Sunday, June 8, 2014


For my last blog, we are required to answer some questions regarding 20 Time.

1. Overall, what is your opinion of 20 Time based on your experience in class?
Although I think that 20 Time is a good idea, I did not really enjoy it because I wasn't doing something that I was passionate about and because my original idea, to start a charity was shot down. I think that if I would have been able to pursue my original idea I would have enjoyed this project a lot more. Also, it took up way too much time that high schoolers just don't have which added a lot more stress and gave me not a lot of free time.

2. What are some aspects of 20 Time that you think should be adjusted for students next year?
I think that the expectations should be lowered. When Mr. Provenzano introduced this project at the beginning of the year, I think that we all felt the urge to do something life changing and so monumental that we stressed ourselves out trying to cure cancer or gain world peace. If you put that much pressure on them, most of their projects are just going to end up failing because they are trying to do something to huge that they can't fit it into one year. I'm not saying not to dream big, but don't force your students to dream big or it will end up backfiring. Let them decide what they want to do without pressuring them. Also, the 20 Time teacher should not be able to say no to a project, this is all about doing what we are passionate about so what is the point if a teacher can say no to it?

3.What are some aspects of 20 Time that should NOT be changed for students next year?
I think that the blogs should be required every other week just to make sure that students are actually doing their project. 

4. Is 20 Time something that more students should do in school?

Yes, I think that students should have this opportunity to do what they are passionate about. Yet, I don't think that teachers should force kids to do this if they don't want to. Some kids just want to do English and aren't interested in doing a project that is totally unrelated. I think that if this were to be implemented into more schools, that it should be optional or it should be a class that kids can DECIDE to take. 

5. What advice would you give to kids doing 20 Time next year?

Pick something that you are passionate about. Believe me, I was stuck learning how to code which I had absolutely no interest in and honestly it was horrible. Pick something that you want to do, and don't let anybody shoot your idea down. I wish I would have stuck with my original idea, but it was vetoed by a higher power. If you are doing something you love then it won't be hard and it will come naturally. Also, don't try and cure cancer or end world hunger. Choose something reasonable, because if you choose a huge project I promise you that you will be super stressed. Keep in mind that you have 6 other classes and sports and extracurriculars. Lastly, try not to bs all of your blogs, a couple is fine but if you are just making up things week after week you will look back on the year and be disappointed that you didn't spend your time more wisely. This is the only time in your high school career that you will be able to do what you want to do rather than just regular assignments, take advantage of it. 

6. What did you think of the TEDx event? Is this something that the school should do again?

I thought that the TED event was a great idea. It was a great opportunity for us and a good learning experience. The only bad thing about the event was how long it was. It was WAY too long. Either the speeches need to be shortened to 5 minutes or some speakers need to be cut if this happens again in the future. Nobody besides parents are going to stay for 5 hours (and some parents even left). Also I would highly suggest not putting it in the middle of a Saturday ((ESPECIALLY BEFORE FINALS)). It takes up the whole day. I would put it later in the day, like 5 or 6 or even on a friday night that way we don't have to spend all day there. South should definitely do this in the future, but I wouldn't do it every year, rather every 4 or so years.

It's been real 20 Time.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Finally the end has come

I could not be happier that 20 time is over. Although it was a very good learning experience and allowed me to be creative it took up so much time and effort and it is nice to have one less thing on my plate.

As for my presentation, I presented ok Friday and it went pretty well. Not as well as I would have hoped but I am just glad it is over. I did forget a large part of it but it's whatever. I probably won't continue coding because I'm not very passionate about it and don't really want to continue it. I am also switching out of coding at Yale this summer because I realize that I don't enjoy it and that I don't want to do it just for college. Anyways happy summer! I can't wait to not be blogging !!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Busy, busy, busy

With the end of the year soon coming to a close, this means more and more things to do. Over the past couple of weeks I have been extremely busy with AP testing this week along with other tests and projects. With that being said, I haven't had much time at all to work on my project, which will unfortunately be the case for this week too. Although last Sunday I was able to start writing my speech and breaking it down into sections of things that I want to talk about. Now all I have left to do is get the specific sections together for each part of the speech and start practicing it.

