A Letter to My Grade 9 Self

Dear Grade 9 Winston,

I’m going to give you a handful of advice that will persuade you to create helpful habits and merge you safely into your high school experience. The advice I list has been proven first hand to help you succeed academically throughout your courses. Some key points of advice are; attend all of your classes, start and finish all homework, take retests when available/necessary, join extra curricular teams, and lastly create friendships. Although high school will become stressful and overwhelming at times throughout your experience, if you follow my tips of advice I assure you high school will be the best four years of your life (thus far).

The one most important thing in high school is attending your classes. The most notorious reason for students getting behind is not attending the class. When you don’t attend class you don’t know what the homework is, or you’ve missed the important notes that were only gone over in that specific class, or in worst case scenario, you missed the review for a test that’s the following day. Just simply staying at the school throughout the school-day and attending all your classes puts you in a position for success. Along with attending class, it is always very important to finish all homework assigned to you, and finished my the due date. Students will be given homework before tests to better ready them for it. If you don’t do the homework that was assigned before the test more often than not your test score will reflect it. Many students fail to understand that homework is a form of studying, it’s also, more often than  not, worth a percentage of your overall grade! When you complete a test that you weren’t ready for you will usually not be given the grade you want to see. There are many teachers that offer retests, my advice to you is to do them! Although most of the time you will be required to finish some additional homework before you take the retest,  a) it will better ready you for the test (homework is studying) and b) you will definitely notice an improve on your test mark. When you first make the switch from middle school to high school you notice that much like middle school there are sports teams. Although a little more competitive they are still undoubtedly fun! I advice you to join which ever sports team you enjoy most (could be multiple). Joining sports team in high school does nothing but add to your high school experience. Your coaches more likely than not will also be on your tail about your academic success, because they do not want students who are failing attending their teams. Along with participating in competitive matches against other schools you are given the choice to also participate in Esquimalt High Schools Alumni matches. Something else to keep in mind is that every sports team you’re on you are credited 10 volunteer hours (50 hours are required to graduate). The last thing I will touch base on is creating friendships. When you transition from middle school usually a couple friends will accompany you in the transition. It’s super important to keep those friends close but it’s even more important to widen your friendship horizon. New friends will introduce you to new opportunities, and even more new people. At relatively young age (grade 9), you need not much more than countless opportunities to choose from and many good friends to surround yourself with.

Having gone through high school from start to finish I can only look back and wish I followed these tips of advice better. Although your whole life does not revolve around your high school experience, many aspects of your life can reflect it. So be sure when your attending high school that when your hear that bell ring, notifying the students to head to class, that you’re in the cluster of students crowding the hallways on your way to class.

Buddy Book Bonding

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During the second semester of my grade 12 year I participated in a “Buddy Book” project that took place the majority of the time at Vic West Elementary School. All the students in my class were to be paired up with a grade two student to co-create a short book. Myself and my English class would visit Vic West Elementary once a week to accomplish this task. First we had to meet our little buddies and then, plan and organize the book, and finally we were to finish the book and gift it to our fellow grade two buddies. This project was a great learning experience for myself and I can only hope my grade two buddy appreciated our time together the same as I did, and I wish the book can leave a lasting symbol of our brief time together.

Prior to starting my buddy book project our class would visit Vic West Elementary once a week to read to the grade two students, I read to this young boy named Lyrik on multiple occasions. We seemed to get along quite well, so when it came down to choosing a little buddy I knew who I was going to choose. Although I was a tad bit nervous initially (because I hadn’t hung out with an 8 year old for a while),I listened to what Lyrik wanted to talk about and our conversations just went from there. Before the project began Lyrik would only choose tornado books for me to read to him, along with telling the same story over again about his experience with a tornado. I now had a pretty clear image in my mind what the plot of the book would be.

When it came down to planning our book out it was quite clear that it would take places during a tornado storm. From there we had to create; a title, good guys and bad guys, a geographical location, and have an ending. The tile chosen by Lyrik would name our book “The Great Tornado”. We both agreed on the idea of having a prison get torn apart by the tornado, a few criminals escape, and them causing chaos around town. When criminals are the antagonists most of the time (including our book), the police are the protagonists.  I realized that tornadoes don’t really occur on the coast so the story would take place in the Aberdeen countryside in Washington state. The end, like all good books, ends with a happy ending with the criminals getting arrested by the good guy cops.  Planning the book out wasn’t the easiest of tasks to complete because our ideas would often clash, but in the end the grade two is always right.

Throughout the planning and organizing process of the project my little buddy created 5 pictures for me to finish and add text too. That was an amazing start for a book which only required 8 pages. I carefully printed out all the text for each page above the picture on each page which contributed to the book being a little out of the ordinary. I wanted to focus a lot on the drawing and colouring on each page because I understand being a young boy, it’s usually the artwork that captivates you. Not the words. When the book was all said and done I came down with the flu, which didn’t allow me to gift the book to my little buddy on time. Since my little buddy, Lyrik didn’t get the book on time I never received a “Christmas card” from him, which was fine by me. But him not obtaining his book with the rest of his class really saddened me. Once I was over my sickness I went by myself to his class and gifted the book to him along with a Toblerone bar. He seemed to enjoy and book and was appreciative of the chocolate bar. Before this “Buddy Book” project I had done nothing like it, I look back on it now, and it was a phenomenal way to spend class time by (hopefully) making a difference in a younger persons life.

