Friday, 2 December 2016

A Summation Of My Experiences in 21st Century Literacy

This year I am taking a course called 21st Century Literacy, its purpose is to strengthen both English and business technology skills. (You can view a previous post of mine which contains details about this course here). To summarize 21st Century Literacy, it is a course that includes both and English and Business courses accompanied by use of technology and how it affects both the world and different types of literacies.

As a learner, one tends to obtain both strengths and weaknesses. As a learner, my strengths are the ability to take neat, efficient, and thoughtful notes, and I am very organized. Also, according to previous educators I’ve had, I am strong in writing and oral presentation. In 21st Century Literacy, my strengths have allowed to to complete my tasks at ease.

Some areas that I lack in are contributing in class and expanding on my learning/thinking. In terms of contributing in class, I lacked the confidence and I never found it necessary to contribute in class if the teacher was not directly asking you a question. 21st Century Literacy has opened my eyes and I have realized the importance of contribution because by contributing in class, you may have some questions answered therefore making you that much more knowledgeable. As for expanding on my learning/thinking; I am a very task driven student. When an educator gives me a task, I complete it right away, no more, no less. The 21st Century Literacy course has shown me that creatively “thinking outside the box” is the most important component of your learning. I’ve learnt that when you do a little extra, and take your thinking to the next level, that is when the real magic happens.

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Another area that I was lacking in was reading for pleasure. In this course, there were some books that were carefully selected by my educator. These books inspired and encouraged me to read a lot more and it taught me the importance and benefits of reading. I am aware that this is skill is on a very primary level but it is an area that lacked attention, therefore I decided that I would improve upon it.

My educator had all students create something called a Personal Learning Plan (PLP). A PLP is a document that contains the student’s primary learning style, strengths and weakness as well as how it corresponds with their prefered learning style, personality type, passions, and academic goals that they were hoping to achieve this term. This was a tool that I found very helpful because it was very easy for me to achieve and document my learning goals, as well as refer to when beginning a personal writing task. If you would like to view my Personal Learning Plan, click here.

Every week on our weekly tasks list, there is a “theme” called a Weekly Theme. All the tasks that were included for each week corresponded with whichever theme it was that week. Our weekly themes were; Getting on the Same Page, Leadership, Technology/Poetry, Project Management, Individualization, Curiosity, Organization, Design, Respect, Perspective/Point of View, Adaptation, Responsibility, Self Regulation, Initiative.
Having these themes improved me as a learner because I was able to practise skills that needed improvement and expand on the skills that I already had.

During the 21st Century Literacy course, we read a book called Flowers for Algernon. We were separated into groups where we would discuss discussion questions that were chosen by us ahead of time. When this book was completed, we watched the film “Charly”, a remake of the book Flowers for Algernon. As a follow up, we all wrote a comparison of the book and the film. (You can view my comparison here). I found that this unit strengthened my attention to detail. Attention to detail is a very important skill and this exercise helped me because I hadn’t made a book to film comparison before. It was very easy for me to complete this task because I am very b organized, analytical, and I have the ability to efficiently take neat and thoughtful notes. The themes I feel correspond with this task the best is perspective/point of view, curiosity, and organization.

For one of our units, we covered King Lear, a play by William Shakespeare. It was my first time reading a Shakespeare play and I found it to be a very interesting experience. During this unit I was given tools to aid my understanding of the storyline which was extremely helpful. I feel that I am now equipped for future Shakespeare readings. The weekly themes I chose to correspond with this are; organization, curiosity, and adaptation. I chose these themes because to thoroughly understand Shakespeare, you need to be very organized and you need to be able to adapt to the different style of English. Curiosity is also a large component because there are so many different “layers” to Shakespeare’s writing. If one does not obtain the curiosity to dig deeper and really indulge himself into the different layers, you will be one who simply reads and continues on without any further thought, therefore you will not appreciate the work as much. From my experience, I benefited so much from reading King Lear. I was exposed to a very different style of writing, I was forced to adapt to that different style, and I learnt the importance of digging deeper instead of simply reading then continuing on without further thought.

