The Mega-Meta Blog…

In the immortal words of Ben Knower, “hoo boi.”

So, before we enter the leviathan of a blog that will follow below, I just want to take a brief moment to acknowledge that this is the end of Uber Unit and the accompanying blog series. I think I might just miss these blogs, and even the unit itself, as strange as that might have sounded to past me. Ok, now that that is over with, let’s begin.

What did I learn about myself as a thinker? A bit of a weird question and a bit of a weird answer in my opinion. I always thought of myself as a “forest over the trees” kind of person before this unit. I’ve always looked for the connections between stories and data in general over just the individual components in hopes of finding patterns or other important relations. While I don’t dismiss individual bits and pieces of whatever I learn, I would generally look for the big picture before focusing on more specific things. Over the course of this unit, I did not find this thought process to change nor feel inadequate in any of the units we experienced. If anything, I felt like having this process helped me during each unit’s discussion, where I could zone out and let other people speak, take parts and ideas from their contributions and combine them with the opinions I had of the unit going into the discussion in order to formulate more powerful and legitimate conclusions. I would usually play with these conclusions in my head until I got confident enough to feel like I should introduce my point to the group, at which point I would merely wait for an opening to hop in (and put my armspan to good use.) However, while this was mostly all good and dandy for helping me lay out my thoughts, I couldn’t help but feel like my passive presence waiting for my turn would end up twisting my words into ideas that didn’t always convey my opinion in the fullest. I mean, I would get my point out, but most of the time, I always felt like it wasn’t as perfect as I imagined it at first. I felt like my most raw and reactive statements where I didn’t spend the time to reflect were my most direct and powerful contributions to the discussions as a whole. By reactive, I mean that a topic would come up that was so interesting or meaningful to me that I would dismiss my previous train of thought and would immediately hop into the discussion with a bit more emotion (and sometimes a bit less logic or refinement.) The most notable example of this would be my most recent participation in the Pop Culture group, where I entered the discussion when the issue of violent media and video games popped into the discussion. Overall, I feel like Uber Unit didn’t reveal anything different about my thought process and who I am as a thinker, but it certainly did help me to better understand and visualize how I approach certain issues.

What did I learn about myself as a team member?

What more did I learn that I didn’t already know? You knew who I was, my group knew on the second day, and I knew the moment you said this was a group activity. I’m the ever inconsistent procrastinator who shows up 8-9 o’ clock the night of something, and proceeds to put on some music (which I’ll make a separate blog post for at some time just for the heck of it) before settling down for a four hour grind session. I get my work done, and I take pride in my work representing the best of my ability regardless of the time of day when I complete it. But it doesn’t change the fact that all this comes at a sacrifice that I’m coming to learn the effects of a little too well. Which is my sleep. Anyway, as I’ve said before, while I contribute my work relatively late to the group, I always will hit deadlines if other people depend on my work. I can’t explain why this is so, and why I can’t hit my own deadlines in the same way, but I’ve noticed that when I have to do work that others need in some way/shape/form, that I seem to be better motivated and concentrated. I think this ties a bit more into my personality and my ideals, which in a nutshell revolve around performing and doing my best for other people, but not always necessarily for myself. I’m not some uber generous person who will do everything for another person, but I feel wrong not helping if we work together on something.

What did I learn about myself as a leader?

That I’m not in most situations but that I will step up if no one else will? I don’t think my perception of myself as a leader really changed after completing Uber Unit. The way I think about it, I’m a bit of an inverse chameleon in nature, where I only show up when nobody else appears. If nobody wants to define any roles or take any actions, I’ll get frustrated to the point where I’ll just decide to step up and take the leadership role. But otherwise, if someone takes that role (Grace), then I’ll stand back and try to make the leader’s life a bit easier by being as little of a roadblock as possible (not talking back or being a general pain.)

What did I learn about my work ethic and approach to work?