Rabbit Restoration on a Budget

In August of 2014 I was in need of a new vehicle for I had recently scrapped my 1984 BMW. An ad on usedvictoria.com caught my eye; it was for a 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI with a 16 valve swap in it. I visited the seller once and I simply fell in love and had to have it. With a price tag of $2000 but worked it out to $1600 I thought to myself, could this 16 valve converted Rabbit GTI be able to be restored? Over the past month or so I have been donating my car blood, sweat, and tears that it so desperately needed in efforts to bring the look of my car to its full potential. The restoration of my Volkswagen Rabbit can be sorted by 3 sections; the hardships my car and I have gone thru, necessary maintenance and the restoration itself plus additional modifications.

When owning a project car it becomes extremely obvious that you’ll have to overcome many hardships regarding your car. My first hardship with my car occurred in the end of March when my alternator started to fail. After attaching a voltmeter to the battery while the engine was running and meter said “13.1v” I know it was time for an alternator rebuild. When I received my rebuilt alternator back from Mac’s Auto Electric and installed it I realized that thru the course of a day my battery would still die. Searching through many internet forums I stumbled upon a post in onallcylinders.com that directly related to my situation. I soon figured that a bad ground was the cause of all these grievances. Firstly, I replaced my positive battery terminal and rewired my negative terminal, no luck. Then I grounded the negative battery to the car more effectively by sanding the paint off and stripped the wires, still killing the battery. I finally inspected the alternator cables and saw they were electrical taped together and horribly connected. After stripping the wires and creating better grounds the problem was solved. My second VW orientated hardship started in the school parking lot where a fellow student back in my rear right fender. The cosmetic was (is) very minor, but with the force of the impact, a coolant hose adapter tore causing all the coolant to leak out. The unique hose I needed was rare and hard to find, so I ended up buying regular ¾” hosing and cut the size I needed. I then installed it and added coolant. It proved effective. The fact of the matter is that no matter what you have in mind, obstacles will always arise.

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A part of the restoration process in giving the car the initial maintenance that is necessary. At the beginning I checked my dipstick to only see a trace of black sludge, it was time for an oil change. After ingesting new oil, a new oil filter, and new wiper blades from Lyall Street Service my rabbit was hungry for the road. Since having new wiper blades I thought to connect the wiper fluid pump to the squirt nipples in my hood. After having my car serviced and inspected I figured a drive up to my dad’s in Port Alberni would be good for the car rabbit. I believe the nicest part of drive up island was getting pulled over on the highway. To my surprise, when I got pulled over and cop came to talk to me he said “Your brake light is out and you don’t have your N displayed, but since you’re driving a really cool car I’m not going to give you a ticket”.  Surely enough the when I got into Port Alberni I did a pit stop at Napa for bulbs, I also grabbed high performance spark plugs (seeing as I haven’t changed them yet). With the change of spark plugs I noticed much better throttle response and improved fuel economy. Many people overlook the importance of an oil change and basic service; both are very significant to having a reliable/restorable vehicle.

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Lastly, after all the repairs and maintenance are done comes the actual restoration plus the additional modifications. A massive part of the restorations process is he paint. My idea of a perfect glossy white finish went down the tubes after witnessing the impact of 8 hours of what polishing actually does to the paint. Although the hood is relatively shiny, the rest of the car seemed to just “clean up” throughout the process, which was good enough for me. Before even insuring my GTI I had purchased a stereo deck and speakers for it. With the help of a friend the stereo and speakers were installed in less than an hour. With some help from another friend the passenger side speaker was ripped out in less than a second. I’ve always been a huge fan of lowered cars, so I wanted my rabbit to be low as well. I bought a set of used lowering springs on a local automotive shop and swap group on facebook. Lowering the car proved fairly easy, until I realized my rear anti-roll bar is in the way of the shocks. Making is a full day process. The improved handling and physique made the exhausting hours worth it. With performance and cosmetic looks in mind I decided one night to remove and front and rear bumper. Once I removed the 4 bolts for each bumper, they just slip right out. I was amazed with the look of that easy modification; it looks similar to a race car now. Also losing the bumpers cuts the weight of the car down at least 100 pounds. I removed my spare tire to further reduce the weight, so then I decided to filled the spare wheel well with fluids (coolant, engine oil, wiper fluid). Since removing the front bumper I had these 2 big openings in  my front, where lights would soon be mounted. I planned on purchasing fog lights that would make a perfect fit in the opening but after a trip to Canadian Tire I came back with a set of 50 watt running lights, which I thought would do the trick. After drilling holes for the light mounts in the sub frame (where the bumper shocks were), wiring the lights to the battery, and then wiring a switch under my dash I had another completely functional set of lights. They help improve my field of vision in the car at nights, but are just as much cosmetic as performance. Overall, the restoration resulted in a success, but with a couple bumps in the road perfection simple wasn’t achievable.

