For technology class, we are using a program called MineCraft hosted by Mojang made Markus Perrson (Notch). The whole class has been assigned into groups to make a theme park on an online server in MineCraft. Each team had to think of and create a section or an area of the theme park. Like a horror area or a historic town or a space section. Within your group, each individual had to create a structure in their area of the theme park on their own. Like a roller coaster or a zoo or a restaurant. We needed to consider any roles, jobs, duties or responsibilities are required for a successful theme park. My group, me, Alex, Raveena and Zerric. Our group theme was a horror theme, which has a haunted mansion, a haunted restaurant, a haunted roller coaster and a haunted maze. For an outline and planning, we had a document where we document our steps of our progress during the time making our structure. The unit question for this unit was “What does cooperation and collaboration look like?”, and the significant concept was “How we solve problems depends on the conditions of the environment and group dynamics.” Here is a screen cast of the structure I made.
For the first part of the process, we had to make design specifications, which means requirements like “It needs very dim lighting” or “It needs to be dark”, and questions to ask the audience like “Does it catch your attention?” or “Is the theme of the structures consistent?” I would say that the structure is very dark in color, because I had used mostly obsidian blocks for my structure. The lighting I used in the maze was mostly redstone torches. But at some points, I had also used Jack-O-Lanterns, just to give a more of a horror taste. I would say that my structure was at an appropriate size for a full scale maze, considering the maximum was 50 blocks by 50 blocks, and I had not even used that much. The theme of my structure was rather consistent, but it did become slightly brighter around the middle, where maze was leading underground, because the surrounding was mostly dirt and the floor was all bedrock. So I think I stuck to the design specification most of the time. However, I do not think I was able to make the structure look like a traditional cottage type of house. It was a bit like an obsidian cottage with a huge, obsidian box behind it that covered the maze, which doesn’t look too traditional. Other than that, I think that I followed my design specification quite well.
I have let others take a look in the maze and take a trip into it, and according to them, the maze was a success. However, I think that if, instead of a box covering the maze itself, maybe it would have been better if I had made like a big and old house that could have looked like a haunted house. That way, people would find the structure more attractive. I tried finding pictures of haunted mazes, but there weren’t any pictures that suited my design. At one point of the maze, I have gravel being pushed down by some pistons to block the way back so that there is no turning back. However, the issue with that effect is that, after the gravel falls, you will need to break the fallen gravel and replace them. If that is not done, then the next person cannot go through one side of the maze, which will become a problem. At another point, I have arrows shooting through lava, which makes the arrows go on fire. However, I think that the effect might be coming a bit too slow, because if you sprint, the arrows shoot out of the dispenser just when the player is level to it, which just might be a bit too slow. I also need some consistency with both the left hand side and the right hand side of the maze. In the maze, if you chose to turn right at the first place and then go through the underground level, it would be very different most of the time, compared to if you go underground of the left hand side of the maze. This is so, until the two paths finally meet together. However, it isn’t so bad that both sides are different, but there should be some similarities for both of the sides. At some places, I make the traps a bit too obvious. Since most of the traps include redstone, which light up when a current passes through them. The glow is kind of a give away, and also, you cannot place a block directly on top of a redstone path without destroying the circuit. So I think it would have benefitted if I had found an effective way to hide the redstone circuit. Other than that, I feel that I have not done such a bad job for my building.
Looking back at the Design Cycle (investigate, design, plan, create, evaluate), I have given a thorough description on the section about MineCraft (What is MineCraft? What is MineCraft capable of? How do you play MineCraft?) and what the problem we have to solve is. I think that maybe, it would have benefitted if I had put more thought into the collaboration+cooperation questions. I feel as I have not really put that much thought into those questions. When we were brainstorming ideas for a possible theme for our section, we did not really think of so many possibilities, which may be good in some ways, but it would have been better if our group had brainstormed more ideas for a theme park. Looking back at the Design phase, I do not think I did so well. For the first question, where we had to narrow the designs to three maps, I do not think I quite understood that question, because instead, I had written about the designs of each different structure. However, I think I had listed the pros and cons of each design quite legibly, so that was not that big of a problem. There was supposed to be a Design test, where we had to go around, asking people of which design would be most suitable for the structure we were making and why. However, to be honest, the whole class never actually did the Design test at all, and we never got to do surveys to other people. Now, looking back at the Plan phase, I think I have listed my steps in a detailed and legible manner. However, I had very much underestimated the time needed for each of the steps to be completed. For example, for some of the steps, what I thought would only take 5 minutes took about 15 minutes to complete. I also needed to make my plan a bit more flexible, because some of the additional touches I added to the structure was not part of the plan written on the document. So, for one of the steps, around the end, I should have written something like “add final touches”. But I definitely needed the last step, which was to help others with their structure. I was the first in my group to finish, so the rest of the time, I just helped with their structures, which was not too hard because I had used WorldEdit, which made it much easier to fill up large amounts of space with blocks used for construction. Looking back at my Create phase, I think I had worked quite effectively throughout the process of the making. However, I had to use external time to complete my structure, which can possibly mean that I either did not use my time so well during class, or I was quite slow during the construction of the structure. However, around the end, I think I had put unnecessary elements to the structure. For example, I had put a tomb of myself outside of the maze just for decoration, but it did not serve that much of a purpose.