To conclude the amazing journey that is this 21st Century Literacy course, I have retained extremely useful life skills, as well as I have had proper attention brought to my weaknesses. Not only have my weaknesses improved, but so have my strengths. I am only able to speak for myself however, this course has been outstanding and extremely beneficial. I am very fortunate to have taken 21st Century Literacy.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Flowers for Algernon VS Charly Review and Comparison

I read Flowers for Algernon and I watched the movie Charly. The concepts that intrigued me most in the book were 2 Charlies, Charlie’s romances, the family, and the ethics of the surgery. I was very excited to see the movie and draw the comparisons but I was really let down. They left out one of my whole sections; the family. I also noticed that they left out the Warren State Home, Fay, and they showed Charlie’s intelligence for a very short time. Why did they leave all this out? Why did they cut out some of the richest parts of the book? The most common answer is because they have time constraints. In my opinion, that is not a good enough excuse considering the substantial amount of detail they left out.
The movie felt very short and they could have added so much more detail especially because the movie wasn’t that long. It was only 1 43 hour and 43 minutes. Not only did they leave out some very rich sections, but they altered the material that they did use in a way that really didn’t compliment the book. Another thing that was cut very short was Charlie’s progress. I completely understand that the audience would get bored if they spent 30 minutes of screentime on Charlie’s progress, but one second Charlie was mentally delayed and the next he was already deteriorating from the peak of his intelligence. Another thing I did not agree with was that Algernon’s deterioration was not mentioned at all so the audience could not make any inferences as the plot moved on. Leaving out this detail was a creative decision but I definitely would have included Algernon’s deterioration to help the audience have a better understanding of what is going on and what is going to happen.
In the book, I noticed that Charlie’s thinking and interaction in the book was more scientific and poetic but in the film it was very focused on his romances and it was hard to follow his thinking and progress. Another thing they altered a lot was Charlie’s sexual state. In the book, Charlie’s sexual state is nowhere near the level of his intellectual state, so when he was practically raping Alice, it really changed my view of his character completely. By not adding that very small detail, the whole process of Charlie’s progression is changed because one of the main components it that his sexual state is nowhere near his physical and intellectual state.

If I hadn’t read the book, I may have enjoyed the movie a little bit more because I would have had no comparison, but I probably would have been completely lost trying to follow the storyline.
One thing that I really enjoyed was the storyline (even though the film destroyed some of the best parts). The storyline really saved the movie and the exceptional acting on Cliff Robertson (Charlie)’s  part. Charlie’s acting was very good and was my favourite. It is no surprise he won an award, but I did not enjoy Dr. Strauss’ acting. A change I did enjoy about Dr. Strauss is that they made him a woman. It was a little odd to adjust to and the fact that the acting was not up to par just made my opinion worse. I do however understand why they made it a woman; so that it would be easier to differentiate P. Neumer and Dr. Strauss. So that was a very good call to make.

Ideas Book Film
2 Charlies
  • Charlie describes his hallucinations
  • Lots of scenarios of when the second Charlie is watching him
  • Second Charlie is watching and following all throughout Charlie’s progression
  • Charlie doesn’t seem terrified of his hallucinations; they just hold him back
  • Second Charlie is standing still and staring Charlie down everywhere he goes
  • Second Charlie is only shown as Charlie is rapidly deteriorating
  • Charlie is terrified of his hallucinations
  • When Charlie is back in his room, he hallucinates his old room/ life

Charlie’s Romances
  • Fay
  • Reluctant with Alice because of the second Charlie and his past experiences/ memories
  • Charlie’s sexual state is not at the same level as his physical and intellectual state
  • Charlie basically rapes Alice- does not hesitate
  • Charlie doesn’t seem to have any issues with his sexual state as his progression moves along
  • Many details and memories
  • Lots of insight
  • Follows family and their story very closely and relates it to Charlie’s progress
Not mentioned
Ethics of the Surgery
  • Hilda (the nurse who was moved) said that the surgery is extremely unethical and that it is against god’s word
  • Alice tells Charlie he is changing
  • (Overall characters are not particularly in favour of the surgery)
  • Characters seem to not have a very strong opinion of the ethics


“A big part of the story is lost when it becomes a movie.”

Normally I am not one who reads the book before seeing the movie, and I normally enjoy the movie more. This is not the case for Flowers for Algernon and Charly. I feel that people who have not read the book and have only seen the movie are really missing out.

Design Sprint - Child Labour


Children are taken away from their families to work in hazardous conditions for long hours and are paid next to nothing or nothing at all. Child labour mostly takes place in developing countries due to poverty. More than 200 million children are child labourers. Whats worse? The fact that child labour is not only occurring third world countries. Its us too. Many first world companies use child labour but keep it a secret (for obvious reasons).
These children are
  • Depressed
  • Frightened
  • Underage
  • In danger
  • Helpless

We can create charities to provide money and education to the poor families and their children. A way to do this is to create a partnership with stores and companies to fundraise and advertise this issue. Not only can we partner with stores, but we can unite with organizations that are already working on this issue such as: ILO (International Labour Organization) and Free the Children.
Advertisement will be very effective in getting people involved. Many people do not fully understand what child labour is and through advertisement we can change that. We can help the children.

Through fundraisers, we can build communities where people can be educated and can get real jobs. (Real jobs being people who are not underage and are not working in hazardous conditions with reasonable pay).