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At the end of my Inquiry Based Learning project I have succeeded in restoring my 1984 Rabbit GTI 16v to the fullest of it’s potential in regards to my budget. The hardships, the maintenance, and the restoration have all contributed to an overwhelmingly amazing English project and project car. A car worth sinking your money into can be difficult to find, and may not even be in the question for others, but I found my Volkswagen Rabbit GTI almost a year ago and I’ve enjoyed every moment with her since, good or bad.

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References:

Mike Carlos

Alloncylinders.com

http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?1253124-The-Official-A1-16V-post

http://www.wikihow.com/Polish-a-Car

The Power of Optimism

Nick Vujicic, born in Australia without legs or arms, talks in front of a crowd about the significance of hope, faith, and overall optimism. Nick expresses his difficulties growing up, the obstacles thrown at him, and his own suicide attempt throughout the speech. Going through life without having limbs created all sorts of obstacles in life, Nick tell’s us the viewer that these obstacles can easy enough become opportunities. Growing up being teased and bullied because of his looks lead to his suicide attempt at the age of 8, his sudden realization that such an action would implement a further burden on his family stopped the attempt. The faith portrayed by the boy that things would get better is nothing less than heroic in my opinion. His supporting parents who would always call him “beautiful” as a child helped restore and build Nicks hope that maybe a miracle would never happen to him, but that he would one day be somebody else’s miracle. Optimism is such an important tool throughout an individuals life, because it is what gets your through a rough day. A world without optimism, would be a world without hope.

Significance of Inquiry Based Learning

Inquiry based learning is a form of learning that gives students the opportunity to check off there own criteria, answer there own questions, and learn from there own mistakes. Teachers giving students the ability to control there own education, at a age appropriate pace teaches the students one of the most important tasks in life, independence. Along with independence being granted to the students, a sense of creativity comes along as well. Inquiry based learning gives students the perfect chance to go outside of there comfort zone (educationally) and learn about something that they’re genuinely intrigued about.

IBL in the education system has many significant attributes. It gives the students a chance to become independent, overcome problems themselves, learn new material that interests them, and give them the ability to finish with an amazing final project. With attributes comes setbacks as well. IBL also give students the chance to become lazy, do half-a** work, and create minimal criteria requirements. For IBL to actually prove effective the student must have a clear vision and understanding what they can create for a final project. To ensure effectiveness of the IBL, weekly check-ins with the course teacher is very important.

Since beginning an IBL project I believe that the effectiveness in the course is massive. Given the chance to work on something that I’m truly passionate about (my 1984 vw) and to have that as my IBL project means that I am truly engaged with my “English project”, not only am I engaged but striving to complete the project with it’s utmost potential (in a regular project that usually results in a good grade). Because it is not only school work to me, but it’s my blood, sweat, and tears leading to the complete restoration of my current project car.

Since doing a fair amount of research into the IBL trend I have come to conclusion on the topic. IBL is an phenomenal opportunity for students who are willing to exit there comfort zone, try a different learning method, and also gives students (including myself) the motivation to complete the assignment with your fullest efforts and have a finished final project that was has it’s maximum potential.

Roots of Teaching

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After being through 12 years of schooling I have been taught by dozens are good and not so good teachers. The really exceptional teachers in my opinion have attributes such as; a sense of humor, an ability to connect with students, a creative learning style, and is an overall interesting person. I believe that good teaching comes from the roots of teaching, which is the teachers.

To start off, some of the best teaching moments in my life have been with a comical teacher. Everyone loves funny. Furthermore being comical as a teacher will one, enlighten students (even in difficult scenarios) and two, as a teacher you are going to grow on the students.

Teachers that have the ability to connect and relate to students I think will have the best chance of being able to conduct productive learning to each student as an individual. Being able to connect with another person opens multiple other doors, one being knowledge. What is better than a teacher sharing his/hers knowledge with students.

When teachers stick to a very structured learning style it tends to get boring very quickly. Maintaining a creative or even quote on quote fun learning style as a teacher is very effective teaching. It is only human to enjoy certain activities that are what you consider fun. I myself have even been apart of a “fun” class and my best marks reflected my entertainment in that class.

Last I find the most important attribute a teacher can have, is to be genuinely interesting. When you’re an interesting person you’re job role will reflect it. Being interesting makes students want to engage with the class lessons much more, and want to engage even more so with the teacher.

Good teachers make up the roots of good teaching, to continue these roots better teaching styles must appear. If teachers want to conduct better effective learning, keep some personal characteristics you may be able to change in mind such as; become funny, be more social with students, be fun, and finally be cool. Now if teachers cannot follow these simple guidelines for effective teaching, there is going to be many dumb people in my generation.