Friday, December 9, 2016

A New Approach To An Age-old Subject

A New Approach To An Age-old Subject

A revolutionised subject is what I experienced at Cedar Ridge High School 21st century literacy. Since I began my school and career I have always struggled in the subject of English. I have always had trouble expressing my thoughts and ideas and putting them down on paper as well as getting the correct grammatical pretences and using the correct diction to communicate my thoughts clearly. Coming to Cedar Ridge I had no expectation that anything would change in English, I thought that I would be writing essays, reading novels and studying Shakespeare, same as I always had. Luckily for me, Cedar Ridge High School changed my view of the way English could be taught learned and even how unique you can may your pieces of work. I never thought I'd see the drastic change in the way I learned the English curriculum until I got my first set of assignments, seeing this first set of assignments showed me that 21st century literacy wasn't just a name it really was revolutionising the way that we learn English, (and dare I say maybe even making English fun)  I mean the first set of assignments I got allowed you to consult the teacher on how you wanted to deliver them.(That was unheard of at any other school I had ever attended!). For the first set of assignments I tried to do as a mean of them as I could in presentation from because I have always felt that that is my strong suit, but as the term went on I got better at writing documents, editing and even discussing. I will recall some of the lessons I  learned through the weeks at Ceder Ridge participating in 21srt century literacy.

Week 1 Getting on the same page

Week 1 of Cedar Ridge flipped my idea of school upside down. I was working with all different ages and personalities on unconventional projects I have never attempted before. The activity that stood out most to me in week one was when our educator Shawna asked us to demonstrate what  literacy was to us. The first draft of this project I wrote a paragraph or two on what I felt literacy was and thought I would do a speech on it. After talking to my classmates I decided that this was too conventional and decided to scrap it. Instead, I created a collage of different pieces of literacy that I felt had a big impact on me throughout my life and talked about  my experiences with them and how they represented literacy to me. I will never forget the time that Shauna, our educator asked each of us where we would like to present this project to the class and one of the students, Alex said she'd like to present on the playground outside. Of course, we went outside and we presented the next couple projects on the playground. This kind of behaviour encompasses the unconventional style of learning that we experienced every day in 21st-century literacy. In that same week we talked about getting on the same page, although I thought it was ridiculous at the start that we were spending so much time talking about getting on the same page I found it to be extremely helpful because it allowed each student to understand each other and the environment they would be learning in. This allowed us to be effective and have a mutual understanding of what we wanted our space to look like, feel like and be like. I think this is a crucial step that has missed quite often in traditional public schools. After we came up with a set of guidelines that we thought Cedar Ridge would look like to best facilitate our ideal learning environment we started working on creating guidelines and ideas for what we thought the different policies and assignments we will be given. An example of this was when we were asked to come up with a cell phone policy. This is yet another example of how Cedar Ridge was so different from the average public school. Normally the teacher would explain to the students what they felt was an appropriate use of technology and if the students didn't follow it they would be punished. In this situation as a class, we came up with the set of guidelines each of us would follow to best use technology phones computers and any other devices most effectively in the workspace. Although I found this activity tiring after awhile I would learn to really appreciate the customisation options Cedar Ridge allowed for its students and how that may be all the difference in the Student Success.

Week 2 Leadership

This was the week where is Cedar Ridge attended Red Pine camp. We played many games and activities at Red Pine camp that seemed like all fun and games,  and in fact taught us many lessons about coming out of your comfort zone, teamwork, leadership and friendship. Our time at Red Pine Camp really helped us as a  class to bond as a community. We learned more about each other through spending time together, and most importantly we have great memories together. I also have the great privilege of meeting my new grade 12 companion Connor who I was introduced to for the first time on the first day of Red Pine Camp. After meeting a graduate by the name of Grace who would be  facilitating many of the activities we would take part in we Got to the fun. On the first day I specifically remember some activities that we did that focused on teamwork and team-building such as the human knot and get to be where we had to flip a tarp over while all standing on it these activities help build our communication end help cement comfort  around one another I think you're doing these activities allowed me to better understand how I could more effectively communicate with my peers I think it gave me a sense of who they are and how they function. Although I thought I had great leadership skills coming into Red Pine it proved to be more difficult leading some activities, like a game we called Consensus. This game drove me mad and really highlighted my areas of leadership and adaptability that I needed to work on. I’m so glad we go to have the experience at Red Pine and I know everyone learned something about themselves, as well as how to improve their weaknesses.

