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Category Archives: 21st Century Skills

A Year’s End Reflection

After tomorrow, I will no longer officially be an Online School for Girls student.

That’s both strange and, to be honest, a little relieving.  I say “strange” because I’ve really loved taking these classes, and I’ll miss learning about different countries and governments.  However, it will definitely be relieving, as these two courses have been a lot of work!

From AP US and Comparative Government, I’ve learned that while the world is a large and daunting place, all countries are somehow tied to one another, whether through a shared history, government, ethnicity, and so on.  I’ve learned that the United States’ government is based on one essential principle: “liberty and justice for all.”  Even if we don’t always succeed in carrying out this principle, I admire that we continue to challenge, push, and change laws in order to measure up to this statement.

However, I think the most important thing I’ve learned from this course is that we are all interconnected, whether we are citizens of a city, country, or even global citizens.  These APs have helped me learn that the differences that divide us can be overcome, and that bridges can and should be built, rather than burned.  I certainly didn’t expect to get this much out of a high school course, and I’m eternally grateful that I’ve had this opportunity.

I’m looking forward to taking more courses like this when I depart for college in September, and I know that I’ll be ready and prepared to face the challenges that come with learning about history, thanks to OSG.  I couldn’t have asked for more.

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AP Government Ruling My Daily Thoughts

Since AP US Government has begun, the information that I have learned has spilled over into my daily life. From classes at school, to watching the news, to hearing my family’s conversations, AP US Government has begun to influence the way I view my everyday surroundings.

At St. Cecilia Academy, the school I attend, it is normal to discuss politics as it relates to our everyday lives. St. Cecilia is a Catholic school, so one can imagine that in the last year how the topic of politics has come up more often in theology classes with the new health care mandate. AP US Government has given me the knowledge to filter through what is told to me by my religion teachers and understand what is constitutional and what is not. St. Cecilia is located on what is known as the Dominican Campus in Nashville. On the Dominican Campus, Aquinas College, a catholic college, is also located along with Overbrook School, a Catholic grade school.  Recently, Aquinas College along with six other Middle Tennessee Catholic institutions filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the mandate within the Affordable Care Act requiring that businesses provide their employees with contraceptives and other sterilization processes. If one has any notion about the Catholic faith, he or she would understand how these medical treatments are not in agreement centuries of teachings within Catholicism. (If you want to read more about it, here is a good link: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120913/NEWS01/309130042/Nashville-Diocese-sues-over-health-law-s-insurance-mandate-contraceptives-morning-after-pills)  Knowing of this and the Catholic faith along with having the intelligence that I have gained from AP Government, I am able to make what I believe is a just decision in what to believe is right or wrong about this situation.

Today, the US government is in constant turmoil over national debt and the consistent threat of the government being shut down due to unpassed budgets or bills. When I hear this on the news (which I happened to a few days ago) I no longer have to turn to my dad and ask him why this could happen. AP Government has enlightened my mind on the workings of our government and how/why things occur. Also, during this election, I have become aware through AP Government of how the United States was not originally intended to only be a two-party system. As my AP US History teacher describes it, the founding fathers would be “rolling over in their graves” if they knew the United States had become a two-party system. By primary documents I have read in AP Government, I know that the electoral college was invented with the intention that no single person would win by majority because there would be multiple parties running. Today, this is obviously not the case.

My family is very wide on the political spectrum. I have family members whose political beliefs range from liberal to conservative. One can imagine that when the topic of politics comes up at family gatherings, tensions rise substantially because of this wide spectrum of beliefs. However, when this does occur now, I feel much more confident in my political beliefs and that my beliefs make sense with the constitution. AP Government has also made me feel as if I am “freer” of the typical stigma that children only follow their parents political beliefs. It is amazing what an understanding of the constitution and inner workings of the government can do for you.

 

Final Ruminations

Today marks the final day of this blog and the final “official” day of this class. It’s definitely been quite an experience. Like many of the others, this was my first ever online class, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. At first it was pretty stressful. The transition to managing time on my own and keeping track of all of my assignments was a little bumpy. I would try to do things ahead of time but end up forgetting to do a couple assignments until 11:30 pm on the day it was due. Sometimes I did almost all the assignments at 11:30 on the day it was due! We often had a lot of work to do each week, and it could get a little overwhelming. The reading was dense, the discussion questions required deep analysis, and the sheer amount of information to take in made my head spin.

But let me be the first to tell you, it was all worth it.

The time management skills I’ve gotten are invaluable, especially as I prepare to head off to college in the fall. And I feel like I’m pretty prepared for this exam. There was a lot to do because it was a one semester AP class, but we’ve done it.

