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Final Portfolio

Symbiosis is “the living together of two dissimilar organisms in more or less intimate association”. This means that the two parts cannot live without each other. You can apply this idea to a huge amount of things. I would like for us to take a look at the term when it comes to understandings. You cannot have an understanding without other understandings, as every understanding is reliant on the understanding of something else. Take, for example, the slicing of an orange. You have a knife and an orange. To have the intention to slice the orange, you need to have an understanding of what a knife is used for, and the fact that the orange is soft enough to cut with said knife. We were asked to form this final portfolio around an understanding, and the understanding that I want to focus on is “Understandings have symbiotic relationships.”  So, let’s take a journey into the world of understandings.

In my World History class, we use this idea of understandings to see beyond the established, textbook facts. We synthesize this information into a more cohesive form. I want to take you through some examples of this intriguing structure. We will begin with something from the beginning of the year. In October, we conducted a trial that involved Cortes’s conquering of the Aztec nation. This started with research, as we had to establish a basic understanding of what happened, and who should be tried for what crimes. Once researching was initially finished, we had to adapt strategies for winning the trial. We had to use our prior knowledge and mix it with the knowledge we had of the trial participants speeches. From this, we formulated questions. Questions, such as “What justification do you give yourself for killing your own men, and people of your country?”. We used our understandings from each response and each group’s arguments to form questions as we went, creating a full, constricting understanding with which to pin our opponents. The full contents of our group’s look at the trial can be found here.

One of the more interesting projects I did this year for World History involved the creation of a play. We had to write a play, one that had grounding in the world, and involved world issues. For this project, I wanted to take a more personal approach and take a look at crime in Philadelphia, my home city. I did research, analyzed the crime in Philly, and used my knowledge of many events like these to write about my own, fictional version of one of these crimes and craft a story around the potential motivations behind it. In my play’s case, the reasons behind the crime can be summarized quite nicely by the main character and perpetrator of the crime’s, mother “Jeremy, I would rather die than let you get caught doin’ something illegal. I will pay for my chemo myself. And then, I’ll get better, I’ll go back to working in the office, and we can have a nice life again.” The full play is here.

Another project involved the analyzation of revolutions, finding a way to talk about and relate revolutions. The project itself asks for the fusing and synthesis of understandings. One of the major things I talked about in the project was the fact that revolutions can take many forms, which I found of import after trying to find a new way to angle my project, so as to promote a different way of understanding revolutions. So, I made the claim that flat design was a design revolution, so that I could show that things like design have revolutions too. You can find the video here.

Throughout the year, we have been using a journal to answer daily questions. These questions are used to assess our current understandings, and to wrack the minds of multiple people in the class to come up with greater understandings based on everyone’s individual thoughts. In one of my Journals, my very first one, I talk about how people are abused for the sake of labor. This is reciprocated, mixing more symbiotic understandings, towards the very end of the year, where we do another trial, this one about sweatshop labor and who is at fault. We began the year with a concept, and learned more about it later in the year. Another of my journals (found here) addresses how people’s understandings are influenced by more correct understandings.

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Worlds History Portfolio 2014

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History over the years has changed how society looks at religion. Society all the time has a bad effect in our community. Back in the days people were able to freely be who they were and act the way they wanted, over time terrible things happened such as colonialism and slavery this two can be related because they forced people to look like others in order to survived or to adapt to their ways of living, religion was also a big part of history and society  because back then it used to define who you were and what you could do.

In 9/20/13. We learned about how the world is surrounded and ruled by money and how certain things need to be done in order for companies and countries economy to grow. In my class which is Iron stream we were doing a trial about sweatshops and multinational companies , in which we had  to do  trial about who was the most guiltiest in which was consisted by poor country workers, U.S consumers, system of profit , elites which were the government and multinational companies such as nike etc. In the end of the trial we found the elites to be the most guilty because nowadays society is so focused on money that their own government will let things such as low payment jobs in factories in order for them to get a huge profit without care of their own people. In journal # 6, humans relate to the natural world by taking care of it because if we didn’t have the environment like the ecosystem we would die off.

People back then used to take other peoples culture and it used to go by the word of “colonialism” from my point of view it’s invading someone's country over and just for their people and resources. On May 27th we started a project called Colonialism Museum and in this project I talked about the colonialism in which we had to choose a country that got colonized and talk about it, I chose Hawaii and I talked about how colonialism is bad and how it destroys the colonizer, I said that Hawaii’s culture change drastically by the british from the way the Hawaiians used to eat to the ways they used to dress.Also in Journal #46, 5/7/14, I also talk about colonialism by saying “Colonization and colonizer they both change. Basically a colonizer and what happens in a colonization is bad. On top of that when a place is colonized the colonizer will loot from the colonized”.

  The Renaissance was a big era not just because of it’s rapid and inspiring way of inventions such as machines and paintings and also a lot of revolutions and poetry. In the revolution Is a link connected to my French revolution trial that is very interesting to me because the french was oppressing it’s own people and Haitians in fact the only people that had to pay taxes were the poor and the middle class the religious such as Christians didn’t have to pay a penny and so did the rich too. in the end the revolution ended when the poor and middle class took charge of this by killing the king and his  family. The poetry link talks about a poem that I made called the somebodies and the somebodies  were Haitians who lived during the renaissance era and they worked for the french and lived in the French land but they weren’t legally French.

In conclusion Society now and back then was very different but if you think about it  we still oppress our own people by the way they talk, or dress. Back then it used to be whether where you came from or what you skin color was, in the end if you think about it very deeply we are colonizing others so we can get control over them, some colonizer such as media. In the end Colonization like this needs to change just like society needs to do as such. 

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World history has been an amazing experience. I have learned and acknowledge things that I don't think I wouldn't have normally thought about. This class has shined light on lots of changes, both positive and negative. I think Mr. Block has done an outstanding job on bringing the past back to life with his awesome units and lessons. Some of those lessons will be talked about today as I look back on things that developed me as a world history student. I remember me sitting in class in the beginning of the year thinking I would probably hate this class, going off past experiences with other history classes. This class was different. Mr. Block totally changed my perspective on how I viewed this course

Many of the units that were taught and focused on has came to a complete understanding about the way this class is summed up. One of the biggest things that popped up a lot throughout all the lessons we learned was that self identity was a very important credential here in this society and especially all around the world. We looked at units about social justice and and religion/culture. We saw how countries were being colonized and oppressed. We saw how many cultures were being europeanized and taken away their rights and cultural beliefs, just to “fit in”. The “American Dream” did not have any room for people of any skin tone that flawed their ideas at all. Even if that meant not being able to do basic human rights. African countries had the worst of many. Apartheid was a big part of history that we are still scared from to this day. Leaders like Nelson Mandela and Gandhi fought so that someday we could possibly become one and have all equality, but it`s not over yet.

One of the things that stood out to me this year that also reminded me of my understanding,was when we did a discussion on the girl that went back to Africa for a funeral and later went on to move permanently to the country. Here is a part that I truly liked:”She was a strong woman and I think she could have been just as strong living in Africa. She was on a mission and she had something she wanted to accomplish.” I thought that reminded me of when I was thinking about the time I was in Africa and I had to be strong. When I returned back from Africa I thought a lot about how things were so different from back home. I made pledge to myself that I wouldn`t allow people to live like that. That I would try my very hardest when I got older to help those who can't help themselves. I saw that their self identity mattered, because I would see if you were of lebanese descent they would treat you better. It was something about Americans that made life so much easier over their. They would literally ask you if they could kiss your feet, they would stare only because they are not used to such things that you might have. Social identity played a major role in that.

Another unit we did was from the 3rd quarter when we did the plays. It was my second time doing plays. I did one when I was in middle school and had it performed by fellow classmates. I thought that the topic I wrote about for my play could explain just how much world history has tied into having a self identity. The topic I wrote about was about a woman who cheated with married man because she had a problems with herself. Her boyfriend would beat her and would have drinking problems.I have a part of a scene that explains a lot of my general understanding, Mama Jones: “Yeah, you think so honey. You know why they also come to you, because you easy, ya little hoe. Aint nothing to you, but skin and bones. You aint no real women, You a little girl. They know you just a easy fix to get some with. You hardly know anything baby. And you need to keep more than just ya mouth closed before something come crawling out of there’s saying mama.. This is another crisis of identity when a troubled young girl sleeps around because she is unable to get into contact with herself. She looks for love in the wrong place and maybe ends up getting hurt. I think that many of people struggle to find themselves so they search in others to do so.

The unit on revolution was one of my favorites because we did a project on country that we were assigned and had to show how they struggled for their rights and how they overthrew the higher authority. I did mine on Egypt. I learned lots of things that I would never had knew if it were not for this project. Identity was an issue with Egypt because if you were poor and did not have a lot of money it was equivalent to not having a voice or rights. Many of what I was reading when I first started was they were trying to shut up the people that were complaining that they had no rights, which was very unfair. Here is a quote from the story that I Thought stood out, “He was an unfair dictator. He was living a wonderful life while others were living in poverty and dying from simple resources like bread. He was overpowered by the people of egypt. This is an example that long endurance and hard work for justice will happen eventually.” This was the dictator of Egypt and the only reason he was there for that long was because he had a self identity that was higher than most of the people that were against him.

I remember I was sitting in class one day and I was looked up the board and saw that the warm up was asking me a question about whether other cultures were allowed to judge other cultures. At first I thought that it was a question that was actually very smart, because  even though we do it, we never really acknowledge the fact that we do it. Even if we do acknowledge it, nobody says that it is wrong. The other resources that I have is the journal we wrote in everyday. I have wrote some meaningful things in there, but one of which I believe I truly should discuss. It was on journal number 3 where I talked about when would it be ok to ever criticize other cultures. I said it would never be ok due to the fact that as a cultural there will never ever be a right way to believe in what you believe in. I think that just ties into the self identity and make yourself fit into a theme that makes other cultures feel lower than some cultures that may be a little more popular such as christianity.