Week 3 Technology

This week we were introduced to the idea of creating a blog and uploading all of our completed work on to it for the world to see. At the time I was hesitant in creating my blog, I thought that it might be make a negative impact on the opinions of potential future prospects. Although we still don't know how people react when they see my blog and how it may shift their opinion of me, I have a feeling people find it impressive and it shows them that I have initiative though putting my assignments online. A huge benefit of the block was the ability for me to be able to direct people that I was interested in connecting with,  (like the professor of landscape architecture for example)  to a place that showcased my talents and made me seem like an ambitious young man. But above all I think running a Blog pushed me to create work that I was really proud of. I noticed when I started posting work on my blog that I put more effort into the work and pushed myself to make and outstanding product. I found that though technology and the ability to share my work with people greatly improved the quality of my work. This blatant difference can be seen when looking at a time tabel of work I have handed in, as well as assignments I was asked to share. I’m glad that Shuna introduced me to this idea for two reasons; I think the ability to share my work on a social platform will be greatly helpful in years to come, from exposure to important people, as well as a reference. The second reason I’m glad is that after getting the blog I learned that I work harder and put more pride into my work if I know it will be public. This will help me all thought my life as I can apply this lesson in different areas of my life. I can bring the knowledge that I try and work harder if I know peoples opinions are on the line to many situations.

Week 4 Project Management

This week we were given a whole slue of tasks, project management was key in staying on top of it. I have always struggled with effective project management, In the past I have been known to procrastinate my work to the last minute, like many other students. But I think this week as well as many of the other weeks really helped to teach me how to effectively manage my time. Because of Cedar Ridge’s unique “weekly task list”  approach to the english curriculum I was forced to manage my time on my assignments and projects every week. I think that the skill of project management was improved further than most out of the other skills that I gained and improved at my time in 21st Century Literacy. Coming out of 24 Century literacy I have a different view on completion of tasks, instead of procrastinating and waiting for the last minute I tend to “chip away”  at the task in smaller chunks over days. I've noticed a huge Improvement in my work as well as significantly less stress surrounding projects, because of these two factors as well as others I notice that I have more time to do other things that are unrelated to school,  this is a massive benefit and is an extremely important skill in my view because to get through university takes a mastery of this skill. Another great thing about improving this skill is it can be applied to all areas of life, though I’ve noticed its effectiveness most in written work and reading tasks. I see the improvement in most documents I produce these days and I attribute this success to the extra time I have because I manage my time more effectively. Effective time management allows me to take time to fine tune the product and make sure there are minimal errors. I think this English summative is a great example of effective time management, I’m sure the final copy would have been of a lower quality hadn't I had time to make sure I thought it was perfect and hit all criteria.

Week 7 Organization

This week more than other weeks focused on organisation, in previous years I’ve had trouble with the organisation but coming into this year I thought that I should really take initiative in keeping all of my notes, binders and computer organised. This week showed us new strategies such as creating folders in on the drive which proved to be helpful in making sure my Google drive was tidy. We also focused on how to effectively organise our notes so that they were easily accessible and helpful in the future. During this week I remember established a plan set up priorities and follow that plan to achieve desired marks at a relatively fast pace. After this week I  tried to implement a plan and set goals for myself, this is been extremely helpful and managing the work at Cedar Ridge and I'm sure will be an effective strategy in University. I really needed to demonstrate organisation this week because need finished my ethics presentation which is no small task while balancing the other tasks and still being able to facilitate Flowers for Algernon discussions for the younger grades. I found the skill extremely helpful in finishing my ethics presentation because I set goals for myself, which allowed me to take the work in bite size pieces. As the work rate ramps up I'm sure the skill of organisation will become even more crucial in time management and creating quality work.

