In Depth Blog Post #1: The Journey Begins

This year, I will be learning about video game design. More specifically, I will learn how to use the game engine, Unity, to design hand crafted, delicious (okay, maybe not that), original video games.

Video games have always been a part of my life, making up about four percent of my average week to this date. The intricate details and creative graphics captivated the attention of little Jerome. The way each video game had it’s set of rules and was able to adapt to all the different variables during each individual player’s experience intrigued me, and I wondered what it felt like to be the creator, the rule maker, instead of the consumer. With In-Depth around the corner, and an urge to embark on a new journey and learn something interesting, I felt that video game design would be an interesting and challenging topic for my In-Depth project.

My goal for In-Depth is to be able to create at least one complete video game to showcase on In-Depth night, gain fluency in using Unity, get a deep understanding of game design, and create an original and innovative idea for my final product, my game.

Some of the difficulties I will probably face will be finding a timetable that works for both my mentor and myself. My mentor, being a busy person, is only available at certain times, and I am also mostly limited to the weekend. Finding a way to fit in a couple of hours for my mentor will be difficult as I will need to use better time management to find a few hours to squeeze in. I will also need to design my own game, something I have zero experience with. Despite constant reassurance from the optimistic Jerome, the pessimistic Jerome finds the project intimidating, as he does not have a step by step idea for his game and has absolutely no experience with working with game design software.

I have contacted my mentor Rafael, a university graduate who studied game design, and is currently developing other IT projects. I managed to find him through one of my parent’s contacts. We are currently finding a biweekly timetable that is convenient for him. In case he is unable to mentor me for the entire five months, I have sent e-mails to Microsoft, A.C.R.O.N.Y.M Digital, and Next Level Games, but so far, I have not had any replies.

Despite In-Depth being a dive into uncharted waters for me, I’m excited to learn something that’s more than just flipping through a textbook.

ZIP! Document of Learning #4

Question: “Take a moment to reflect on your inquiry plan (calendar). Do you need to make any revisions to your original plan? If so, why? If you haven’t made any changes to your plan, why do you feel you have been so successful in sticking to it?”

Up to now, I have made quite a few revisions to my original inquiry plan. At the beginning of my inquiry project, I was able to stick to the original plan and finish my research and sort out my notes, but once I got to creating my presentation and shooting my commercial, I realized that a few changes were necessary. I had originally planned to shoot the commercial before winter break started, but I realized that there wasn’t a convenient time for both my actor and myself before winter break. Therefore, I was forced to delay the shooting of the commercial until the beginning of winter break. I had also planned to finish my presentation before winter break, but I realized that it wasn’t a realistic goal, and that doing so would only make me rush my presentation. Currently, I am working on creating my PowerPoint presentation, and I am spending quite a bit of time finding the “right” pictures and diagrams for my presentation, as I want to keep text as minimal as possible and make the presentation more interesting.

I believe that the reason I had to make these revisions to my original calendar is because when I first started ZIP, I underestimated the amount of time it was going to take me to create my video and presentation. I had not anticipated the difficulty of finding a balance between storytelling and advertising the product in my commercial. If I increased my storytelling, I could make the commercial more interesting, but I wouldn’t be able to incorporate all three modes of persuasion into the commercial. If I tried to increase the length of both, the commercial would get too long and quickly lose the interest of the audience. Striking a balance between these two elements took up a lot of time, and forced me to spend more time creating my commercial. I decided to set a new goal for my presentation, to finish my presentation before the end of winter break. Even though I had to make quite a few revisions to my original calendar, I believe that I am still on the right track.

ZIP! Document of Learning #3

Question: Describe the ups and downs you have encountered to date in your inquiry. Specifically, when you were frustrated or why? If you haven’t made any changes to your plan, why do you feel you have been so successful in sticking to it?