Here is another journal entry that I recognized as a very important entry that I thought would be very good. In the journal entry it gave me 2 quotes and I said that i disagreed with the second one. The second was basically implying that religion was a drug and blinded people of what actually was going on. I thought that was wrong or disagreed because I thought that religion should be an escape for any bad drugs that try to come into your life on a daily basis. I said I think people should turn to religion if nothing else.

All these resources made my time in world history thoughtful, fun and meaningful. I think that Mr. Block has altogether changed the way I look at history. Before coming to this class, history used to be a frag. I used to hate it. It made no sense as to why I had to learn about something that happened 200+ years ago, but this class made it so fun to learn about stuff like that. Now looking back at everything in my journal, I agree with some and disagree with some. I think that overtime as you learn more things and see different things you evolve and change. Change is not always bad, but then again change could be bad as we saw in history. Overall this year has been successful, because whenever you can take the knowledge you have received and place it on other things in your life, that class truly has changed your perspective and identity.

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Dreams are the Key


Society as a whole has become very corrupt and the things that keep us all from being pessimists is hope. Hope that we will be alive the next day. Hope for what comes next. For your crush to even look at you that day. Through out the year I've learned what hope and dreams can do for a society. Dreams are what make the world go 'round. Dreams by definition are "a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person's mind during sleep." or to "contemplate the possibility of doing something or that something might be the case." Both are very important to making the world a better place. Without dreams we would never have inventions and we would never evolve as the human race that we are today. 

When we as humans start to believe in things there starts to become problems and controversies we go through. In religions, especially, we start to tell stories we call myths "Myths have power because they are stories that you hear usually from people of authority that you trust, to tell the truth." Myths also make you believe in the unseen which gives a person the creativity to dream. The thing is "Dreams are fulfilled through education, nothing comes without learning" so the basic human rights need to be fulfilled in order for us to move forward as a whole.

In my Digital Story I talk about happiness and that we are all in the same boat as humans "They also need to remember that we are all in the same boat as humans and if we continue down this road of nothingness we will never be happy as a whole and that sucks because we deserve to be happy in the short lives we have." Life for humans is too short to be fighting the way we do.  Like the Europeans conquering the “New world” In one of my journals I say, "You say you want peace you want peace, yet you want to fight for it?" And this could not be put in simpler terms, Society as a whole has a skewed view on the way we obtain things. 

We often want what is best but we don’t think about how we get there as something that is important. In another journal we looked at a quote from Gandhi and compared it to a quote from Machiavelli. We compared their views on how to achieve a goal. Gandhi thinks that the means in which you get to that goal is important and I agree with him “No matter the end result eventually people start to look at the way you get there.” People can see if you are someone they agree with or disagree with by the way you do things. We need to remember that good intentions are just that, intentions”

All in all I feel as though I have learned so much, About the way the human mind has evolved over time. About the things that have changed and the things that have stayed the same. Fighting is still the means to get to a goal that was originally good. But the dreams have evolved so much because the human mind has gotten to a place where the unimaginable is now reality. 

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Final Portfolio 2014 Thieu

​​Here is my word art. 

    Throughout the year we’ve gone from learning about the keystone pipeline to writing plays on civil rights, to looking into another culture from a native perspective lens. 

  From a playwright’s perspective, you can write from different personalities and you can understand the situation from different points of views.
    When Mr. Block announced that my play was going to be performed. I was already thinking of the actors to be in it. I had so much to do in so little time. The main focus points of the play is “How do people find hope in the face of struggle? How does change happen? In what different ways do people struggle for rights?” Well the first thing that popped up in my head was a student in school struggling with multiple problems and rights they deserve from everybody they’re surrounding. The main character Paige is struggling with a weight problem and she realizes school nor home is a safe place for her. Along the way she goes through obstacles that make her realize she doesn’t need to be a certain way to fit in and be popular. 

It regards back to our civil rights unit because the main character in 
my play should be treated equally regarding her physical appearance. My play reconnects to many things we’ve done this year in history class. For example, going back on the Cortes trial, each individual of our class had a to defend a role from that situation in a mock trial. My group had to defend the system, they weren't actual human beings but a line of laws Europeans have to follow. This is a google doc where my group and I collaborated on during the trial to write important information and notes. The Aztecs were defenseless against Cortes and his men and Paige in my play is defenseless against the “popular kids” at her school. Even though they’re two different scenarios they still relate to a base of “Civil Rights” and “Struggling with a problem”. 

Like the my Civil Rights play, we’ve done things like learn about Revolutions. As a class we studied about the French Revolution from 1789 to 1799. We also made a revolution Guidebook Project. We talked about different topics regarding revolutions. Where the lower class attacked the higher classes because of unfair treatment and high raises in taxes. It wasn’t fair for the lower class because they couldn’t afford to eat and provide for their families. In this case, the third class is struggling with a problem and fighting back for civil rights. Without giving away the ending of my play, the main character goes through the same realization that she should fight back whenever something’s unfair. 

Here's some extra information: 
Amanda's Journals: Here


1:Boys are taught to only show the parts of themselves are defined as what’s “manly” Journal # 46 
2:  “ Yes a person’s past can heavily affect someone’s well being and future events.” - Journal 44 
3: “Each man’s labor is just as important as another” - Gandhi film questions. 
4: “We are the system of empire. The more property that we have, the more security the people will have. Therefore, we travel to different lands to find empty properties in order to protect and give opportunities to our people.  We should not take the blame for other people thirst for money because our main goal is expand our society into a bigger place.” - Cortes trial: opening statement. 
5: “All I’m saying is that we should care about this environment instead of digging it up and replacing that land with a metal pipe. You shouldn’t call yourself a protest leader you’re just a creature who has no soul and no regard towards other people except for yourself.” - History pipeline monologue 

See this potato? yeah, that’s you, and this french fry can be you if you stopped eating half of the damn fridge. (Eats the french fry) - History Playwright.
8: There could be many different things to cause revolutions. Greed, shortage of supplies, high rise taxes, inequality between estates, and much more. - Revolution Benchmark 
9: As you all know, I am Napoleon Bonaparte. I am a Corsican-Italian who became the Emperor of the French after a coup-d-etat. - French/ Haitian Role play.

IS IT LOVE OR IS IT A LABEL? - Religion unit. 

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Final Portfolio

Word Art

Development comes over time. Change never shows right away it is a process. “When trying to achieve change the process sometimes does matter and does not. When it comes to change I don’t think the process matters. However, when you are trying to become a doctor and you cheat the whole way through the process does matter because you can’t pursue in a career which you know nothing about” - Journal 52. Over the course of my sophomore year in history I have learned a lot, mostly about change and how it affects people.  We have gone through many units through the four quarters. We have talked about revolution, development, power, society, technology, religion and how all of that affects the people.

Dealing with the revolution I have learned a lot and it has opened my eyes about many things. During my working with revolutions the main thing that stuck out to me was the struggle for power. When revolutions take place there is a unbalance of power. The people who are suffering from the revolution are the native people of that land. A question that most people ask is “Are revolutions ever really over?”We watched some clips during class of the movie “The Square” during the Egyptian Revolution. Some people said “People are true power.” I made a video about revolutions and the power struggle here. You can see some quotes from the film that stood out to me and the quotes broken down here. Dealing with revolutions you will never see a positive outcome immediately. The changes expected from the revolution comes late. The first thing that comes after revolution is development. The people have shown that after revolutions you have to try to develop and make things structured around you so you can become structured.

Talking about religion and culture this year also helped me open my eyes. In culture you see the development the most over time. You can see what cultures actually stuck to what they believed in or if they wandered off or became “modernized.” Over the course of the year I wrote a journal about criticism dealing with cultures: “I don’t think it’s ever acceptable to judge someone else and how they live” - Journal #3. You can read the full journal here. Sometimes when revolutions took place there was a change in culture. When other countries would come over they would leave different effects on the people as in slang, beliefs, religion, dress, how you live and more.

Other than historical events, another thing that has changed and is still changing over time is development. Technology has developed in many different ways, positive and negative. Technology has affected historical events significantly. “Having some people be exposed to revolutions online are more difficult because instead of making a change people will just act like they care instead of really doing something”- Journal 32. In saying that there is more of a negative change because not a lot is being done. In Egypt an entire revolution started because of one post online so having technology also increased development.

In conclusion I really appreciated and learned a lot from working with Mr. Block in World History this year. I’ve learned a lot but what I will never forget is that development comes over time and change never shows right away it is a process. I can apply this to my everyday life.

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World History - Final Portfolio 2014

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Throughout the course of the year studying in World History, I’ve learned overall how important it is to stay together as a whole community, and not as separate countries. If we fail to contribute to a safe, respectful, cooperate community, then how will we ever have the power to stand up for ourselves? We’ve learned this broad statement over the course of the year by learning about sweatshops, bill of rights, revolution eras, and even colonialism. All of these small topics reflect on the idea that although the world is going through a rough stage of poverty, discrimination, segregation and more, we still need to represent our community by acting as a whole.

When we started the class in the first quarter, we learned that a method (not the best) to stand up for what you believe in is to simply protest in to stop something from happening. It also begins because there are many people out there who want to protest for the own rights, sometimes discrimination rights. In this monologue, I took the role of a boy trying to stop a construction worker from helping out with the recent Keystone XL Pipeline. It showed that people protest because they do not think that some things will turn out to be beneficial for the community.

In the second quarter, We were starting to learn about different cultures, if they are different or not, and what we could do to stop the discrimination. In a journal entry prompt given to us in the beginning of the year, we were asked if it is ever okay to criticize another culture. This relates back to the idea of teamwork and communities because it explains why it is never okay to make fun of somebody else just because of where they come from and what they believe in.

We’re halfway done the year now? Good lord! When we reached the third quarter, we had a big unit focusing on revolutions. We learned that people mostly protested in front of their own government because they heard of recent laws that did not satisfy them. However, instead of finding a way to safely inform the law that they have rights that should be heard, they led to violent protesting. In this digital story, I compared two very important revolutions on how they started and what effects they both made: The French Revolution and the Arab Spring Revolution.

