Those Last and Final Tests (Should I Take the AP Exam?)

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Alas, AP season has once again arrived. As a senior, I understand why many students are wondering why they have to take the upcoming AP exams. Most competitive and rigorous students are taking many (the most) AP classes they have ever taken in their high school career, or many have taken the minimum number. College admissions or rejections season is now over, college admissions officers no longer will look at your scores nor will you be able to find out until the month right you before you embark on your new journey to that university, so many are wondering: WHY?

AP tests have a variety of uses, though some diminished by the lack of admissions use.

1. AP test can give you college credit. We’ve all heard of that before, but since it was so far away, we considered it mainly a tool for college admissions. Now that we are on the precipice of that new chapter in our lives, it is important to consider studying for the AP exams. Passing the AP exams with a 3 or higher if your college requires it, is imperative when attempting to offset those expensive college tuition fees and textbook prices. Who doesn’t love saving money, right? The couple thousand dollars that would have been used to spend on classes at the U could be spent traveling in Europe, purchasing your first new car, or saved in an account. Poor freshman college students will need every cent they can scrounge up in the next few years.

2. Graduate earlier. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Graduating before the rest of your peer, saving a semester or a year’s tuition (and meal plans, textbook fees, dorming fees, etc.), and starting your life early. That sounds absolutely great. AP exams can exempt you from some GE (general education) classes, and can put you in those specialized classes you need to jump start your career. Not to mention, you can bypass the large auditorium class filled with other freshman alike. It adds a little bit of gloating factor into it.

3. Studying for the AP exam sounds like a tedious, well-repeated, and pointless thing to do, but as we near the end of our last year in high school, it is important not to completely slack off. Studying the material covered throughout the year comprehensively will help refresh and maintain the information you worked oh-so-hard on throughout the year. It’ll also make you remember something for the time you start college so you don’t seem like a complete fool. Stay ahead of the curve, my friends.

4. This may seem like a pointless and stupid reason. It kind of is, but it is a perk. When you take those AP exams, you can get up later at the scheduled time, or leave early to have lunch and celebrate with your friends. That would be a great way to end your senior year. Many teachers also (along with their departments), offer refreshment parties before or after the examination to celebrate the year of grueling tests and cramming of information.

5. Another added perk is the period in class after all the examinations have been taken. As the exams are taken early in May, the rest of the month (and June) are spent watching “educational” movies, having free time, and bonding with classmates you may never see again after that year. Doing nothing in class or watching movies during class time is always a fun thing to do.

AP exams can seem like a great hassle, but they have many benefits too. Who knows? That one credit you got for that one AP exam could transfer with you if you decide to attend a different college. It has an illusion of being pointless, but if the occasion arises, it could exempt you from that one class you never knew it could.

Cat Ladies Are In

For the last year or so, I’ve been known to my friends as a straight-up cat lover.  What can I say?  I love these little feline creatures.  Last July, I adopted two kittens and, being brother and sister, named them after the characters Sokka and Katara from the popular anime Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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Since then, I’ve taken tons of pictures, posting them on my social media networks and making it well known that I am definitely a cat person.  My friend even made me a phone case that advertises my proud status as a cat lover.

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This is just my fun little post.  My mom recently sent me a cat article about how the image and reputation of cat ladies is currently altering itself into a positive connotation.  I’m all for it.  Join in!

Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/fashion/Cats-Internet-Adoption.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Viewing “Single Awareness Day” in a Better Light

This is dedicated to all you single people…

To many people out there, Valentine’s Day is a day filled with love, cheer, and happiness, a special day to be spent with that special someone. But to many others, it simply serves as a grim reminder of their single (aka “forever alone”) status. That’s why every year, there’s always that one friend that hosts a “SINGLE AWARENESS DAY” or “SINGLE PEOPLE UNITE” party. So although these parties are totally fine, you should never feel lonely or sad on Valentine’s Day. Sure, you may not have a significant other to spend the day with, but neither do millions of other people across the globe. 