It has been three weeks into ZIP, and I have had my share of ups and downs. To start off, I will start with the negatives. My question about finding out what makes a persuasive and effective advertisement was a bit broad. Rather than covering just a general knowledge of the subject, I wanted to pry deep into the abyss of knowledge of my subject, so I decided to pick a specific part of advertising, commercials. I also found that the definition of a “good” commercial was mostly subjective. Commercials don’t always appeal to everyone, and the underlying theme of the commercial must resonate with the audience for the audience to establish a deeper connection with the commercial. The most memorable commercials are usually those that trigger certain memories within us and make us feel sentimental. A good example of this is the “Coca Cola: Hey Brother Commercial”. The theme of brotherhood appeals to many people and makes people relieve memories of their own brotherhood. This creates a personal connection to the commercial, and the audience is more likely to buy their product. This, however, does not mean that it resonates with everyone. Members of the opposite gender never experienced this brotherhood, and are unable to personally connect to the commercial. While this commercial could have been effective and persuasive for a male, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the same will happen for a female, making the definition of an effective and persuasive advertisement subjective, or depending on personal views.

A subjective question made starting the research very difficult and frustrating for me because I didn’t know where to start, but once I got pen on paper (or font on Word document in my case), I was on a pretty good work flow. A subjective question was also the most intriguing parts of my ZIP project, however. By having a subjective question, I had to take a consumer’s point of view and watch a couple commercials myself before being able to formulate a hypothesis. Rather than writing down boring pieces of information that anyone could have found on the first page of Wikipedia, I was able to take a different perspective and get some interesting information about my topic.

I have changed my question from “What makes an effective and persuasive advertisement?” to “What makes an effective and persuasive commercial?” It was a very slight change and the reason I think I didn’t radically change my question was because my original question was a good inquiry question. It wasn’t too big or too small, so I didn’t have to change the entire question and just had to be a bit more specific.

Although this inquiry question has been a dive into uncharted waters, I have to say that the ups of this question have far outweighed the downs.

ZIP! Document of Learning #2

I have been learning many things through ZIP, but perhaps the one that I can constantly improve on and apply in the future is probably-my note taking. While I was researching my topic, I stumbled upon many articles and videos about my topic. To incorporate this new-found information into my project, I whipped out my Word document and took many point-form notes on what I heard. Although writing down many notes is beneficial to my project, I found that I was writing too much. Instead of writing down brief, concise notes about my topic, I was writing sentences about a single fact. An overload of words resulted in my Word Document turning into nothing more than paragraphs with a fancy bullet point at the beginning of each sentence.

To counter this, I read the entire paragraph first before writing down a note. I was writing a lot of notes because I was entering a new bullet after every sentence, which resulted in a plethora of unnecessary notes. I also tried to make the notes as simple as possible by writing phrases and words instead of entire sentences. The result paid off and one thousand five hundred fifty-two words were condensed to five hundred forty-five words. Not only were the notes now aesthetically pleasing, they were also easier to read and integrate into my presentation. Before, I was literally rewriting paragraphs back into my Word document, but by using my new tactic, I was taking actual notes for the first time. My research probably would have taken much more time if I had not noticed the excessive word count in my notes, and I probably wouldn’t have finished my research by today, putting me behind in my schedule. This skill will definitely reappear in the future, as when I conduct projects in the imminent future, I will need to take notes while I research my topics. Being able to save valuable time and put more work into my presentation is invaluable, and therefore I believe that this skill that I learned through ZIP can constantly be applied in the future.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: Most Significant Conflict

In Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,  the most significant conflict of Junior, the protagonist, is Junior’s constant struggle against poverty, as it is prevalent throughout the entire story and causes the people around him to make assumptions. Alexie clearly shows this conflict when Junior makes a statement about petrified wood. The teacher, Mr. Dodge, immediately refuses to accept Junior’s correction and sarcastically retorts, “Where did you learn this fact?[…] Yes we all know there’s so much science on the reservation”(85). Mr. Dodge and the rest of his white classmates consider Junior’s statement to be inferior, basing it on the assumption that poor people don’t have a good chance at education and don’t know what they are talking about. They believe his opinions to be invalid and unfounded based on this belief, which makes it difficult for Junior to display his talents and find success. Even when Gordy, the class “genius”, gives the same answer as Junior, Mr. Dodge only thanks Gordy, refusing to acknowledge that a poor, Indian child like Junior is correct. Additionally, his poverty interferes with his wants. Junior wants to be able to show off to Penelope and buy them a luxurious feast of pancakes, toast, and juice, but is unable to pay for it all because of his lack of money. He orders a plethora of food, “even though [he] knew [he] wouldn’t be able to pay for any of it”(125). His inability to pay for a single meal hurts Junior’s pride and exposes his fear of Penelope rejecting him because he is poor. Additionally, his poverty perpetuates his fear of Penelope and Roger “[finding] out [he] was a poor […] Indian. He fears that if they find out, his status will drop and his relationship with Penelope will end, resulting in Roger and Penelope becoming a couple, and Junior being left outside of the relationship. The continuous appearance of the difficulties caused by Junior’s poverty, and the influence it has over the views of the people around him makes this the most significant conflict.