For PE, we had to write down a strategy for a game called Capture the Flag, where basically, you have to get the opponent’s balls from their side to yours without getting tagged or without dropping the ball. To make it easier to read than we had done in our first attempt, we had to write in an instructional form of writing, with numbered steps and they should not be too specific. Here is my strategy relating to Capture the Flag: CTF_strategy_323yoced
What I learned about instructional writing is that you cannot put too much detail in your writing. Otherwise, the reader would not be interested in reading the manual and just look at another site or just give up on the thing that you are trying to get the other people to do. In instructional writing, you can not make your steps too long, yet they have to clear enough to instruct the reader of what to do, which I find is a bit tricky to do.
For science, we were studying about asteroids in space. For a project, we had to make a poster with our opinion of whether we should mine asteroids or not. This idea was first proposed by DSI and Planetary Resources. My poster does not really look like a poster, with all of the writing in it. It looks more like a written essay. But, I am still quite happy with it, even though there is still room for improvement.
I think I researched my topic well, and I had set out my plan so that I could easily convert it from the plan to the final poster. I put sub-headings so that the information would be accessible and well organized. I have added quite a few reasons of whether to support or oppose asteroid mining (as we had to do in para. 3 and 4). For example, I had written that we should mine asteroids because the companies are planning to not only make money out of it, but to send the samples of the minerals found in asteroids to some researchers to examine and find out more about asteroids or where they come from. However, it also isn’t such a good idea because it wouldn’t be safe to even get to the asteroid belt, so it would take a lot of precautionary measures and preparation in order for the trip to the safe.
A weakness in this poster is that not all of the text is exactly concise and some parts may seem a bit odd and might not make sense. So if I were to do it again, I would proofread my poster to check if I had made any mistakes and then handed the poster in. Also, since this is supposed to a poster, I should make it look more like a poster than an essay. But if I had made my font any small, to make room for the pictures and decorations, it would be hard for the reader to read the text. So, I did not have that much space on my poster for any additional decorations.
In English class, our previous unit was about Apartheid in South Africa. We were learning about how some people could not get as many rights as other people just because of their race and how they were born. First we discussed our values and how we should be. So, using Wordle, we created a Wordle with our values on them, making the more important values bigger. Then we made another one at the end of the unit to compare how our values changed during the unit.
My First Wordle
My second Wordle
In the first one, most of my values were mostly aimed for myself and were values that would help myself improve, in academics and socially. My values after that consisted more of my relationship with other people. I think I have more values in my second Wordle than I do on my first one. During the unit, we learned about apartheid in South Africa, when white people had more rights than black people. After that unit, i stopped being so self-conscious and started thinking outside of the box and about other people who are more needy than I am. I think that it is our personal experiences that influences our values. Without experience, we will not know what lies in the world outside, so we will be more self-conscious rather than being conscious of our surroundings.
For our music class, we are learning about the differences between music from all around the world. One example of a difference would be the difference between Japanese music and Western music. We listened to a piece played on the koto called Rokudan No Shirabe and we have to identify the aspects in the piece that makes the piece sound Japanese. Aspects include techniques, pitch, sound and structure of the music.
In Rokudan No Shirabe, the tuning is in a traditional Japanese tuning called Hirajoshi (D G A Bb D Eb G A Bb D Eb G A), which, if played, sound a bit more towards the minor scale. The tuning is one of the major aspects that make the piece sound Japanese. Also, a variety of techniques are used in this piece to make it sound Japanese. There are many techniques used that relate to the left-hand side of the bridges of the koto. Especially the Ato-Oshi (後押し), which is when you pressed the string on the left hand side after you play the string to make sound a bit like a wave. Also, Shans’ (when you strike two strings next to each other using your middle finger), Sha Shas’ (two Shans’) and Sha Sha Tens’ (Sha Shas’ with an additional strike with your thumb on a string higher than the strings played on the Sha Shas’) gives the piece a Japanese taste to the music. With all of those techniques put together, it gives the music some life, rather than just playing monotonous strings over and over again. Which is how Japanese music is meant to be, lively and and wavy. The fact that the piece is slow also gives it a Japanese feeling. Traditional Japanese was not really so fast, so that you can feel the music rather than using your energy keeping up with the music. I’m not saying that fast-paced music sounds bad, in fact, i find that it sounds good. But then music that is slow can be relaxing and comforting. The strings, when played, give off a rather sharp sound, which is very common in a Japanese string instrument, unlike a violin or a cello.