In the final quarter, we worked on a playwriting unit. Basically, we spent several months writing our own plays and have been making stronger every day. Then we got into small groups and rehearsed our plays to perform in front of classmates. The pictures show our performances. What I took from this was that It is very important to listen to instruction so that when you perform the play, you can do your absolute best. I also personally learned that if you feel a little uncomfortable with what your lines say, you can just keep telling yourself that they’re just words on a piece of paper and nothing more. Here is my finalized play.

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Final Portfolio

When I walked in to World History the beginning of my sophomore year, I expected it to be a repeat of my 6th grade history class. Wars, battles, maps, boring boring boring. But, it was actually the complete opposite. This World History class was filled with different types of history from revolutions to plays, trials to sweatshops. It was a World History was a mixed breed, it was in fact a mut. And every class was a learning experience that I could never forget.

Belief systems indicate a major amount of assumptions and personal beliefs dealing with a combination of religion and philosophy. When discussing human rights ideas were pitched and thrown around of what exactly human right were, what was fair and what humans deserved. I personally pointed out in this assignment I explained how certain punishments like prison will not always help a murderer or a drug dealer and they have the right to be put into a facility rather than a prison. They have a right to a choice if anything. I also explained how some of my ideas related to The Constitution of Human Rights and how some rights in certain areas should be justifiable to be in touch with reality. In order to understand yourself, you have to understand others. If you judge someone based off of what someone told you, you’ll never know what the real situation is unless you’ve talked to that person. Certain things aren’t understandable if you haven’t gone through them yourself. Other things, you just have to have the mindset to put your beliefs and assumptions to the side, to hear someone else’s point of view whether it be through word of mouth or a creditable book.

This year in World History has brought out a lot of opinions and different perspectives on various things. In our very own debates and discussions in class I’ve found it personally to be hard to agree with or understand what someone else has to say, but going through all of these units has makes you think about things differently. This reminds me of the Scientific Revolution unit where the was a quote that said “The things that we may find to be small or of less importance can turn into something bigger because of the way people take things."It makes you think twice about saying things because you know so much about everything. 

One of my favorite quotes from the “What Is Enlightenment” unit was "Enlightenment is opening up your perspective or changing your view of things. To have a purpose." That quote itself explains so much, if you dont open your mind and eyes to new things, you’re perspective will be the same for everything. That’s one thing I loved about that unit because it was so true.

We read a book during fourth quarter called All Things Fall Apart. We had to find proverbs throughout the book and analysize them. There was one proverb specifically and this is what I got out of it. "Don't forget to be humble, even if your life is good. Be determined and it will happen." I felt like that quote was really important because even if all is going well for you it could easily change if you’re too proud. Humbling yourself and being determined will get you farther then looking down on those who don’t have it like you.

By the end of the quarter, looking through my journal for this project I came upon two of my favorites. Journal entries 3 and 5 which said:

"I don't believe its acceptable to criticize anyones culture if its what they believe in and how they choose to live their lives. However if it puts you and other people in danger, whether i be physically or emotionally, then it is wrong." 

"A person can't learn for you, you have to learn for yourself."

I believe those quotes sum up a good amount of everything that has been taught to me in this class. Everything is laid out for you, but it’s your choice to take the chance and run with it. 

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World History Final Portfolio 2014 - Bella Beato

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In order to understand yourself and others you need to understand the past. In history this year we’ve learned many things relating to my main topic. Our identity today depends on the past of ancestors and many others. Throughout the year we’ve learned about religion, revolutions, Galileo, and colonization. In my portfolio I will show you examples of work that relates back to my main topic, “In order to understand yourself and others you need to understand the past.” 
We learned about religion in all different parts of the world. To end the religion unit we compared two different religions. I compared Islamic and Hinduism religions. Here is my Wiki Space. I demonstrated the difference between animal consumption in these religions. This helped me realize how people around me that practice these religions feel about animal consumption. It helped me become more sympathetic and understanding. 
Next we learned about many the French and Haitian revolutions. In my journal entry number 33 I talked about different things that could start a revolution. I said that to start a revolution you need to “Establish a goal, Promote your cause, have a vision of a better future, have education, good leadership, and everyone has to agree.” Here is a link to the journal entry. We also did background information about the french revolution to get a better understanding. Here is a link to my background information. To finish the unit we made a movie about revolutions. We focused on a main question and used evidence to support our answer. Here is my project. This unit really helped me understand that without these strong people rebelling against the French rule our world would not be the same today. Who knows what the world would be like without these people. 
We did a smaller unit about Galileo and his inventions and beliefs. Galileo was a brilliant man who challenged the church that they were wrong. In this renaissance time period it was unheard of to challenge the church because the church was the government. He was convicted for his ideas and sent to jail. As an assignment I created a letter from the perspective of Galileo to the church. Here is the letter. This was a great way for me to get into the perspective of another person and see how they think. 
The last unit of the year was about colonization. We learned about how the British attempted to colonize the whole world so that they could control everything. In journal entry 51 we explained two quotes. For the first quote I said “How you make the result happen is just as important as the result.” Here is a link to the entry. At the end of the unit we made our own history exhibit about colonization and presented it to the class. Here is a link to my exhibit. By creating this exhibit I got to see the different struggles that people went through when the British tried to take over their homes. It also showed me that the British shaped the world to make it the way it is today. 
Throughout the year we have learned many interesting things in history class. I’ve learned overall that all these things helps us understand the people around us and ourselves. We need to understand the struggles and battles other people went through and are still going through. By understanding this information it makes us, as humans, more sympathetic. It is important to care for other because we need others to care for us. We treat others the way we want to be treated. 

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Final Portfolio

In all honestly I had the feeling that this year’s history class was going to be a bore like any other typical history class. I was proved wrong. On the first day, Mr. Block handed us m&m’s that represented each country’s supply worth. That caught my attention right away. It just wasn’t about what I was learning, but how I was being taught the new information. The most interesting thing that I learned in World History this year was exploring the different changes, cultures, religions, and revolutions in many countries and how it impacted them positively or negatively.

The first topic that really caught my attention was revolutions and their role is developing countries. In Journal #32, we were asked the question what is a revolution in our opinion. The definition that really stuck in my mind was “change against something that involves a large amount of people that all have the same biased decision.” Change was a big part about how revolutions came about, and superior countries taking over third world countries waw an issue. Many revolutions such as the French and Haitian Revolutions were concepts of change that the Haitians definitely didn’t agree with because it wasn’t benefiting them. On the other hand, good change happened in some countries especially involving the government system and how more structure was obtained.

Another topic that really sparked my attention to keep on learning was poverty in third world countries. Comparing education systems and development really made me focus on the weight that these countries had to constantly carry. On the worksheet, Pathologies of Power, we read excerpts of the book that discussed three different approaches (charity, development, social justice) that addressed these suffering countries. The quote that really stood out was “poverty today is a result of a contradictory development; the rich become richer and the poor become poorer." Development really only benefited the rich because they received more money out of it. It’s not like these poor people in these poor countries could afford to live in these developments. There was no point. Today, there are still many third world countries that are still undergoing hardships from these problems.

Diverse religions was another intriguing concept that really taught me how even religion was sometimes an issue. In Journal #18, we discussed the different ways that religion can be a positive or negative force in people’s lives. I stated that many people seek religion to find a new way of viewing life or or forgiveness. Although many religions may give off and interpretations on people. For example, Muslim people who wear turbans or hijabs may be looked upon as terrorist because of people like them have made a bad reputation for them. But is just all stereotypes. Also, limitations have been known to affect the people that believe in the religion because they are forced to believe in something that they honestly know is unjust. This is another example that ties into how revolutions were caused.

Nonviolence and colonization wrapped up the end of our year. In the worksheet, My Faith in Nonviolence,  we were became familiar with the strategic steps in which a lot of people must follow in order to attain a mental state of nonviolence.  In addition, we read “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, and studied quotes from his interview. He expressed the struggle of colonization and how it really separates cultures from one another.

This year has been a very productive year in my World History class. Everything I learned was very mind capturing and wasn’t in anyway boring. I had an amazing year, and hope that I can use the knowledge that I learned in my future!

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Final Portfolio

No Opinion is a bad one, they are only great if they are thought through. My portfolio is full of my thoughtful opinions that can raise questions, and arise debates.

“I think that it's only acceptable to criticize a culture when the culture is really cruel to the people, and everyone knows. But other then that, it's just judging people for how they want to live.” Journal #3. Though my writing skills were much poorer in the beginning of the year then now. I was explaining how it isn’t right to judge the way one lives, unless it is negatively affecting you, or is clearly is wrong. Something that I feel is not acceptable is judging muslim women because they wear the hijab and cover. Thats not effecting anyone. It’s their choice of living. Something that I consider an appropriate time to judge is the holocaust. What Hitler was doing was immoral, and it didn’t affect people negatively.

Religion is a practice of belief in a higher power. Learning, and worshiping or something even accepting that there is a higher power.” Journal #10. Not in the sense of saying that no religion is bad, but in my belief, if you don’t believe in a higher power, you don’t practice a religion. Not even saying that you have to “practice” your religion, but the simple act of believing is “practicing”.

“A revolution is a significant change in a place that the change has never been done. Not a random change, usually a system change.” Journal #29. I picked this definition because I think there are many things a revolution can be. There is not only revolutions in fighting against different countries like  the U.S. revolution against Britain. There could be technology revolutions such as the first computer, the cell phone.

Good research makes a good story. But also a good story can’t be made without explanations to facts. Our last benchmark was to make an exhibit on colonialism. This was my 1st artifact,”This is a painting of the taino indians. As you can see, they don’t wear many clothes. This is their native style of clothes. To other countries , such as spain this might make them look undeveloped. Making “helping” them seem like an okay thing. Though the way they dressed, their style of life was important to them.” Colonization in Puerto Rico. I thought this was a significant artifact because it shows how the Taino indians could easily be used by the spanish, they were taken off guard but people with god like clothing, while they only wore small skirts, just like in Africa. It makes it easier for the spanish to take over Puerto Rico too, they seemed to have such little judging them by their appearance. It was obvious to “help” them.