I have always liked Valentine’s Day. Although I’ve been single for all 17 years of my life, I’ve always thought of Valentine’s Day as a day of happiness and joy. Just like Christmas. But centered around the idea of love. Everywhere you go, you’ll see cute couples or acts of love, filling the atmosphere with positive feelings. Seeing the love that other people share does make me a little jealous, but still fills me with happiness. Just talking about the idea of “love” in my English class last Friday instantly changed the mood of everyone. (I’m not really the type of person that likes to talk in flowery language or say things like “You just got the feel the love,” but even I can truly experience and “feel the love” in the air on this day.)  Although you may be single, you never know if this year, you’ll be able to find that special someone, as Valentine’s Day was created not only to strengthen existing relationships, but also create new ones. But if you view Valentine’s Day as a horrible day and make yourself feel down, you’re just further ruining your chances of getting with someone.

Even just simply spending this day with your other single friends is fine. One of my most memorable experiences in high school was actually on Valentine’s Day. Every year, our school’s choir hosts Valentine’s grams, where you can buy a “gram” for that special someone or just a friend, and have groups of choir members go to their classes, sing for them, and give them a rose and a special letter (check out the video below). My friends and I all decided to send each other one, and overall, the whole day was filled with joy and felt amazing… even though I was single.

So although you may feel lonely or down that you’re single now, you should still view Valentine’s Day in a positive light. Overall, it’s a day where both single AND taken people alike can (and should) enjoy the idea of love and spread happiness throughout the globe. 

TL;DR: Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is gonna happen. So might as well just enjoy it. 

Tweeting in Class?

When people usually think of Twitter, things like celebrities, hashtags, and/or rabid Justin Bieber fans often come to mind. However, rarely are words like “school” or “education” ever associated with Twitter, and frankly, rarely with any social media site. At the beginning of the school year, when my English teacher first started telling us to make social media accounts for Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and many other sites, I was a little confused on what he was doing. Like many parents and teachers out there, I never thought that these social media sites could help us in any way with school, except to maybe like message a friend to ask him about the homework or use Facebook groups to collaborate on a project.

A few weeks ago, my English teacher announced that we were going to use Twitter in class to discuss Hamlet, the play we were reading at the time. My confusion and skepticism reached an all time high. How is this going to help us…? But when he started explaining how are tweets could be a sort of new form of class discussion, I finally understood where he was coming from. By hosting a group Twitter chat with a certain hashtag, everyone in class could get on the school’s Chromebooks and start tweeting out answers to questions about Hamlet that he could tweet. It would be a great way to get everyone involved and discussing the book, without the interruptions, fighting, and craziness that often takes place with socratic seminars. He could tweet out questions regarding certain plot elements, important quotes, favorite scenes, or stylistic topics, and we could all answer him (and have the rest of the class see the whole discussion) in a simple manner. Everyone could see what other people posted, and overall, it would be a very different, but fun and beneficial way to have a class discussion.

My favorite part of the Twitter chat was definitely when someone would tweet out a funny answer, everyone would see it, and then all laugh at the same time. It was a fun experience, and definitely a great way to hold discussion on books we’re reading in class. Of course, actual class discussions and socratic seminars go a lot more in depth into topics and should definitely still be done, but doing a Twitter chat everyone once in a while is a great way to get everyone participating and enjoying what we all have to offer.

So…Who Pays on the First Date?

My English teacher talked about this a while ago. Well perhaps not exclusively on the topic of who pays on the first date, but he did give us some great refreshing ideas on where to take our date on a date. There are also many expectations we are supposed to meet as the date-suggestor. For example we have to wow them, especially since it’s the first date. Our itinerary has to be spectacular, creative, and most of all fun. Our date has to be excited, interested, and have enough of a good time to agree voluntarily for a second outing. What big expectations to fill, right?

