GCD: Academic Skills
In the past four years of learning at YIS, I have greatly developed my self-management skill, collaboration skill and research skill.
The skill that I was aware of not doing well was self-management skill. I knew that I always got distracted and couldn’t get work done until very late at night. There was always a part of me who wanted to get things done quickly, but there was also a part of me that was tempted to do other things. I think that I became more reliant on my self-management skill when I became a ninth grader. It was especially important in Math class. Up until then, I got homework in Math class that I had to complete before next class. These homework have helped me review and practice what I had done in class. However, when I became a high-schooler, I had to become more responsible of myself, and our Math teacher rarely gave us any homework. Because of this, I knew that I had to work on practice questions at home by myself in order to not forget what I have done in class, and also to look ahead at what we were going to do. This pressure naturally made me study by myself without anyone else telling me to do so, and it required my self-management skill in my everyday life. I also needed to be organized for projects. In I&S class, our assessments were long-term projects, and we did not have any tests. Therefore, for every assessment in I&S class, I had to plan out what to complete by what day. For example, when we had to write an essay on Edo period (I wrote about food in Edo period), I made a plan on by when to complete the research question, complete the OPPVL presentation, complete the research and outline, and complete the essay. I found breaking these projects in small milestones helped me a lot, because I could get a sense of fulfillment every time I completed something.
A skill that was essential in group projects was collaboration skill. I had group projects in many subjects, but the ones that I remember are the group project in Music and in English. Last year, in Grade 10, I remember working on ‘Tale as Old as Time’ as a group in Music class. Our group consisted of six people — two singers, one violinist, one flutist, one bassist, and I was the pianist. Since we had to do pretty much everything by ourselves, we searched for chords and music sheets online, (and because our unit was on arrangement) came up with arrangements for different parts and practiced together. I found it extremely difficult to create/arrange a song as a group, because it required all of our ability to play the instruments, and we sometimes had differing opinions. We used most of our time thinking of ideas for arrangement together, rather than practicing together. This worked well in this situation, because we could all practice separately at home, but we could only decide on something with everyone else. Although there were some difficulty, through working effectively with each other, I think that we got the end result that we wanted. Another project that I remember went really well was the Kamakura Project I did in InS class. I was grouped with two other classmates, and on our first day, we finished much more than what I’d expect. We were able to split each other with tasks and complete them without much struggle. I remember that since we were so efficient, I did not feel stressful about this project at all. I think that what made this project different from the other projects I have done in the past was that everyone was responsible and organized. Since every one of us were engaged, we were able to talk about the project with each other without making each other feel pressured.
The academic skill that I improved on the most is research skill. The reasons why I improved on this skill are because i) this skill was essential in completing assessments and ii) I had a lot of sessions with our librarian on using useful research database and learning about MLA. I used my research skill a lot in Science class, when I had to write lab reports and essays on scientific topics. It was important, because there are so many online resources about science topics, and since there are so many, I had to choose the best resource that I could use. I made sure to check the publisher, author, (credibility), any grammar/spelling mistakes, relevancy, date published and so on to decide whether the source was trustable and useful or not. Sometimes, there were blog posts that were relevant, but by authors that did not seem credible. Although I was sometimes tempted to use these sources (because they were relevant to my topic), I made sure to choose sources with credibility. In my Science essay that I did in Grade 10 on blood doping, I used online sources that clearly showed its publisher, like this and this. Researching was also a big part of my I&S assessments in Grade 9 and 10. Almost every assessments required researching. I remember that last year, I researched about ADHD, monopoly of JT, child labour in Disney and tourism in Kamakura. Although I mostly used second-hand sources, I also used first-hand source, like when I researched about tourism in Kamakura. Our grade when to Kamakura and interviewed people (residents, tourists, shop-keepers) about their views on Kamakura. Asking people if I could interview them required a lot of courage, but it was a new experience that I am glad to have learned.
As I got more experience on these skills, I know more about how I should deal with my academics. I am doing well with my self-management skill so far, and I complete tasks/assessments much faster than the due dates, which I am proud of. I can also collaborate with other people better and I feel less stress with group projects. I’ve done so many researches in the past years, and I can better distinguish between a source that I should use and a source that I shouldn’t use. Of course, I should still improve on these skills as I go through IB.