This is my 6th artifact,”This artifact shows how puerto rico is a “territory” of the U.S.

Though they celebrate puerto rican holidays, they also have to celebrate U.S. Holidays. The visitors can pick which holidays they think are american or puerto rican. And descriptions of each holiday. The people of puerto rico have to act as if they are american, though they aren't considered americans.” Colonization in Puerto Rico. I would say this was my most important artifact in my whole exhibit. This really shows how puerto rico is still colonized. They have to have our holidays , that are irrelevant to them, on their calendar. But they aren't americans. Having a territory is colonization.

All these things I am putting in this portfolio are the things that I am truly most proud of, though, what I think  I am most proud of is all the work I have done this year In world history. Though I had spinal surgery, I was successful in turning in my work and getting what I need to get done. I am truly proud of myself.

Word Art 2
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World History Final Portfolio 2013-2014

Word Art 3
It was a cold January day. 29 people sitting in a circle, arguing with each other about parts of the French Revolution. Then one particular man, Robespierre, jumped up, had a complete meltdown, yelled some expletives our way, and stormed out of the class. Just a normal day in World History class.

Truly, this year has been... Interesting, to say the least.

Throughout the educational mixture of facts and emotions and a variety of activities, us students have been brought directly into the emotions and situations of the events we have looked at. We have fought intense trials and argued over petty details just to win. We have taken up the mantles of revolutionaries. We have written our own fictional “look into history” in the form of a play. We have truly thrown ourselves into history.

Throughout the year, we have looked upon many different perspectives of the world. One interesting implementation of this was our pipeline monologue project. Click here to see it. "Right now we have a golden opportunity. The door out of this place is standing right there, but you keep trying to barricade it.... Things aren’t always black and white like they are for you and so many others. There are so many other colors and shades. And this one isn’t all bad." (Pipeline Monologues)

We look at the past, we look at those that have had important roles to play, we know where they fit in. But who are we as people? Where do we fit in? A resounding theme this year has been social justice for the oppressed, but what about justice for the ones who don’t know who they are, who have been hurt beyond belief, who still carry their own scars with them for so many years. When we focus on the big picture, we can accomplish great things, but what about the individual behind the statistic? What about one man?...

As part of our Play project, I wrote about what it was like for one man and his friends during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, against Nazi occupation. Click here to see my play project. I looked at more than just the suffering of a people, I looked at the suffering of one man, and how that suffering is connected to the fight for the city, and for the nation.

“Klaus Adler: You’re a fool. If you die, your cause dies...

Jan: And so do you." (Play Project)


You monster. Hell hath no fury like that of a Pole.

(*Starts kicking Klaus*)

This is for my wife! This is for my friends! This is for Warsaw!

And this is for Poland!!! Give Lucifer my regards!

(*Shoots Klaus in head, blows smoke off barrel*)

Well, that’s over. “ (Play Project)

"Stop. What have we seen here? Utter desperation. But this isn’t the end of the story, though you may think it is." (Play Project)

We have focused on such diverse issues from the Keystone XL pipeline, to the role of religion in society. Several more links and quotes from my work are included below: I personally analyzed the relation between religion and war. Click here to see my wiki page about it.

"War is people fighting each other for some sort of cause. It can be for freedom, it can be for land, it can be for honor. Whatever the motivation, it is either our cause, or the cause of our masters." (Religion Wiki)

        Click here to look at 2 handpicked history journal entries.

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World History Portfolio

As I write this I think back to my own past experiences. I think back to those days when me and my father sat on our couch and talked about those out of the box topics. Those discussions where we would talk about the first man being discovered in Africa, the Pyramids of the great Egyptians, and the thought of life elsewhere in the galaxy. I think to how these conversations affect how I think articulately.

General Idea:

I have found that process is a key factor in presence and appearance. These are subjects that are extremely important when expressing goals. How you achieve the goal is most important, especially when dealing with the things that follow that goal.

During various class discussions that led into my own explorations the key factors of reaching a goal became apparent. The way that Gandhi led his people from freedom. The wars of today going on in places like yemen. Reading the list of 198 ways of nonviolent action. The best way to fight a war is not through death or harm or hate. The best way to win a war is through logic and setting an example for what is right. To set empathy in the hearts of your enemies.

The best way to win an argument is through logic, while the best way to ace a test is through studying. This is because the way you achieve these things, the presence and appearance, don’t create further conflict. Rather they leave you with the knowledge and experience to be able to perform those tasks again expertly. While a method such as acing a test through cheating will not allow you to pass the test again without cheating. People will think you were good at those subjects and ask you to help them, but you would not  know how.


“Somebody had to work for that discount you got. Another message is that so many other people had to work for you to get you your clothes that you thought were so cheap and worth buying. There are so many ties with these big corporations that oil could affect the cost of clothing.”

Journal 1. Question 1.

“Process and preparation is most important when achieving the means. The knowledge you attain from getting there the first time may be the knowledge needed to get there again. The ripples you have imbedded while achieving that action will come back around. The bonds you have made will remain. The damage you dealt will still be damage. However, you can always try, try again.”

Journal 52. Question 1.

"Layout and appearance. What is on the outside is really important when swaying one's thoughts and looking for approval"

Scientific Revolution. Commentary.

"This section of the reading digs deep into the experience of experience. It says that Myth helps not only theoretically explain experiences, but to give them a deeper meaning. This deeper meaning makes experiences more worth while and last longer."

Power of Myth. Analysis/ Closer Reading.

"What you do and what you would prefer to do affect your livelihood. If what you do is different than what you would prefer to do, than your livelihood shall decrease.

Sacred Text Analysis. Commentary.

“People used the message of hippity-hop to get their message across. The message of inequality trying to tear down the Ukraine people was presented. It became powerful when put onto youtube.”

Revolutional Digital Story Benchmark. Fun In Revolutions.

“It still all boils down to a good organized plan and luck for everything to happen in it’s favor. So the best strategy to have is to not disclose your weaknesses, or identity to your oppressor and to construct a plan involving a community.”

Class General Discussion. In your opinion, what are the best strategies for revolutionary change?

Multis: “Only pleasing the consumers”;”Maximizing opportunities” System: “The only system without government intervention” Consumers: “Not responsible for what they buy” Workers: “Forced into labor”

Sweatshop Trials. Trial notes.

King:‘Was doing his job’-”Does doing your job consist of ignoring a mans attack on slaughtering some 240,000 people?”;’He didn’t know’-”How could you not know what was going on when you sent a letter carrier to cortez in a failed attempt to cancer YOUR previous orders?”

Cortez Trials. Trial notes.

“Between the Phoenician Colonies and the greek colonies, the main difference was the reason for colonization. Phoenicians mainly colonised to increase their access to trade, and to build trade routes. While the Greeks partly colonised just for power that came with spreading the control of their empire.”

Colonial Exhibit Proposal. Fun Fact.


These quotes explain the course of events that lead to this thesis. If you read the quotes carefully and in order, the sequential data would show the growth in my processes. It would show how I’ve grown as a writer, as an intellectual, as an individual. It would show that process is a key factor to presence and appearance.

Other work:

Colonial Exhibit Proposal

Revolutional Digital Story  Proposal

Narrative Document

Journal 25 and Journal 37 Document

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Caitlin's Final Portfolio

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Understanding world history involves having knowledge on many other subjects and being able to utilize other tools. I realized this throughout our world history course this year. We used a lot of unique sources and creative projects to learn and we focused on many different time periods, including things happening in the present day.

Something I realized throughout the year is that change does not come easily and it takes hard work. Most communities are divided by social classes and once your class is decided it is extremely hard to change. If your class depends on your income, it’s possible to change your social status but it takes a lot of work. The easiest solution is to get a new job or to get a promotion if you already have a job. When you get more money you can possibly move away from the poverty. But it takes a long time to save up enough and so much more goes into the process of making a change. In a journal entry of mine I wrote, “I don't think my hands are clean and I don't think anyone else's are either. It is practically impossible to find "clean" and responsibly made clothing these days." It’s hard to know what stores sell responsibly made clothing and those clothes are always more expensive. A lot of people try to have a smaller environmental footprint but a lot of times it’s difficult because price and location matter so clothing made with sweat shops is still bought more often than not. Another instance where change is hard to make is in schools. In class we had a discussion on women’s roles in science. A quote of mine is, "Women's roles in science have changed. It is more common to see a woman involved in science, whether she is a scientist or a science teacher. But woman scientists in the past are still not taught in schools nearly as much as men. Women who have made big discoveries or invented something important are not recognized. Women now have more rights but the fact that women were not recognized back then is still not recognized now." The majority of scientists taught in history are men and very few women are recognized for their discoveries. It’s always possible to make changes to anything but it is very difficult and that remains true now as it did thousands of years ago.

Social media aids in the understanding of historical and current events. In one of my past journals our question was “How would you do about deciding what topics/units to include in a world history class?” I replied with, “I think you should see what’s going on in the world because if it’s coming up in social media more people will be able to make connections to it.” At the beginning of this course I figured we would focus fully on events in the past. But multiple times during the year we discussed current events individually or we connected them to the history lesson we were learning. One of the benchmark projects we did during the year was a digital story that asked a question or explained a certain aspect surrounding revolutions. I made my video explain how a successful revolution is made and one of the most important tools to use while doing that is social media. “Social media allows people who are interested in the cause to make a difference even if they live halfway around the world and can’t physically participate.” Ideas and events spread so much faster or the internet and it’s so easy for anyone in the world to support a cause. The same thing goes for religion. A unit it our history class was on religion and a quote of mine from a discussion we had it, "I think religion is a worldwide similarity. Even if you don't follow any certain religion you still have your own beliefs, which is what religions is basically made up of." No matter the beliefs you have, someone living somewhere in the world probably shares the same idea as you. So many stereotypes and facts about religion are shared around on the internet and it’s hard to believe that religions created so long ago became so successful without the internet. Our lives revolve around the internet and social media is how most people find out what’s going on in the world and also what has happened in history.