Although I am almost finished with my speech this could not come at a crazier time, which is adding a lot more stress and pressure. Hopefully I will be able to finish it next weekend and start practicing it and memorizing the main points by the 21st. In terms of my topic, nothing has really changed since I last blogged. I am still keeping with the topic I decided on because it is something I really feel strongly about and something that I think really needs to be changed. I just hope others feel the same way when I present and that I get the message across.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A little taste of summer

This past week my school was on Spring Break which was great and so well needed. Although it was disappointing because it gave me a little taste of summer and then in a second it's gone. For the beginning of the week I was in NYC for vacation which made it difficult to work on my project.  Yet when I got home I was able to do some work on it. I mostly focused on my presentation since TEDx is quickly approaching. I outlined the basis of my presentation and the main key points that I definitely want to talk about. I think that this presentation will be fairly easy for me to right because finally I have found something I am passionate about and really feel strongly about. I think that it's a lot easier to talk about something that really interests you rather than just being assigned something.

I won't rehash what I've said in my previous blogs, but I am definitely sticking with the topic of schools today and how kids are practically programmed. I've added the fact that we are 'programmed' because we pretty much are. We are programmed to get good grades, do what the teacher says and don't question it (even if they might be wrong), join every club you can find, and play sports so you can be a well rounded student and get into a great college. Kids don't do things because they genuinely enjoy them anymore, it's all about how it will help your college application, which is very twisted. School should be something that we look forward to, but instead we just go through the motions, and can't wait until it's over. That is pretty much the jist of my presentation, and I hope I can get the message across. I am using Ken Robinson's speech about how 'Schools kill creativity' for inspiration because I completely agree with his speech and it has some great points.  I have embedded his video above, feel free to watch it. That's it for this week!

P.S.  48 days until we get out of school :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Same old things

We are finally in 4th quarter, which means we are one quarter closer to summer! These past few weeks have been pretty uneventful, I have kept on trying to learn HTML and it keeps getting harder. I haven't had a lot of time to do it because I have been really busy with gymnastics, Tower, and with the quarter ending. As I said last week, I think that I am going to go to a school board meeting sometime soon. There is one on April 14th, and then there are a couple later in the month. I don't really know any other options besides that and I am at a standstill with my project. If I actually want this to happen I think that going to the school board is my best chance. On the other hand, 20 time is getting very time consuming and tedious and part of me just wants it to be over even though it is great to be working on something I actually care about and interests me. 

In regards to my presentation, I am still going in the direction that I had talked about before, but I want to focus more on how school today is all about grades. All everyone cares about are their grades, standardized test scores, and what college they are going to go to. School isn't fun anymore, kids take AP classes and join every club just because they think it will look good on their college application. School shouldn't be like this!! It should be a place that we look forward to going to everyday because it is fun and interesting, not just filled with lectures and kids that overdosed on extracurricular activities. Personally, I think that schools are killing creativity and making teenagers go insane trying to get into the school of their dreams. There should be more interactive/ real world classes. We should have a day each month that is designated to giving back to the community, or a day that we go to a museum and support the city that we live in. Not only does it give kids a break but we are still learning at the same time. Schools need to incorporate different ways to learn, instead of us just all going through the motions and doing everything to please our teachers and get a good grade in the class. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A new season, a new set of problems

Finally Spring has arrived! Along with the new season came new obstacles for me with regards to my project. These past two weeks have been pretty busy for me, I was finally able to get in contact with the director of cirriculum and sent him this email: 

Dear Mr. Johnson,

I am currently working on a project where I am learning programming/coding. It has come to my attention that the Grosse Pointe Public School System does not have any programming classes (with the exception of the high schools). I wanted to discuss the possibility of integrating programming into the curriculum at the middle and elementary schools. It could start off only being a small amount of time, say 20-30 minutes per week or have one designated day per week that it is taught. With the GPPSS being one of the best in the state of Michigan, it makes sense that the students that live in the district be prepared for college and ahead of the game. In order to do this, I firmly  believe that programming is a skill everyone should know. It is a skill that everyone will need to have within the next 15 years.

Integrating programming into the curriculum would be very easy. It would only take 30 minutes every Friday where the students will play various coding games. These are not only fun, but very beneficial because they will be learning how to program in the process. They are also very easy games that take little to no instruction.  There are different games for all different age levels, the more basic ones being for younger children. is an organization that with my help can help us to organize all of the lessons for the class and will handle almost everything.. If we were to integrate coding into the curriculum it would make the GPPSS ahead of all of the schools in Michigan and increase our rating. I would love to meet with you and discuss if this would be possible and even present it to the Board of Curriculum.

