Jun 15 2015

Interpreting Evil (Opinion Post Rewrite)

*Revised on June 16, 2015
Original post: https://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/02/
(I apologise in advance, I realise that this is very weak; I did the best I could, I hope that shows)

Evil. Evil is a very complex idea. Even more complex is when we consider whether or not humans are evil. Many human things can be classified with our definition of good or evil; actions, decisions, words, but where does this “evil” come from?
What determines if a person or action is evil? People are not inherently good or evil; a single person can choose to sometimes do good and at other times do evil, and circumstances often play a role in this decision.

People’s actions cannot define who they are as a whole. “Good people could be seduced to cross [the line between good and evil], and in some circumstances, bad kids could recover.” (Philip Zimbardo, The Psychology of Evil) People who are considered good and pure in the world can do bad things, and evil people can change. Oskar Schindler, Nazi Germany. During World War II, Schindler goes out of his way, and puts himself in extreme danger to save over 1,200 Jewish people from death. Originally, Schindler joins the Nazi party because he feels as if it holds more opportunities for him; he needs this initially because he is unemployed at the time. He eventually becomes owner of a factory that makes weapons for the German army, using Jewish people as workers because they were cheaper. When the Nazis start deliberately seeking out Jewish people and killing them, Schindler starts to see his workers as “mothers, fathers, and children, exposed to ruthless slaughter.” (The Oskar Schindler Story) [1] Although it would be much easier for Schindler to give away his workers and hire new ones, he develops certain feelings of sympathy and obligation to do whatever he can to help these people. He keeps them from certain death, while also providing them with the best living conditions he can offer them, all without the Nazis finding out. Schindler’s behaviour goes against what would be the normal expectations for someone in his situation: he puts himself in harm’s way to save people he has no attachments to, out of the goodness of his heart and nothing more. Although this does not fit the expected circumstances, this does demonstrate how people are not their actions, and how people always have a choice. Schindler was originally a member of the Nazi party; he supported the Nazis, and he ran a business supporting the German army. However, after considering his workers in a new light, he completely changes his actions by choosing to help his employees from a party which he used to support. A person’s past does not determine their future, and just because they have behaved a certain way in the past doesn’t mean they can’t change. Oskar Schindler completely changed who he was in result of his compassion for his Jewish workers. The situation in Abu, Ghraib, Iraq, 2003, shares the idea that people are not their actions, but this is proved a lot more by circumstance.

In a prison in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, 2003, American soldiers working the night shift in the basement of the prison were caught physically and sexually abusing the inmates. Some prisoners are being humiliated, some being lead on leashes like animals, some being beaten to the point of extreme blood loss. “Evil is the exercise of power…to intentionally harm people psychologically, to hurt people physically, destroy people mortally…and to commit crimes against humanity.” (Philip Zimbardo, The Psychology of Evil) [2] Soldiers are considered by some to be very pure and heroic people because they left their lives and their families at home to go and serve the people of their country, yet, by definition, they were doing unimaginably evil things. If the circumstances of the situation had played out differently, the whole issue could have been averted.

[referring to the abuses being caused by other soldiers when she arrived at the prison] We were just like, “What the hell’s going on?” Y’know, we’d never seen this type of stuff before. We did question it and what we got in return was “Yeah, this needs to be done, yeah just do whatever [the soldiers that were already there] say.” (Lynndie England—Abu Ghraib Prison Guard, Abu Ghraib & Lynndie England Interview 1 of 2) 

England was told what she needed to do, so she follows the orders of her superiors. England and the other guards were given a situation with complete authority and, supposedly, no repercussions. Even though soldiers are seen as stereotypically upstanding and noble people, this does not excuse the fact that they engaged in villainous actions, and vice versa (i.e. their villainous actions do not excuse all of the heroic and noble things they have accomplished in the past). They made some very bad choices, but they are not strictly bad people because of them.

[in response to the statement, “You’re ashamed of the fact that you made the military look bad, but you’re not ashamed of what was actually going on, is that what you’re saying?”] It’s what we were supposed to be doing. We did what we were told to do. I don’t feel bad about that. (Lynndie England, Abu Ghraib & Lynndie England Interview 1 of 2) [3]

The horrific incident does not stand alone in good people doing bad things; many of the same conflict were paralleled in the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment.