On April 11, two of our Koto teachers, Mr. Patterson and Ms. Miyama, along with Mr, Patterson’s friend Mr. Huebner, gave all of grade 7 a presentation about Japanese music. They talked about how Japanese music is different to western music, the different instruments in traditional Japanese music and performed a few pieces. There was the Koto, played my Ms. Miyama and Mr. Patterson (different pieces), the Shamisen played by Mr. Patterson, and the Shakuhachi played by Mr. Huebner.
I would have to say, my favourite instrument out of all three was the Shakuhachi. The fact that the Shakuhachi comes in many different sizes amazed me. What I found interesting about that instrument was that there were only five finger holes. Yet, he could make a variety of different pitches and sounds with that. It seems that the closer the mouthpiece is to your mouth, the deeper the sound will be. The farther away it is played, the higher the pitch will be. That is one of the reasons that Mr. Huebner was able to make so many different sounds. Also, the mouth piece is very wide, compared to other flutes, so you can change the tone of sound that will come out. Blowing air into the nearly-entire mouthpiece also gives a feeling of wind passing by, in my opinion. When people from the audience were called to try playing the Shakuhachi, I was surprised that it was quite hard to make the sound come out of the flute, especially since it was a vertical flute (I find that vertical flutes, like recorders, are easier to play than horizontal flutes). I found that we were lucky to have our first “lesson” for free, because, apparently, the first Shakuhachi lesson would normally cost about 10,000¥. I also liked the other instruments as well. I play the koto, so it wasn’t as special as the other instruments. The Shamisen made a sort of buzzing sound after each string had been played, as the string vibrated onto the “fret” board. The Shamisen actually has no frets, like an acoustic guitar, so you can slide our fingers along the board to change the sound. Similarly, the if you press the string you play on the left hand side of the bridge, it makes the sound if you slide your finger down the board on the string you play.
I would have to say, out of all of the music played, I liked Kaze No Uta (Song of the Winds) the most. It really gave the feeling of different types of winds, from soft breezes to strong winds, in the sense of music. The Shakuhachi especially enhanced the feeling of wind with its sound. It made me feel as if I was in an area where the winds would suddenly or gradually change.
I find that the difference between Japanese music and western music is that notes played on a Japanese instrument sound sharper than a western instrument. For western music, there is rarely any wavy type of notes and is mostly just the plain notes. However, in Japanese music, you can make it feel like a wave by suddenly changing the pitch for the notes played. Also, most Japanese music have a different structure to western music. Japanese music either starts slow and gradually gets faster, and then at the last few notes or measures, it gets slower; or it is fast at the beginning and end, and is slow in the middle. However, I find that western music either slow at the beginning and fast around the end, except for the last few measures maybe; or it is the same speed throughout the music. Also, Japanese notes are mostly singular and played one string at a time, whereas western music mostly combine multiple notes together to make one note.
For the past ten weeks or so, we have been doing a dance unit for our Physical Educations (PE) class. Our final assessments were to create and perform a modified version of the Gangnam Style dance, with a partner, and create our own version of a dinner dance from the movie Beetlejuice, in a group of 8 people. For the Gangnam Style dance, we had to change the moves from the second half of the song. I was paired up with Johan. As for the dinner dance, we had to create a dance completely from scratch, and we had to choose or make our own music. In my group, I had Spencer, Kate, Maya, Tomoka, Sukran, Mihaela and Jack. This unit was assessed, not only your dancing skill, but also how much you are engaged in the group and how you work as a team or small group.
During our making of the Gangnam Style dance, in many ways, we both contributed about the same amount of effort and knowledge into our moves. Mostly, our process was that Johan would do something random as a joke, and then I put that random move into account. So basically, Johan thought of some moves (almost completely original), and I would figure out where to place those moves, according to the beat or rhythm of the music. We borrowed only about one move from our surroundings, or rather form another group. And since we were both good friends, we worked well as a team and barely had any arguments. As for our dinner dance, I had suggested a couple of songs to dance to, but they had been turned down. What was difficult about choosing the songs were that it had to be a “cliché” type of songs that we can dance to. So finally, we chose to make Macarena and I Gotta Feelin’ into one song. As for the moves, three of my suggested moves have been part of our dance.
