“Check Yourself”

Your day begins with your alarm screaming at you. 7:30 am is what is on the clock when you roll onto your side to look up at it. You roll out of bed and groggily eat breakfast and get ready for school, and stumble into the car at 7:47 am. You half-heartedly jog to your first class of the day at 7:59 and collapse into your seat a second before the bell rings. You live another day. “Projects are due right now!” Your teacher declares. You force yourself upward and hand in your 1278 word report to your teacher, which barely met the 1250 word requirement. You then collapse into your seat and sleep through the class; you pulled-an all nighter typing that thing.

 

Procrastination is quite a problem for some people. They wait until the deadline to turn in the project or report, and finish the whole thing before, while spending all the previous time relaxing and not doing anything. I suppose some people like the pressure of the deadline, but for others who don’t find that adrenaline appealing, it’s a problem.

I always told myself that I wouldn’t and couldn’t succumb to the disease which was procrastination; I had an almost perfect work ethic, I worked on things way before they were due, and I felt the pressure of the finish line the second the project was assigned. “What if there are complications? I must surely get the project done early, juuuust in case anything pops up, like a project for another class.” More relevant to now, the day my math teacher assigned our class a project, to create a 3D model of “a revolution of a function around a fixed axis.” While I planned out what I was going to make, many people in my class were casually talking to each other. “Is that your project,” asked my friend. “Yea, I haven’t assembled it yet,” I replied. “I haven’t even bought the things for the project yet,” he declared. We had this conversation only yesterday.

However, I did have moments where I did fall into the depth of despair. Only recently had I realized I was a giant procrastinator. I’m currently 17 and a month, and the deadline for turning in an eagle scout application is at 18. It takes almost half a year to finish, so I’m pretty worried and stressed out. It eats away at my soul and mind almost nags at me every day. As of recent, I have been going “ham” on it, but still, looking back, I realized that I’ve taken almost forever to just get to the point where I’m at. At least I recognize the problem, so I can make an attempt at fixing it.

I feel much better about myself now, I’ve gotten myself to do something about my problems. It takes little effort to look, but much more to do something. At least this change is good for me, so it’s well worth the effort to make a change for the better, like going through rehab to get off the drug that is procrastination, and it all begins with the thought of wanting change.

 

Your day begins with your alarm screaming at you. 6:45 am is what is on the clock when you sit straight up to look up at it. You jump of bed and energetically eat breakfast and get ready for school, and leap into the car at 7:25 am. You walk to your first class of the day at 7:50 and set yourself into your seat long before the bell rings. You live another day. “Projects are due right now!” Your teacher declares. You jump up and hand in your 1743 (high quality) word report to your teacher, which far surpassed the 1250 word requirement. You then proudly land on your seat and pay attention; you typed that thing a week ago, proofread it a couple of times, and got a great night’s sleep last night.

 

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“It’s almost here!”

AP tests are almost here! Around this time of year, Advanced Placement classes and students prepare for the national Advanced Placement tests. These classes offer advanced, college level curriculum, but are for high school students. In the first two weeks of may, national AP tests occur for high school students taking AP classes, and the scores for these tests take months to return, and can be important for getting into universities and colleges because they demonstrate a student’s expertise and “advanced-ness” in school subjects. In one week, the AP tests begin, and the antics are only building up.

Studying is quote hard and tedious, especially since I have 4 classes to study for. At least I don’t have to study too much for AP English, it’s just responses. I feel live I have studied enough for AP United States History, but I have barely studied for Biology and Calculus. Which means I have a busy couple of days before the test, and now there’s less than a week left for that.

The AP test is quite scary, but as of right now, I felt more worried about a history presentation I did earlier today. Not only was presenting it pressuring, there would be people studying off of these notes too. I had to cover everything. At least that is one way of lifting the burden off of the incoming test, whether intentional or not.

Definitely things are going better for the people around me when it comes to preparing for the test. I saw someone during our school’s annual Baron Games, a spirit competition between the grades, studying their AP Biology study book in between minigames. “Dang, I’m not that dedicated, should I be doing more?” This event has made my very nervous, because I assumed that I would have enough time to study, but now I’m thinking that I need to plan my time and set thing straight because it’s very simple: There’s not much time left.