Well, what about the children?
Organizations can be put into motion that can rescue and return the children from their site of labour.


I used a step process called Design Sprint. We started off looking at the process of design; empathy, define, ideate, prototype, and then testing.
In the design sprint we went through many different steps to develop and further understand our topic and a possible solution. We used the steps; selecting a problem- what breaks your heart?, picking a problem, understanding the users of your solution, empathy-who is being affected by the problem, define your problem, ideate-crazy 8s, refine-partner crazy 4s, ideate-write in sections to sell your idea, prototype- have a group critique your idea, and lastly testing it in the real world. These steps may not make much sense but I have explained them a little further below.

Empathy; understanding your problem and the people who are affected by it. Grab a partner, interview them, and make them answer as a person who is affected by your problem. For example, I interviewed a “child labourer” and the “parents of a child labourer”. This really gives you the opportunity to understand the problem on more than just a factual level, but a human level.

Define; Who is the user who is being affected by your problem? And how might we help?

Ideate; searching your brain for ideas. We used a strategy called Crazy 8s. There are 8 boxes on a piece of paper and you have 40 seconds with each box to come up with a creative solution to your problem. It is harder than it sounds but I really enjoyed it because one of my best ideas came when I was struggling the most (towards the end).

Prototype; writing out your possible solution on a paper to “sell” it to your audience/user. Once you have “sold” your idea, a group of other designers gather around and critique your idea to help you make some changes.

The next step would be to test your solution in the real world but we are doing a modified version of that; posting our ideas on our blog!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Flowers for Algernon Point of View Diary Entries- Rose Gordon

October 19, 1937

Dear Diary,

My life is the worst it can be right now. I am constantly fighting with Matt about our son Charlie. EVERYONE KEEPS SAYING THAT HE ISN'T NORMAL BUT HE IS! He is just a little slow but it is just a phase and it will pass. He just needs time and he will be fine. Today Charlie was kicked out of the P.S. 13 class and put in the P.S. 222 class. The P.S. 222 class is for all the retarded children who can’t keep up so they are put in their own class. WHAT THE HELL?! Charlie is NOT retarded and I will not accept him being moved into that stupid class! He is NOT stupid!! He is normal just like all the other kids in P.S. 13!
That stupid Matt again keeps saying that Charlie needs to be in that class because he is retarded and we need to accept that. Well, I’m not going to accept that. I will not take this. First thing tomorrow, I am marching into that school and screaming at that stupid teacher until he is put back in the P.S. 13 class. Charlie is a normal child and he needs to be kept where he belongs… IN P.S. 13! He can keep up with all the other kids and he doesn’t need to be put in P.S. 222. Maybe he is a little behind but he will catch up because as I said before, this is obviously just a phase! He will snap out of it.

                                                                                                                                  November 3rd, 1937

Dear Diary,

I am under so much stress right now. I have officially accepted the fact that Charlie is behind but I will not however accept the fact that nothing can be done. Charlie’s retardation can be cured and it will be cured. Today we took Charlie to be examined to see if he is a candidate for Dr. Guarino’s machine that is supposed to make Charlie smarter. Matt doesn’t think that it is going to work and he thinks that it is a load of crap to get you to waste your money. I AM SO DONE WITH THAT MAN. Charlie is normal! He will be like normal children! This machine will make him smarter!!! Matt keeps saying that he’s accepted the fact that Charlie is different and that nothing can help him. I AM NOT WILLING TO ACCEPT THAT. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CHARLIE IS NORMAL!!!!! This machine really is expensive but I don’t care because I am positive that this will help him.
When Charlie was at Dr. Guarino’s office, he started screaming like someone was abou to murder him! Then he made in his pants. Why does he always do that?! Is he a puppy? I had to give him a spanking when we got home. He doesn’t learn! For God’s sake, he knows when he has to go but NOOOOOOO  he doesn’t even control himself. Dear lord why does my life have to be this way? I am a good person who wants the best for her children and this is what I have been given???!