ZIP! Document of Learning #1

On Friday, my last in-class focus block, I spent my block researching. First, I wrote down notes in my own words from a rhetoric handout crafted by Mr. Morris himself. Since logos, pathos, and ethos form the basis the persuasion, I figured that having a good understanding of these would aid me in my research for finding what made a persuasive advertisement. I did not spend most of my block on this, however, as I figured that if I focused entirely on rhetoric, I would stray away from my main idea.

Then, I searched up the best-selling ads of all time on the web to get a good idea of what a persuasive and effective advertisement was. Soon, I found myself with a website about Proactiv, one of the most popular skin care products of all time. I initially pressed the play button just to get an idea of what the ad was like, but thirty seconds into the ad, I found myself noticing the various examples of logos, pathos, and ethos! I took out my Word document, and immediately began applying the three modes of rhetoric onto the ad. After thirty minutes of careful analysis on the minute-long ad, I found all three modes of rhetoric and basically everything that was on the rhetoric handout I was given. From this, I formulated a hypothesis, that for an ad to be effective and persuasive, it needed to have most or all of the three modes of rhetoric. Only time will tell whether my hypothesis is true or not.

I struggled with getting started. I found that not having a plan set for a work block was a foolish choice, as I ended up wasting ten minutes of my precious time trying to find out what to do! Next time, I will continue to dive into my research and analyze the data that I gained from watching various advertisements and applying the logos, ethos, pathos theory on them. My goal for the next block is to make sure I have all my materials with me and have a plan set for that work block.

Here is a screenshot of my notes:

screenshot-of-notes

Leadership Seminar Reflection

From watching John Maxwell’s How to be a REAL success and participating in many classroom discussions, I learned a lot of new skills on being successful. One of the things I learned was the importance of relationships. In order for you to be a successful leader, you need to be able to get along with the people around you, and more importantly, yourself. You won’t be able to get along with others if you can’t get along with yourself, and if you can’t get along with anyone, you won’t be successful. Also, building positive relationships with the people around you will make sure that you have people who will support you and help you find success. This brings me on the note of equipping. I learned that equipping is crucial for you to find success. Nothing of great significance has been done alone, and to accomplish your goals, you need to be able to equip your team with your knowledge and skills. I also learned that my attitude was my choice, not what others wanted me to feel. Your attitude is your approach to life, and it is up to you to decide how you want to take things in your life. Attitude influences those around you, and it is crucial for you to keep a positive attitude in order for your team to have a positive attitude and be successful. Lastly, I learned about leadership. Leadership influences all the aforementioned skills, and the success of your team depends on your ability to lead. The productivity and effectiveness of your team depends on your leadership skills, as without someone to lead the group, the group can get disorganized quickly.

I plan on applying these skills in T.A.L.O.N.S. by using them in future committee work and big projects, such as my imminent leadership project. I hope that by using these leadership skills, I will be able to run a successful leadership event with my team, or group members. I also plan on using the 101% rule in my future committee work, by finding 1% I agree with, and giving my 100% effort on it. While I may not agree with everything my group decides to do, I just have to find the 1% I can agree with and give my best effort on it. Finally, if there is someone in my team who is struggling with a task, I plan on equipping them with my knowledge and skills, even if I feel an overwhelming urge to do it myself. By incorporating these skills into T.A.L.O.N.S., I hope to achieve success in my projects.

A Modest ZIP Proposal

This year, I would like to thoroughly explore the question, “What makes an effective persuasive advertisement?”  From years of watching Vince Offer infomercials and T.V. ads, I have felt the sensation of feeling the need to buy something that I didn’t necessarily need. It was intriguing to me how an alteration of a few words could make a commercial so persuasive and manipulating. I’ve always wanted to learn more about persuasive language and the effects of advertisements, so with some nudging questions from Mr. Morris, I decided to combine these and formulate this question. The fact that I’m choosing what I want to learn about makes me excited and motivates me to give my best for ZIP.