And watching everyone else, taking after school practice tests for their classes, and I attended one for Biology, for an FRQ, in which I did decently on. Not to say that the results mean I’m ready, because I am nowhere near that. Heck, I should be studying right now. But anyways, I should definitely be prioritizing things in my life right now, I mean the future is pretty important.

Before writing this, I was agonizing myself over not studying for calc, and while doing practice test homework, I spent time studying for it. Despite not a full study of the subject, it felt very beneficial to have just referenced to notes and correct myself. I don’t know if I can do the same for Biology, maybe flashcards and practicing chronology, but I suppose reading something is better than reading nothing. Practice makes (almost) perfect, right?

Passing the time, Somehow

 

 

Boredom is when we have nothing to do, we’ve done everything that needs to be done for the day.When we feel bored, we try to find something to do to not be bored, like busywork, which can often be considered boring,  but in the heat of the moment, it’s at least something to do.  Boredom is an attitude that can often lead to great things, like productivity or creativeness with one’s surroundings.

Boredom doesn’t have to be just boredom. When we are bored, we sit around, and most of the time, we look for something to do to pass the time. I often find myself doing chores that I would normally not want to do, especially if I had other things to do. But often in boredom, we fall into a deeper state. A study reported on NPR observed that the more bored people found themselves, the more creative their ideas were for doing something with the surrounding objects. Many were very imaginative and creative with a plastic party cup,Aside from doing ordinary things, we can often see things around us from a more creative angle. When I have nothing to do, I usually find myself drawing or fiddling with the things around me, or on Saturday mornings, hunger and boredom combined usually makes a very good plate of scrambled eggs.

If you aren’t convinced by food yet, consider that whatever you do is a reward or a gift to yourself. A cleaner house, a nice-looking meal, or maybe a little arts-and-craft trinket or drawing can liven up your home or brighten your day. Of course boredom isn’t something that we should be in all the time, just those few occasions where you feel accomplished with your day and you “don’t” want to do anything else. It should be something more after a successful day, to reward yourself with an item or a memory, an experience that you will remember.

But of course, with modern day technology and phones, “we never have to be bored ever again.” NCR’s and WNYC’s podcast host, Manoush Zomorodi, had stated, it “fills every bored moment in our day with entertainment.” It is very much true, I see people, including myself, using my unspent time on my phone, apps, and social media so that I don’t sit around and sharply stare at the slightest movements in the area around me. I usually find myself in situations where there is too little time to do anything real with that small gap in the schedule, like in a waiting office, in the passenger seat of a car, or somewhere else. Especially the bathroom.

I, and possibly others, should try to spend less time on our phones, and a little bit more time in boredom to try and cater to our creativity. I need to see what is beyond the visible and imagine the possible. After all, what can we do?

Essay Antics

As AP tests and the end of the year close in, preparations for those tests begin to escalate. As part of that, feedback and constructive criticism can be devastating, but the most useful asset a student has to overcome the AP exam.

Today in English class, we wrote essays in response to a reading we did to analyze the style of writing the author took to make the writing more effective. After I had written my essay, I had realized that I made a poor mistake in my choice of analysis in my thesis and my ideas were poorly organized. I had only realized this after I had written, and wondered on how I could fix this problem. The next day, we did peer reviews, and I got immediate feedback on what I needed to do, including better organization and that I was slightly off from the prompt, and some analytical choices. This was what I needed to succeed, and I was extremely grateful of the criticism because I wanted to improve and score higher on the AP Composition exam. While the criticism is useful, I feel that I need more practice to iron out all the mistakes I would have made on the actual test.

Some people take criticism very sharply and translate it as an attack on their character, but what they need to realize that it is not to hurt them, but rather, to help them. Those who give criticism are not out to hurt you (unless they actually are), but rather to help you improve and succeed, as is the job of teachers.