Week 9 Design and Respect

I had the privilege of being able to experience and learn about the design sprint process this week which highlighted an effective way of bringing an idea to life. Knowing this design Sprint process will allow me to more effectively engage ideas that I have and Implement them in the real world. I hadn't thought about how to do something like this prior to partaking in the design Sprint so I'm glad I was able to get some experience with it. As well as having a blast during the design sprint I think I took something else from this week which was; respect and how important it is to have a functioning community and to understand each other's views and ideas. I got a great taste of this when in the respect phase of the design sprint where we learned about our target audience’s needs through pretending. Respect was also learned when talking to each other about the different issues in the world and hearing each other's points of view and respecting them this is important because although you may not agree with someone you have to live with the way they feel, especially in a class of 20. I'm glad I learned some compassion and understanding, as well as furthered my ability to  be more tolerant of others ideas, which will serve me well when trying to live in conjunction with others who may have different opinions than me.

Week 10 Adaption

This week we focused on the important skill of adaptability. I demonstrated fluent adaptability  during many tasks this week but I think the most predominant use of my adaptability skills was when I did my POV and “text and film comparison” for the book: Flowers For Algernon. I think to successfully do the comparison I need to think of how the different characters saw each other and what their feelings were, this really helped to gain a better understanding of the general feel and tone of the book, which I thought was a crucial part of this task. Although I feel that I have always been a very adaptable person, this project forced me to use not only adaptability but also think deeply of the characters perspectives. I think during the POV project I really tried to put myself in a similar mindset that Mr Donner would have and how his experiences with Charlie shape his overall view of Charlie. Doing these projects really helped me to fine tune my adaptability skills as well as my skills in putting myself in other's shoes and understanding their perspective. I think because of the time I took studying Mr, Donner and the book I was effective in using language and tone to develop a unique voice.

Week 13 Initiative

Being one of two grade twelves I found I had to use initiative all thought the trimester, I found I had to balance workloads for different courses and make sure I was staying on top of things. A huge responsibility I found I had to take was setting a good example for the younger grades, In past school experience, it was rare that I had to set a good example for the younger grades from an academic standpoint. Though my time in 21st Literacy I grew to really enjoy their presence I got to the younger grades, I found them to really grow on me and after all we've been though I love em. As for helping them with academics, there is one activity I really enjoyed doing above all which was partaking in their discussions for Flowers for Algernon, I loved facilitating the discussions and hearing the student's thoughts and opinions on the story as well as their opinion on characters. This was interesting because I knew them personally and was around them often so I had some knowledge of their biases and motives on certain topics, this made the discussions all the more interesting. When I talked to my group about the younger group’s ideas and topics we all gained the unique insight of from each person's point of view of insight from each other which provided a depth and understanding of the story unachievable from just reading the book alone. Anyway although we didn’t discuss Flowers for Algernon this week because we were reading King Lear I thought I took initiative  in the previous weeks with the discussions, landscape projects, and all around workload more than this week.

All in all, I learned lots throughout 21st Century literacy, I gained new and  important skills as well as improving existing skills. For examples of my learning and consistent improvement throughout 21st Century Literacy, I urge you to look through other blog posts of mine HERE. I think my English teacher Shauna did a wonderful job of creating the course as well as facilitating it. I appreciate her dedication to her students and her contagious positive attitude

Below is our 21st literacy class at Escape Manor

Friday, November 25, 2016

Mathew Van Noten

The idea I decided to run with for my design sprint was; Integrating the Neurologically Diverse (ND) as well as changing the social stigma around their mistreatment. Neurologically diverse refers to Neurodiversity, which Google defines as:
Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are to be recognised and respected as any other human variation. These differences can include those labelled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and many others.”

My idea would help to integrate the ND better into society and the working world, as well as changing the stigma and trying to eliminate any potential or current mistreatment. The idea I had was that there would be a separate school for the ND to go to that would focus on their strengths and help to develop them to become a positive addition to the workforce. That in itself would help to integrate the ND into society because it would give them an income and allow them to be self-sustainable (To an extent, I realise that some individuals may need more assistance or help than others but I have no doubt that having a career would help with their self-sufficiency). More importantly, I think that having a career would give them a Defined “purpose”, not to imply that they have no purpose otherwise but I think having a career helps anyone strive for achievement and be intrinsically motivated to improve and be productive.
I went through the 5 stages of the design sprint activity which altered and improved my original idea.