Quote #1: "I don't think my hands are clean and I don't think anyone else's are either. It is practically impossible to find "clean" and responsibly made clothing these days."

Quote #2: "Women's roles in science have changed. It is more common to see a woman involved in science, whether she is a scientist or a science teacher. But woman scientists in the past are still not taught in schools nearly as much as men. Women who have made big discoveries or invented something important are not recognized. Women now have more rights but the fact that women were not recognized back then is still not recognized now."

Quote #3: “I think you should see what’s going on in the world because if it’s coming up in social media more people will be able to make connections to it.”

Quote #4: Social media allows people who are interested in the cause to make a difference even if they live halfway around the world and can’t physically participate.” 

Quote #5: "I think religion is a worldwide similarity. Even if you don't follow any certain religion you still have your own beliefs, which is what religions is basically made up of."

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World History Final Portfolio 2014

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Belief systems should not influence basic human rights. In world history this year I learned that people care more about what they believe in or want more than they care about others lives. In the past they killed others for land and the ones they didn't kill they enslaved for free labor. They will hire workers and make them work for long ours for only a few cents a day. They will make children travel miles on foot to go work at a factory.

One example of this is when we did the Cortes Trial. We were trying to find out who was the most guilty for the slaughter of the Aztecs. It was between The King, Cortes, The Aztecs, Cortes's men, or the System of Empire. There were many charges against them all and here are a few. The King: He sent Cortes to Mexico to colonize it. Cortes: He was the commander of the troops that killed the Aztecs. The Aztecs: They allowed Cortes in their City and did nothing about his conquest. Cortes's Men: They were the ones who carried out the orders from Cortes. The System of Empire: This caused the King to send Cortes because the system requires people to have money to survive. Click here for other charges.

Another example would be when we did the Sweatshop Trial. This trial was about who is to blame for businesses having sweatshops in other countries. This is because many people work in sweatshops for long hours minimal pay to produce many things. These things are then shipped to other countries to be sold at high prices to people so that these businesses can make a lot of money. Also the factories that the people work at are falling apart and the owners aren't even trying to repair them or even care about the workers. The accused are The System of Profit, U.S. Consumers, Poor Country Workers, Poor Country Ruling Elite, and Multinational Corporations.

Also we went over colonization of different countries and did a project on it. During the Unit we read a book called Things Fall Apart. It was about a tribe in Nigeria that lived by their gods. Then the people came and started to spread their religion and as time passed more and more of the people converted to it. For the project we had to show artifacts from colonialism and explain how they were involved. It also had to be like an actual exhibit so there was something that happened when they walked in and left. 

Later on we did a Journal by comparing two maps and saying what we noticed. The two maps were of Africa in different time periods. One was from 1876 where the majority of Africa was still indigenous. Then there is the one from 1914 where the countries are colonized and trying to gain independence. 

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Final Portfolio

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This year has been the most challenging year I have had in my ten years of schooling. It was taxing, stressful, and most nights I started drinking coffee at 2 am to stay awake. However, it was also incredibly rewarding. I have learned so much in history; through discussions and worksheets, and creative projects. Through our extensive and detailed units, I have gathered an overarching thesis: In order to understand the world and it’s issues, one must put their mind into another’s environment. In addition to that thesis I gained a general understanding about the future of humans. 

Human evolution and the way we think was greatly challenged in this class. I gained the understanding that, as humans evolve there becomes a great disconnect between humanity and progress. Basically, this just means that as we continue to grow as humans our progress is not measured in morals or humanity, but economically. Whether this is good or bad is mostly based on the type of society we want to live in. From Immanuel Kant’s, What is Enlightenment, I discerned, “As we (humans) have evolved, we have tried to create more things that can do tasks for us and even make decisions for us.” We lose our humanity with each technological advancement. Immanuel Kant wrote this in 1784. His thesis was correct as we have been steadily moving toward this future he imagined. We are dependent on our technology. Through all of the units in history I have questioned my morals and the decreasing morality of people. 

One of the first units we did was about the Keystone XL Pipeline. This is a pipeline that is proposed to run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. There are numerous environmental consequences should the pipeline be built. In order for us to understand multiple perspectives, we were assigned to create three original monologues, each from a new perspective. My favorite of the three I wrote was from the perspective of a tree that was going to be uprooted. The beginning went as follows, “I’ve sat through many a fire and brimstone. For every ring around my trunk I have seen another man turn to hell this Eden we have tried to provide. My limbs kiss ground so heavy with weariness. I’m so tired. I find myself weeping with willows whipped from their roots by teeth of dead machine.” Writing this monologue was a new creative challenge. In class we had been discussing whether or not the economic benefits of the pipeline outweighed the environmental hazards. I felt that in order to understand and to help others understand nature’s perspective, I had to write in first person as something from nature. Overall, I think it was a success. I created a neat twist to a current event and that made the unit all the more interesting. I also became more sensitive to environmental issues and starting researching them deeper because of the monologue. 

My favorite unit was the religion unit. I entered the unit with a lot of assumptions. Religion has never been apart of my daily home life. I was raised in a household where religion was up to me to decide in my own time. Religion had never been something I was interested in because I didn’t think it had merit beyond tradition. Through exploring different cultures and religions I gained an insight that allowed me to broaden my opinions and understandings. At the end of the unit we reflected in our journals, “In the beginning of this unit I felt like religion was just another way to separate people and the world would be a better place without it…Though I myself am not religious, I do respect the religions of others.” As humans we fill in a lot of our knowledge with assumptions we make. That’s how our brains interpret the world. By slowing down and taking the time to analyze other cultures I gained a great appreciation for them. I even started researching the Wicca religion after the unit was over because I was interested in it on a personal level. The brilliant thing about putting yourself in others’ shoes is that more often than not you learn about yourself. From the religion unit I shaped my identity as an Agnostic Unitarian Universalist. I’m grateful for the opportunity. 

World history is especially important because you can understand cultures that you would perhaps never gain an insight to. One of the cultures we got an inside look to was the Igbo culture from Africa. I had never heard of it and would probably never have learned about it if not for our unit on the book, Things fall Apart. This book kicked off our unit on colonialism. There are so many places that have been greatly affected by European colonialism. In response to a poem about the hardships of colonizers, we had to write a poem from the opposite point of view. The first part of my poem read, 

“Bring forth a savage sorrow-

Abandon lands of centuries’ grown

Salvage gods to waste they’ve thrown

Lay to rest the peace of yester

Into your wounds let hatred fester.”

I attempted to put myself in the minds of the people being colonized through the research I had done. I find that I really learn better when I am creatively thinking about the historical event that took place. The poem helped me to understand colonialism on a personal level, instead of just seeing it as, “something that happened to some people.” 

Understanding the world around you is one of the most important skills you can learn. If given the choice, one should choose to dispel their ignorance and expand their horizons. The truest form of understanding would be to live through the things you are learning about. However, this is not always possible, and sometimes may be dangerous. So I feel that the next best thing would be to put yourself in their shoes. By doing this  stretched my empathy muscles. I have developed the skill to see events from more angles than just one. This helps with problem solving. No longer are things just black and white. World History provided many opportunities for me to learn in this creative experimental way. 

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Change is a necessary part of life but is also very difficult to obtain.

"The people have unexpected powers. We never know how much we can do as a whole." (Journal #35)

Global Inequality. Humans and the Environment. Religion. Exploration. The Renaissance. Human Rights. Revolutions. Colonialism. When thinking about a world history class in any normal school, I wouldn’t think of most these topics. As a student at Science Leadership Academy, I guess I was wrong thinking this school would be like every other one. To be honest, I’m glad these were our topics of study. If I continued to learn the same historically popular facts about wars and countries and Columbus, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the class.

A large handful of what we learned this year is how world history, in all of its forms, has impacted education. "The lack of education is like an infection that can spread and it has a cure, but many people can't afford it," (Global Education). We began the school year by looking at some local and worldwide education faults. Being a world history class, this was very unexpected. I wanted to and thought we'd learn about ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans or the Mayans and Incas the first week of school. We watched a film called Time for School (watch part one here, and part two here). This documentary followed around seven children from all around the world. These children were struggling to achieve their basic education rights. I was really interested in this documentary and watched as much as I could of it. It was interesting following around different children from different cultures to see how similar or different we are. "It's hard to obtain education rights in some places, making the lack of education a constant issue. Government and groups halt the rising of education by saying that certain people/groups aren't allowed," (Global Education). An interesting website that we used in the first quarter is The Places We Live. This is an interesting, interactive website that takes you on a journey to different places of the world to see how the living conditions are. This was another aspect of the class that I loved.

Skipping ahead in the year, we worked on studying revolutions. "Anything beneficial and positive are the most important things to revolutions. You want to do positive acts, so there's nothing people can use against you. The 'least' important things are not necessarily not important, just not beneficial," (Journal #36). In this unit, we were challenged to study a revolution and ask questions about it. We looked into the French Revolution and discussed the current revolution in Ukraine. We also learned about the Arab Springs revolutions. We watch the documentary, The Square, which is about the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square. I chose to go in depth with the Ukrainian Revolution, known as EuroMaiden. I found a primary source, a girl who lives in Ukraine and participated in the revolution, and having first-hand accounts of what’s happening in a foreign country is really exciting. I based my revolution guidebook around the relationship that social media and revolutions have. Since I found my primary source through social media, I thought it was fitting to do my project about social media. You can see my project from this unit here.

Overall, this year, I enjoyed what we worked on and I enjoyed the class.