Well, what can I say that hasn’t already been said at this point? I’m the guy with a distinctive lack of concentration or motivation until the clock strikes 8:00 pm. I don’t know why I’m like this, I don’t enjoy it, but it’s been consistently the only time period past which I can efficiently function and get my work done.  I really don’t understand why this shift has occurred. When I was in elementary school, I was the complete opposite of this. I would still procrastinate work until the day or two before it was due, but I would always get home and immediately sit down and knock out all of my assignments. Then middle school came, and I would delay work a bit longer but I would still have almost everything done by 11 at the worst (AGP projects on the other hand, were my once a year grind fest that would end at 1 in the morning.) The only explanation I have at this point is the presence of sports and the greater commitment that I’ve had with them since entering 9th grade. Consistently getting home by 5-5:30 every day has tired me out, and I need an hour or two to recover and then I can settle down and do my work. But, if I don’t attend my practice in a day and get home at 3:00, I still can’t get to work until around 7:00 at the earliest. I’ve tried all sorts of methods to force myself to work earlier but I haven’t found anything. The same work pattern also coincidentally manifests itself during weekends, much to the dismay of my parents, and I can’t figure it out to save my life. If you have any tips or experience in this regard, I would honestly really appreciate it at this point because walking into school with an average of 4-5 hours of sleep for my entire junior year is really taking a toll on me (and leading to my continual usage of boring run on sentences.)

How well did you handle adversity? How did you operate outside of your natural comfort zone during Uber Unit?

Finally, now we get to the good stuff. You know, I really love the Uber Unit discussions (and generally all Socratic seminars we’ve had this year) not just for the crazy topics and tangents we expand into, but also for the possibility of being straight up completely wrong about a preconceived notion I’ve had entering a discussion. Yes, you read that right. I like being wrong. I mean, I directly don’t, cause it’s embarrassing and it shatters any momentum you’ve had while participating in a discussion, but it’s the ten seconds that follow being wrong that I really feel count. In your class, I’m OK with being wrong, because even if I don’t fully trust all my classmates, I know that they won’t kill me or disown me if I back down or show weakness in my statements. And because of this environment, I can comfortably look at my mistakes, my misconceptions and my myths, and I can wipe my slate clean. It’s in these moments that I see a chance to fix my understanding and set myself up for a better future, and I can step back and laugh (mentally) before picking myself up again and accepting that I was wrong. I think that having this ability has helped me immensely in my life, and not just in the classroom. It’s helped me to expand my horizons and perception of the world around me, and simultaneously, it protects me from looking like a complete idiot or appearing apathetic, which are somewhat important benefits in their own right. As for operating outside of my comfort zone, well, I’ll put it like this. All those AI debates, all those moments throughout the Gender unit, and even for brief periods in the Pop Culture and Environmental units, I got to feel like a mad scientist when playing with all the different and unusual viewpoints that came throughout the presentations. Sometimes I felt like I was playing with fire, crossing back and forth over moral and logical boundaries in order to understand both sides, or maybe even three sides of an issue, and in those moments you might have noticed me quietly giggling or nodding my head in various directions. It’s a feeling that I find hard to describe, one that feels like going over the edge of a roller coaster without the stomach problems, combined with that of the malicious or terrified glee of a student that has just lashed out at their teacher in a half second bout of frustration (*cough cough FRESHMAN YEAR MOMENTS cough cough*). To put it in simple terms, excuse my language here, but I feel like these moments qualify as the perfect intellectual “oh shit” moments. And I live for those moments.

What did you learn about yourself during the different phases of this assignment?