In 1971, twenty-four healthy and mentally able male college students are chosen to participate in an experiment, some in the role of prisoners, and some as guards. They are put into a prison-like situation, and their behaviour is analyzed by social psychologists. The experiment is cut off after only six days because of how badly the prisoners are being mistreated. The “guards” are forcing the “inmates” to do physical labour like cleaning toilets with their bare hands. In addition, prisoners are often stripped and sexually humiliated [4]. “We didn’t do any of the stuff that you see in Abu Ghraib…but I certainly subjected them to all kinds of humiliation. I don’t know where I would have stopped myself.” (Dave Eshelman—Guard in the experiment, The Stanford Prison Experiment) It isn’t taking very long for the behaviour of the guards to get to the prisoners; they start dropping out like flies after the second day.


We were told to chant something about how [prisoner 819] was a bad prisoner, and at the time I went along with it, I’m thinking, “What does this matter? We don’t believe this.” But we just go along and chant it. (Richard Yacco—Prisoner 1037, The Stanford Prison Experiment) [5]


Many of these young people, who had been chosen because they were psychologically healthy, have mental and emotional breakdowns within thirty-six hours. “[referring to prisoner 819] That night he had a breakdown. Everyday after that another prisoner broke down in a similar way.” (Philip Zimbardo, The Stanford Prison Experiment) The experiment is put to a stop. These people, the guards and the prisoners, were perfectly ordinary people when they entered the makeshift prison, but some of them executed some extraordinarily horrible things, and even if the roles were switched, it likely would not make a difference.

When we see someone doing bad things we assume they are bad people to begin with, but what we know in our study is there are a set of social psychological variables that can make ordinary people do things they never could have imagined doing. (Philip Zimbardo, The Stanford Prison Experiment)

There are a number of influences that can trigger evil. But people are not solely their choices; they have more substance to them than their perfections or inaccuracies. And decisions are set in time—they cannot be altered once they happen—but humans can change. They can rehabilitate, they can grow, they can develop, or they can retreat, compress, and repress themselves and their actions, and turn down roads they initially had no intention of exploring. Feelings of power or dominance can be brainwashing, so much so that it can also make the people “underneath” the power very obedient and blind in a way. There are so many people who just mindlessly obey whatever an authority tells them without question, whether that authority be in a school or work environment, or even at a municipal or federal level. Also, the fallout from one’s actions can have a large effect on one’s decision to act a certain way. If someone knows that there will be no repercussions to their behaviour, their actions will probably differ quite a bit from what they would do if there were limitations. Many humans things can be classified as evil, but humans themselves should not be one of them.

[1] “The Oskar Schindler Story.” The Oscar Schindler Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2015. <http://www.oskarschindler.com/>.
The Psychology of Evil. Perf. Philip Zimbardo. TED. TED Conference, LLC, Feb. 2008. Web. 25 February 2015. <http://www.ted.com/talks/philip_zimbardo_on_the_psychology_of_evil?language=en>.
[3] “Abu Ghraib & Lynndie England Interview 1 of 2.” Interview by Hillary Anderson. YouTube. YouTube, 8 Sept. 2009. Web. 14 June 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGjeavuAxAI>.
[4] Zimbardo, Philip G. “The : A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment.” Stanford Prison Experiment. Philip G. Zimbardo, n.d. Web. 26 February 2015. <http://www.prisonexp.org/>.
[5] The Stanford Prison Experiment. Dir. Philip Zimbardo. Perf. Philip Zimbardo. YouTube. YouTube, 20 Aug. 201. Web. 14 June 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZwfNs1pqG0>.