He responded asking if I had a teacher who was in support of it and that I may want to begin a club to build up interest. I feel like if I were to start a club for programming, it would have to be at the elementary school level because my school already has a class for it and wouldn't benefit from it. Yet, if I were to start a club in the elementary schools, who is going to send their child after school to learn programming? I don't feel like there will be a huge amount of interest even though this is something that all kids should learn. I think that I might just have to go straight to the school board sometime this month/next month and present this to them instead. Once the parents at the meeting realize that this will prepare their child better for college and give them a whole new skill set, I think this will gain a lot of support from parents. And we all know that once parents get involved, anything is possible. I am thinking of just reading the email to the board and seeing if I am able to get anyone to support it. 

I also did a little bit of coding last week, except because I don't have time to do it everyday, it's hard to keep having to stop and then start again because I forget a lot of the previous lessons. I am still learning HTML and CSS and it is slowly getting harder and harder because there are so many tags and commands that it's hard to keep track of. In terms of my project, I am definitely going to stick with what I discussed in my blog a couple of weeks ago, it is something I feel really strongly about and I think it brings up a good point. 

Happy Spring! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Keeping on keeping on

This week was crazy because my gymnastics team made it to the state finals which were yesterday and Friday. Glad to say that we placed 4th in the state! Aside from that, I sent the email to Mr. Provenzano to see if the email is OK to go and am now just awaiting a response. I was also able to do a little bit more programming, continuing on with HTML and CSS. Once I receive a response from the board of curriculum I am hoping to attend a meeting or meet with the director to discuss possibilities. Although I realize that adding programming to the curriculum will take up to a year or two  and this will be by the time that 20 time is over, I am still going to continue on with it because it is something I feel strongly about and I really believe it will benefit the community.

With regards to my presentation, I am still sticking with the idea that I thought of before and wrote about a couple weeks earlier. I want my presentation to focus on how I do not think schools are preparing us well enough for college. We have all of the classes in the world to choose from but none of them really teach us the things we need to know. Aside from the standard math, social studies, English, and science, there is nothing that really shows you how to survive and prosper in the real world. I think that schools should dedicate most of high school to specializing, students should be able to take classes that interest them and not just classes that they are required to take. There should classes on law, medicine, graphic designing, marketing/advertising, engineering and entrepreneurship. By having these classes, students will be better prepared for college and they will be learning about something they're interested in. By trying to integrate programming into the curriculum, I have learned how much this could benefit kids. They would have a skill that not many have and they would be able to use it when they are in college and beyond. It will help them get into college and help prepare them for it.

Also, just a warning that I will only be blogging every other week starting today!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mid-year Update

Mr. Provenzano asked us all to answer a couple questions this week for an update on 20 time:

1.What have you liked least/most about 20 time?

I have really enjoyed being able to learn new things and do whatever I want to for this project. It has given me the chance to do something I never would have thought about doing. It has also made me want to do more in my community and in my school, I don't just want to be an 'average student' and with 20 time I'm not. I love not learning what is in the curriculum and being able to learn how to program in my English class. Some of the downfalls to 20 Time is how much out of school time it takes in order to make it worthwhile. Obviously 20 Time is a huge task and it is going to require time outside of school, but nowadays most high schoolers don't have that kind of time. Even though we are allowed every Friday in class to work on our projects it doesn't really help because I am  usually blogging or we are watching a TedX video, thus leaving all of the work to be done outside of school and on the weekends. To be honest, it is very hard trying to find the time to work on my project. Between school, homework, clubs, Tower, and sports I have very little free time. 

2.What would you have done differently with your project?
There are a couple of things that I would have done differently with this project. Number one I wouldn't have waited so long to finally pick an idea. My idea evolved so much from my first blog post and even though I have found a project that I am happy with I feel like I could be a lot farther ahead if I had sped up the deciding process in the fall. Also looking back, I probably would have picked a less time consuming project. Programming is a giant task especially when you are teaching yourself and it requires a lot of dedication. I do not regret my decision but at the same time I wish I had the time to really be invested in it. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A much needed break

This past week was winter break and I was in London with my family which made it a little hard to work on my project. I took this as a chance to take a break from school, including the project. I didn't really do any work on it while we were away but am hoping to get more done in the next weeks to come. I need to send the email once I get the OK from Mr. Provenzano. I am planning on just taking it one step at a time and seeing what the director of curriculum says and then decide what I will do next. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

A long process

This past week I drafted my email to the director of cirriculum for my district and now I just need Mr. Provenzano to look over it. The powerpoint is halfway done and I plan on finishing that when I get back from Mid-winter break which is next week I guess I will just see how it goes once I send the email and see what his response is. From there I will decide what I am going to next, either go to a school board meeting, or join the board of curriculum, or contact Dr. Harwood himself.