As for the “who pays on the first date thing”… well, this was summed out in a comical video by WongFu Productions. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. They make quality films that always manages to either touch your mind, pull at your heartstrings, or impart something new to you. Here’s an amusing perspective on the “first date scenario”. [This is the watch short film part of the blog post!]

Of course, there are many debates over this topic. Who should pay? Many say the man should pay. Others say the woman should. Others say to split the bill. For the men, the argument is that they are the gentlemen, and should treat the lady and take care of his date. For the women, it’s to argue that the “olden times” are over, and women should be independent and strong. As for going dutch…well, it’s only fair to contribute your share, right? It’s self explanatory. But as for the strongly held convictions on who should pay? They come from gender stereotypes.

In the older ages of history, men had more prominent roles as the “breadwinner” of the family, the one who always brought home the paycheck, the one who always brought home the bacon. As time passed and this idea of men “providing for the female” was reinforced, so was the idea of gender stereotypes. With this, the rise of the suffragettes and feminists.

Recently, I wrote a paper and a presentation along with my other group members on the topic of feminism in Frankenstein, which was set in the Victorian era. At that time period, women were still seen as weak and frail, and the other typical “female traits” portrayed and established in society at the time. However, Mary Shelley was an intelligent female writer. Though she was never an active voice of feminism, she was still a very influential figure behind it’s power. As her novel Frankenstein is well known throughout the world, and is one of the most reference piece of literature, it can be sure that her ideas have spread throughout the influence of Frankenstein.

Instead of blatantly pointing out the flaws the misogynistic men had at the time period, Shelley instead portrays the males in the typical female roles, ie. childbirth and abortion, as well as the raising and nurturing of the creature. She shows the utter failure the men have in the women’s roles in order to emphasize just how important the females are to society. Her satire, the novel of course has many more examples of this satire, is able to transcend those typical gender roles placed in society.

How does Frankenstein apply to real life though? It’s always interesting to look back and compare the differences between the two time periods, but it’s to put into perspective. Who should really pay? Perhaps one’s answer will be a certain way now, but it certainly would be a different answer a century prior. What kind of answer would you expect in the future, say 20 years from now? 100? History shows these rapt changes in the people’s ideas and perceptions of situations and objects, so different, yet similar.

Women, if you’d like to pay, feel free. These small actions could revolutionize the future. Men, perhaps you would like to prove gallantry still existent. Each decision and idea you put forth enforces something. Whether you’re creating new societal expectations like Shelley did, or you’re reinforcing the ones in the now. Gender expectations will still stand and someone will be expected to pay for that date.

Hey Class, Let’s TWEET!

Hey Class, Let's TWEET!

When we’re in a traditional classroom setting, no one really thinks of using social media to be conducive to school work. Social media is usually banned in classrooms, and technology is not as used as it should be. When you think of class discussions, no one ever thinks of tweeting, right?

Our English teacher discovered a website called twitchat or tweetchat, that allows students, anyone really, to chat using tweets. One utilizes a specific chat hash tag so all the responses direct to one unique-to-that-discussion page. That way strangers don’t really find your semiprivate chats, and there aren’t other tweets with the same hash tag mixed in with the class discussion. Our first attempts at using it were definitely different from anything we’ve ever done before.

There are a couple of pros and cons to using a twitchat as a class discussion. For the benefits, it surely is different from the norm, and it does keep things interesting while appealing to teenagers. The responses to class discussions are also limited to a certain number of characters including the hash tag used, so it COULD be conducive to getting more concise, to-the-point responses, but it could also be harder to answer questions that require deeper thought. The chats also allow the teacher to see whose posts were most popular, most favorites, most frequent…etc.

There are several problems with the twitchat/tweetchat at the moment. It is extremely slow, especially when used with one server, and responses are lagging in speed. Responses from questions could show up way into the next question. Students are also less able to respond fully to all responses as well. Hash tags can take up a lot of space if really long, limiting response lengths, and the need for a unique hash tag can hinder the amount or collection of responses to that discussion.