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Social change

My History Portfolio:

I remember vividly the first day of the trail, anxiety coursing through my veins. I knew this project was going to be something else the day we learned about it. It was going to magical. This whole class has taught me to march to the beat of my own drum, and take control of my own education. I have experimented with many different projects, each of which had descriptions pliable enough to craft something unique. Every single project was more original and innovative than the last and made me think of ideas in history in expanses of new ways.

Social change is the result of creative minds putting their best work together, rallying the people and just giving it your all. A job worth doing is one worth doing right so you might as well give your 100% every time. The ideas of social change I learned in this class have rocked me to my core, shedding new light on historical instances I had prior knowledge on. The vast amount of freedom allowed in each project really let me run wild with my creativity. Each worksheet and assignment on a topic wove masterfully constructed questions together with insightful commentary on the source material allowing me to really get imaginative with each response. We could always count on Mr. Block to provide the necessary information during pause breaks in movies. They were useful and unobtrusive and really helped me understand some of the trickier topics.

In order to understand myself I had to do some deep soul searching. At first, I was unsure about this class, the assignments were vexing on a deep moral level and the near laissez faire setup of the class intimidated me. But by the time we were setting up our play outlines I was raring to go and giddy as ever. The plays really opened my eyes to how social inequality ticks and what the driving forces are. Mr. Block let us go wild with this project and I think it really affected how the plays turned out. The limitations were unobtrusive helping each play find its own footing and really become something else. “I don’t know why I was so excited by this. It didn’t mean anything for sure yet. What was I thinking” This is a quote from play.

I wish had spent less time on drawing in my notebook, I wasted all that paper doodling instead of letting my ideas on the state of the world flow out onto the pages. It is my biggest regret. And, now, at the close of this long spectacular year, I can see what a huge mistake I’ve made. My drawings were mere distractions, roadblocks on my journey to becoming a socially-conscious adult. I should have soaked in every bit of sacred information that was provided for me in this class instead of letting it slip away, dripping through my open hands. This class makes me love history and I walk away a better man because of it.  

Links to my work:

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Final Blog Post

Creativity is Necessary in order to gain a Unique Perspective on History

In world history this year, I thought we would learn about about a new topic every quarter, turns out we would learn about a new topic almost every week. From Religion to Revolution to Colonization we were always reading articles, watching videos, or doing worksheets. We gained a unique perspective on past events and current events through research and inquiry. I found myself in a difficult position during trials and roleplays, I had to abandon my personal opinion and become an entirely different person during the French/ Haitian Revolution Roleplay.

“Slaves cannot be free. Slaves are.... slaves. They’ve been slaves since before I was born. They think that they can... what? Live in society like the rest of us? They’d never be accepted, the only job they would get would be working as a servant. Which is what they are already! What would they do if they didn’t have us? We give them a purpose to be here! We give them jobs and food and a place to sleep. If they fight, they’ll no longer have the things they need to survive in life.” For the rest of my responses click here

It was very hard for me to write this, in the beginning. I didn’t like being that person, but after I started writing I thought to myself ‘what would a privileged, naive women during the French Revolution sound like?’ and the ideas just started flowing. This is one example of being put out of my comfort zone, and instead of seeing things from my own perspective, I was seeing things from multiple peoples perspective. Which ultimately provided the unique perspective I mentioned before.  

I think that the creativity required for this class was something that was not essentially talked about, but was something that was required in order to gain an understanding for the class. Almost every day we wrote a response to a quote or how we felt about a certain topic, and with every journal our minds grew. Another example is during the Cortes trial, we had to put aside our personal opinions and work hard to defend our given group. For my reflection on the trial click here.

Sometimes we were given the opportunity to really explore our creative sides and write plays, poetry, letters, we went on our own and created these things. We usually wrote the poetry as an opposite to something we had already read, for my poem The Somebodies, a response to The Nobodies click here. For my poem Modern Day USA, a response to The White Mans Burden click here

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Final Portfolio Project

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“Life moves fast. As much as you can learn from your history, you have to move forward.”-Eddie Vedder. Eddie has a point we do learn from our past and we learn from our mistakes but it’s always good to move forward and learn more about yourself. In Mr.Block’s history class we learned more and more about the worlds past and even ourselves. You learn more about yourself when you learn more about your past. We had many units where we got to discover more about ourselves.

I learned that I have a knack for writing. I would express myself in our journal prompts and really go into detail how I felt about the topic of the day. One of our journal prompts  was about fighting for what you believe in and whether you would sacrifice yourself my answer “I mean I don’t really believe in anything enough to die for it... I guess I can say I would die to save my family or loved ones, because they mean the world to me.. But if a random person asked me to take a bullet for believing in the chupacabra I’d be like, you got the wrong one.”After writing that I development a new idea. As we went deeper into our units and learned more about history my opinion on a lot of things change. I felt one way on something but after doing more research and understanding more I would the complete opposite of what I did. Like the Keystone XL Pipeline at first I was up for the pipeline because it would make more jobs, but after our pipeline unit I learned that this pipeline would not only be relocating a lot of people whose homes are in the path, but it it leaks it could a lot of animals and ruin the environment. I wrote three monologues about the Pipeline teaching people about the dangers of the pipeline, here’s a sample of one of the monologues

“Dear Mr.President,

If you do read this, I want you to know that it’s time to make a decision. This pipeline that’s supposed to “help” America is actually tearing us apart. My dad was one of the many protestors who was thrown in jail the other day. He is facing a lot of time for standing up for what he believes in. This pipeline, if made will force a lot of people out their homes My dad was standing up for those people who don’t have a voice. Their voices wouldn’t be heard if it wasn’t for him. I’m just asking for your help, can you just let my dad go please? You knew what it’s like not having a dad around. All I want is mine. I hope you actually read this and help me.


Margaret Brownwood”

To read the full monologue and the other two click here

To read more writing by me click here


One of my favorite units that I really related to was our unit on female scientist and the empowerment of females all over the world. Where we discovered that women all over the world don’t have the same rights as men, and that we don’t have enough females in the science field who make a difference in people's lives. I wrote on one of our worksheet’s from The Cyberschoolbus site that “If women are empowered they’ll start going to school, and we can have more empowered females in the world” and if we have more empowered women maybe we can be seen more than just sex symbols.  I wrote more on that in my journal entry number 46 “Girls were born to be pretty and sometimes used as sex symbols while guys were born to be masculine and be the breadwinner for the family.... When really it doesn’t matter who does what..... well society doesn’t think that”

An important get to know yourself unit was Revolutions and Colonialism. In class we talked about the French and Haitian revolution, the Colonialism of the Aztecs in 1520’s, the Egyptian revolution of 201, The Industrial Revolution. During these units we would have mock trials were you get to play a certain character to defend yourself against the people who did you greasy. During the trials you do background information on the certain person you got and you put yourself in their shoes and it’s was interesting learning about past lives that affect you know.

“The vast universe is a wheel circle of life, birth, death and rebirth”  -quote from sacred text reading, and that’s how our history is people went through what they did so I could be on the path that I’m on now,which is going to school and getting my education to better myself. “Things can happen all at once and little changes can make a huge difference” my response to Science Revolution Worksheet. And I feel as those putting myself in their shoes, I grew a better appreciation for the people who did what they did, but at the same time I learned from their mistakes and how not to repeat history again good or bad.

Overall Mr.Block’s class was interesting.... His teaching was hands on wich made a real impression on me. It was a comfortable learning environment where we could debate anything for hours and still not get out point across, (which has happened many times). We got to express ourselves through journaling and iMovies and songs and at the end of the day we still learned about our past. It wasn’t your average history class with any average history teacher.  

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It’s July and my mother and father and I just finished traveling all the way from our home in Georgia to my grandparents lake house in Vermont. Every summer we come and stay up here for a week or two. It’s usually the most torturous week of the entire summer. All I think about is all the shit my friends are getting into back home. It sucks here. Nothing but trees, trees, a lake, and more trees. Where are the people? It’s a deadmans land up here for sure. I miss my friends and I’ve only been here for not even an hour. I was dreading unpacking my suitcase. I don’t wanna be here, if I unpack my stuff that’s just ensuring that I’m gonna be here for a while.

Stressed, and depressed I was out in the back of the house having a smoke when my grandfather comes out. “Mariella?” I threw the cigarette on the ground.

“Are you out there? Come here I have someone I want you to meet.”

Who the hell could my grandfather possibly want me to meet? The only people out here are in their 70’s and on the verge of dying. While walking up the steps I see a shaggy haired boy sitting on the front patio. Who the hell could my grandfather possibly want me to meet.

“Mariella!” Said my grandfather.

“This is Sid! I’m so excited for you two to meet. You guys are going to get along so well.”

“His grandfather lives in the big yellow house down the road a ways. He’s up visiting his grandparents for the week as well!”

The shaggy haired boy put his hand out to introduce himself.

“It’s nice to meet you Mariella.”

“Nice to meet you too Sid.”

Once the whole introduction was over I decided it was time to go finish that smoke that my grandfather rudely interrupted. I was sitting on a tree stump thinking about this “Sid” kid. He actually seemed pretty chill. He was pretty cute too. Shaggy brown hair and green eyes are my favorite. Maybe this summer week won’t be so bad after all. Out of nowhere the kid slops down on the stump next to me. “Hey.” He said.

“Jesus Christ you almost scared me to death.”

I hate when that happens. I feel like everytime I’m thinking about someone or something they pop up at that exact time. Almost as if he knew I was thinking about him. He pulled out a smoke as well. “Okay maybe this kids gonna be alright.” I thought to myself.

“So where are you from?” He asked.

“Georgia. You?”

“I’m living in Denver right now. Originally from Vermont though.”

We sat on that stump for nearly 2 hours talking about the weirdest things. Trading stories about our lives at home and all the crazy things we’ve done, and the crazy things we want to do.

