Final Reflection!

Something to remember by:

I love spring!

Where you’re going next year: Lausanne, Switzerland.

One takeaway from this class: My critical thinking skills and presentation skills have greatly improved (I no longer memorize my IO script😉) .

One favorite memory: Fun projects like creating the podcast and learning about important global issues such as racism and gender inequality.

One memorable text we studied and why I enjoyed it: I enjoyed analyzing Kendrick Lamar’s lyrics because as a music lover, it taught me how to be more aware of the meaning of the songs I listen to.

Any advice for juniors: Use Quizlet or Anki flashcards when it comes to remembering things and doing past papers is always useful.

The School of Life Articles

The 8 Articles I have chosen focuses on the themes of the importance of leisure and traveling as I have recently begun to feel very sad that I can’t freely travel internationally, and reflective of the many lessons I gained from traveling and leisure.

  1. “A World Without Air Travel”: This article stood out to me because the pandemic has basically halted international travel which is really depressing. Therefore, after reading this article, I’ve finally begun to appreciate the many opportunities for traveling I have experienced.
  2. “The Advantages of Staying at Home”: This article stood out to me again because it reminds me of my time in quarantine earlier this year and the many valuable lessons I gained from staying at home.
  3. “How to Spend a Few Days in Paris”: I chose this article as Paris was the last European city I visited which intrigued me to discover a different perspective on tourism and leisure traveling. After reading this article, I learned how visiting tourist spots may not be the best form of tourism and learning about the history and culture of a city.
  4. “Capri Hotel, Changi Airport, Singapore”: I chose this article as it deals with the struggle with insomnia which was a problem I faced when I was younger.
  5. “The Holidays When You’re Feeling Mentally Unwell”: I chose this article because I wanted to learn about the benefits of holidays and traveling for mental health.
  6. “Travel as Therapy an Introduction”: I chose this article as I was curious to discover how traveling can be a form of therapy.
  7. “The Importance of Dancing Like an Idiot”: I chose this article because I wanted to discover the importance of the little things people do in their daily lives, such as, dancing like an idiot.
  8. “The Importance of Listening to Music”: As I love listening to music all the time, I wanted to understand the importance of music.


Although COVID-19 has heavily impacted my life this year, I still feel like the last eight months have been quite good for me. Spending more time with my family and reflecting on my life, in general, helped me realize the purpose of going to school, which made me feel much more motivated.

This past year, a success for me was attending two virtual summer programs because I had the opportunity to delve deeper into subjects I’m interested in and may consider pursuing in the future. And in terms of challenges, I think the main challenge for me during the last eight months was keeping up with work and handing in assignments on time.

For English, I enjoyed analyzing Malcolm X’s speeches, “When They See Us,” and writing my HL essay. One of my successes includes studying Kendrick Lamar’s album “DAMN.”. Studying “DAMN.” was very interesting because I’ve never analyzed contemporary music before, and analyzing Kendrick Lamar’s lyrics taught me many important contemporary global issues, such as systemic racism. To improve, I need to utilize correct terminology on my paper one and improve my verbal skills for my IO. I think doing more practice IO’s and paper 1’s will improve my language ability and critical-thinking skills.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to study The Odyssey, Frankenstein, and the articles. I’ve never read The Odyssey and Frankenstein before. However, I’ve watched a few videos from the School of Life on YouTube, which I found quite peculiar. I’m, therefore, keen to discover the interconnections between all texts and deepening my knowledge of language and literature.

SMART GOAL: Improve my performance on Paper 1 and deliver a great IO by practicing and doing more practice.


Now that we have concluded our study of Kendrick Lamar, “When They See Us,” Malcolm X, and Gordon Parks and completed another practice Paper 1 and practice Individual Oral Presentation it is once again time to take stock and reflect. Your task is to create a reflective blog post which addresses the following questions:

  • What do you understand better now than you did before about the choices made by creators of texts and how these choices affect meaning? Give examples.
I think I’m now aware of the visual and literary technique creators employ to affect meaning. In terms of visual texts, after analyzing Gordon Park’s photography and the tv show “When They See Us”, I’m now aware of how visual techniques like camera angles juxtaposition, composition, symbolism, and color can affect meaning. An example would be the use of close-up angles in Gordon Park’s photography to enhance facial expressions and create a more somber mood.
  • What do you understand better now than you did before about the ways in which the context of the production of a text and the context of the reception of a text shape meaning? Give examples.
 After looking at Malcolm X’s speeches and Gordon Parks photography, I now understand that the reception of texts is very much attached to the context and time period in which the visual/literary texts are produced. For example, Malcolm X wouldn’t have written his speeches with the purpose of persuading his black audience to begin a revolution if he didn’t face oppression during the 1960s.
  • What do you understand better now than you did before about the ways in which texts are connected with one another across time and place? Give examples.

