Spencer Ress, GBP Student
As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston has many neighborhoods rooted in rich history. Each of its neighborhoods have possessed unique and distinctive characteristics, as people from all over the world have came to Boston to foster and cherish their respective cultures in it. Through this great history, Boston has sustained its vibrant neighborhoods, which is evidenced in the highly-diverse and energetic populations that make up each part of Boston. With all this in mind, it is no surprise that GBP has asked us to look more into these neighborhoods with our latest major assignment - the Neighborhood Project. In pairs and trios, we’ve been assigned the task of creating an infographic that depicts information about the history and development from the 1950s to today of a certain neighborhood in Boston. A list of neighborhoods in Boston was presented to each group to pick from and observe. My group happens to be a trio, including fellow classmates, Michael Dateo and Vinny Troung, and we ended up choosing Beacon Hill to investigate.
A couple days into the project, we have commenced preliminary research on our neighborhood, having already found many basic current statistics. Many of these happen to be demographic statistics, which relate to race, gender, income, housing, etc. Michael and Vinny have also found some statistics, but I have mostly been responsible for this part of the assignment. For this reason, Michael and Vinny have mostly conducted research to find stories/developments related to Beacon Hill in contemporary news as well as past news. I will also look to find more demographic statistics from the past. As far as the infographic, I have started the formulation of one in the program, known as Piktochart. A small amount of progress has been achieved so far, as the overall theme and fonts have been chosen for the infographic and some basic information has been put in. As seen in this project as well as many others we have done this year, is the unique opportunity to practice skills that will be needed for college and the application of the real working world.
As three of many great skills we learn in GBP, this project allows us to practice visual communication, collaboration, and MSA skills. In regards to visual communication, this skill will be vital for things most likely such as presentations in college and business meetings beyond that. It is very important that pieces of visual communication such as power points, should be enticing and compelling to drive your main points you wish to convey in your dialogue. Along with visual communication, collaboration will also be important obviously. I would say this is the central and most important goal in GBP, as it will be a core practice in anything we do beyond high school. Whether in small or big groups, it will be critical to have the ability of communicating individual roles, decision making, feedback, evaluation of group progress or quality of product, and dynamics. If all of this can be achieved, only then will it be possible to successfully complete a variety of task in any subject. Lastly, this project will benefit our ability to model and do analysis of statistics in the future. As a core element in mathematics, perhaps any future job or internship I take on, may require me to break down statistical data to obtain key information and insight.
Jill Montesano, GBP Student
It is no doubt that surveys help others learn more about a specific group of people, whether marketers are trying to find the hottest trends, schools are trying to learn more about students’ drug use habits, or researchers are trying to understand if people's sleeping habits have any correlation with their late night device use. Surveys can be interesting, informational, and helpful for researchers and the people reading about the studies done.
What people often overlook about surveys is creating and analyzing one requires a thoughtful process. Surveys are created not only to be helpful and fun but also to find a trend or correlation of two factors. It is important when a survey is complete to take the time to compare answers which usually means creating graphs and drawing a conclusions from them. Surveys also have to be clear and direct with the audience, and have to be created based around who is going to be surveyed. There are many factors that go into making surveys and with our class activity we got some practice with creating successful surveys.
Shannon Kirshy, GBP Student
Facebook, texting, Twitter, and fantasy leagues are just some of the digital distractions that students sometimes struggle with. In our Greater Boston Project class, the 1:1 technology to student ratio has opened up many new opportunities to learn, as well as many distractions that will tempt us away from the task at hand. In class last week we looked at an article called “How to Teach in an Age of Distraction” that analyzed how learning has changed, as well as how this affects our interpersonal skills.
GBP Students use iPads, Chromebooks, and Macbooks to complete an activity at the Needham Historical Society. (Photo by Ms. Tincher)
We learned how there are two main types of attention: hyper attention and deep attention. Deep attention lasts for a longer span of time and requires focus, such as when you are reading a book or working hard on school work. Unfortunately, this attention is becoming harder and harder to achieve because of how our brains are changing due to technology, especially social media. This is because when we look at our Facebook or Twitter, we use hyper attention. We only scan the page, not reading each individual word and simply looking for something to catch our interest. This is becoming more and more prominent in our lives as social media continues to overwhelm our laptops and smartphones. One professor in the article explained finding herself having difficulty focusing on reading one of her favorite books because she was out of practice of getting into the mindset of deep attention. After a few weeks of struggling and practice, it became easier for her to obtain the deep attention and could read the book with ease, which shows how our brain will change according to what we practice using it for.
Teachers have also noticed a difference in how students take notes because of the use of laptops instead of paper and pen. Students in college classes often take transcripts of the class lecture instead of bulleted notes that involve students’ selection of key information. Professors report that students are often annoyed if they asked a question, due this interrupting their transcription of the lecture. This is harmful for two reasons: first, it discourages students to participate in class and second, students don’t get the skill of organizing information. Students were less likely to participate in class because it would break up the lecture; participation is beneficial to the learner, but is harder for those who are typing every word the professor is saying. Also, by simply writing exactly what the professor is saying, students don’t get the skill of filtering information and just writing the important parts. This useful study tool isn’t as necessary for typing because students can usually type faster than write, but it is still necessary in separating the essential pieces from the lecture.
Furthermore, one of the biggest complaints among people hiring recently graduated students is that they don’t have the interpersonal skills required in the business environment. Students are often in group chats with their project partners instead of meeting in person and working. They would rather email a teacher than go to their office to have a chat. One student said how he felt that he misrepresented himself in person and he was more articulate in an email because he could edit and reread it before sending it off. I have experienced this problem in my own life as I get nervous when I’m on the telephone and would much rather be writing an email instead of talking.
In order to address these problems we must learn how to successfully incorporate technology but not lose the skills that are not practiced as much, such as filtering information, becoming focused for longer periods of time, and being able to present yourself and communicate in person. Technology has helped me with schoolwork since I can remember, starting with SmartBoards and huge, archaic desktops in elementary school to Chromebooks and Google Classroom in high school. Technology isn’t slowing down anytime soon, but in order to get the most out of these new advances we need to start using them as tools instead of a short cuts.
This blog is powered by both the students and teachers of the GBP course. Check back often for features on what we've been up to in class!