The 5 Stages of the design sprint and how my idea evolved throughout

During the empathy phase, I asked my peers to help me in learning about my target audience. I asked them to try and put themselves in the shoes of the ND and see what they would want and need from me. Although this was hard to do because many people have a difficult time perceiving how a neurologically diverse person lives and what they may encounter. (except for the person who lives with the condition). We did our best job and I learned a lot, which helped me in refining my idea. One of the major things I learned in the empathy phase was social inclusion, and how important it is for the individual to not be isolated from their peers. I think this can lead to undeveloped social behaviour and it creates a gap between the individual and their peers. I think by integrating the ND with the rest of the social population allows them to learn the social skills it takes to be successful in life. I think today we do a poor job of integrating people with these conditions and somewhat alienate them.

I redefined my idea after I finished the empathy stage, I thought that the best way to integrate  the ND while still focusing on developing their strengths was to have them enrolled in a normal school and instead of taking all “special ed” classes the student could spend time one on one with an educator to focus on the areas they need to develop or further develop their strengths.

This step was a challenge, although I think that this is a crucial underused step. In this one
I was asked to come up with 8 different solutions to my problem, I was given 45 seconds to think about each before writing it down. There were no restraints, it could be as ridiculous as you want. This stage forces you to come up with unique solutions to your problem, this means it really lets the ideas flow and forces you to innovate. This activity really allowed me to broaden my horizons around the topic and motivated me to be creative in the way I approach the topic.

In this stage I wrote an outline to how I would solve my problem, It varied slightly from my original plan, in that instead of having the school isolate a student with one-on-one teaching, I thought it would be best to have a small group of students working on similar tasks. With this approach, we could also have a peer helping to facilitate the discussion and project this would help strengthen the ties the students have with each other school-wide. This stage also allowed me to use my peer feedback to further improve my design. I got many insightful comments some of which I thought were great ideas, and am currently working to implement.

We have yet to test this idea.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How Lifeguarding Has Made A Positive Impact On My Life

Mathew Van Noten
How Lifeguarding Has Made A Positive Impact On My Life

I have been lifeguarding for about 4 months now, and I recently finished my teaching qualifications which allow me to teach many classes and swimming lessons. Since I have started lifeguarding I have noticed many changes in the way I approach things, as well as my maturity and vitality. Lifeguarding has also allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of myself and personality. An example of this was, recently I learned that I quite enjoy creating lesson plans and teaching kids, I learned that I work well with children and I enjoy improvising games and activities to make the learning drills more fun and engaging. This was also reinforced when the head guard supervisor (my boss) had some nice and encouraging comments to say about my unique teaching style. Another huge repercussion of lifeguarding that I have noticed is my patience and tolerance has gone up. I think this is due to the patience that is required when lifeguarding, for example; Dealing with parents who may not have a good attitude or have trouble communicating, as well as children who are having trouble doing a skill or are misbehaving. I think me having more patience is very helpful in everyday interactions because it allows me to persevere longer to gain an understanding of others issues and perspectives. I also have noticed a more positive outlook on life, my peers have told me that I seem more vitalized and “lively” than ever, and I attribute this partially to lifeguarding. All in all, I am thrilled with the positive impact that lifeguarding has made on my life. If you enjoy the water and are a capable swimmer with an interest in Lifeguarding I would highly recommend you do some research into it and maybe even get your bronze cross to see if you enjoy the feel of lifeguarding, and who knows, you may just love it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Portfoio

Mathew Van Noten
275 Michael Cowpland Dr.
Ottawa, ON
Cedar Ridge High School
K2M 2C5

October, 3rd 2016
Dear Readers,
I bet you’re wondering what a budding landscape architect is up to these days, you can find out by checking out my digital portfolio.  Let me paint a picture for you, this is a place where you can observe some of my grade 12 work at Cedar Ridge High School. You can expect assignments that I complete from my 21st Century Literacy course here, as well as landscaping ideas that I have for my school. You should also know that I am an aspiring landscape architect, who is an avid rugby player, and all around nice guy.
The English course that I am taking is called 21st Century Literacy. This course focuses on new and innovative methods of teaching curriculum, as well as preparing the students involved for the future.
I hope by visiting my blog you gain some insight as to some of my goals and what I want in the future, as well as get a better understanding for the course I am taking. On top of all of this, I would love to hear your comments and feedback to help improve my work. Keep visiting my page for updates, and feel free to reach out with any questions or topics you’d like to discuss

Mathew Van Noten

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fall Flavours

Mathew Van Noten
Fall Flavours

It's destined to come each year
We know it all to well
Looking out the window watching the dancing deer
Fall is upon us, you can tell by the smell