I’m not quite sure where I worked best within the Uber Unit. On one hand, I felt like I was slightly more efficient (got more work done within a time limit) working alone on individual parts of the unit where I could function without influence, but on the other hand, working with the rest of my group forced me to better adhere to deadlines and make my work more concise and refined. As for each group’s presentation, I consistently enjoyed the discussion much more than the activity. Now, I don’t think that the discussions would work as effectively without the day one presentations or the second day activities, but I just found that it was a two day sacrifice for a single day major payoff in my understanding and perception. And I was cool with that, it’s just that those two days were usually less enjoyable and crazy then the third day as a result. The language group was a noticeable exception to this with the, uh, shall I say intriguing, subject of their first day, but I consider that cheating just because of how that appealed to the crazy no-moral-standards-inner-five-year old side of me. The activities I found most interesting were (surprise!) the ones where we as the audience got to actively participate and more importantly, had to give our opinion instead of just contributing talking points. A specific example of this would be the Gender group’s second day, which I found extremely enlightening and useful for the rest of the presentation. A lesser example would also include the second day of the Environmental group where we were purposely put into groups with opposing opinions and had to defend an opinion we were observed to dislike (the one day of my life where I defended fracking, ugh), which I found to be painful but yet effective in improving my understanding of the topic overall.

GROUP BASHING SECTION: What did I learn about my team members?

Who am I kidding. I was ecstatic when I found out my group members because it bypassed the age old issue of all group projects: being forced into a group of people that you barely know or dislike where you have to do the majority group’s work in order to save your grade. But in a moment of delight, when I found out that I was put into a group with a dry humored but consistent procrastinating grinder, a light humored and beautiful (yet heavily stressed) heavy-work grinder, and a leading and consistently punctual grinder, I was extremely relieved. Those were the personalities that I assigned Alex, Liam, and Grace respectively when I joined the group, and when all is said and done, all I can say is that I wasn’t really wrong. The only thing I would change would be that I quickly realized Grace was much more entertaining than what I initially thought was strict, so she got a boost in my opinion. Now for individual ratings:
(Alex: AKA The 11:00 work deadline heart attack): Coming into Uber Unit, I didn’t really have an idea for who Alex really was in terms of a thinker, but I thought he would be more focused on individual issues and topics instead of the broad concept as a whole, but he broke right through that expectation within two weeks of work. From watching his contributions in discussions to some of the thoughts he revealed while working, I got the feeling that Alex cared much more about some topics then what I would have initially expected, and his statements showed a complex understanding of both specific and broad concepts in discussion. (specifically referring to his contributions in the language discussion, which I found fascinating and also really just warming.) In terms of a group member, Alex consistently scared me when I went to check on his work, but when deadlines had to be met, he always stood firm and got his part done. It’s scary, but also nice to know that he at least will complete everything, and to a high quality at the same time (at least from what I previewed.) Alex also was very easy to access and communicated quite consistently with the rest of group, which was nice in its own way. In terms of being a leader, well I don’t really think that anyone took much of a leading role (myself included) with Grace present, so I can’t really say much about Alex here. Again, as a worker, Alex scared me constantly but he never let the group down when getting work done, and the most he would do in terms of depending on other group members were quick questions to clarify his understanding of his work.

(Liam: AKA Mr. Beautiful, the Psuedo-Suicidal Work Machine) Liam alone honestly would have been enough to make the politics group functional and enjoyable for me based on his easy going but focused personality, so that is something that should be noted. In terms of him being a thinker, I think he really is a see the forest over the trees kind of person, but one who can easily pick out a tree and dissect it endlessly. In other words, he is flexible in interpreting different issues and he usually drives to the central point of the topic at hand before discussing the specifics he deems important. In terms of him as a team member, I found Liam trustworthy and reliable, and while he did push some deadlines a bit close, he, like Alex, consistently got his work done to a high standard. He communicated very openly and helped with Grace to coordinate our work effectively, and I felt like he also helped our group to better communicate with you directly. In terms of Liam as a leader, again, it was kind of hard to lead with Grace present, but Liam easily would have been the leader if Grace wasn’t in charge. He was comfortable in talking with the rest of my group and getting us to complete our work in an orderly manner. As a worker, my words about Liam as a group member apply here again, but I also felt like he handled adversity relatively well and kept himself together even when we were in a load of deep work.