Another time in my APUSH history class, we had presentations to do, and from what I heard, the previous periods had gotten chewed out. My group was giving the presentation, and after I said some of my lines, I could visibly see my teacher cringe a little. At the end of the presentation, he gave us plenty of criticism and asked us questions, hinting us towards the correct answer that we were so slightly off from. In situations like that, most would have been upset with the teacher’s tone, but I had to stand there and take the feedback. After thinking about this for a little bit afterwards and the following day, I realized that my teacher was not out to get us, but to guide us on the right idea. While others gave their presentations and stood in the front for criticism, I perked up at his words like, “You presented that idea very well.” “You didn’t quite hit the mark, but got very close.” “You are on the right track, but keep going.” These key phrases made me realize that he was not being critical to be critical, but to help all of us prepare for the key things we will need to write on for the AP exam for US history.

I have come to realize that some teachers are sometimes rude and grumpy, but while these may be their qualities, they often aren’t doing it on purpose. They want to help us, to guide us on the right path, to see us succeed in class and in life. I’ll now have to be more keen towards my teachers and the things they say, because while it may seem rude, there is always a deeper meaning and feeling to words.

How much Homework?

 

John Liu

 
Homework is school (or not school) assigned practice work to help students understand and conceptualize what they are learning. often enough, practice homework, is helpful for understanding an idea or lesson, but if the homework were too long to complete, for example, 6 classes, 1 hour per class’ homework, 6 hours of homework daily, then students would slowly (or quickly) get exhausted and consider homework a chore, busywork, that students will eventually find themselves skimping out on. 

Children in elementary grade level are at time where they are developing themselves, their imagination, and their creativity, a crucial stage in development. From my experiences and from others as well, children despise homework because it takes away from their fun time, which it does. For them, lessons and practice should be done in class, and should have only slight to no homework at home.

“There is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary students.” – Harris Cooper, Duke University.

However, at later stages, like middle school, high school, and on, students begin to realize the importance of homework and its influence on their education. This is especially important at this later stage because concepts and lessons learned in school begin to take a more complex form. At the same time, homework shouldn’t be piled on, like 6 hours per day, but to a maximum of two. 

My current calculus teacher does this as well, which benefits all of her students. What she does is she teaches the lesson for the day in class, but short and concise enough that we understand the material, and afterwards, we are given a fair amount of homework to do in class. During that “class work” time, the environment of the classroom becomes moderately quiet, with small pockets of conversations going on. We can ask our teacher or our friends for help on questions we don’t understand and get the appropriate amount of help we need that we usually can’t get from home.. By the time class is over, classwork becomes homework but there is usually so little left, that it can be done in ten to twenty minutes. This is especially benefitted from the fact that by them time we leave class, we understand the material than when we initially took notes and began working.

But unlike my situation,my other friends in calculus with a different teacher work differently. She gives them much more homework and material to learn from, and online quizzes. My friends often come to me for help because they sometimes can’t get it at home, and sometimes stay up late doing the homework or online quizzes, and I know this because they complain every now and then. This is the current system that is often found in classrooms across the nation.

I propose in supporting and implementing Cooper’s idea that elementary students should receive no homework and higher grade students should receive about two hours of homework per day or less (excluding projects/essays). As a student, I don’t support this just because I want less homework, I support this because many do find themselves understanding the material, but also are exhausted from being overworked. We need just the right amount of homework to make learning more efficient and time-wise.

Procrastination Nation

I hate procrastinating. I absolutely hate it. I to me, procrastinating is being lazy by giving yourself the minimum amount of time to complete something when you could have more time to do it. For every day I wait, is more guilt tacked onto to back of my conscience, nagging me to do something about it. I don’t know how some people can live like that, and maybe it’s because they are more carefree and less nitpicky than I am, but procrastinating is something I hope I’ll never choose to resort to.

Recently, I was given a spanish project two weeks ahead of the due date, and it was required that I do it with a group. The group chose to work on the project the weekend right before it was due, which kind of upset me, but it was the only weekend that they could work on because they were busy with sports. I have not worked in the project yet, because it is due next week, and every night, before I sleep, I remember that I have to work on the project soon, and I get anxious and can’t sleep for a few more minutes. Being nervous is never fun.