December 21, 1938

Dear Diary,

We need to send Charlie away from home. He will have a bad influence on Norma and he will make her weird too!! PLUS, who knows what Charlie could do to her. I refuse to leave her in a room alone with her because Charlie will probably drop her on her head or bite off her finger or something!! Charlie is very dangerous for Norma in a mental and physical way!
I’ve accepted that Charlie isn’t normal but now he needs to go. Norma deserves better and I will not allow Charlie to be the reason that Norma isn’t normal. I’ve had enough of that. I’ve had enough of abnormal children. There is a home for the mentally retarded called Warren State. I’ve decided that he is going to be sent there. I dropped the hint to Matt and he seemed completely against it. He kept saying that Charlie belongs at home and that he is part of the family but I disagree. Charlie is our child however I will not allow him to be the reason that Norma turns out weird!  Norma is our child now and Charlie will screw her up. He cannot be in this house any longer. Norma must have a normal life!!!
This evening Matt and I got in a big fight and I forced him to take Charlie out of the house and move into that Warren State home. Our argument got so heated that I picked up a knife out of hysteria. I do feel kind of bad for doing that but I don’t care. It was the only way to make Matt see things my way.
I was worried that Charlie would hear us fighting because we were right outside his bedroom but then I remembered that HE’S STUPID and didn’t understand anyways. Matt packed up his bags and and took him away to the Warren State Home. I am so relieved that Charlie is gone and I won’t have to worry about Norma anymore. Plus, Charlie will have a better life there where people are like him and he will learn at his own pace.
I admit, at first I was denying the fact that Charlie was abnormal and I wanted him to be perfect but now that Norma is here and I have realized Charlie isn’t normal, I don’t want Charlie around anymore. Norma needs to have a good life and I won’t keep Charlie around for the price of Norma’s life!

Child Labour Survey Results

Child Labour


Child labour is when children are forced to work extremely long hours in very hazardous conditions and are being paid practically nothing. These children are being treated very poorly and are performing in jobs that are meant for adults. In other words, they are underage for this type of employment.

I created a survey with the following questions;
1. What are some of the main causes of child labour?
2. Where is child labour a large issue?
3. What are some solutions to end child labour?
4. What are 3 (or more) companies that are guilty of child labour?
5. How can we protect the children who are forced into child labour?
6. How can we further prevent these children from being exploited again?

The results were the following;
1. “Large industries taking advantage of of impoverished villages and families”, poverty, and “Unethical companies and organizations”,

2. Developing countries

3. “Don’t support places that use child labour”, install a system that eliminates child labour where it is commonly found, and “Stimulate economic growth so that child labour is no longer needed”.

4. Kitkat, Mars, Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Apple, Disney, H&M, Walmart, Nestle, Forever 21, Hershey's, Abercrombie, and Calvin Klein

5. Create rules and regulations against the use of child labour and implement consequences if these laws are broken, further educate the children.
One answer for this question that did not come up was to educate the families and parents of the children. Although educating the children is very important, the priority is the adults of the family because they are the ones who are desperately sending off their children as a result of not being able to support their family themselves.

6. “Enforce laws and business rules that only allow businesses who don’t use child labour to be certified and a legal business”, do not support companies who use child labour.

Child labour is when children are taken to work in hazardous conditions for long hours for practically no pay. This is not only poverty and lack of education in developing countries but it also occurs in large companies in first world countries although it is kept a secret (for obvious reasons). Some solutions to this problem is to not support companies that use child labour, implement a system that eliminates child labour, and enforce severe punishments for breaking the laws against child labour.

To follow up, we can stop buying from and supporting companies who use child labour. These children and frightened, depressed, underage, and in danger.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Maybe It's Because...

I’m always asked to write about anything I want. Anything. I find it so difficult to decide. I’m either constantly jumping from one idea to the next and finding something wrong with each idea, or I sit there staring at my screen for hours, drawing the biggest mind blank possible.

Today I was asked to write about anything I wanted. I legitimately couldn't think of anything. Maybe its because I don’t know what profession I want to go into, which is a totally separate issue, but I’ve always thought that maybe because I don’t have a go-to passion, I don’t have a go-to idea. What kind of person doesn’t have a passion? Now that I think of it, my passions are dance and fashion, you know, girly stuff, but to be honest that's just something that keeps me busy now. A dancer isn’t a stable career path and I could never compete with Chanel or Louis Vuitton. So, who am I? What will I be?
People always ask me “Hey Sofia, what do you want to be when you’re older?” and I usually tell them I want to be a Marine Biologist, just to end the conversation. Because trust me, I’ve had about 50 lectures about how it's important to know what you want to do. It’s not fun. And when my friends ask me what I want to be, I say “I dunno” then laugh and shrug it off, but I really don’t know what I want and that worries me a little bit. Meanwhile, all my other friends have their life planned out by the second, while I don’t even know what field I want to be in.
My family, friends, and former teachers tell me that I have a gift for writing but I honestly don’t see it. To me, it’s just writing what I’m thinking. I am normally a better writer than this but I thought that I would make this a very personal essay, and when I write very personally, my writing becomes very casual and laid back. I don’t like it, but it’s easier to get out my thoughts and ideas so I won’t complain. Even if I am a good writer, I still don’t know what I would do. Do I follow that path? Do I wait for something better? I always watch tv shows with characters who don’t have their life in order, and they push through and end up being a fashion designer. I know life isn’t a tv show, but even if it was, I wouldn’t be a fashion designer.

But who knows what the future holds? I guess I’ll just have to wait to find out like everyone else.