Saturday, 10 December 2016

21st Century Literacy; Preparing Me Today for Tomorrow

What is 21st century literacy? In a society where technology has increased the “intensity and complexity of literate environments, the 21st century demands that a literate person possesses a wide range of abilities and competencies…” Henceforth, 21st century literacy is the ability to be literate within the language and within technology.
Looking back 100 years, so many things have changed: medicine, automobiles, science, technology, yet one thing has stayed constant, the education system is teaching students the same way it did 100 years ago. That then begs the question, is it working? Is our education system properly preparing students for a future that is constantly advancing and changing if the education system itself is not advancing or changing?
Traditionally, in a high school English class, students are not engaged and lack enthusiasm within their studies.  In a typical English class, you would see students sitting in rows and rows of individual desks, mundanely watching their teacher lecture in front of the chalk board. After that lecture, what would you see? Well, students would go home with their homework to read Chapters one through three in the textbook and answer questions A through K about the previous chapter. Subsequently falling asleep twice while answering question F, “define an apostrophe and identify three examples of apostrophe in the following text”, students will then embark on their next day of English class. The students will walk into class and flop their homework on the teacher’s desk and await the next boringly mundane lecture. This time, after listening to the teacher go on and on about How to Kill a Mockingbird, students will have to write a five page MLA formatted essay summarizing the book.  Oh, but wait, Carly has a question, “What do we do if we are finished already, can I have some more challenging work?” Sadly no, Carly cannot have anymore challenging work because the teacher has four other English classes to teach and four other English classes’ homework to correct. Therefore the teacher does not have time to find more challenging work for just one student. It’s okay Carly, maybe next time.
Here at Cedar Ridge, in our unique 21st Century Literacy Course, Carly along with all the other students will get that more challenging work they’ve been asking for. English, within 21st Century Literacy, is engaging and thought-provoking, and definitely one of my favourite courses thus far. In our high school English class, our teacher sits among us and listens to us as we teach the class about apostrophes. After listening to that student teach us about apostrophes, the next students jumps up and teaches us about allegories. “As you can see in Flowers For Algernon, there are many allegorical references to Plato’s Republic. The placement of this allegory then begs the question of whether Charlie was happier in the cave or outside in the real world,” the student will explain, then opening it up for discussion. Now, students could write a boring summary of the book, or students could write in the Point of View of a character to deliver a complete understanding of the story. To keep the students engaged, they then get to watch the Flowers for Algernon movie, but they won’t get off that easily. They are tasked with writing a Comparative text study (Flowers for Algernon and “Charly)”.  The next week, students learn about Canada’s unofficial poet laureate, Gord Downie. After watching multiple videos about Gord Downie’s final concert and his legacy, The Secret Path, students go home with a connection to their studies. With that newly established connection, students write a poem inspired by Gord Downie. However, a poem only covers certain curriculum links, so students in our English class go more in depth. Create a presentation on The Tragically Hip’s legacy, write an essay on the cancer that is affecting Gord Downie, students are given the freedom to choose how they wish to complete the assignments.  Now that all the technical aspects of the curriculum are complete, students in our English class embrace their individuality and develop their own voice that will be heard by the world. Cedar Ridge prepares students for the future, a future where they need to stand out, to be unique, to be leaders of our generation.
This course has inspired me to go beyond the textbook, to discover the world through literature and technology that is rapidly advancing and will lead us into the future. With the skills, knowledge and desire for exploration, I feel that I am fully prepared not only for university, but for a life full of curiosity and learning. Beginning this English course, I was prepared. I was prepared in a sense that I knew the fundamentals, but I was also prepared for the challenges and endeavors set forth by my educators. Coming from that class where the teacher did not have time to find more challenging work for just one student, I was in a way falling into the routine of just accepting that. Cedar Ridge brought me back out of that routine, and I am incredibly thankful for that. I was thankful that I am back to those days of being three and asking “why” in response to everything.  This English class has taught me many things and it has been an opportunity for me to grow and learn. Let me tell you, I have learned lots. I have also learned lots about myself. I learned how much I enjoy reading Shakespeare, and that he is no longer just a 400 year old literary genius. Through studying his literary works, and developing a deeper understanding of those works through modern retellings and re-enactments, I realized that I will be buying some of his other plays to be reading on my morning commutes. In studying Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip, I learned how fascinated I am with First Nations and was inspired to change the horrific ways in which they are currently living. Presented with the opportunity to individualize my work, I realized how much I loved writing essays. And no, I do not write essays in my free time, much to the rest of the class’ dismay. Through writing these essays, it was clear that I needed to work on personalizing my work. I needed to make some of my work less scientific and more about my opinions and beliefs. Having all those freedoms and opportunities, I learned what I have to say and I learned that there are people out there willing to listen.
Traditionally, business classes were very uniformed and structured. Most business classes were taught from a textbook, read from a projector screen, but never taught from experience. Students would walk into class after struggling to keep awake during their first period English class and sit down, only to have to sit through yet another lecture. This lecture is not about Shakespeare though, this lecture is about fiscal responsibility! After that lesson, students get to enjoy a nice break for lunch before they trek through the endless halls to their next class.  But sadly that is not the end of business for the day. Students must go home and create a spreadsheet depicting a yearly budget for Mark’s Tool Supply. Similar to their English class, students will walk in the next day and flop down the spreadsheet they worked on the night before and take a seat in the rows and rows of desks. If you were lucky, your business teacher might let you set up a business selling store bought cupcakes to other students in the cafeteria during lunch.
21st Century Literacy’s Business does not teach from a textbook, it teaches through experience. Combined with English, business is taught to compliment our other studies. Students learn about spreadsheets through experience and application. Planning a Duke of Ed adventurous journey to the British Virgin Islands, well, a budgetary spreadsheet and travel itinerary are definitely in order. Creating a blog to showcase all of your work and want to send it Kate Middleton, send her  a blog announcement letter and wait for a response (which did come!). Curious about what people’s perspectives are on international terrorism, make a survey and tweet it out to the world to complete. Feeling heartbroken over the way Aboriginals are currently living in third world conditions, apply your business knowledge to create an Aboriginal Clean Water Initiative to solve the problem. Students in this business class are taught the real world applications of business and digital literacy. They are taught the necessary skills that are required by the education ministry, but they are taught to discover ways in which they can then apply those requirements to everyday life.
Business was never something I was truly interested in nor was I thinking about taking business courses. However, throughout the past thirteen weeks learning about business, I have developed an appreciation and desire to continue my business education. Most of my previous business knowledge was very technical, what cash flow is, what is the term when profit equals cost. I had assumed that my business knowledge was only necessary if I wished to pursue a career in business. Boy, was I wrong. Business is about so much more than the technical aspects, it is about communication and digital literacy. I learned that the business skills I had developed and owned throughout the term would lead me to be incredibly interested in the subject. In fact, by learning about the clinical and applicable side of business, I developed my Aboriginal Clean Water Initiative. I feel as though, through partaking in this business course, I have owned my communication skills, communicating orally and through writing. As a guest of Karen McCrimmons at a political dinner,I had the opportunity to converse with many adults about politics, school, even ACWI. In participating in this dinner, I learned a very valuable lesson that is applicable to business. I learned how to take my knowledge of business from the classroom to real life.

