the notes without any further instruction on your topic, you will need some sort of demonstration, at least…I would. Accelerated learning, despite what I stated above, is meant to allow you to learn at a faster pace while still remembering what it was your teacher just said at 100mph. WARNING: Accelerated Learning Is Not For Everyone! 

As for opportunities for this, within my subject at least, opportunities for accelerated learning are slim from what I’ve seen. The best one I can think of is just throwing yourself into the work and then cleaning up what you break when you land on the information.


(This may all seem very question-answery, and it is, but I haven’t been getting much sleep and I’m lacking the creative urge to write some fantastical tale and somehow work this information into it. Go ahead, sue me.)


When my mentor and I get together we often talk at length, firstly about the project in general, secondly about the progress, thirdly what questions or problems might have popped up, fourthly how much farther I’d like to go, and then lastly we talk about what information or other programs and websites he can provide me with to continue with my learning endeavour. Actually, I fibbed, thats not what we talk about last. After all the serious talk we just catch up on the general, mundane life things that go on around us and enjoy a little break in the action. But thats not even whats last, after all of that we double check everything, basically summarizing the meeting and then saying our farewells.


With the mentorship I believe all is going well, just as it was in my last post. And for lack of any flowery words to describe it, I shall just quote myself,

So far the whole process had been going along with little to no hitches until this point. My mentor and I have been able to communicate smoothly and he has been a real help when I have run into problems or decided to nitpick certain aspects of the setup with programs or the overall visual aspects of the project. I’d have to say that the thing that works best about our whole mentor-student relationship is our ability to communicate and understand. Even when we aren’t meeting face to face and have no real way of showing the other person what we mean, we always seem to just get it. We don’t tend to sense tones that aren’t there and the communication process is often very pleasant (when I’m not already frustrated with the programs).


As for what we are learning about one another, not too much is actually new. I have in fact known my mentor since I was little and I have spent time with him before. So the only real thing we are learning about one another is the current events in our lives.




Oh, and you might be wondering why the title is what it is… I was in Kamloops, as I believe I said in my previous post, and it is considered a desert. Though I did wear shorts (much to everyone’s astonishment) there was still plenty of snow on the mountains and the wind still had a bit of a bite to it.

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Mentorship question, In-depth week 12

1/2/3. Currently, my mentor Dave has been able to provide me with multiple learning opportunities inside the shop. This includes being able to see interactions with customers, how the pricing is worked out, and more importantly what a customer is expecting. He’s explained that many customers don’t quite understand that paying a higher amount for better service once is much better than paying a bit each time, but coming back for service over and over again. He’s also shown me how to properly present someone’s bike when they come to pick it up, including having it properly cleaned as a bonus. To accelerating and reinforce new learning, there are quite a few opportunities in Dave’s shop. Most of these revolve around the bikes that his customers bring in. As bikes are brought in, Dave is able to show me what to do on various components on the bike, and for smaller issues I am able to learn how to fix it myself, and get hands-on experience working with a large assortment of bikes.

4. When Dave and I get together for our mentoring sessions, we mostly talk about life in the world of biking, and he is quite interested in the in-depth project. We are also currently discussing ways that I can give back to him, including having my dad and I help Dave create a new website to improve on his existing one.

5. Currently, what is going particularly well with Dave in our mentoring sessions is the ability to communicate properly. He is able to see when I am struggling, and knows when to offer help and when to hold back so I can figure it out on my own.

6. From Dave, I am most prominently learning how to just be a guy that everyone seems to like. I have yet to meet someone who does not like him, and through observation I have noted some key elements as to how he interacts with customers and partners that really cements strong relationships with them.


In-depth Post Week 12: Tilling the Soil, Planting the Seed, and Nurturing Growth

At this point in the project you should have concluded the preparing and negotiating phase.  We will now spend most of our time in the enabling phase.   The mentor provides adequate conditions, such as support, challenge and vision, adding feedback and reflection during the enabling phase.  Mentors coach and model what they would like us to know, understand and practice, providing continuous feedback and support and creating a learning environment to build and maintain the relationship.  The learning environment includes the physical setting, resources and opportunity. Respect, trust  and communication are important elements in maintaining the relationship as well.