As with everything new, there are faults and benefits. It takes getting used to, but new ideas and new methods often lead to better inventions, brighter ideas, and improved communication. Tweetchat would be a great opportunity for teachers to try using social media in class discussions.

Class, let’s tweet.

Remix the Innovation!

Recently, in my AP English 4 class, my teacher showed us a really interesting video by Kirby Ferguson called “Everything is a Remix” (part 1 – 5).  In this video, Ferguson uses a number of examples to point our the parallels between movies, songs, and behaviors that just point out that everything society creates is building off of something else.APEL blog post 8 pic 1

This struck me because I found that his words resonated with me–I agreed with him completely.  After delving through all the examples I could think of, I discovered his words were very true.  Everything correlates with one another.  The things we see today in our world are only building blocks of a more general foundation.

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But although I found the video to be very entertaining and captivating, the video actually bothered me a little bit because it shattered my idea of original.  I found myself feeling a little guilty because as students, we have always been taught that “copying” is wrong, so we associate “copying” with a negative connotation.  But after watching the video, look how much right copying can do.

Instead of using the word “copy,” I’ll change over to the word “innovate” since, by definition, innovation is taking something that already exists and making it better, therefore introducing something different or a new method.  After watching the video, all I could think about was the class’ innovation projects.  I was inspired.  I could see my innovation project in a new light because instead of focusing solely on what my project was initially meant to be, I began brainstorming on ideas that have worked in the past and how to better those already existing ideas.  That’s innovation.  It’s wrong to steal ideas and take them as your own, but apparently, using others’ past methods and ideas to transform newer ideas and build success is the way society has progressed to what it is today.  And because of this, I can’t wait to see where my innovation will lead me now!

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To Apply or Not to Apply?

As the final deadlines for private school college applications rapidly approaches, I find myself relating to the indecisiveness and inclinations to contemplate as Hamlet demonstrated in one of Shakespeare’s most notable tragedies.

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Although I already have a list of schools I know that I’m definitely applying to, there are a couple on the list I keep taking on and off, always wondering whether I should apply just to see if I could get in or apply as a backup school.  In the beginning, I thought my list was set.  I felt like I would be happy at any of the schools on the list, no matter what the circumstances.

APEL Blog Post 7But like Hamlet, I started to think.  I became indecisive and a little doubtful at one point with all the colleges on my list, even the ones I had been sure about applying to.

In the play Hamlet, Hamlet becomes unsure of his own actions and seems to lose his sense of identity.  He doubted himself, just like I started to doubt my application decisions.  I started to think of so many questions like ‘what if I wouldn’t actually like the school?’ or ‘what if I’m applying to the wrong places?’  It started to eat away at me, driving me mad the way Hamlet was, because I was so fearful of making the incorrect decisions.

I redid my list.  I redid my list several times after that, and even now, my list has stayed more or less the same after taking schools off then adding them back on later.  At some point, I realized I wasn’t going to figure out exactly what the right solution was.  Probably because there was no indisputable right decision out there.  Like we (my classmates and teacher) discussed in my AP English 4 class, we just have to be prepared for what’s going to be thrown at us.  As human beings, we aren’t going to know ahead of time what the right choice was until after a decision draws a result and until the right choice reveals itself much later than when we actually needed to know.  I found myself relating to and learning more fromHamlet than I initially thought.  It gives me much more confidence now as I face the future and college applications knowing, through Hamlet’s/Shakespeare’s words, “the readiness is all.”

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College Ready? Combating College Level Writing Prompts

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      Recently, my AP Literature class finished reading Hamlet, Shakespeare’s most known tragedy. Shakespeare’s writing is always on a deeper level than the modern novels you would see today, as it engages your brain in comprehending Old-English, full of flourishes and embellishments, as well as the culture and society of a different time period. Understanding Hamlet in a more-than-surface-level in a once-over reading would be nigh impossible without a teacher’s/aid’s analysis (or if one is an English buff). They always say AP classes or AP prompts are college level ones. After seeing my final, I have to disagree.