The past thirteen weeks, I have partook in an innovative and revolutionary course that is preparing students for an advancing and changing future, 21st Century Literacy. Throughout this course, I have further developed my English and Business knowledge as it pertains to my grade. This course has provided me with the necessary skills that will allow me to succeed in my future endeavors.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Flowers For Algernon Book vs. Movie Comparison

“Flowers for Algernon” is a book written by Daniel Keys published in 1966. The story follows a 32 year old mentally retarded man named Charlie Gordon who has an aspiration to be intelligent. Charlie is presented with the opportunity to undergo a neurological surgery in hopes of raising his IQ. More than happy to participate, Charlie partakes in numerous experiments both prior to and after the surgery.
In 1968, after gaining an immense amount of popularity, the book “Flowers for Algernon” was adapted into a movie called Charly. However, like most movie adaptations, Charly showed many differences when compared to the book. While there are many differences in the novel versus the film adaptation, this essay will focus on the two most evident. Thus being the relationship of Alice and Charlie and the other difference being the portrayal of the progress reports.
One of the most evident differences between the novel and the film adaptation of “Flowers for Algernon” is the relationship of Charlie Gordon and Alice Kinnian. While in the novel, Charlie has a complicated, loving and intimate relationship with Alice, the film portrays their relationship in a unalike manner. In the film, the relationship between Charlie and Alice is not as complicated as they begin a relationship and maintain it throughout the plot, except for the brief moment when Charlie forces himself onto her. Contrary to the film, the book portrays their relationship as very complicated and radical. There is a constant struggle between being together from both parties. Charlie has not reached the emotional maturity to be in a stable or sexual relationship. Once he has reached that emotional maturity, Alice does not believe it is good for them to be together. There is a very constant “will they” “won’t they” in regards to their relationship throughout the novel, which is not examined in the film. By not including said portrayal, the film is unable to allow the audience to create empathy or a deeper understanding of Charlie’s emotions and motives.
Within the novel, Charlie Gordon, write progress reports detailing his everyday life and emotions very occasionally. These reports are in-depth passages about Charlie Gordon’s emotions, memories and thoughts throughout the surgery and experiment. The noted progress reports help the reader develop empathy for Charlie while also aiding the progression of the plot. However, in the film adaption, the progress reports are removed from the plot entirely. While the audience is able to see exactly what Charlie does throughout the story, they are unable to develop the personal connection and empathy towards Charlie as they were able to reading. This discretion is done due to the creative constraints of making a movie; time and budget as well as keeping the audience engaged.