Jun 14 2015

Learning Reflection

*Revised on June 16, 2015
I believe that my strengths as a writer are my:

  • Vocabulary
  • Proper grammar and punctuation
  • Thorough explanations
  • Organized thoughts

I believe that these attributes showcased in my posts Romeo and Juliet Act II Scene II – Compare and Contrast (https://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/03/romeo-and-juliet-act-ii-scene-ii-compare-and-contrast/) and Existentialism (https://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/31/existentialism/). I think that, in both posts, my vocabulary is intellectual, yet understandable and fitting of the topic. My grammar and punctuation is likely my best writing quality because it is what I feel I am best at when it comes to writing, and I would hope that that shows in my written works. I can sometimes have very complicated thought processes, but I think I am good enough at explaining them thoroughly so that they can makes sense to readers. I would also like to think of myself as an organized writer, in the way that I like to keep my thoughts as organized and formatted as I can make them.
I believe that some of my weaknesses as a writer are my:

  • Overuse of transitions
  • Inability to step outside of my comfort zone
  • Making things unnecessarily complicated
  • Writing run-on sentences
  • Unawareness of repeating diction

Posts of mine that I feel demonstrate these qualities are Are Humans Inherently Evil? (https://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/02/17/are-humans-inherently-evil/)  and The Gathering Conflict Analysis (https://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/06/13/the-gathering-conflict-analysis/ [not an actual blog post, I know, but I felt it showcased these some of these qualities more than some of my other writing pieces]). I feel as if I overuse transition words. They are important in written pieces but there is a line and I feel like I cross it a lot. Also, I am not a creative person, so, unless required, I do not write creatively. My writing is based off of facts and research, but nothing more. I know I will need to be able to write creatively in the future, but if I can, I avoid it at all costs; this isn’t going to make anything easier. I also tend to add things into my work that don’t necessarily need to be there (words, phrases, punctuation, etc.), which can sometimes come across as trying to hard whilst still not making complete sense, or just rambling on for no reason. Another thing I need to watch out for is repeating diction. I repeat words or phrases constantly when trying to explain things, which can make a written piece seem dull and repetitive.

In terms of my own progression throughout the course, I’d say I have a better knowledge of format now. If you compare my news report post ( Man Warned After Thumb Biting Incidenthttps://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/03/30/man-warned-after-thumb-biting-incident-2/) to my recently written conflict essay about the book The Gathering (see above for link), even though the formatting styles for a news report and an essay are very different, you can clearly see how my attention to detail in terms of the format as greatly improved. Also, my integration of media into my posts has greatly improved. If you compare my first post of the year (Are Humans Inherently Evil? see above for the link) to a post written a couple months later (e.g. Gender, Pronouns, Orientations, etc.https://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/04/19/gender-pronouns-orientations-etc/), I have really improved on my usage of media to back up or further explain my topics.

Before writing, I usually try to make sure I know what all of my points of explanation and my points of proof are so I can properly explain them, and also not forget any important points. It also helps to write down some more specific points if you have a really good idea so you don’t forget the word choice or main idea of your point. Whilst writing, I find it helpful to read some similar examples to give myself a general idea of what to do (whether it’s format/structure or content). After I write, I have recently been letting other people read my work and give me feedback, which has really been helping as it is hard for me to catch many of my own mistakes. I still feel very uncomfortable and anxious about letting other people view my work, but it has been helping me in the long run, so I suppose it’s a compromise. In order to become a better writer, I think I would have to overcome my fears of experimenting and show more confidence in my writing. However, I doubt that is something I can accomplish, at least for now, so the level that I’m at right now has to be enough until I’m at a point where I can comfortably move on.

For me, it is difficult to pinpoint certain strengths or weaknesses in reading, as I do not consider myself a very good reader. I am a very good proofreader, and I am decent at researching, but when it comes to just reading and analyzing a text, I find that I don’t ask myself questions concerning the text, or, I at least don’t realise that/when I do. I’ve always heard teachers preach about asking questions during a text, and I’ve never considered that something I can do; I’m not sure exactly what other strengths or weaknesses there are. I kind of feel like I’m failing the only requirement. I realise that there are more things to a good reader than that, I suppose, but I feel like if I don’t meet the minimum, than I probably can’t do any of the other things. For examples of things that demonstrate my proofreading skills as of late, you can read Brianna Griffith’s posts In a New World (http://bgriffit5407.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/04/19/in-a-new-world-blogger-of-the-week-post/), Year Reflection part 2 (http://bgriffit5407.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/06/07/year-reflection-part-two/), Education Abomination (http://bgriffit5407.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/06/07/re-edited-5-paragraph-essay-education-abomination/), and Blogger of the Week Reflection (http://bgriffit5407.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/06/07/blogger-of-the-week-reflection/). Also, I proofread the literary essays of Nilsu and Sebastian, although I do not have a link to either of those. Good examples of my research skills are my Anxiety Attacks vs. Nervous Breakdowns vs. Panic Attacks part 2 and part 3 posts (part 2: https://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/13/anxiety-attacks-vs-nervous-breakdowns-vs-panic-attacks-part-2-causes-and-symptoms/ part 3: https://kbryant7537.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/17/anxiety-attacks-vs-nervous-breakdowns-vs-panic-attacks-part-3-help/).