Wish us luck on our AP test on May 15! Thank you for reading. Mahalo Nui.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in 21st Century Skills, Learning

 

The Final Days

Overall, AP GOV has been a very positive experience. It was amazing how this online course not only taught me how to communicate over distances, but also work independently. The latter of the subjects has been fairly ignored in my previous blogs because I did not realize just how much AP Gov has taught me in independence until I sat down a couple of weeks ago to begin planning my study tactics for the upcoming exam. I have never been one to excel in time management, but in a school environment where you have class everyday scheduling has really never been necessary for me. However, when I began going to class online through the Online School for Girls, I found that it was time to pull out my planner. These next four weeks will be filled with tests for me ranging from SAT Subject Tests, APs, and Finals. Without the planning skills I have taken from this class, I could easily lose track of what I need to be studying and forget to balance my test preparation with schoolwork.

A Montessori Classroom

From preschool to sixth grade, I attended Montessori Schools, which emphasized the notion of working on your own time. Every week, we were assigned a list of general classwork to complete and were expected to have it done by Friday. This was particularly helpful for me because I could devote one day to one subject. Over the past five years while attending a more traditional school set up I seem to have forgotten how much I prefer working on my own timeframe. I find that while creating my own plan of attack I am actually more productive. Similar to my patterns of study with my elementary school, I have also fallen into a routine that I have found convenient for AP GOV: study/read over the weekdays and complete all the assignments over the weekend. Ultimately, I think that both my elementary school experience and the online school have prepared me for college classes where we cannot expect to have many small assignments due over the course of a week.

One of the things that I have noticed about myself and many of my peers is that adding on more work, if it is within reason, motivates us to be more focused. At first, I thought that taking AP GOV would be a huge mistake because it would take attention away from my in-school classes and extracurriculars. However, as I mentioned previously, this addition in my workload has provided me with many useful lessons, rather than forcing me to compromise my time and memory capacity. Ultimately, I am very grateful that I stayed in this class to not only experience a new style of education, but also discover the study and learning tactics that work best for myself.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in 21st Century Skills, Learning

 

Direction of Education


During this semester, I have earned an experience that includes communication, collaboration, and creativity. As I have told many before, AP Government was not my first online class. However, it was my first full semester with a teacher I have never met. Unlike some students, I came into the class with an upper hand, because I had experience with programs such as Google docs, Voicethread, and Haiku. However, I was still learning with programs such as Vimeo and WordPress, which was cool to be introduced to.

One of about 6 Voicethreads that I made during this class.

For our online class each month, we filled out a survey that I never thought people actually looked at. However, I filled out the survey, and I made a suggestion to do a group project with three or more people. Then the next week, we had a new assignment. Surprise! I was in a group with three others, and we had to create an electoral system. By being in a big group, I was able to communicate with girls who I had not before. In addition, I learned that many girls in my class were independent and forward thinkers. Because I was the only junior, I felt like I was lacking knowledge that they had, but they made sure to not let me feel that way.

The project was divided among class members, and we met weekly for discussions on Skype. Because this project had a key leader, we were given responsibilities and tasks to stay organized. Though I was not the leader in this project, it prepared me to be a leader in another. The next week after finishing the electoral system, I started a project in my normal school that required creating a wiki page and video with students from other classes. In fellow classmates’ minds, this task was daunting. However, in my mind because I was able to do a project similar to this with girls thousands of miles away, this project was a piece of cake. By taking examples from my online class, I set due dates, jobs, and started early on the project. What students learn online can be used in everyday school.

Process of making imovie with English class.

In my city, it is now a graduation requirement to take an online class. I understand the importance of trying out online classes, because opportunities that arrive with taking an online class are countless. One of my favorites is the ability to meet students around the US. Also, we met a teacher who has his own style with educating using technology. We use the Internet for information, so it makes sense to take classes online.

With the planning of next year’s classes, I am looking forward to taking another online class. My next adventure is with AP Macroeconomics. Hopefully, I will have a similar experience like with this class. Because the AP exam is in the near future, I have already started preparing. What I like about online classes is that you have so many resources for information. I can use the prep AP book I bought or review with online study guides or watch the videos of lectures. The choices are endless. But I have noticed through my studying is that I remember a lot of what we learned easily. I do not know if it is because of the videos, discussions, or reading web pages, but it worked. I’m looking forward to my exam and to finishing the class off strong.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in 21st Century Skills, Learning, Technology

 

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Our Virtual Classroom, An Invaluable Tool: The Internet

In our online AP Gov class, we learn, share and communicate via the internet. The internet is the newest electronic source of news. In 2000, over half of American households had at least one computer, and today, over half of Americans have a personal computer, playing a big role in our daily lives. The internet plays a big role not only in our class, but also in politics.