Although the movie and book of “Flowers for Algernon” are completely different, they both portray the story as a whole. Both the movie and the book are able to use individual attributes to communicate the story and general plot. The effectiveness of one versus the other is entirely dependent of the reader or audience themselves.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Glioblastoma; An End to The Tragically Hip

Glioblastoma is a highly invasive glioma or malignant tissue within the brain. Glioblastomas (GBM) are tumors that originate from astrocytes-star shaped glial cells of the central nervous system. Glioblastomas are highly malignant, meaning cancerous, due to the rapid reproductive nature of the cells. In fact, glioblastomas are the most common form of malignant brain tumours in adults, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Unfortunately, the head singer of the band The Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, was diagnosed with glioblastoma in December of 2015.
Generally found in the cerebral hemisphere of the brain, glioblastomas are incurable malignant tumours. Though glioblastomas are generally found within the cerebral hemisphere, there is potential for them to form in other parts of the brain such as the corpus callosum, brainstem or spinal cord. Glioblastomas contains a mixture of cell types, the most common cell being astrocytes. Often these tumors contain: calcium deposits, blood vessels, cystic mineral, or a mixed variety of cells. Glioblastomas are considered malignant due to the exponential rate in which the tumor cells, which are nourished by ample blood supply, reproduce at any given time. Being that glioblastomas originate from healthy brain cells, it is easy for the cancerous cells to invade and live within the healthy brain or spinal tissue. The are two different types of glioblastomas: primary and secondary. Primary glioblastomas, the most common form of glioblastoma, tend to form and make their presence known promptly. Secondary glioblastomas have a longer, somewhat slower growth rate, but are still very aggressive. This type of tumor begins as lower-grade tumor and develops into a higher grade. Secondary glioblastomas are often uncommon, only representing approximately 10% of all glioblastomas.
Since glioblastomas can grow rapidly, most symptoms are caused due to the increased pressure within the brain. Common symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. However, depending of the the location of the tumor, other symptoms can arise such as weakness on one side of the body, memory and/or speech difficulties as well as visual changes. Symptoms produced by a glioblastoma depend immensely on the location of the tumor rather that the pathological properties of it.
Gord Downie was diagnosed with the terminal cancer just nine months ago. In December of 2015, Gord Downie was admitted to the emergency room at the Kingston Hospital after suffering a seizure in the downtown streets of Kingston, Ontario. Doctors performed an MRI to determine the cause of the seizure. The results of the MRI showed a lesion, body tissue that has suffered injury or disease. Downie was immediately taken into the operating room to have a resection surgery performed in hopes of removing most of the tumor. Head of neurology at Sunnybrook Health, Dr. Perry, performed the surgery and was successful in the removal of most of the tumor mass. Following the surgery, Downie underwent six weeks of Monday through Friday radiation combined with an oral chemotherapy drug called temozolomide. Downie’s doctor, Dr. Perry said “the good news is that Mr. Downie has a type of glioblastoma that is known to respond well to treatment. He has a specific genetic marker – positive MGMT methylation status – that can translate into significantly longer survival.” Gord Downie continues to receive chemotherapy regularly and on occasion undergoes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan in order to monitor the tumor. Pulmonologist, Dr. Cook compared glioblastoma to an anthill. He explained that the tumor mass itself is visible, similar to the sandy parts of an anthill. However, underground, there are thousands of ants crawling around far from the hill. In other words, a surgical resection can remove most of the tumor mass, but it cannot get rid of the cancerous cells that have spread throughout Downie’s body. Dr. Cook mentioned, “ At some point the benefits of doing surgery to remove additional tissue actually just will render an individual in worse condition. The prognosis for glioblastoma, the most aggressive and common type of brain cancer, is dissatisfactory. The average life expectancy after diagnosis being between 14 to 18 months. In regards to Gord Downie, his doctor- Dr. Perry, was careful to avoid commenting on his estimated life expectancy, as each individual is different and many variable are involved.
Despite the diagnosis, Gord Downie’s singing career will not be put on hold and halted due to his cancer. As Downie’s neuro-oncologist, Dr. Perry knew his patient would endure mental and physical challenges while performing shows during The Tragically Hip’s Canada wide tour. Yet, Dr. Perry admits he never doubted Gord Downie’s conviction, boldness and energy as a performer. Dr. Perry has attended all but one of The Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem shows as Gord Downie’s touring physician. However, Dr. Perry has followed the band not as a necessity but as a precaution. Gord Downie, while on tour, stopped receiving upfront treatment including radiation and chemotherapy, however, doctors are monitoring his health very closely. Nevertheless, Gord Downie’s doctors are not the only ones supporting him. The remaining members of The Tragically Hip: Paul, Gord S, Johnny and Rob continue to support Gord Downie in all aspects of life. In a message from the band, they stated, “...he’s endured a lot of difficult times, and he has been fighting hard. In privacy along with his family, and through all of this, we’ve been standing by him.” Gord Downie and his bandmates have been together for the past thirty years, so it comes as no surprise that his bandmates support him and his family through these difficult times. But the support does not stop there. Gord Downie has the support of all Canadians, wishing him sympathy and strength as he endures these difficult moments. While performing at their last concert in Kingston on August 20, 2016, Gord Downie announced to the audience his thanks, “Thank you, people, for keeping me pushing and keeping me pushing.”