I don’t particularly use any certain strategies while reading unless I’m looking for something specific in the text, then, I would read through and make notes of any information I might need. However, when I’m just analyzing a text for what it is, I’m not sure of any strategies I use, I’m unsure if I use any at all. In order to become a better reader, I need to learn how to properly analyze a text; I need to know what to look for, what questions to ask, what aspects to question, etc. I am unsure as to how I would go about learning that, though.

I would say that I do not have strengths in the field of using media to compliment my text yet, as I have still barely gotten used to the idea or the practice. My weakness initially was just actually using the media. I was really opposed to the idea at the beginning of the course, as I was uncomfortable with it. However, when I realised I was failing the AP standards of the class, I considered that the lack of media in my work could be a contributing factor, and since I didn’t want to fail the class, I did what was necessary. After I started trying to explore using media in my writing, it did make my writing appear more visually interesting, and sometimes helped explain points I was trying to get across. I can now appreciate how using media can enhance the written word, where it is appropriate. Some examples of my better attempts at using media in my posts are Gender, Pronouns, Orientations, etc. and Existentialism (see above for both links). In both of these posts, I use a variety of photos and videos to further explain my initial point.

I would like to think that I am a good listener. If I am invested in the conversation, I will try to make eye contact when the other person is talking, and nod along to what they’re saying, indicating that they have my full attention. I’d say that my main struggle is that sometimes when I’m trying to listen to someone, what they say won’t quite register, and I will miss out on a lot of what they were saying, even if I was trying to listen. If this is something I can get over, I am currently unsure of how to do that. I find that, when having a conversation, it helps to look at the person who is speaking, specifically their eyes and/or mouth. This way, you are registering what they are saying and the emotion that they are displaying while they are talking.

As for actually speaking in class, I’d say I’m being modest when I say it was pitiful. In in-class discussions, I probably raised my hand about 3 times, total. Honestly, part of me feels like that was too much and I should have just stayed out of it, because I don’t feel like a particularly added anything to the conversation. I only ever really spoke when I absolutely needed to. Even a lot of the times when I’ve had questions, I’ve either gotten someone else to ask them, or I just haven’t done anything. The two times when I have actually had to speak in class both went horribly; lots of stuttering and anxiety and not being able to explain myself the way I wanted to. Keeping all of that in mind, I would say that I do not have any proper oral skills. In terms speaking, I do not think I have any strategies. I worry about doing, I mess up what I’m saying, and then I worry about it again after. I have not found any specific things that help with this yet, but this has been happening for years, so I am unsure of what I could do to fix myself properly.

To be successful in grade 11, I feel as if there are four things I need to try to improve on the most:

  • Stepping outside my comfort zone

This goes for all areas of my work; writing, reading, speaking. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that make me uncomfortable, which means that my comfort zone is very small. In order to demonstrate my full potential in the future, I will need to maybe not step out of my comfort zone, but at least broaden my levels of comfort.

  • Realising my own mistakes

I am very good at recognizing other people’s mistakes, but I still need a lot of improvement in being able to notice my own mistakes. I think this applies to many people, but I do believe that I should try to improve this area of my writing.

  • Asking questions when I read

Doing this will help my overall understanding of whatever text I read, and it is a transferable skill that I will be able to apply to any sort of reading I do in the future. This is the main reading skill that I am lacking, so I feel as if learning to do this will do nothing but improve my reading, and possibly my writing as well.