The leaves are changing and so is the weather
Time to put on a thick sweater
To stand the cold better
And be a trend setter

The leaves are flying off the trees
Let your sadness ease
Feel the brisk breeze
Make sure you don’t freeze

It’s the season of books
Great for those who read
Check all the nooks
For hats, you might need

All the fall flavours
I’ve come to love
The Jack O'Lantern is my saviour
Let's make some memories to be proud of

This poem was inspired by Gord Downie’s rhyming style and his passion for his homeland. Gord Downie often has different Rhyming patterns, similar to this poem which contributes to the unique melodic sound that the Hip are known for producing. When thinking of things I took from Gourd’s music, I found that the biggest thing Gourd did that was inspiring to me was, writing about his homeland and showing sincere appreciation towards his country through his lyrics. This inspired me to write about my experiences with Canadian Fall seasons because we are entering the fall months and what better time to write about the joys of fall.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mathew Van Noten
Why I Am A Leader

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it” -Andrew Carnegie. There are many ways to define a leader, I think a leader is someone who stands by his values no matter what opposition he faces. This means you have to come up with your own definition of what a leader is, and find what you truly believe in. Compare your actions to your definitions of what you think a leader is and act on your values. So before I can convince you that I am a leader we must first define what a leader is to me. There are some general traits that great leaders in the past have demonstrated, and for this essay, I will be discussing the 2 major traits that have been present in well-renowned leaders throughout history that I try to embody in my everyday leadership.

“Good Business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” -Jack Welch former CEO of GE. The first trait that I try to embody that is present in great leaders is a vision. It is important for a leader to have a vision and have an idea of where they're at and a clear idea of where they are going, this allows the leader to tap into the emotion of a group of employees and get them motivated to work towards a common goal. Currently, in my life, I demonstrate vision when leading group meetings at Ceder Ridge around the student lounge and the landscaping of the building. I have a clear objective in mind of what I want the student lounge to look like and I use other’s perspectives to add to the idea, then consult the group and make a final decision. Another example of when I demonstrated vision was the Osgoode rugby team. As the captain of the team I had the vision to take us to the city championships, I saw the flaws in our game style and set some new drills in place that focused on our weak points of play and relentlessly did them. We ended up winning city championships that year for the first time in Osgoode history. I think we shocked everyone when our Osgoode 7s rugby team who no one knew about prior to the season ended up beating  the former undefeated Sacred Heart squad. This goes to show how vision in leadership can take a country bumpkin school of people who had no idea how to hold a rugby ball, to beating a school almost 3 times our size.

“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them, they stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions life presents to them.” - Jack Canfield Creator of Chicken Soup For The Soul and the world renowned success coach. Another highly important trait that leaders repeatedly have is Focus. It is very important that a leader has the ability to make sure that everyone is concentrated on the most valuable use of their time, which allows them to be highly productive and achieve a common goal more efficiently by not getting distracted by petty things. I think that I embody this trait in my everyday life. You may remember the consensus game we played at Red Pine camp, this game was a perfect demonstration of my struggle to assert focus on the group as a leader. The game has a simple objective; come to a unanimous consensus on who lives and who dies, that was how you won. Although my attempt to get the group to focus on the simple task of winning the game failed, it showed that I try to get the group to focus on how to achieve the end goal, because it really doesn't have any impact on our lives which fictional characters live or die. Yet it is consuming our time which could be spent doing other things that have an impact on our lives. As you witnessed I got a huge backlash of people arguing and rebelling against the system I tried to set in place, so I decided that that was not a productive use of my time and because everyone was so opposed to my idea of completing the game I left early. This example shows how unproductive a group can be when there is no focus on the main goal (agreeing on which fictional character lives and dies) and people getting distracted by the petty things (arguing “what ifs” and “the grey area”). Although the activity was unsuccessful in my opinion and left people feeling hurt, I think it was a prime example of me trying to assert focus on a group.

In conclusion, I demonstrate the two aspects of a great leader that I think are most important in successful leadership, (vision and focus) and although there are many more traits that I think great leaders embodied I have gone well beyond the word maximum of 500. I think is is crucial to define what attributes a leader exemplifies in your own mind and let those traits manifest in your personality so that you can use them to become a successful leader in your life.