The next morning I woke up to a knocking on my window. It was Sid. What the hell could he possibly want from me at this early in the morning. The sun was barely up and I’m used to waking up around noon back at home. I crept out of my bed and opened up the window which made the loudest most painful screech. “Top of the morning.” Said Sid. “Uh top of the morning to you too.” top of the morning? I thought to myself. Who says that. “I was just wondering if you happened to be busy today? I’m going on a little adventure and would love for you to join me.” He had such a evil, yet welcoming grin on his face. “Uhhhh I don’t have any plans at the moment.” I said. “Okay well we leave in 10. Meet me down the trail by the dogwood tree. I will be waiting.” Without giving me time to respond he quickly walked away. A little confused, I quickly put on clothes and hurried to the trail.

When I got to the trail Sid was carrying a giant backpack of who the hell knows what. “Hey.” I said.

“Are you ready to have the best time of your life?” In a almost cocky tone of voice.

“I mean I don’t know if it’ll be the best day of my life, but I’m ready to have a good time, for sure.”

We walked for about 30 minutes before we got close to our destination. Our destination being a tree house built on top of a giant oak tree. I’ve never seen something like this before. It was actually beautiful. We climbed up the trunk on a wooden rope ladder all the way to the top where we sat for hours with a pair of binoculars watching all of the animals roam around the land. We got on the topic of partying and how both of us were probably missing the best parties of the summer while we were in the middle of nowhere with our families.

“Man, why didn’t either of us bring a bottle of whiskey or something.” I said. Sid looked at me with an uncertain, anxious glare.

“What.. why are you looking at me like that?” I said to Sid to break his glare.

“Uh. I don’t know. I uh. I can trust you right, Mariella?”

“Is that a serious question? Tell me!” I yelled.

“Okay well, the other day a few of my buddies and I were hanging out around this lake that the kids at my school always throw parties at.”


“And there was this guy there selling this stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“I’m not exactly sure. He said it was some new kind of drug. Everyone was buying it so figured why not. He gave me this piece of paper along with the little vial.” Sid handed me the little draw string bag and rolled up piece of paper.

I’ve never done an actual drug before. I didn’t know if I should have been nervous, excited, or scared. Inside the drawstring bag was a tiny little vial of a blue liquid, and what looked like a tiny little turkey baster. On the piece of paper was a list of instructions on how to do it and what to expect after taking it.

“So what do ya say?” Sid said in a devious tone.

A million thoughts were running through my head. Should I do it? What is I die? What if it’s the greatest night of my life. What if my grandparents find out? What if my parents find out?

“Come on it’ll be fun I promise?”

“Idunno Sid. I mean have you even tried this stuff before? What exactly does it do?”

“I haven’t tried it yet, but everyone I know that has said it was amazing. Apparently it gives you the power to travel back in time until the drug wears off in about 24 hours.”

“Wait so you’re telling me that if we take this blue stuff we’ll be able to travel back in time?”

“Yeah, I think that’s what I’m saying..”

“And you’re sure that I wont die?

“I’m not trying to murder you Mariella. I just think it would be fun, and I think you would enjoy it as well.”

He was so convincing. Or maybe he wasn’t. Maybe there really wasn’t a reason for me to not do it. I mean I have nothing better to do, right? Finally after 30 seconds of me blankly staring at a tree I came to a decision.

“Whatever let’s do it. But where are we gonna go?’

“What’s one thing that you weren’t alive for but you wish you were?”

One thing that I wasn’t around for. I thought to myself. My god, there’s a million places and things I wish I was around for. How am I supposed to pick one.

“Let’s go back to George Washington’s time.” I said jokingly because that would be awfully boring.

“I was thinking somewhere cool. Somewhere we can do whatever it is that we please.” Sid said with a devilish smirk across his face.

“And where is that?”


‘Woodstock? What is that? Or where is that I should say?” Is Woodstock something I should know about? I thought to myself.

“It’s the greatest music festival to ever happen. It was in the late 60’s. My grandparents went when they were teenagers. They’ve told me stories about it ever since I was a little boy. I used to dream about being there.”

“A little boy dreaming about a music festival. Those stories must have been pretty crazy.”

“So what do you say, wanna go?”

“I’m game.”

What happened next was a bit confusing. In order for this all to work the instructions said we had to follow them very precisely. Step one was to use the tiny strips of paper that came with the little drawstring bag and write down the place, date, and time of where we wanted to go. Sid scribbled in little letters.

“Woodstock, August 16, 1969.”

“Okay so what do we do now?”

“You have to do the same. Write down what I wrote on another tiny piece of paper. Make sure you don’t misspell anything, ‘cause then we may not end up in the same place.”

I was a bit confused as to how this was going to make us travel back into time. Anyway, I copied down exactly what Sid wrote on his piece of paper. The next step was where it got weird.

“So for the record, once we travel back into time we will be gone for what is an hour in reality, but will have an entire days worth of time to spend at woodstock.”

“So our grandparents won’t even know that we were gone, you think?”

“Definitely not. We’re golden trust me.”

“Okay so what do we do now?”

“It says to drip 3 drops of the blue liquid onto the pieces of paper. Says they should dry instantly.”

Sid proceeded to drop 3 droplets onto each piece of paper. They really did dry instantly. It was almost as if the liquid wasn’t really a liquid.

“Now put it in your mouth and hold my hand.”

“Pu-p-put it in my mouth?”

“Yes Mariella hurry.”

We both threw the pieces tiny pieces of paper into our mouths and joined hands. The taste in my mouth was crazy. It tasted like a mixture of rusty nails, dirt, bleach, and I don’t even know what. My mouth started to tingle. and then my throat started to tingle. After a few seconds the tingling sensation took over my entire upper body. Especially my head. A few more seconds later the tingling sensation completely took over my body. The suddenly everything went black. I could still hear and feel, but I couldn’t see. 30 seconds later my vision came back. But it sure as hell wasn’t a vision of what I was seeing before everything went black.

“We made it! We actually made it” Sid shouted.

“Oh my gosh where are we!”

“We’re at the greatest place on earth, that’s where we are. Come on, lets go have some fun.”

Sid put his hand out and grabbed mine and started running through the mass amounts of people.

There was people everywhere. In tents, laying in the grass, dancing, singing. It was

“Where do you wanna go? There’s a list of groups and what time they’re playing over there. Lets go check it out.”

“Joe Cocker!” I shouted.

“Oh you like Joe Cocker? Let’s go!”

We went to the main stage and were swarmed by good vibes and love. Being here felt different than any other place in the world. At times I felt as though I wasn’t in the real world. Well I guess I wasn’t? I dunno. All I know if where ever I was I loved it. We spent the entire day dancing and singing and talking to the most interesting people. I wish that I never had to leave that place. But I knew it was going to come to an end soon. I can’t believe that in order to get here we only had to take a few drops of this blue liquid that seemed to have no negative or drug like effect on our bodies or minds. It was amazing. And then suddenly once the sun went down, my eyes started to do that thing again. My mouth started to tingle, then my throat, and then my upper body, and then my entire body. But Sid was nowhere to be found. What if he doesn’t make it back I started to panic. And then suddenly I was back where I started. And Sid was with me.

“Sid! I thought you weren’t gonna make it back!!”

“Haha. Nope I made it. Would you believe how fun that was?”

“I kinda feel like it was just a dream. But then again I kinda feel like we were actually there.”

“That’s because we were actually there Mariella. And we can go back any time you want.”

We made our way back to the house and everything was perfectly normal. Out grandparents weren’t concerned and I don’t think they even noticed we were gone to be honest. Sid and I left on a note that every summer when we’re visiting our grandparents, were going to take a trip back to woodstock. It will be our version of  summer vacation.

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Final History Portfolio

here is my word art

We (students) in some ways create our own quality of education by how much effort we put in. Looking back at my history class, my classmates and I did a great job of creating a quality education for ourselves. On all our worksheets, journals, benchmarks, and mock trials I found that community was extremely important in our history class. Opinions would not have been shared so openly while journaling if we did not have a great sense of community in the classroom. Even though SLA is small we are still able to make a change through analyzing, researching, and collaborating with one another.

Social change happens when various communities can come together in a non-violent way. Over the course of this academic year I have come to learn that conflict does not always have to lead to violence. All people are set apart by their religion, race, culture, and social class. However, one thing that makes us all the same is that we are all human, and once people can look beyond their differences they can see their shared humanity. Placing your beliefs behind you is a very difficult thing to do of course because it is hard for people to let their guards down. It is easier to dehumanize people rather than try to understand others cultures and beliefs. However, what I have learned this year is that problems can be solved and voices can be heard if various communities work together.

Over the past academic year I have challenged to think outside of a structured box. A box in which I was comfortable in, and knew no other way. I was hardly taught to believe  that my opinions could be the answer or solution. During quarter three of this academic year, I was challenged to define what made a revolution successful. My definition was not based on what wikipedia told me or what a history book informed. It was all solely from my intelligent brain. In my benchmark I claimed in my video, “Non-violent revolutions are so important, so people can see how humanity can triumph politics.” (Quarter Three Benchmark) Before I began my research on violence in revolutions I already knew I was personally against violence. However, I felt I needed to learn more about violence in revolutions before I could make a definitive opinion or response. Moreover, I actually ended up learning that non-violence truly is a better way to conduct a revolution through reading online articles and watching YouTube videos of revolution. This taught me that my opinions do not always have to be validated or prompted by a history book. 

Moreover, the third quarter revolutions benchmark was not the only thing in history class that taught me more about having an educated opinion. Class discussions and journal entries were certainly an outlet for thoughts to be shared. For example, in a journal entry I wrote, “It's always men first.” (Journal Entry #24) This of course is a controversial statement to people from various communities. However when various groups of people come together to work with one another then you merge into one whole community. This relates to how social change can be achieved. Social change is  happening in school classrooms when students work together to listen to one another and make a better society. 