My knowledge of creating effective, persuasive advertisements is nonexistent, but I have a pretty good idea of what kind of advertisement fits this criteria. I have watched a lot of infomercials over the years, so I think that having a good idea of what a good advertisement is will help me with ZIP. I also have some experience with video editing, and Photoshop, which will come in handy when I create my own advertisement to showcase my research to the class.

I hope to expand on the following skills by the end of zip:

  • Research Skills- Creating detailed notes, researching from various sources, and organizing my finding
  • Creating an effective advertisement
  • Presentation Skills- Persuasive and effective presentation with a lot of visuals
  • Time management- (Hopefully) Managing time wisely, setting a time frame, setting aside time to work on ZIP, evenly distributing work over the course of a month

For my question, I can obtain information about advertising from local libraries. Along with books, I will also be relying on the web for supporting most of my information. I plan on watching various advertisements on YouTube, so that I can differentiate between effective and ineffective advertisements. Personally, I have always found Vince Offer’s advertisements to urge me to buy whatever product he was advertisements, so I will probably look deeper into his advertisements.

I plan on showing my learning in a PowerPoint or Pecha Kucha with an video component to it. I plan on giving a brief explanation of rhetoric questions and show a PowerPoint with facts about what an effective, persuasive advertisement is like, the language alteration, and how the oral component influences us. To top it all off, I will be showing a commercial crafted by Jerome himself.

December/January

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
3

Work on proposal

4

Work Block

Post proposal

5

Connect to Curriculum

Begin research

6

Connect to Curriculum

Watch Advertisements

7

Finish connecting to curriculum

8

Work Block

Post blog post

 

9

Additional Research Time

10

Additional Research Time

11

Work Block

Research

 

12

Research

13

Research

14

Organize Research

15

Work Block

Post blog post

Finalize Research

 

16

Begin creation of ad

17

Creation of ad

18

Work Block

Work on presentation

 

19

Work on presentation

 

20

Work on presentation

21

Post blog post

Complete presentation and ad

 

22

*Winter Break

Begin practicing

23

*Winter Break

24

*Winter Break

25

*Winter Break

26

*Winter Break

27

*Winter Break

28

*Winter Break

29

*Winter Break

30

*Winter Break

31

*Winter Break

January:

1

*Winter Break

2

*Winter Break

3

*Winter Break

4

*Winter Break

6

*Winter Break

7

*Winter Break

8

*Winter Break

9

Work Block

 

10

Present ZIP

11

Present ZIP

12

Present ZIP

13

Present ZIP

14

Sleep (Hopefully)

 

 

Night of The Notables Assessment

It has been over a week since Night of the Notables, and I have to say that Eminent has been one of the largest and most significant projects in my short life so far. Since it was so significant, I believe that it is only right for me to reflect on what I did.

Like the other twenty-seven people in my class, I created goals for the Eminent project. One of them was to improve my public speaking skills, which was also one of IEP goals. For the first time in my short life, I managed to speak in front of an audience without any cue cards, maintain awkward eye contact, and use gesticulations for the first time in my speech. I admit that the gesticulations weren’t perfect. I imagine I looked like a baby duck learning to flap it’s wings, but I am proud that I took the initiative to try something new for the first time! I believe I accomplished my goal. Another goal I had was to improve my persuasive speaking. By trying to convince others that Norman Borlaug was eminent through my learning center, I believe I managed to improve this significantly. Borlaug’s work was of great controversy, due to his work with GMO crops. There were a lot of questions posed by my visitors, which regarded this topic. By providing valid points backed up by evidence from my research, I was able to confidently tell them all about his eminence. My goals for next year are to improve my usage of gesticulations, so that they fit the context of my speech by imitating proper gesticulation from online media, such as TED.

There are definitely some highlights from this year’s eminent that I will probably remember for at least a couple months. I definitely won’t forget the atmosphere in the multipurpose room when the grade tens gave their speeches. The mood was absolutely amazing. The audience was there to support the speakers, and therefore, there was a supporting vibe in the air. The speeches were remarkable. Although the genres of the speeches ranged from humorous to serious, dark ones with a deep underlying message, the speeches harmonized together. The transitions were excellent, and the tens were certainly innovative in making sure that the speeches flowed naturally. Their speeches made me both nervous and excited for my speech next year!