(Grace: AKA Ms. Mini Lobitz) Yeah, I’m not kidding with that title. Grace was always questioning us and keeping the group on track to the point where I couldn’t quite tell if she was your pet at times. Grace, if you are reading this, please don’t take this negatively, I think that’s actually pretty awesome that you managed the group the way you did and it helped me greatly in the organization of my work, so thanks. Now onto the evaluation. As a thinker, I got the feeling that Grace had a complex understanding of every topic that each group’s discussion covered, but her contributions all seemed to focus on specific ideas rather than broad ideas, which was interesting for the discussions considering the number of times she participated. As a group member, Grace was arguably the most consistent of us all in terms of completing work before deadlines and would push us to get our work done earlier as well. She communicated just as much as if not more than Liam and didn’t really have any negatives (outside of a little miscommunication at the end of our presentation’s presentation, but that was dealt with by me.) In terms of being a leader, knowing Grace as a theatre kid, I thought she would come in and immediately establish herself in charge of the rest of the group without any fear due to her being the most comfortable in communicating and organizing, and after all was said and done, I can’t really say that was really that far off as a prediction. Out of our group, Grace appeared to have the most advanced work ethic, getting her work done and maintaining her work logs to the best standards (until everyone decided to stop recording logs because they were ugly and repetitive) overall. She would work late with the rest of us but would also spread her work out throughout the rest of the day as well. I observed Grace the least out of our group (wow that sounds weird) and couldn’t really see how she handled adversity or some of the greater mental gymnastics that came with the crazier discussions, but she never complained nor was a burden in this regard, so I would presume that she handled the whole of Uber Unit very well.

Grade myself and my group members upon Uber Unit:

At the very least, I thought that the entire group hit a baseline of “meets” the expectation fairly easily, considering everyone carried their own weight and kept the group running along relatively smoothly. However, I could easily say that Grace and Liam exceeded expectations based on the level of work they contributed (which was a lot of top quality work, even if most of it never made it into the powerpoint) as well as their attitudes and help in organizing and communicating with the group. If they don’t meet this grade, I would be shocked. I also think that to an extent, I could also see Alex reaching the exceeds grade, for the level of work he submitted as well as his discussion contributions. Alongside this, the questions he asked within our group to better focus our work and expand the potential materials and sources were also very helpful in improving the overall product we submitted, and I’m not sure that our group would have done the same without him. As for myself, I’m not sure where to grade my contributions. I feel very confident in reaching the “meets” guidelines, as I contributed just as much research and busy work to meet the guidelines met by the rest of the group, and I helped to organize some of our larger documents and our final presentation, while also participating in almost every discussion (outside of Language, which I discussed in that blog.) However, reaching the level of “exceeding” expectations is one where I’m conflicted on giving myself that final bump. My contributions to the group were solid and useful, but I don’t really think that there would be much of a dropoff if another person in our class were swapped with me. I had a few documents where I thought I manifested my ideas to a unique and beneficial point, but sometimes I wouldn’t have a really perceptive viewpoint on the material I would read, and that doesn’t really add to the group and bring it above the base requirements in my opinion. The more important question on this grade however, is whether my discussion contributions and random organizational or reflective contributions to Uber Side Hustle really ended up making a difference or not towards our groups final presentation and reception by the class. That is a reflection that I think would be most fair for my group members to make and not myself, but if I had to give an opinion, I would put myself in between meeting and exceeding and lean towards meeting in this case. I didn’t contribute multiple times to any discussion (outside of science and tech) off the top of my head, and I can’t truly determine the impact of my personal thoughts to the rest of the group, so I’ll end this evaluation at that.

Comment on the group’s communication:

I don’t think this needs to be very long. Our group did a great job at communicating among each other, and the name “Uber Side Hustle” became a standard for other groups to aspire to… In all seriousness, our inter-group communication was constant and extremely useful in coordination, and was a major reason why our presentation turned out as effective as it was. I also felt that as a group, we communicated effectively with you in the brief meetings we had. I can recall at least two instances where a short 30 second meeting with you cleared up a standstill in our group’s work and allowed us to move forward, so I’m grateful that you went around and maintained communication on your end.