Almost nine months ago, Gord Downie, head singer of the Tragically Hip, was diagnosed with glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is a form of aggressive and incurable brain cancer. Downie underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation in hopes to prolong his life.These past nine months have probably been the worst months of Gord Downie’s life. Yet, he continues to perform, continues to enlighten his fans with his touching music, continues to pursue his dreams. Gord Downie not only inspired people through his music, but he inspired people through his perseverance in a difficult time.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Use of Human Embryos for Experimentation: Stem Cell Research

Human embryo experimentation is defined as, “Experimentation on, or using the organs or tissues from, a human or other mammalian conceptus during the prenatal stage of development that is characterized by rapid morphological changes and the differentiation of basic structures. In humans, this includes the period from the time of fertilization to the end of the eighth week after fertilization.”
Currently, in modern science, research is being conducted on human embryos to provide information on stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research is biological research conducted on stem cells derived from embryos and on the stem cells’ use in medicine. Embryonic stem cell research is believed to have great potential to aid in curing and treating disorders and mutations. These include type 1 diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease as well as post-myocardial infraction hearts. However, scientists are now conducting these human embryonic stem cell experiments by growing an embryo within a lab.
Within the scientific field of human embryonic development, there is a rule that states the embryonic development and experimentation cannot exceed fourteen days, scientist must terminate the development of the embryo prior to the limit of fourteen days. Human embryonic stem cell research and embryonic research in general, have raised many ethical dilemmas. Reproductive rights and technologies have been at the forefront of politics and science in recent decades.' The development of contraception, abortion, and-most recently-cloning have challenged the moral and ethical beliefs of many people. Human embryo research has likewise fueled ongoing debate within scientific, ethical, and legal circles. Not only is this ethical dilemma being discussed amongst the biologists, but it is also being discussed amongst medical professionals, media, ethicists, governments, and politicians. Human embryonic stem cell research is providing society with the question to choose between two moral principles: the duty to prevent and alleviate suffering, or the duty to respect and value human life. 
One the one hand, human embryonic stem cells provide science with major clinical potential in tissue repair. The stem cells’ proponents believing that they represent the future relief or cure of a several common disabilities. An early embryo that has not yet implanted into the uterus does not have the psychological, emotional or physical properties that we associate with being a person. It therefore does not have any interests to be protected and we can use it for the benefit of patients. Fertilized human eggs are just parts of other people’s bodies until they have developed enough to survive independently. The only respect due to blastocysts is the respect that should be shown to other people’s property. If we destroy a blastocyst before implantation into the uterus we do not harm it because it has no beliefs, desires, expectations, aims or purposes to be harmed.
However, the other side of the debate argues the unethical aspect of experiment because the stem cells are derived from human preimplantation embryos. To obtain embryonic stem cells, the early embryo has to be destroyed. This means destroying a potential human life. These embryos are created for the sole purpose of experimentation and are exterminated prior to fourteen days. Development from a fertilized egg into to baby is a continuous process and any attempt to pinpoint when personhood begins is arbitrary. A human embryo is a human being in the embryonic stage, just as an infant is a human being in the infant stage. Although an embryo does not currently have the characteristics of a person, it will become a person and should be given the respect and dignity of a person. If we judge the moral status of the embryo from its age, then we are making arbitrary decisions about who is human. For example, even if we say formation of the nervous system marks the start of personhood, we still would not say a patient who has lost nerve cells in a stroke has become less human.
For decades, scholars have debated the ethical dilemma of stem cell research. While researching both sides of this moral and scientific debate, I have created an informed decision that if asked my opinion on this subject, it would be as follows: with my thirteen years of education, especially most recently, taking grade eleven biology, I have been educated with the knowledge that from the moment an egg is fertilized, be it in-utero or in-vitro, life begins. Although, I can understand the other side of the debate; stating that stem cell research is necessary for the advancement of medical and scientific research. Based on my beliefs, the moment the egg is fertilized, the process of human life begins. Henceforth, creating a human being and then killing it days later does not seem ethical to me. If we judge the moral status of the embryo from its age, then we are making arbitrary decisions about when life begins. For example, even if we say formation of the nervous system marks the start of personhood, we still would not say a patient who has lost nerve cells in a stroke has become less human.
As I pursue a career in the medical field, I realise my beliefs may be questioned and I may have to put my personal beliefs aside and let my professional beliefs as a future medical worker acknowledge that this research is necessary to potentially treat and cure human medical conditions.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Combating Boil Water Advisories in First Nation Reserves