In my first quarter benchmark I stated, "It is important for them to let go of desire because Buddhist believe in being selfless and that all things are interconnected and that nothing can exist independently." This reminds me of Science Leadership Academies core values because we believe that collaboration with others is essential to learning. We as a school recognize that we are interconnected in our education and we cannot do our best work without learning from each other in one way or another.  In my thirty-ninth journal I stated, "Colonization changes any/every man because anytime one human tries to take power over another human it ends badly." At SLA the teachers and administrators are of course leaders, but a overwhelming power is not help over students. This is how a strong community of all diverse people is developed. 

Furthermore, collaboration requires people to be able to find similarities in their differences. This reminds me of a statement I made in my first quarter benchmark, "Both religions recognize themselves as servant leaders. Muslims are servant leaders to Allah. They worship and give all the glory to their God. Anything good that happens to a Muslim is because of Allah's grace. Buddhist are more servant leaders to the world… Buddhist however do this to maintain a positive Karma and to be interdependent." Islam and Buddhism are too very different religions but they meet common ground because they are both servants to someone or something. When Buddhist, Muslims, Christians, and Jews (or any other serving religious followers) recognize that they are all living for a similar reason they can collaborate to make an improved society. 

Additionally, through learning about what we can do to achieve social change I have learned what we should not do. For example, during colonizations the Europeans were trying to create an improved society, however in the end they helped industrialize. However, they did not improve or help humanity. This happened they the colonizers looked with a distant view never trying to understand others. Journal forty-five reminds me of their distant view. In my journal I state, “Africa has been written historically with an outsider tone.” Social change nor collaboration can be successfully achieved if people look at each other in a distant or dehumanized way. 

In conclusion, over the past year I have learned about having an open mind. This open mind has helped me form and develop thorough opinions to share with others. Furthermore, I have learned that social change happens when various communities can come together in a non-violent way. This general understanding has come from my first quarter religion benchmark because I learned so much about how many religions are actually very similar. This then showed me that if various people from different communities came together and learn more about each other then there could be positive social change in the world. Moreover, another general understanding that ties into communities functioning cohesively is collaboration. Collaboration that requires people to understand differences, but also seek for positive similarities. Even though I did a lot of research on my own; I could not have learned as much or grown so much as a student without the help from my classmates and Mr. Block. So thank you! 

Some other quotes from this school year: 

1.)  "I do not think it is important to apologize for something that happened one hundred years ago….. However, I do not think you should completely disregard the injustice that happened." - Journal #19


2.) "In conclusion, Buddhist are more focused on themselves creating their own fate and interconnecting with the universe. On the other hand, Islam is more about making Allah happy and doing what Allah calls the Muslims to do. "  - first quarter benchmark

3.) "I think it's very interesting how people in the muslim religion believe the hijab is liberating, but people outside the muslim religion have an opposite opinion."  - Women and the Hijab worksheet


4.) "If culture limits how an individual can advance, then it is underdeveloped." - Different Views of Development worksheet



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Final Portfolio World History 2014_Kevin Courtney

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             Throughout the course of World History I’ve learned that people should not judge one another. Yea, we have a lot of problems throughout the world, but we solve them. Some people don’t even have the same amount of freedom and rights while some other  people do in the world. I remember in the beginning of the year as a class we made these monologues about the Keystone Pipeline XL. People were protesting because this was not going to save the environment. So with a partner in crime, We have dived into the research and collaboration of the Keystone Xl Pipeline and all the intuitively that is carried with it. Most people applied beginning questions such as “What even is the KeyStone pipeline?” and “How does this affect me?”. Over the course of the lesson we began to learn that the pipeline was a proposed idea for an independent refined oil source that would run through the United States from Canada. Everyone was tasked to understand the viewpoints of people who were pro pipeline and people who were against it. It gave us a chance to step into someone else’s shoes and think differently. This change of thought better supported growth in our minds and helped our ability to see multiple theorems and possibilities. To view my Keystone Pipeline XL Monologue Project click here -> ].In the second quarter of World History this year we studied religion. People would always ask “What is exactly religion?” Or maybe people would “Why is religion a big part in the world?” To have thoughts as a class, we wrote our brainstorming thoughts into a World History journal. Religion is something I think of all the time. Well clearly I don’t know the true definition of religion. But what I think religion is a belief or culture that a key part of someone’s life or life style. To view my journals about religion click here In my journal I was trying point out key points of what religion truly is. During the time while studying religion, I remember we would mostly focus on Hinduism, and Buddhism. When it was coming towards the end of the religion era we had this benchmark (project) that we had to describe a specific topic in religion. I chosen food because I know what always be a big part in someones culture/religion. While the class was working on their projects we made these wiki spaces page to put all of our information on it. To view my wiki page about food in religion click here Towards the end of sophomore year of World History, this is defiantly a topic I will not forget. That was revolution. Revolution is basically an instance for resolving. In todays world mostly revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system. Check out my thoughts about revolution which is here As you can see I wrote a good amount about revolution. But wait theres more. For one of our benchmark projects  we had to make a digital story video, that shows pictures while hearing audio. Click here to view the digital story. For World History I felt that I learned a lot about people everywhere around the world. I finally felt the true meaning of religion and revolution. Thank you to Mr. Block.

These are just some quotes from the History Journal..
“I think the acceptable time to criticize another culture is NEVER, unless you’ve experienced it” (Journal Entry #3)

“The time I witness a powerful piece of work was the Lupe Fiasco music video ‘B**ch Bad’. It was powerful because of the true meaning of how the whites and the blacks never got along” (Journal Entry #9)

“What is Religion? Well I don’t know a true meaning of religion. It can possibly be a belief/way of life, greater power, text/guidelines/commandments/shared language/myths, Morals, self-controlled, control of others, or worship.” (Journal Entry #10) 

“Usually when I get challenges I try not to put everything on myself, but I always try my best.” (Journal Entry #16)

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Final Portfolio

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Finding your identity in this world can be a hard task to overcome. For some people, it takes their whole lives to get to know themselves. It sounds silly to say that we don’t know who we really are, but it’s true that sometimes we get lost when it comes to letting our true personalities shine. Over the course of the year, world history has taught me that the only way to truly understand yourself, is to go out of your comfort zone. 

I first started to come to this realization of finding myself when working on my first quarter benchmark. For the project, we had to create monologues from different perspectives having to do with the Keystone Pipeline. This project was especially difficult for me because I am very strongly against the pipeline being built, but I had to write a monologue through the eyes of someone who was for it. While doing this, I almost started convincing myself that the pipeline was actually beneficial. I caught myself writing passionately about the pros of the pipeline... A little too passionately. I thought to myself, “how could I possibly be convincing myself that this is okay?” I realized that once I took myself out of that comfort zone of just saying no, I started to see the other side more clearly. I was disappointed in myself for going against what I believed in, and gave up on seeing the benefits.

Looking back on my old writing pieces from the year, I realized how much I actually have thought about people having to come out of their comfort zone. For example, when learning about Galileo, I was answering why society got mad at him for his findings. I said, “I think religion was more important to them because it was all they knew, so since science was so new, they went against it.” The people in Galileo’s society didn’t want to go out of their comfort zone by believing in new information, so they punished him for sharing. 

In the second quarter, we started our unit on religion. This is the time when I truly believed in the fact that you will only truly know yourself when you go out of your comfort zone. As a class, we went into the unit with our guards up, knowing that this would be a battle no one would really win. When we came out of the unit, I think we still had our guards up... but not as much. One of the major topics we were stuck on for a while was the meaning of the hijab in the Islamic religion. I can’t speak for everyone, but I never knew what the purpose of wearing the hijab really was, and I have definitely heard the argument that it is degrading to women. When it was explained that the purpose was to preserve a woman’s modesty, I realized how quick our society is to judge, without taking the time to find the true meaning of things. 

One of my responses to the book the Power of Myth from the religion unit really stuck out to me. I said, “some people, especially Americans, tend to frown upon cultures that are strict on marriage, but maybe they just have better values than us.” I am not apart of a culture that is strict when it comes to marriage, and my family isn’t either. When I was hearing about religions and cultures that look at marriage differently from me, I started realizing how much their views actually made sense. While I look at marriage as an extremely sacred thing, I don’t necessarily think it should be something completely controlled by family members, or be looked at as a strict occasion with many rules following it. But, learning about how others look at marriage made me question how seriously I take something like that that is so important. 

As the year progressed, the more evidence I had to back up my thesis. Entering the revolutions unit in quarter 3 only made my thesis stronger. In my journal, I wrote, “I think I’d die for someone I love, but not for something I believe in.” I remember looking down at my paper, disappointed in what I had just written. Do I have no morals or values? No, I do have morals and values, but only because I broke the barrier I had made for myself to say that I would stand up for what I believe in. If someone caught me off guard, I probably would have said, “yes, I would die for something I believe in,” but once I was able to break that wall of confidence, I learned a lot about myself. Whether it be because I don’t have something that I believe in that strongly at the moment, or because I just never will care enough about my beliefs, I realized that I am not the type of person that would be able to lead a movement. This was a sad realization at first, but it only educated me on my true personality more and more. 

Still in the revolutions unit, I wrote another journal entry that showed my true personality. “If everyone was nonviolent, than that would be a greater force for change. But since that will probably never happen, violence is a better force. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it is the truth.” We had just learned about how terrible violence in revolutions is, and why it should never be used, but I still wasn’t buying into it. Yes, morally, I would say that violence should never be used, no matter what, but if you want to get something done fast, then violence might just be the best option. This was another one of those cases that made me question my morality and what I actually believed in, but it just let my true feelings show. 

In the final quarter of our history class, we were talking about what makes people the way they are. It’s always safe to say that when a person does something bad, or acts out, it can be dismissed because it is just a result of their past. I think as a class, we dropped the act of saying whatever sounded best on paper, and came to the conclusion that, “people’s pasts can be an explanation for their bad behavior, but not an excuse.” Even though it is definitely more comforting to forgive someone because you know they’ve had it rough, it’s not actually right. 

In the end, I finished the year feeling strongly about my true identity. Through all of the worksheets, note taking, documentary watching, and discussing, I built a stronger name for myself. 

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