Archive of ‘Humanities 8’ category

Letter to my 6th grade self

Dear 6th grade Alina,

You’re just getting used to the ways of middle school, but trust me, it seems a lot simpler after just a few weeks. You have great friends, but they might not stay in Yokohama forever like you would assume, so spend as much time as possible with them. Do whatever you want to do, within reason. I don’t mean don’t do homework and stuff, continue to do that well like a good sixth grader. Basically, don’t say no to something before really thinking about it. Yes, watch your tv shows obsessively, do fun, weird things with Rhiannu, but don’t limit yourself. Learn to love the music you will obsess over in about two years, because it will make your life better (Hint hint 5sos). Also on that note, when your sister goes off to university, sneak into her room and start playing her guitar. Then while you’re at it, might as well start a YouTube channel with Rhiannu, because why not? She is majestic, and the two of you together are just indescribable. So have fun.


What is a historian?

This unit in humanities we have been looking into our own families’ history, as well as learning about what historians do. At the start of the unit we worked on a story of me project. We had to create a timeline of important events in our lifetime, as well as other things both personal and public. After this we learned the difference between primary and secondary sources, which taught us how historians get their information.

To start our big generations project, we first had to come up with a list of interview questions. After narrowing these down and splitting them into categories, we interviewed one of our grandparents, one of our parents and ourselves. In the project, we compared the lifestyles of the three generations at the same age. For the project, I collected photos and information from the other generations to act as primary sources in my presentation. I found it quite difficult to decide which information I should use and which information I should cut out of my presentation, which is something historians often have to deal with.

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The layout of my pictures in my final presentation

History, as with many things, is deeply impacted by technology. If we had tried to do this project a few years ago at our school, we would not have been able to due to lack of technological resources. Technology definitely helps historians nowadays, as there are more ways to access and analyze history. This will also help in the future, because we have more ways to record the events of today.

Here is my final video:

How has globalization affected Yokohama?

Yokohama has been influenced by foreign countries from all over the world. Evidence of this can be found all around areas such as the Bluff, Motomachi, and Yokohama Chinatown, and is called globalization. Globalization is the state of a developed culture and economy so that they have traits or influence from different countries around the world. Although this is true, Japan still has most of its culture’s traditional traits.

The history of Yokohama tells us a lot about how it became globalized. With the arrival of foreign merchants in Japan came the artifacts, architecture and lifestyle of their cultures. Slowly this started to make an impact on Japan, weaving itself into the traditional Japanese culture. From what I found out, it seems like this is especially evident in areas where foreigners lived. This history has exposed Yokohama’s residents to the influences that the foreign community has been making on it.

A lot of places on the Bluff have been influenced at some point by foreign countries. Some places, such as YIS, our school, are completely catered to the foreign community of Yokohama. However, there are others that are connected mainly through history, and these effects are less obvious. The fact that Yokohama Chinatown is the largest in Asia suggests that Yokohama has been affected a great deal by China.

A majority of the stores on Motomachi Street originated in Japan. Some of these might not appear to be Japanese, as they have names that are in another language. Sometimes the items found in the stores are from other countries, and this is also confusing. This is a good example of how Yokohama has taken different parts of foreign culture and mixed it in with their own. A large number of the stores sell clothing, but other items appear often as well. Quite a few of the shops from foreign countries are near the Motomachi-Chukagai train station, which suggests that when tourists visit Motomachi Street, they are first greeted with quite an equal mix of both foreign and Japanese stores, before continuing down the street.

Japan has taken advantage of the arrival of foreign culture in Yokohama, although I think that in many ways this has not changed much about everyone’s lifestyle. Yokohama is a very globalized city, with pieces of foreign culture evident among its own.

Infographic Assessment

In humanities, we have recently learned a lot about infographics. Since we are still on our world development unit, we had to create our own infographics about any country and state several indicators that help answer the question “what is progress?”. I created it on the website, and I have embedded it below:

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Visual Note Taking

This unit in humanities we have started to look at different styles of note taking. One of these was visual note taking, where you use a combination of text, drawings, and other visuals to take notes. An advantage of this is that you can explain what you want to say without having to write it down, for example if there are some things that are clearer as a drawing or diagram. Another good thing is that you can take notes in a way that is easy for you, whether that is drawing out everything, or simply using different colors and symbols to separate different ideas like I did below. One disadvantage is that other people might not understand your notes if you have specifically made them for you to understand. However if you try too hard to make everything visual, then even you might not understand what you’ve written eventually.