Zachary (2000) notes that feedback and overcoming obstacles are two strategies to enable support, challenge and vision to occur. You, as the mentee, are responsible for asking for feedback by:

– being specific and descriptive in asking for feedback

– making sure that what you are asking for is clear and understandable

– staying focused

– avoiding being defensive

– seeking alternatives, not answers

– checking for understanding

– making sure you are getting what you need

– asking for feedback on a regular basis

Lastly, how can obstacles be overcome or reduced?

– making sure you are available but not expect they are available at your beg and call

– making sure your mentor is  more skilled than you are

– making sure your mentor is focused and meeting your needs

– making sure you commit as a mentee and follow through on your responsibilities


Reflection Questions for Week 12:

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

2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

4. When you get together what do you talk about?

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

6. What are you learning about one another?

Enjoy the learning in the moment!

Mulder ten Kate



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    Tags: mentor, learning, mentee, relationship
  • 32
    Zachary points out that "mentoring relationships progress through four predictable phases: preparing, negotiating, enabling, and coming to closure" (p. 49).  Each of these phases may vary in length depending on the people involved and type of project.  Opportunities to reflect, such as blog posts, enhance the learning throughout these phases and allow for tweaking interactions…
    Tags: learning, enabling, reflection, relationship, mentor, support

Socials Assessment

  • Describe your selected section of the unit and what you understand to be the main idea at the heart of understanding it.

Emma Field, Aidan MacDonald and I researched, analyzed, synthesized and presented information on Oliver Cromwell and his son Richard Cromwell. We covered their roles in history, their impact on the English Civil war and (hopefully) generated discussion/introspective thought on the morality of their actions during the 1600’s.

  • Considering your own presentation, as well as those of others:
    • What are you proud of contributing to your group and the class’ understanding of your topic?

The Fajber-Field-MacDonald Trifecta (FFMT, for short) was quick to decide on our course of action with regards to this assignment: we all agreed to make a song. After further discussion, it was proposed and then agreed upon that we would additionally create and present a timeline chronicling the life and times of the Cromwells, therefore putting all our information into a more accessible format.

We split the timeline into three sections, and the song was created in a 6 hour writing/recording session that used materials such as: video-cameras, Aidan’s laptop, excessive amounts of Chai Tea Latte, and repetitive vocal support on the part of Emma and Aidan that I was to be the lead singer.

    • How would you alter or improve your group / class participation to ensure better understanding of your topic in future units?

FFMT was the best quad in TALONS history. ‘Nuff said.

In all seriousness, we worked very well together.

With regards to class participation…

I have been undertaking a vigorous mental exercise that has doubled as a thought experiment; for the past month or so in the TALONS room I have been endeavoring to speak less and to listen, truly listen, more. The catalyst for this change in classroom behavior was a discussion we had during the Wiki section, where Vanessa’s diplomatic chops caused me to re-evaluate the impact I was having on discussions.

Being quieter was a rather fascinating thing to try and do, really, and over spring break I have had a lot of trouble putting these thoughts into words. The conclusion that I drew included, but were not limited to:

  • The TALONS, as a whole, are ineffective decision makers; however, this is because we are generally primarily concerned with hearing everyone out. That is not something that I wish to see change. Despite this, the lack of forward momentum which arises in most class discussions involving choice is a frustrating thing to observe without personally jumping in and doing what (I feel), would increase our effectiveness, and therefore our overall time we had left to do things.
  • Our class contains people that put their opinions forward, and those that choose not to. This seems like a surface assumption, but over these past few weeks I have had the opportunity to think about it a lot. I want to hear everyone’s opinion, but I feel a NEED to move things forward. I get physical pain in my chest when we use entire blocks for simple discussions; not because I think the discussion was unimportant, or unneeded, but because we could have discussed what we needed to speak about and then discuss what we wanted to speak about. That’s all. How this relates back to the idea of certain people choosing not to put their ideas forward… to reach our highest cohesive success, every TALONS needs the confidence to put their ideas forward, and the restraint to hold their ideas back. I can say now from experience that the latter is more difficult then one might think. This means that when you feel your thought is worth saying, you say it. No one can fault you. But when you are saying something for the sake of being heard or rehashing something that you or someone else is unhappy with, unfortunately you have to exercise your self-control. This was hard for me to initially understand (it seems we TALONS have very ingrained ideas and values of justice), ‘how can you let something happen when you could and should forward a better option?’. For In-Depth, my mentor, Jacob Gebrewold, had Emma and I read the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It reads as such: You give up to go on.