I haven't had much time to actually focus on learning to program, last weekend I learned a little more on HTML. Other than that I have been focusing more of my time on the presentation and trying to get programming into the curriculum.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Adventures

It is official, I have just submitted the forms! I am officially going to Yale this summer for their pre-college program. Hopefully I will learn a lot about programming that will help me even though my 20 time project will be over by then. As for the present, having the Mock Trial last week (I was been deemed not guilty! Woo!) took up a lot of my time and I still have not gotten a chance to draft the email to Aaron Johnson. I am planning on doing that today. With regards to the power point, it is almost complete but I am a little weary of when I should present it because of all of the scandals/issues the district is facing right now, like the Tech Bond and the Inclusion issue. Hopefully they will die down soon so I will be able to present my power point and it won't get brushed to the side in the midst of the chaos.

Also thank you to everyone who has commented on my blogs recently, I really appreciate it and it really means a lot to know that my project is being seen by all different parts of the country! It gives me hope that this project will actually work out in the end and that I am doing something worthwhile.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Full speed ahead

This past week I had midterms and the mock trial so I was unable to get a lot finished with regards to the project. But I did do a lot of thinking about my speech, I'm leaning towards going in the direction of how schools don't teach us what we need to know. We can recite every detail about the War of 1812 but have no idea how to balance a check, write a college essay, apply for jobs. We need to be learning more skills that we will actually need in life, coding for instance. Schools are not preparing you for the future, just filling students with mindless information. 

This week I am going to draft an email to send to Aaron Johnson, the Director of Curriculum about trying to get programming part of the curriculum. Hopefully I can meet with him and the board that decides on the curriculum to discuss the possibility. Also I am going to go to a Girl Code it meet up downtown soon hopefully, if I can find someone to go with Me.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Halfway there

The few extra days we had this week gave me a lot of time to work on my project. I started making a power point that I will hopefully present to the school board and Dr. Harwood in February. I also have a meeting scheduled with my counselor to see of there are any available programming classes that I would be able to switch into. I think that if I took a class it would give me more instruction and hands on learning with a trained professional rather than just teaching myself. I am also going to schedule a meeting with Dr. Outlaw to just get some information on the curriculum and how it is decided, if it can be changed,etc.
Also I have been looking at summer programs for programming and found one  at Columbia in NYC. Not only is the location awesome but it is a 3 week program that could really help me. Now the only challenge is convincing my mom to let me go. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Getting Down to Business

Contrary to popular belief, my break wasn't that much of a break at all, which could be taken as a good thing or a bad thing, it just depends on who you're talking to. Considering I have been busy, it was a very good time to catch up on my work with coding, I had a lot of time to spend learning HTML and CSS. I finally was able to really devote my time to actually learning how to use HTML and what I can make with it. 

Break was also a time where I was able to reflect on the past year. All in all it was a good year with regards to school, sports, and everything else. Yet, one of my regrets is that I did not spend as much time on this project as I would have liked to. With that said, I am starting 2014 off with a bang, ready to work on this project and devote more of my time to it. I had a lot of time to think about what I really want my project to be and what the message/goal of it would be. I decided that my goal is not only to learn how to code, but to raise awareness in the Grosse Pointe Public School System of how quickly coding is growing and how if the elementary schools/middle schools were to implement some sort of basic, beginner coding learning process, children in these schools would be much more prepared for the future than any other school in Michigan. I firmly believe that coding is going to be a necessity in the near future for all young people and I want to make sure that we are prepared for when that time comes. 

My goals for 2014 (in regards to the project):
  1. Learn how to code/perfect it
  2. Create a presentation on the benefits of coding and the simple things that the GPPSS can do to ensure that their students are ahead of the game or not left behind. 
  3. Propose several different options that are easy for children to start learning to code (games, applications, etc.)
  4. Go to a school board meeting and propose my idea there. 
  5. Meet with principals of elementary schools/ the superintendent to discuss this.