  • Asking for help

I have recently been doing this a lot more than I usually would because the fear of being unsuccessful outweighs the fear of asking for help, but I still don’t do it nearly as much as I could to perform better in my classes. I need to accept that there is nothing wrong with needing help, and that asking for assistance will only improve my work.


Jun 13 2015

The Gathering Conflict Analysis

*I’m just posting this here because I needed to use it as an example in my learning reflection.

In Kelley Armstrong’s The Gathering, one day, in late summer, a young girl from Salmon Creek, British Columbia, allegedly drowned. Maya and her friend Serena were spending time together by a lake not too far from Maya’s house. Serena, a champion swimmer, was casually diving and swimming in the lake while Maya sat and watched her. As the two were conversing and waiting for Serena’s boyfriend, Daniel, to arrive, Serena started flailing her limbs and then promptly disappeared into the water. Maya frantically searched for Serena, but to no avail. Daniel, too, sought out to find her, when he arrived, but she was gone. Since that time, a year has passed, and Maya’s conscience, psychological well-being, and interpersonal relationships remain affected by Serena’s death.

The more time that passes from Serena’s death, the more Maya feels guilty about not saving her. “Six months of therapy had not convinced me I am wrong when I say I could have saved Serena.” (Kelley Armstrong, 9) Maya attended counselling for six months to try and deal with the post-traumatic stress of the event. Even afterwards, she still holds herself accountable for not rescuing Serena, and nothing anyone can tell her will change the responsibility she feels for her friend’s death. Maya’s guilt is also provoked by the fact that she has not solved the mystery of how Serena drowned. “When she died, I told myself I would find out what happened. In the year since, what had I done? Sat around and grieved and waited for the answer to fall from the skies.” (147) It is over a year since the event occurred, and there is still no clear answer about what killed her friend. Maya also believes that she has been hiding from what happened. However, ignoring Serena’s passing is not bringing her any closer an explanation,

Her death was ruled an accident. No one was looking for another explanation. No one wanted to look. Did that include me? [referring to a nightmare she had] Was that what the dream really meant—my conscience telling me to stop hiding from her death and do something about it? (147)

Maya considers the fact that she may be too scared to try and find out what happened to her friend. She realises that  her conscience will not experience closure until she discovers how Serena really died. These constant feelings of responsibility and guilt, as well as being dreadful enough on their own, have a negative effect on Maya’s overall psychological health as well.

Although about fourteen months has passed since the day of Serena’s death, Maya is still not ready to let go of her best friend. Maya’s mum suggests that she and Maya should go to Vancouver at some point so Maya can get her first tattoo. However, Maya resents this idea slightly because, originally, she had planned to do that with Serena, “Exactly what Serena had suggested just before she died. Her last words.” (44-45) Maya still remembers and dwells on her final conversation with her late friend—not wanting to let go. She is left with a void in her life where Serena used to be, but she does not want to fill it, so the void remains. Maya also resorts to trying to speak to Serena, pretending she’s still around to listen,

“So no tattoo yet,” I said as I sat on the rock, legs dangling over the edge. “Mom wants to take me to Vancouver for the weekend but…” That was our plan. I don’t want to do it without you. I couldn’t say that, not even sitting here alone, talking to the lake, pretending Serena was still here, still swimming, still singing, forever swimming and singing. (92)