In our class, the internet serves as an invaluable tool for sharing our ideas with one another for projects and for researching current events for both internal and public blogging projects. Without the internet, our class would not be possible. Using the internet as a virtual classroom has allowed for this class to be made possible. With classmates in Hawaii, California, Tennessee, Washington, Connecticut and other states, my peers and I are able to share our diverse opinions with each other without boundaries. We abide by a rule of courtesy when we share and respond to one another. The discussions we have online serve as learning experiences on how to communicate with people via the internet. In the future, most of our careers will deal with the internet, and this class prepares us for the increasingly technologically advanced world that continues to grow.

The political news that is found online ranges from summaries of stories from newspapers and magazines to political rumors. The internet is acts as a “free market” in political news where there are few regulations or controls to the facts, opinions and nonsense that are publicly posted. While some people read their newspaper online, others scan blogs for political viewpoints that offer liberal, conservative and libertarian perspectives.

Because the internet has no centralized governance or policies for access and usage, many people express themselves freely. This expression can be both helpful and destructive. Today, every candidate running for an important office has a web site. In 2004, Howard Dean ran for the Democratic presidential nomination and raised most of his money from internet appeals. However, the internet can also prove to be destructive as a major source of criticism. For example, when John Kerry was campaigning, the internet blogs served as a source of discussion and criticism of Kerry by former Vietnam war veterans.

The internet, therefore, is global system of interconnected computer networks that serves billions of people worldwide. The internet can influence people’s opinions, destroy reputations, and deliver invaluable information at incredible speed. The commercialization of the internet resulted in the internet’s incorporation into virtually every aspect of modern life. As of 2011, more than 2.2 billion people use the Internet for the various services that it provides. This global system will hopefully soon expand to include even more online opportunities for learning.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in 21st Century Skills, Technology

 

The First “C”

Communication, collaboration, and creativity are three major elements that the Online School for Girls has built its philosophy of educating young women on.

Today I explored the power of that first “C” in an awesome way. Now I have to say, blogging is simply incredible because it can lead to very meaningful connections with people you’d probably never come across otherwise. For a while now this AP Gov blog has gathered a following of educators, other government students, and people who love the idea of online learning (Kudos to all of you; we love hearing your thoughts on our posts!). A small group of these people are teachers who are pursuing a master’s at St. Joseph’s College, CT and are taking a course called “Integrating Technology and Literacy”. On my first post a couple weeks ago their teacher asked if my teacher and classmates could Skype with her students about our thoughts on online learning; lo and behold, an exciting connection was born! We finally had our Skype today and the teachers asked us many intriguing questions such as the following:

“What are the advantages of maintaining a blog throughout this course? Any disadvantages?”

I said that blogging allows me to enjoy seeing how things I learned previously truly apply to my life at the moment and how I’ve seen them play out in current events. Sometimes blogging can be tough when you don’t accurately convey your thoughts to your readers both in your posts and in your comments.

“What recommendations would my classmates and I have for these teachers who want to implement blogging with their students?”

Anyone can blog, even 1st graders! I was thinking to myself that younger students could write short reflections on classwork or books they’ve been reading. It turns out that many teachers in the blogosphere have their kids do this, which I think is awesome.

“How has implementing technology helped me as a learner?”

I’ve definitely been able to collaborate on projects more efficiently. In today’s fast-paced world, efficiency is key to success. Using tools like Google Docs, Voicethread, and Google Hangout has also allowed me to communicate with students who come from different parts of the country with different approaches to projects and definitely different opinions on issues that I’ve never thought of. It’s kind of like having pen pals in the digital age…you learn so much about different environments and in the meantime help each other to grow as students.

“And what about online research — does the Internet contribute to academic dishonesty and how can students of all ages become better online researchers?”

I think the internet does contribute to academic dishonesty, so it’s important for teachers to crack down on plagiarism and cheating. At my school for example, we upload our essays to Turnitin.com to see what percent of the words come from academic and internet sources. It’s a very effective tool for catching plagiarism. As for online researching, I personally wish I was a better database researcher. My school librarian certainly teaches us how to use our online databases, but I often find myself resorting to Google searches for assignments. If students are taught to use databases by habit, the research they put into their work will definitely be more accurate and legitimate.

For over an hour we answered these and many other questions and had a great conversation going. I realize now that the Skype chat combined a bit of the second “C” as well –collaboration. (It’s tough to be a learner without using more than one of those C’s!) We collaborated on giving this fabulous group of teachers some ideas for how to implement online learning into their classroom; in return, my classmates and I had a peek into the direction that elementary and secondary education in our country is taking. The future is definitely bright for our students!

 

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in 21st Century Skills, Learning, Technology

 

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