There are a plethora of people I want to thank for making Night of the Notables possible. First, I would like to thank all the TALONS teachers for guiding us through eminent, and helping us organize the event. The committees also deserve to be thanked. Everything from the location of our learning centers to the food we ate was only possible because of them. I would also like to thank my parents for driving me around for learning center materials, and I have to thank the World Food Prize Foundation, my interviewee. They were very insightful about Dr. Borlaug’s work, and gave me a good idea of Dr. Borlaug from the perspective of an agronomist. Finally, I would like to thank Yoonha for agreeing to trade learning center locations. Electricity was basically a need for my learning center, and it meant a lot to me for someone to willingly give up their spot to make my life easier. Thank you.

To sum it all up, I have to say that Night of the Notables was a success, but there’s still a lot I will have to learn before my next Night of the Notables. Until three hundred fifty-four days, fifty-two minutes, and eight seconds, Night of the Notables!

 

 

Document of Learning: Night of the Notables Learning Intentions

Exactly one hundred thirty-five hours, two minutes and six seconds before I started writing this sentence that you are currently reading, visitors started to come to my learning center. They were greeted with a plethora of information, but there were three points that I wanted my visitors to take away from my learning center.

My learning center had a rustic and countryside feel to it. My eminent person, Norman Borlaug, was a man who spent his life in laboratories, government buildings, and fields. Of all the places he visited, however, he especially loved being in the field. I wanted to thoroughly illustrate that Norman Borlaug loved working in the field, so instead of using a single artifact to demonstrate this point, I decided to make everything revolve around the idea of the field. Burlap draped the “Contributions” canvas, and gave the atmosphere that one was in a shed surrounded by stored grain. To top it off, visitors had the unique opportunity to listen to wheat blowing in the field! Borlaug loved this sound and described it as “sweet, whispering music”. Despite some questioning looks, many brave volunteers listened to the wheat. Farming tools, plows, and the earthy smell of burlap sacks created the impression of a field. With these aids and some loquacious chatter, I managed to show my visitors Borlaug, the man who loved the field.

I also wanted to show Borlaug as a scientist. I found that people had a tendency to look down on farmers and view it as a menial job. That wasn’t going to happen on my watch. Black and white photos dotted the all-white poster board, which was juxtaposed next to the burlap canvas. Black and white photos really gave a professional look to Borlaug, and he seemed authentic and educated. A little color distortion was all it took to create an entirely different atmosphere. I also placed some wheat berries at various parts of their life cycle in petri dishes. Borlaug spent a great deal of time in the laboratory, observing the effects of the fungal disease, rust, on wheat, and I didn’t want it to go unnoticed. Being placed in scientific equipment, made the seeds look scientific and significant, as the petri dish is an icon of the word, “science”. Some subtle touches and a bit of color contrast, and I was able to “create” Borlaug, the scientist.

Finally, I wanted to show Borlaug as a hard worker. He worked ridiculously hard to ameliorate others’ living considers, and much of it went unnoticed, so I decided to shine some light on it. To accomplish this, I spent three nights building a wooden plow. Not only did I use it to enhance the countryside atmosphere, I also used it to bring light on a particular event in Borlaug’s life. When Borlaug first started his work in Mexico, the farmers refused to lend Borlaug a tractor. Instead of giving up like most of us would, Borlaug’s will to make his dream come true motivated him to strap himself to a plow and start digging acres and acres of furrows. He worked ridiculously hard just to help others, often getting up before the dawn of day to get a head start on the work. I think it is truly extraordinary how someone was so inclined to help others, even willing to pour their heart and soul in order to make others’ lives more livable.

Okay Jerome, now get to the point.

My intention that day was not to list the multiple awards that Norman Borlaug won. While receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Congressional Gold Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, National Science Award is certainly commendable, I didn’t see a point in listing facts that someone could find on the first page of Wikepedia. I believed that capturing the personality of Borlaug’s humble demeanor, his efforts, and views were more interesting and captivating to people.

When millions of people had given up, Borlaug brought in a small seed, something that would one day inspire millions to find the will to live. When heads of states were discussing famines in developing countries in their comfy offices, Borlaug was in the middle of a wheat field in East Africa, leading an initiative, an initiative to feed the world. He overcame language barriers, initial difficulties, unbearable living conditions, and the threat of war.

Here is a picture of my learning center.

There was a lot I wanted to tell about Dr. Borlaug, but these were the facts that I especially wanted to show my visitors.