Maya feels incomplete without her friend. She is stuck in a place where she cannot let go, but she cannot move on either; that solemn feeling persists. Maya tries to convince herself that she is ready to move on, but her heart has not mended as much in the past year as she would like to believe. “She died at the end of August and even by October, I hadn’t been ready for a party without her. Now I realised I still wasn’t.” (98) Maya did not have a party last year for her fifteenth birthday because it had only been two months since Serena’s death; she was not ready to celebrate something like that without her best friend. The following year, Maya assumed that she was ready, and that she was strong enough. Now, Maya quickly realises this is not the case. Not only does the loss of her friend have a strong negative impact on Maya and her mind, but it affects the people around her as well.
Maya wants Daniel to start dating again, since he has not expressed any interest in it since Serena died. This is somewhat hypocritical because Maya, herself, has not yet found the strength to move on from Serena, “How could I push Daniel to replace Serena in his life when I wasn’t ready to? When would I be ready to? I didn’t know. Just not yet.” (97) If Maya is not ready to accept what happened and branch out to new people, she cannot expect this from Daniel. The two were equally close to Serena, but Maya does not want Daniel to be lonely, and she is more concerned about him than she is about herself. Later in Maya’s life, she meets a new kid in their town named Rafe. Although Rafe never met Serena, and Maya only met him after Serena had died, Serena’s death still affects Maya and Rafe’s relationship. “[referring to another nightmare that she had] A dream. Just a crazy dream, merging the experiences of the night—the cougar and Rafe—with the issue that I’d been trying to avoid all day. Serena’s death.” Serena’s death is having effects on people she had never met; Maya associates Serena with everything and everyone in her life, since she has not been able to let her go. Subsequently, Maya gets in an argument with Daniel about his feelings considering Serena’s death. Daniel insists that he has moved away from the experience enough to the point where he can talk about it again, and that she doesn’t have to be careful with him about it, “Stop pussyfooting around the subject of Serena. Stop treating me like I’m dying of a broken heart. Stop making me feel like I should be.” (181) Daniel doesn’t want to be treated like he is broken from the experience. He misses Serena dearly, but is able to move on, unlike Maya.

Maya never completely distances herself from her friend’s death. Although that shows how much she loved Serena, she is unable to move forward in her life if she cannot let her go. In fact, all of these impacts that Serena’s death has had on Maya are starting to cause a ripple effect in her life. It starts with Maya’s internalized guilt about the topic. This guilt translates into feelings of grief and strain in Maya’s mind that she is not able to shake off so she can progress forward in her life. Her inability to find a way to heal and recover from her friend’s death influences Maya’s relationships with other people, who even, in some cases, had only entered her life after Serena had left it. Instead of getting over Serena’s death, the incident is spreading through different facets of Maya’s life like a stone creates ripples in the water.

Jun 13 2015

Blogger of the Week Reflection

*Revised on June 16, 2015
For the blogger of the week posts, not including my own, I commented 10 times on the following blogs:
Alex Egorov—Why You Should Start Reading (http://aegorov5534.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/03/09/why-you-should-start-reading/)
Brianna Griffith—In a New World (http://bgriffit5407.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/04/19/in-a-new-world-blogger-of-the-week-post/)
Cameron Hildrop—Extremophiles and How They Can Help (http://childrop8174.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/04/08/extremophiles-and-how-they-can-help/)
Emily Repasi—Importance of Sleep for Teens (http://erepasi9082.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/05/10/importance-of-sleep-for-teens/)
Mahruf Khushmohammed—The Positive Impacts of Technology on Healthcare (http://mkhushmo4204.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/03/02/the-positive-impacts-of-technology-on-healthcare/)
Rauwn St. Jean—Robots or Kids? (http://rstjean0351.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/03/02/robots-or-kids/)
Sebastian Martin—Global Warming: Causes, Effects, And The Highly Motivated School Solution (http://smartin4237.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2015/04/06/blog-of-the-week-civics-civic-activism-assignment/)

I would rate my overall contributions to the blogs and the blog discussions as a ⅖. When I was present in a discussion, I believe that I had good points and that my perspective added to the discussion, however, I was rarely present to conversations and I rarely followed up with more information if the author responded to me.

For all of the topics I explored through fellow student’s blog posts, in most cases, my existing understanding of the topic was improved, or, I was introduced to a brand new topic I previously knew nothing about. Cameron Hildrop’s blog was a good example of that. Previously to reading his blog, I had never heard anything about the topic he had explored, and I felt he did a very good job explaining his topic to someone who had no prior knowledge. On my blog, Subhan Adli’s comment gave me a new outlook on the context of my topic; I had read about the like of existentialism and atheism, however, I hadn’t really considered the elements of existentialism that are solved by religious beliefs, and Subhan brought that to my attention.
I personally cannot pinpoint any certain times when a comment led me to more confusion than the actual post did, but that is probably because I wasn’t present in too many discussions. It was probably present in some discussions that I was not a part of though, because no system is perfect and different things lead to confusion for different people.