     I felt I truly experienced a college level prompt when I took my Hamlet writing final. My teacher, brilliantly and craftily, embedded not only one, but three (and more) outside sources into Hamlet. (This is a HAMLET final right?) Not only were we expected to write a prompt on Hamlet itself, but incorporate the findings in T.S Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, and on the critical essay “Word Heard: Prufrock Asks His Question”. We had no prior analysis on either the poem or a breakdown of the contents of the essay. “So What?” you ask? The two on its own was hard enough to comprehend. Let alone utilize all three with an expectancy of deeper understanding to answer the may-I-say confusing prompt?This is also coming from an AP Kid, not to mention. (Disclaimer: I do not proclaim to be “better” than anyone else, just emphasizing the fact that I think I am moderately more intelligent than the average student in the US as part of a comparison.)

     Not only were we all stumped (I had asked fellow classmates how they felt about it afterwards; they all agreed) on the pieces themselves, but WAIT. THERE’S MORE. In the prompt, there were allusions to a book by author Harold Bloom, and to abstract ideas. When I had first read it, I did not understand at all.

     Returning back to the point, this is DEFINITELY what I expect college to be like now. No more underestimating. College English? Maybe not as easy as you would think. It is college after all. And if you attend a top tier university? This is probably one of the easier prompts to understand.

     I had my foot out the door, ready to take on college and have the years of my life. After seeing the monster of a prompt for my final, maybe i’ll cherish my last few months of prep for a while. I’m excited to go, but definitely not underestimating college curriculum!

     The essay I am very proud of: (though it needs much refinement)

     “Though Shakespeare’s influence is neither contested nor is the wisdom and life lessons of his work disputed, T.S Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” teaches lessons to the audience in modern society that Hamlet could not. Hamlet’s lessons, or wisdom imbued within the play, are applicable and seen in daily life, however, Prufrock’s lessons are more so directly related to the modern society’s problems. Prufrock’s ideas displayed in Eliot’s poem conquers the anxiety of influence many other poets have, as it addresses more of modern culture’s needs.

                “The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry” written by Harold Bloom is referred to in the “anxiety of influence” Eliot overcomes, as it talks about the way poets feel about those who have written before them, particularly in their culture or tradition. Poets writing today, are inspired by literature of their past, such as Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” denoting to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but they are also afraid of repeating the things that have already been written about or said. They, in essence, are worried about not being original. Prufrock managed to overcome the archetypes seen in Hamlet and in other works by echoing their basic form but twisting it to fit modern situations.

                Hamlet is rendered a literary classic, and while Prufrock is also regarded as a piece of literary genius, Prufrock is able to take the audience to a place Shakespeare’s Hamlet could not. Prufrock is able to touch upon the modern society’s troubles and woes, while Hamlet is limited to those of its time period, the renaissance.  Prufrock also touches on topics that take on a deeper, more developed meaning than those of Hamlet’s. Prufrock attempts to “bury” Hamlet because it takes Hamlet’s thinking of “To be or not to be” (outside the play), a specified formed question, and replacing it with “the overwhelming question” (Prufrock), an unvoiced, unclear question replacable with many specific ones. In comparison to Hamlet, Prufrock’s story is that of a prototypical modern man. It is a display of the tortured psyche echoed in a less profound, less visible light than that of Hamlet. Hamlet’s question is directly stated, “To be or not to be”, while Prufrock’s question is similar to that of Hamlet’s. The question transcends that of Hamlet’s as it is universally applicable and inclusive of the “question of the ages” (referring to Hamlet’s “To be or not to be”), though it is only displayed through allusion, syntax, and its digressions. Instead of limiting Hamlet’s proverbial thoughts to those in the play and to the self, Eliot’s essay regards the narrator’s thoughts into those of the general mankind.