I’ve learned that many texts are interconnected in terms of how they all explore the common goal of informing an important global issue. Regardless of different time periods, visual texts like “When They See Us” and Gordon Parks, as well as literary texts like Kendrick Lamar, all explore the common global issues of discrimination, poverty, injustice, and racism in the black community.

  • Of all of the texts that we have studied together this year, which has made the biggest impact on you? Why do you think that is?

I think analyzing Kendrick Lamar has been quite interesting. After listening to the Dissect podcast, I began to pay closer attention to the ways in which texts employ specific literary techniques to express emotions and thoughts.

  • In terms of your skill development,
    • how has your ability to read and analyze various text types developed over the course of this year so far?

I believe my ability to analyze visual and literary texts has improved quite a lot and I’m now more comfortable with annotating unknown texts.

      • how have your writing skills developed over the course of this year so far?

In terms of my writing skills, I think I’ve improved, but I still have to improve my writing for paper 1 because I’m still getting 5’s.

      • how have your speaking skills developed over the course of the year so far?

I still need to improve on my individual oral and practice presenting without the need to memorize.

  • Of the five Approaches to Learning skills that the IB emphasizes (attached below), which do you think that you have demonstrated the most growth in so far in this course?  Which do you still need to work on?

I think I’ve demonstrated the most growth in self-management. The current pandemic has led me to become more motivated and organized with my learning, thus, I believe my time management skills have become a lot better. However, after doing the individual oral I need to improve on my communication skills. I still find it a struggle to present for 10 minutes straight and present my thoughts without memorizing.

  • Of the IB Learner Profile attributes that the IB promotes (attached below), which do you think that you have demonstrated the most growth in so far in this course? Which ones still require development?

I think I’ve now become more knowledgable and aware of global issues after doing research for my 2 practice individual orals. However, I think my critical thinking skills still needs to be stronger so that I can improve my analytical writing skills for paper 1.

  • Looking ahead, what goals would you like to set for yourself in this course moving forward?

My goal is to start getting 6’s and 7’s because I think grades are a really good indication for demonstrating real growth and mastery in a subject. I plan to achieve this by reflecting on feedback and practicing analytical writing by doing the reading and writing assignments.

“Willie Causey Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama”



In this photograph titled, “Willie Causey Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama,” Parks explores the roots of violence in the African-American community. He effectively implements camera angles, body language, composition, symbolism, and juxtaposition to highlight the contrasting beliefs and values amongst the different generations of the African-American community. Parks utilizes these visual techniques to achieve his purpose of visually conveying the adverse effects of poverty in the African-American community, while, also informing his racially diverse American audience on the important issue of the lack of gun-control in America.

Firstly, Park’s utilizes a medium-close-up shot to highlight and emphasize the body language of Willie Causey Jr. The use of a vertical- medium-close-up shot proves effective, as it clearly focuses on Willie Jr, while simultaneously highlighting the contrasting body language between willie and his siblings, who positioned to be the ‘background’ of this photograph. In this photograph, Willie is portrayed to be sitting reservedly while looking fixated at his gun. His strong fixation with his gun displays his thoughts of using violence as a means to combat the struggles he endures, like poverty. Thus, Willie’s body language universally signifies the deep and dark desires and goals of several African-Americans during a time of poverty and suffering in the late 1950s. Furthermore, the use of a vertical shot also accentuates the smallness of a large family’s house, which again, effectively highlights the poverty endured by a normal African-American family.

The composition of this photograph also effectively highlights the contrasting values between the two different generations. Park’s effectively juxtaposes a gun and book to highlight the contrasting beliefs and values between different generations of the African-American community. Willie’s gun symbolizes violence and aggression, while on the contrary, his younger sibling’s book symbolizes education and in a sense, “the American dream”. Thus, the juxtaposition of these contrasting symbols in a sense visually conveys the roots of violence in the black community— poverty, and oppression. Park’s use of visual juxtaposition is reoccurring throughout several of his photography depicting African-Americans, as it effectively conveys his overarching purpose of showcasing the different means in which African-Americans deal with poverty and oppression.

Park also implements a dull color palette to enhance the melancholy mood of this photograph. The use of desaturated colors like the colors beige, grey and brown, enhances the somber mood of this photograph which appeals to pathos. The dull color palette of this photograph also exemplifies the problem of extreme accessibleness to guns in America. Seeing a teenager positioned sitting so closely to toddlers reading a book while holding a gun effectively conveys Park’s purpose of visually conveying to his American audience that America has a lack of gun-control problem.

Overall, just like several of Park’s photography, Park’s effectively conveys a wide variety of problems endured by the African-American community during the late 1950s through imagery. In “Willie Causey Jr. with Gun During Violence in Alabama,” Park’s implements camera angles, body language, composition, symbolism, and juxtaposition to highlight the contrasting beliefs and values amongst the different generations of the African-American community, conveying the adverse effects of poverty in the African-American community in the late 1950s, and addressing America’s problem with the lack of gun-control regulations.