I think my comments effectively highlighted things that other people had no thought to bring to the author’s attention yet. If I had something to say about a post, I would read the previous comments first to make sure that my question was not already answered in response to someone else. I would like to believe that I brought a new perspective to think about to the author. Take this discussion on Alex’s blog, for example:
Blog Screenshot (Alex)
(In the photo, when I address the second question, the question in question was “Do you believe that reading should see an increase as part of the school curriculum, and if so, why?”)
I suggested a new thought to him, one that was not mentioned in the post or by other comments, and we had a conversation about it. I would like to think that I gave him a new outlook on an element of his post. I need to improve on the amount that I actually participate. Initially, I planned to comment on all of the blogs (which obviously didn’t happen), but then things became too busy and there were too many other, more important, things to do. I ended up neglecting commenting and never getting back into it consistently, which I should have made a better effort to do.
Honestly, I cannot think of a certain time when one person’s contribution to a discussion stood out to me or helped to move the class’s understanding forward. Generally, other than skimming to make sure I didn’t waste the author’s time by repeating someone else’s question, I did not really pay much attention to any certain discussion as a whole. I definitely should have paid closer attention to advance my understanding on the topics and widen my perspectives, but I did not.
In terms of recommendations for better discussions, I would suggest to actually have discussions. Let me explain. In many cases, these “discussions” consisted of a reader commenting their opinion on the post as a whole or a specific topic mentioned in the post, and then the author replies accordingly. The only person in this setup that receives the full impact of a discussion is the author; the author is exposed to many different points of view and opinions on their topic, whilst, in most cases, the reader’s are only exposed to the author’s view point or opinion. I don’t think this makes for much of a proper discussion. I would suggest to explore other people’s comments and outlooks on the same topic would give a much rounder outlook and a potentially more developed background of information. Online discussions enable us to do this. Although, online discussions are not a bad thing; it gives people time to process and properly convey the message they are trying to send. This can be a problem in in-person conversations because you would have less time to properly think out what you are going to say because the person or people in front of you are awaiting your response. Also, if it is a discussion between multiple people, it is a lot harder to ignore someone’s outlook when they are in front of you explaining it, whereas if you do not care about a person’s opinion online, you can just scroll away from their comment and move on. Both, online and in-person, are good platforms for discussions, but one can be preferable depending on the individuals having the conversation. Some prefer in-person because it is easier to understand what the other person’s point is, because you have various means of body language to read rather than just text. Some prefer online because it makes them feel safer and calmer in their own personal environment. It is all individual preference.
I believe that overall the Blogger of the Week assignment was not a bad idea, but people lost interest in it very quickly, because they did not feel like it was enough of a priority. If you take Mahruf’s post, which was one of the posts in the first week, it has a total of 38 comments, however, if you look at Laela’s post, which was one of the ones in the most recent week, it only has 6 comments. I would suggest that adding a specific minimum amount of comments for a person to leave on other’s blogs, while still enforcing the quality of the comments, would encourage people to prioritize commenting more. And then, you could judge on the quality of the comments, and whether people fell short of, met, or exceeded the minimum goal. This will also help the students to plan when they are going to comment it so they don’t end up neglecting it and leaving it undone all together. Also, in the beginning of the year, you said that you would conference with each blogger to make sure they knew everything that needed to be done, however, you stopped doing this very quickly, and just left a pdf on your website, one that many people didn’t know was there. I would suggest either a) making time to conference with everyone to make sure they’re on track and informed on the elements of the assignment, or b) from the beginning, don’t conference with anyone individually, unless they come to you asking for help, and let the entire class know that there is a specific outline they should be following, and to come to you with any questions or concerns about it.

Jun 6 2015

Top 10 Apocalyptica Songs

*Revised on June 16, 2015
I would suggest downloading this and deleting it afterwards, because if you just try to view it in another tab, it messes up the formatting for some reason.

Download (PPTX, 1.06MB)