Possibly, I could try to live with procrastination and slowly adopt it, but of course my future projects and homework assignments would be lower quality. That guilt that I feel when I fail to do something is probably hard-wired into my head by now. I mean, I do get distracted often while I work, but at least I have the rest of the night to do work. I live around procrastinators, yet I find it odd, sad, but fascinating how people can push themselves to use the afternoon leisurely, then to work all night. In AP US History, we have to do outlines of chapters from our history book, and these outlines are due every week. It takes hours to do, so I split it up during the week to work on it. Other friends in the class stay up to 5 in the morning the day before just to do it. Often, the outline isn’t as high quality, and not good enough to study from. I try to tell my friends to work on it during the weeks, like the teacher of the class recommended, but somehow, every time, they stay up late, along with most people in my class, and tell me about how they stayed up late and how they were upset with the workload and how they were tired throughout the day. I don’t understand how this happens.

So my partners for the spanish project want to wait until Friday to begin the script, then record on Saturday, and if needed, Sunday. They have understandable reasons for being unable to do it earlier, and maybe that is the case for my friends and other people too. I’ll never venture to the realm of procrastination, where relaxation is followed by hard work and stress, and I’ll do the vice-versa of what the procrastinators do. I suppose I understand how or why procrastinators need to wait longer to do, and I should be more lenient towards them. I just hope I never fall into that habit.

Different opinions

Are arguments and different opinions healthy for society? Does everyone have the entitlement to their opinion? In many places, opinions seem to usually be a majority, or are near even enough to cause fighting? Possibly, it is good because we all have the right to speak freely.

In my english class, we did a writing workshop where in groups, we review, assess, and provide constructive criticism on each other’s essays, usually all essays have the same topic or structure, but vary from person to person so we can compare easily. This particular time, we got an argument essay where the three other members of my group argued the exact opposite argument from mine. Listening to the same argument three times with more evidence piling, I felt that I had made the clearly wrong choice in opinion and topic, and the repetition drilled into my head their points of why their argument was correct. I assumed that their opposite arguments would result in them being harsher to me, which I thought would be bad for me.

However, I realized that their possible harshness towards my opinion might help me. By being more critical, both myself and the others could improve our arguments by listening to each other and finding flaws and weaknesses to use in our counter arguments, or in my case, to some degree, convert me to their side of the argument with some debate. It was great, because besides improving each other’s structure, we could help each others arguments. At the end of the session, my paper had a good amount of criticism, as did theirs, and all of us could improve.

By arguing and/or debating, we can help to prove a point because it is only natural for there to be multiple points of view, meaning that debates are natural as well. Courts and debates are proof of this, where two or more arguments can butt heads with each other to prove which is right in a more civil discussion. For example, the presidential race is a debate on which idea or argument is most representative of the people through popular votes. Candidates travel from state to state in hopes that they can convince enough people to join their party and earn their vote so that they can win the year’s campaign. The one who wins has the majority support for their idea of how the candidate should run the country for that term, and the public opinion shifts over time so that one argument is not always correct.

Debates are natural in society, and help to improve all people’s beliefs, which occur to enlighten people, and often improve and develop each other’s’ arguments along the way.

Post-Finals Goals

 

Many students often struggle with their subjects and classes in school, often because of procrastination and lack of organization, myself included within this group. Some of my projects were lazily and hastily done, often at the last moments before a deadline, like my spanish culture projects. My biology notebook is in such disorder that I wouldn’t even dare study from my own notebook for quizzes and tests. I, like many others, need to change my habits so I don’t struggle and become stressed in the future.

 

With the second semester peeking its ugly head from around the corner, I need to be ready to deal with all of the problems to come my way. For starters I need to be motivated to do something, because I can start a good habit, but without motivation or confidence, those actions won’t carry over in the long run. An article by Teresa Mears that I read had highlighted some details that I could use to improve my efficiency, like using a calendar with everything on it, checking it daily, and organizing my items and tools for ease of use and access when doing homework. I hope to use my planner more often as a daily to-do list that I check a few times every day to ensure that I do everything I need to do for the day (I’ve missed a few assignment submissions due to forgetting to check if I finished everything. Yikes!).