Drinking water advisories are preventive measures put in place to protect public health from drinking water that could be contaminated. Currently 92 First Nation communities across Canada are suffering from drinking water advisories. "We live in Canada but on reserve it feels like Third World conditions,"
said Nazko Chief Stuart Alec.  
There are water treatment systems available that are vastly more technologically superior to the  systems of the past. Historically water treatment has been done with filtration and chlorination. The problem with that, is that they are generally complex and cost prohibited. Not all reserves are the same size, therefore a one size fits all approach doesn't work. My plan is to use the latest generation technology such as UV and ozonation and combine that with traditional filtration technology to solve water purification needs. This system can be implemented on a either a residential or a community building scale.
However, this project is not just a technological issue, it is an educational issue. Community involvement always works to the advantage. Therefore, my plan is to get the Aboriginal community involved. How? I plan on educating Junior High and High School students within the communities on what it means to have pure water. Not only will I educate youth on what it means to have pure water, but I will educate youth on how to get purified water. I plan on educating our  future generations. However, education alone cannot solve all problems. I will also provide the necessary resources to test and verify water quality with the aid of industry partners, especially lab companies who are willing to provide testing equipment and training. But it does not stop there. My plan also includes teaching youth how to produce clean water using the latest water purification technology. As part of an Aboriginal Youth Employment Opportunity, youth will be employed to test and produce purified water.
This plan provides a technological solution, education, production, as well as employment opportunities for an Aboriginal community. "The life of a person is a circle for childhood to childhood. Within each child lies our future and our past."

Monday, 26 September 2016

Inspired By a Dying Man

Inspired by a Dying Man
By Emma Heller
Here’s a man who stands on stage
Here’s a man who sparkles in glitter
Here’s a man who bears his soul

We are looking to you for answers
Is it coming through your instruments?
Is it coming through your song?
Is it coming through your heart?

Does he see his life so limited?
Does he see a life well lived?

I see a man whose life is limited
I see a man whose life is well lived

When he is gone, how will he remembered?
As a man who lived life to the fullest

Or as a man whose life was taken

Almost nine months ago, Gord Downie, head singer of the Tragically Hip, was diagnosed with glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is a form of aggressive and incurable brain cancer. Downie underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation in hopes to prolong his life. Since then, obviously, he's endured a lot of difficult times, and he had been fighting hard," the band said in a letter to fans. These past nine months have probably been the worst months of Gord Downie’s life. Yet, he continues to perform, continues to enlighten his fans with his touching music, continues to pursue his dreams. Gord Downie not only inspired people through his music, but he inspired people through his perseverance in a difficult time. Downie inspired Canadian’s to open up about glioblastoma, and cancer in general. Downie inspired millions and he inspired me. I want to follow my dreams, and after seeing what Gord Downie has accomplish, I feel is necessary to not give into difficulties or obstacles. Gord Downie certainly did not.