Comment on the quality of our Dummies’ Packet:

I’ll admit this is where my contributions weren’t as strong. I created my three precis and added to the Putting It Together and essential questions, but otherwise I had little part in this part of Uber Unit. However, based on my group’s contributions, I feel as if this section “exceeds” expectations due to the consistently thorough and meaningful precis analysis(‘s?) and the strength of our synthesis prompt and essential questions. I feel like our external sources were all very relevant and even powerful, which I found to be a bonus. So with this in mind, I feel like our packet should qualify as exceeding expectations.

Comment on our Days of Presentation:

Or what I considered the three days of hell before we actually went through and did them. In the end, they really weren’t that bad. Again, I feel comfortable in grading out our group and presentation as exceeding expectations, but I could see why it could lean towards meeting them. I felt like our powerpoint and videos were all very effective in granting the audience a broad but still informative overview of our material, and set them up well for the rest of the presentation. However, the second day was a day of wasted potential in my opinion, one that I was partially responsible for. Our idea going into the second day was to get the class bouncing ideas back and forth and arguing the various merits of political policy, but due to the structure of the scenarios presented, (one of which I wrote, I believe it was the second one), everyone ended up just picking a scenario that was relatively easy to arrive at without much debate, and the only two people who appeared to get something out of the activity were Abby and Evan. That day is a reason I could see our group’s performance being dragged down. I felt like the third day was a relative success from that point forward, and even though the discussion seemed to ignore the essential questions somewhat, it was centered around primary issues and opinions that I felt were relevant enough to reason that the rest of the class could find the days meaningful and helpful in their overall understanding of the topic. So, while it was an unusual way of getting there, I felt like the discussion was still a success.

Draw Connections between our group and the other groups:

Wait, didn’t we already do this? Might as well copy paste at this point amiright? I feel like what I’m about to state here will be a slightly more or less polished version of what was already stated in each group’s corresponding blog.

Starting with the Gender Group, I’m a little confused on how exactly there could be a connection between this group and the idea of politics that was interpreted by our group. While the idea of gender and all its associated rights could easily relate to their presence as a form of major debate in our country’s political system, it would be a bit more of a stretch to apply these same debates to the rest of the world in such a fashion. Maybe the presence of humanitarian groups who provide abortions and other related activities internationally could qualify for a broad scale connection here.

As for the Nature Group, I feel like there is a massive connection between nature and political actions around the world. Due to the massive scale of potential problems that could occur in our future if our environment isn’t accounted for and preserved, worldwide committees gather at the UN Climate Change Conference to politically discuss various ways of reaching goals to fix this issue.

As for the Language Group, I’ll refer back to a point I made in my first blog where the presentation spent a moment discussing Donald Trump and his unique usage of language to appeal to a larger demographic to improve his chances of becoming elected and therefore influences politics. People will make judgements about others based upon their language, and due to Trump’s usage of simplistic and similar language, these people thought that his political stances were similar and beneficial to them.

As for the Science and Technology Group, I’m not quite sure where AIs would fit into a political setting. They technically don’t exist yet (or at least the level of general intelligence), but they could easily gain so much power that it would instantly draw the attention of politicians to shut it down or modify the technology so that AIs could be controlled for beneficial purposes.

And finally, for the Pop Culture Group, I felt like a connection could be made to the usage of social media and popularity as forms of pop culture to influence people to support candidates politically. For example, I’ll look at this election one last time, where Trump was more popular on social media and better known, and voters would hear more bad things about the other candidate than Trump based on his massive influence in these communication mediums. Therefore, this understanding of pop culture had a significant impact of the basis of politics in our country.

 

With that final rant about Trump, I guess I could say that this metacognitive reflection is complete. Or as complete as it ever will be at 2:00 in the morning. I probably should get some sleep or something and prepare for the argument prompt that will destroy me tomorrow in class. Ah, well that’s junior year for me in a nutshell I guess. That being said, I started this blog with a quote, and I shall end it with one.

In the immortal words of Dobby some pesky student of yours,

“Marcus is free!”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s