Visual Notes on World Development


We took the visual notes on world development, which is what our new unit is about. The unit question is “What is Progress?”. I think that everything we read about and took notes on contributes to answering the question, because we read about the patterns and characteristics of world development, the human development index (HDI), the causes of inequality and the consequences of inequality. Especially the characteristics part helped us, because it listed all the factors of an “MEDC”, with different sub topics as well.

World Religions Project: The Process

When we were doing our world religions project in Humanities, apart from learning many new things about religions themselves, we learned how to research, present and generate questions well. The first thing we had to do was the ideation phase, which is where we come up with a question to research and do our assignment. What we first did was create a brainstorm of any questions relating to religion, and tried to fill a page with these. After this we went through marking down which questions were good and which ones were bad, until we came up with three good ones. We then wrote these on a chart like the one below to think about how good they were for a whole research project.









After we did this we added up the scores out of 10 to decide which question was the best. I chose: Analyze how a religion’s history affects people’s attitudes toward each other and their beliefs today, and how that has changed over time. Obviously I realized that this isn’t one question, but 3, so in the end my question was: Analyze how Judaism’s history affects people’s beliefs today. The most important thing is that your question should change throughout the project, because otherwise it might not be as good as it can be.

Screenshot from my essay








One of the other phases in the process is the prototyping phase, where you make an outline of your final project. Since I did an essay, I decided which paragraphs would have what information roughly, and although I thought it was a bit unnecessary at first, when I was doing the actual project I kept referring back to it to see what I needed to do when. This phase is very important, because without it, all you would have is research and a blank page, which isn’t useful unless you know what you’re going to put on it.

What have we learned?

Our first unit in humanities this year has been World Religions. It’s significant concept is “The major global belief systems have all shared in shaping many of humanity’s most important cultural, artistic and social achievements” and the unit question is “What do we believe in – and how have these beliefs changed the world?”

For our main project of this unit, we did a research project on world religions. This meant we had to come up with our own question for the assignment and then answer the question, in whatever way we were interested in as long as we could complete the assignment. Although we had a unit on beliefs in Grade 5, I learned a lot more in our unit this year. Since, in addition to our final project, we did a mini-project on a certain religion at the beginning of the unit, we learned a lot about different religions. We also did this through peer sharing, so that we got a lot of knowledge about a variety of different religions.

I would have to say I learned the most about Judaism in comparison to other religions though, because that was the main focus of my final project. In my essay, I write “The fact that Judaism has gone through so much in its history has forced its followers to have strong beliefs in their religion, although along the way the Jews did also have help from others. If a group of people are victimized, they would be stronger together, which means you would have to have pride in your beliefs.” This connects to the unit question, because these beliefs have resulted in many things, including the death of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust in WWII for example.

We all found information relating to the significant concept when we did our first presentation. One of the questions was: how has this religion affected the world? AJ and I did our presentation on Christianity, which has given the world several things, such as amazing pieces of art like “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci, holidays, and many common names. Some students also did their final projects on specific concepts such as how a certain religion affected art, architecture, and so on.

The Last Supper


How to Make a Good Question

For our humanities project on religion, we need to first create our own question to answer in the project. The first thing you need to do is brainstorm, just get as many possible questions that have anything to do with the topic down on paper. After we had at least twenty questions written down, we had to go through them all and note the ones we thought were the best. After this, we needed to get the questions down to just three, to improve them and make them suitable for the task. To do this, we put the three questions into a matrix like the one below:

We wrote down each question and gave it a score out of 10 for each of the following: is it interesting, high-level (non-googleable) and answerable? A good way to do this is to use one of the IB command terms (analyze and evaluate are good ones). After you rate them, add up the scores out of 30 in total, and find out which question is the best for your project! Also, if  one of your ratings is a lot lower than the others, try to change something if you can to make the question better. If you follow these steps, you should come to a good result.