With the closing of the first semester and the opening of the second, school will be especially tough as the second half of junior year becomes one of the hardest in my school career, so far. It is probably a tad bit late (very late) to have realized my bad habits, and like the SAT, I need to experiment different styles for the maximum efficiency of my time and resources to get the most out of school life.

The second semester is the perfect time to iron out habits that I need to get rid of or acquire. This will hopefully be successful, and will serve as a late New Year’s Resolution. Day two of the semester, and I am checking my planner more often and ensuring that I finish, publish, and submit everything that needs to be done. I could possibly do my culture project for spanish earlier, long before the due date so I don’t have a project crunch time. I need to stay focused when doing my work, stop getting off task, and distracting myself from work, practice, and studying especially with AP tests only 4 months away. Pinpointing my weaknesses and ironing out the creases on my pants to make myself clean and presentable.

Help out around the house, organize your life, do spring cleaning every season! These are the things I am hoping to pull off and get success from in the future, the short run, and the long run, acquire good habits for life, and take control of my life once again! I’m going to get things done and set things straight, once check mark at a time.

 

It’s cold Outside.

Outsiders are what the name implies: you are outside, not a part of anything. It sure is tough living life as a complete outsider. You don’t know anyone, you can’t trust anyone, so you feel alone. Honestly that is a feeling that I absolutely dislike, because then, you have no friends to talk to, nobody to share anything with or find anyone similar to you, so you have to make friends with everyone, otherwise you are still alone.

Its because the thought of being alone is acceptable at first, but as time progresses, you slowly learn that you need someone to talk to in your life and how life is pretty pointless without people, like how crazy people stranded on islands are somehow fictionalized to have coconut friends with faces on them. Loneliness literally drives people insane.

Likewise, when I first transferred to middle school from my elementary which had oddly extended to 6th grade, unlike the rest of the schools in the district, My few friends and I found ourselves in a whole new Jungle. Everyone here had already known each other from the year before and already formed their own friend circles. Being new and a year out of place, we had no idea how to go through middle school life, while everyone else around us went on with their lives. However, like lost tourists, we could always ask the locals for directions. Being more social than me, my friends were quick to make other friends, but being socially shy, stubborn, and awkward, I initially shied away from people I didn’t know and made little interaction with them as possible. I feared that if I somehow messed up introducing myself or acted awkwardly or just embarrassed myself, I’d be permanently known as the guy who messed up, the outsider. If I had tried to jump right in and make friends with everyone, that previous sentence would apply and I’d prematurely back out of the encounter. Of course I wanted more friends, I just didn’t know how to get them.

So I tagged along with my friends who had already introduced themselves to everyone else, and just followed in their shadows. I often sat on the outskirts of group circles during lunch, just tensely but acting as calmly as I could, observed everyone else, did my best to introduce myself, join in, but because I hadn’t known everyone else, it would be hard to change from a foreigner to a local myself. About a month into the school year, way too far in now that I look at it, I had learned everyone’s name and sort of wedged myself into the line. I had gained their respect, I guess.

By the second month, I was integrated into the group of friends, and I had gotten to know about half of them. I didn’t know everyone at the school, but I had gotten enough friends at that point to call it quits. I was able to get friends and be satisfied with my progress. High school was easier because I entered with more friends than two years prior, so I was mostly satisfied with the friends I had already, but still made friends as the months went by.

Recently in high school, we read the Scarlet Letter, and as a part of the reading, we developed that the main character, Hester Prynne lived without a large community, but thrived with herself and her daughter in their own tiny community. Like then, I could fare well, despite the odds.

So, being a complete outsider is bad, but if you can become an insider in at least one thing, you’re already fine. You don’t need everything, because often the bare minimum will get you by. Make friends with people who really want friends, they might appreciate it, like me.