      Hamlet’s story ends early, as he is mainly debating over the issue whether to complete the action or not, though in the end he attempts his feat. In Prufrock, however, he contemplates doing the action, but does not complete it. He attempts to numerous times, but to no avail. It shows the readers the consequences of no action, as his decision is not one of decisiveness (action or no action), but no decision at all.

     Prufrock was largely built on the influence of those before his time, but it was also built on the archetypes established so early on, as seen with the comparison of the Prufrock to Hamlet, then the change from Hamlet to Polonius. Prufrock was indeed like Polonius, taking the cautious route and used as a “tool”. He talks and thinks all his life through about what he wants to do, but he never actually has the courage to. As seen in the lines 111 to 119, “No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do, To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous— Almost, at times, the Fool.” It can be seen Prufrock is comparing himself and coming to the realizations of the lack of events in his life.

      Another archetype put into modern definitions is the character Lazarus mentioned in the poem in lines 94 to 95 “I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”. He, in the Bible was a poor man sent to heaven, and the rich man who was sent to hell asks Abraham if Lazarus would be allowed to go back to earth to tell his brothers to mend their behavior. However, Abraham says that if the brothers were told before and they had not changed their behavior since, one man returning from the dead would not change them.  Anxiety of influence is displayed in The Inferno where Dante Alighieri comes back from the pits of hell to warn people. Prufrock, who displays similar figurative situations is not similar to Dante or to Lazarus, but is more like the one who never escaped his situation. In the poem Prufrock is trying to reach out to modern society by telling them about his plight and to warn them about his situation and how tragic the ending will be.

     The tragic ending is also mirrored in Prufrock as both Hamlet and Prufrock end up unhappy with the ending, but unlike Hamlet, Prufrock’s own tragic demise is of his own doing and not that of a situation.

      Shakespeare’s stance on the world’s question seen through the eyes of the renaissance is considered the question of the century, but Prufrock’s hidden echoes surpass its literary mentor as its thoughts address the psyche of the modern man while voicing its own influence as a literary masterpiece.” -Jayne Yokoyama

    Now, if you are up for a challenge, respond to the prompt by David Theriault, and I’d love to read your responses!

“Prompt: All great art is not only an argument against something (a condition, situation, philosophical stance etc…) but also a burying of the literary fathers and mothers who gave birth to the art. Prufrock attempts to bury Hamlet by daring to exist with Hamlet on its lips. Using bits and pieces of this essay, the poem, and the play argue the following:

     The narrator in T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” takes the audience to an important and necessary place in modern society, a place that would be nigh impossible for the renaissance Hamlet to take us and thereby successfully dodges and perhaps conquers the “anxiety of influence” that hangs over the poem.”

Happy Hamlet-ing!

“The readiness is all” -Hamlet

DIY Tutorials Project

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We have finally begun our innovation project for our English class! Many of my blog posts over the last few months have been dealing with the ideas of innovation, motivation, and getting started, and all of these ideas have finally come together as we have officially started (and gotten the motivation) to embark on our innovative blog.

For our project, we will be creating DIY tutorials for numerous things that anyone can use around the house. We will mainly be focusing on toys for kids, and useful household crafts (similar to LifeHacks) that people can make out of everyday things found in the home. We call our project “LiveHow” as we hope it’ll help people to live and view life in a new way. By re-using everyday things and turning them into innovative projects, we also hope to spark creativity in people and help them save money in a unique manner.

My role in the project is taking the pics of all the innovations we’ve made and putting them together into a step-by-step tutorial and posting them on our numerous social media sites. We already have a few of our projects up, including the Tennis Ball Holder and the Hanging Starbucks Pencil Cup (both pictured below).

I’m super proud, because one of our projects has gotten almost 200 notes on Tumblr!!!  That’s 200 reblogs/likes! It’s simply amazing that we have already gotten this far. Hopefully, we can continue to amaze people with our awesome creations.

Check us out here at livehow.tumblr.com!