It was an interesting thought experiment, and one I recommend to other people in our classroom that have the inclination to speak often and freely. Because of this self-imposed restriction during the course of this project I contributed less than I had the capacity to; however, I am glad that I took the opportunity to gain this new insight.

  • How should we as a class look to improve future experiments in collaborative unit planning / teaching / assessment? ”Ask and yea shall receive…”

I think the project was well-formed, cohesive, and excellent for learning retention (I will never forget ‘Black Tom’ from the English Civil War). The problem that I personally had was the time it took to get off the ground. I will not waste your time describing again my thoughts on our class discussions.

  • Other than your own section, describe an element of the unit which captured your interest.
    • What will you remember about it?

I could go into detail on almost every quad’s project (in my opinion everyone had a high calibre lesson) but I’d like to take this time to highlight the Risk game.

The Risk game was successful in what it was aiming to do: to have the TALONS class actively learning about the battles and scope of the English Civil War, all the while being engaging to (most of) the class. That’s no mean feat. The creators put a lot of thought into the game rules which was evident (food, special events, special units, etc.) but what really caused it to be effective was the evolutionary process it had over the course of the week it ran. Mr. Jackson pointed out how he was delighted to see that the Risk team was taking feedback and actually applying it; what may have been unsaid was how good an effect that had on the TALONS class. That constant change and recognition of feedback allowed it to go from a great, to an outstanding project.

    • How does it relate to your existing knowledge/feelings/assumptions about history and politics?

This unit is the entirety of my existing knowledge/feelings/assumptions about the English Civil War… but relating to modern day politics what struck me was how Mill-ian everyone was. The accepted school of thought was: For the Greater Good. Even the Parliamentarians who were fighting to put power into the common man’s hands subscribed to that belief.

  • Considering the entire unit (course material as well as collaborative unit planning and group work), what questions / issues did the English Civil War unit raise for you?

For me it was always about the morality of the actions taken by those in power. How did Cromwell manage to away with canceling Christmas? I’ve never fully agreed with the idea that power denotes corruption, but the English Civil War definitely supports that concept. It was a turbulent time filled with leaders that just took what they wanted (e.g. CROMWELL) and they became powerful for it.

Do the leaders of today follow the same principals of power that the leaders of yesterday did? Has the common man and woman gotten better at rejecting decisions they don’t agree with that are made by the powerful? How?

Food for thought, I guess.

  • Describe your daily engagement with the topics covered/discussed in class. Use examples of strategies and habits used in your daily studies.

High engagement in class. I really enjoyed this project and wanted to make the most of it, so I was doing my best to remain at a high level of engagement. At home, I will admit I was significantly less eager to do the daily readings and the review of my character for the court and everything else, too… but it paid off the end. Reading strategy #1: Write what you read, read what you wrote, and then compare what you read to what you wrote about what you read. Got it? Reading strategy #2: I do this all the time, actually… I pick a random song and then replace the lyrics with everything I just learned/read. You can’t forget Henrietta of France when you put her into a song, say, “Royals”…


  • How would you undertake a similar course of study to greater effect in the future? Aspects of this unit you would strive to duplicate or change to improve.

I would set aside a few minutes to make sure that groups weren’t doing the same thing. For example, two groups did songs. Nothing was wrong with either song, they were both excellent, in fact; however, repetition, no matter how well disguised is a contributor to boredom, and furthermore lack of engagement. A few minutes at the beginning to confirm that every group was using different media would have prevented that.


BIG QUESTION: Do you agree with the statement “Absolute power corrupts absolutely?” Why or why not?


Studying the English Civil War gave me an interesting thought: 100’s of years ago, humans thought that humans were pretty great. They were pretty proud of themselves.

The idea that humanity is an unhealthy species appears to be a more modern opinion, and its interesting how quickly we jump to condemn ourselves. It is far easier to say that we are a disease, and appear wise, then it is to say we are strong, and appear arrogant.

So I ask forgiveness for my arrogance in this: I believe that we have limitless potential. It’s cheesy, yes, but there is something wonderful about the idea of infinite possibility. I reject “absolute power corrupts absolutely” because of this; I refuse to accept that no one has enough will-power to defy this old quote from a famous cynic.


Now I eat my words. With regards to the English Civil War, it seems as though Nietzche was right. King Charles, Oliver Cromwell, The Parliamentarians after Cromwell’s reign… no one really seemed to fit our classroom definition of “good guy(s).”