I thought our group worked fairly well, but there were some parts of our working skills that needed to be improved. One major part was that, in our dance, there are two boys, Spencer and Jack, who dance something different to the rest of us. Because of that, Spencer and Jack are mostly separated from the people dancing around the table. Maybe, instead, if we had those two and us six work together, we could have suggested each other some things like moves or advice on how to improve. Of course, when we rehearsed our complete one, all eight of us danced at the same time. Also, our time management skills were quite poor, in my opinion. We spent much too long on deciding which music to choose, then we had trouble finding moves suitable for our dance. Because of that, we didn’t have a variety of dance moves and much less practice time than we were supposed to have. Other than that, I will have to say that our group worked well together, and we didn’t muck about so much. We had a couple of jokes, but none of us crossed the limit.
What makes a good performance?
In class, we have been talking a lot about the aspects in a good performance. We decided on many things, so much that I don’t know if I can remember all of it or not, but for this blog post, I will list what I think are the three most important aspects on what makes a good performance. The first one is synchronization. Synchronization means to all be put together into one as a whole, or at least look like it. But I learned from watching the other group’s performance (Johan, Yudai, Raveena, Elina, Zerric, Juulia, Alex and Sena), that synchronization can come in other ways as well. To be synchronized, you don’t need to be so with each other. But you can just be synchronized with the music, and the whole dance will make sense. I also found that being in a formation, like a straight line or a shape of some sort, is also another form of synchronization. Second most important aspect in making a good performance is how much energy or exaggeration you put in your dancing. If you look bored and do it just for the sake of doing it, it would look bad and you would look rather lazy. However, if you put energy in your moves to exaggerate and show enthusiasm, it would look much better and, even if it might look silly, it will catch the audience’s attention towards the dance. The third aspect that is significant in a good performance is the level of creativity put to the dance. If the dance consists of what many people has seen before, then the audience would not be so interested in the performance because they have already seen it. However, if you think of something completely different that has not been used ever (which is quite unlikely) the audience would be interested and would want to know more about what other original moves there are. Creativity, however, is not all about creating something completely knew. You could use something from somewhere else, but adapt it in your own way according to the music and how it will flow, to make it original. For our group to be synchronized, we (the six of us dancing around the table) just did the same moves that go with the music. As for the two boys dancing on top of the tables, they did their own dance that fit the music. As for creativity, we mostly just took ideas from other dances and adapted the moves into our own. We told each other to show some energy into our dances, so I trust that most of us showed energy.
For drama, we had to make a second speech about either a celebrity, holiday, the best day of your life, fashion or your neighbor. I did mine on my favorite holiday, summer holidays. So here is my speech:
I think I did well on my volume, and I am pretty sure you can hear most of what I say. I guess I have a good volume because of my projection. Since I did not use any palm cards, I had to face the camera the whole time, so I didn’t look down whole talking, so I was able to project my voice. My pitch of voice, however, stayed mostly the same. I am not exactly sure why my pitch did not change that much, bit I assume it is because I was trying to remember what I was going to say. So if I ever do a speech next time, I would at least change my tone of voice, so it does not sound like a monotone. Some of the words I emphasized quite a bit. One of the words were “ice cream” during when I was describing the various foods you can eat during summer.
I think I had a straight posture, and was not hunched down during my speech. Except for the part at the first, when I was explaining about how, without vacations, you would be all “droopy” and have red eyes. I guess I back would follow with my head, and since I was looking straight, my back was straight as well. I didn’t have that many gestures in my speech. Mainly because I did not have the need for many gestures, but only a few. I might have missed a couple of opportunities to use gestures.
I think my speech was mostly relevant to the topic “summer holidays”. I had some trouble with the structuring because I sometimes forgot to say something when I was talking about that topic. So I would want to improve on the structure of my speech. However, I think a lot of my information is based on my opinion. I think I should have made my speech more factual.
Another speech that was captivating was Spencer’s speech. I liked his volume, because it was not too soft so everyone could hear, yet not too loud to get frightened suddenly. I especially liked that way his speech was relevant to his topic christmas, and gave a lot of his opinion into his speech without getting off track.
In our school, a Student Led Conference (SLC) is a day where parents come to school, not during school time, but after school, and students have to show their parents what they do in every subject, or as many subjects as they have time to show. We already did our real SLC with our parents, but this recording is of a second SLC with one of our peers instead of our parents. The peer I was working with was Spencer, and in this recording, he is my “father”. So this is the recording that I made of our SLC with our peers.