Taking the Risk – Rebecca

I love to read, I love to write, I love to talk. The English language has always been my area of expertise, what I have always been ‘known for’. From the age of three, I was taught to introduce myself saying, “Hi, my name is Rebecca and I am an incessant chatterbox!” I took pride in my abilities to conjure up stories of magical lands, or quote entire passages from books well beyond my years. But as I grew older, that pride and passion started to fade. I didn’t have as much time to read, I became self-conscious about speaking in front of others and what they would think of me, and I was scared to write. Scared because I didn’t think it was good enough. What used to be a fountain of open creativity, not caring whether or not it made sense at first, became long, tedious hours of searching through dictionaries and thesauruses, checking every spelling, every word, every punctuation mark.

In Grade 9, joining Talons, I was no longer the best writer, the most avid reader, or even the best speaker. There were others with more eloquent words and more persuasive arguments. At first I took it as motivation to improve, increasing my standards. But soon enough I shut down. I still wrote and read and spoke, but I no longer cared about being the best, and I stopped trying to be better.

As depressing and woeful as that may all sound (and I’ll admit, it probably wasn’t as bad as I may try to portray it as being), I did lose my drive to succeed. And it sucked.

Mr. Jackson offered five students, myself included, the chance to earn credit for English 11 in our Grade 10 year. It meant being more involved, being more of a leader, and demonstrating a higher ability in our work. To be honest, although there was no question that I was going to do it, I’m not sure I really wanted to. My effort and the quality of my work had been slipping, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to even more work. But I did, and it may well have been what saved me (metaphorically, that is; like I said, it’s not quite the end of the world yet).

The English 10 provincial wasn’t difficult, but I wasn’t really motivated, and I’m sure my essay could have been a thousand times better if I had made use of the time I had left. I still did well, but I definitely wallowed in self-pity for at least a little while. Then, as an English 11 student now, we wrote our This I Believe essays. I found that particular exercise to be extremely difficult. I didn’t have anything heart wrenching to write about; my life would not make a very exciting movie. And at the time, it seemed like everyone else did. So I didn’t feel like my writing was good enough, because my story wasn’t good enough. But Mr. Jackson took a chainsaw to it, ripped it to shreds (not quite that violently), and told me to piece it back together myself. It worked. The story was still the same, the writing was not even that much different, but I had to confidence I needed, knowing that it was at least ‘acceptable’ writing.

I don’t know why that meant so much to me, but after that essay, I think I did start writing more. I got back into finding time for free writes, and I started waking up in the middle of the night to write down ideas in the notebook on my bedside table that had been neglected for almost a year.

All through the month of May, I managed the Talons class blog, this blog, by editing and publishing work by other students. Few were signed up to write in May, so many days still needed a post, giving me reason to blog more myself, as well as reading others’ blogs to find more material. Editing others’ work proved to be much more difficult than editing my own. I often spend more time editing and changing my work than I do writing it in the first place. Everything needs to be perfect in my eyes before anyone else can see it. But when changing someone else’s writing, there is only so much you can do. You can’t make it yours. Writing is an art form, and it has to retain its identity, the creative stamp of its original author. So while editing posts for the class blog, I would fix spelling and punctuation, make a few minor grammatical changes, and little else. If needed, I might talk with the author about taking out a paragraph or two, or expanding on an idea to add a bit more. But I can’t make it my own writing; it still has to be the same communication of ideas that it was when someone first put their fingers to a keyboard. I know that this, what I write now to be posted, will be looked over by someone else’s eyes. Changes will be made before it is put out for the public. I don’t plan on editing much; there will probably be lots to change. But it will still be mine, and mine only.

I’m not really sure what all of this means, but I have a feeling it’s important. I didn’t want to take risks. I was scared to challenge myself in fear of failure. But although I might still be hiding a little, I have a feeling my bubble of security is more transparent now. Thanks to those who pushed me just a little more to succeed, I let myself go, just a bit, and started doing what I love again. Because no matter how good or bad you are at something, if you love doing it, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.

3… 2… 1… SPRING BREAK! – Nicholas

Well folks, its that time of year again. The one where 2:50 pm becomes a nightmare for teachers and last minute assignments are being hastily finished at lunch time, the one where “focus time” isn’t necessarily focused. Yes folks, a year has come and gone and once again it’s time for Spring Break!

Between the sharing of English  projects, the procrastination of planning assignments and a “practice” practice trip, this week in the TALONS room has certainly been a busy one. Personally, I think my  favorite part of the week was on Wednesday when we shared our final projects for the This I Believe unit in English. Many people chose some sort of audio remix,

[soundcloud width=”100%” height=”81″ params=”” url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/11884629″]

while other chose to add some video or picture content to their projects.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrNchNMhCco&w=480&h=390]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdbSdIURod4&w=480&h=390]

We talk a lot in class about the “forming, storming, norming, performing” process of a group, and I think that this past week, especially with the English projects has been an amazing example of the group performing. We’re working as a tight knit group, helping each other out and producing amazing results. I would write more, but I believe I hear the joys of spring break calling my name.
-Nicholas K.

Every Time – Mahalia

For some reason, whenever I feel blah, the radio just happens to play the most depressing song ever made. I swear, it happens every time.

Today, after I finished my I believe essay, I was feeling a little sad, thinking about my dad, and what comes on? Not just a sad song, but a song that reminds me of my dad. Oh great, I thought, now I’m going to burst into tears. But this time, I didn’t. It actually made me feel happy. After the song was done, I turned the radio off and searched the song on youtube and clicked replay so many times I can’t remember. It sort of made me feel like my daddy was here with me.

“Look at the stars. Look how they shine for you. And all the things that you do.”

Those were my favorite lyrics in the song because that’s something I can so imagine my dad saying to me.

I hope this doesn’t happen to me again though, because now it’s stuck in my head permanently I think. At least it’s better than having that new J-Lo song stuck in my head.

Children collaborating on life – Macguire

This week in TALONS: This I Believe – full on essays.

Well, that’s what they’ll be by Monday, March 7th. As of now, they’re kind of like little children. Children called “drafts”. As we move through the week, our children will grow into happily living, successful men and women. After being raised and brought up by our classmates’ feedback, they will be changing, growing and thriving. They’ll be represented in audio form, which I’m sure will be available for you to listen to once we have recorded them. As everything in life is, this is a process. It’s not like going from toddler to businessman. No. This is going from toddler, through all phases of transformation and change until they’re completely finished and are the best they can be.

I never thought I’d get that far on such an analogy.

My favorite thing about all this is the collaboration. Everything to do with this is collaborative. This project wouldn’t be near possible without our classmates’ feedback, our motivating comments and our desire to succeed. One of the biggest aspects of TALONS is collaboration, and that’s how we like to get things done around here.

I see no downside in collaboration, especially in an environment where everybody is collaborating. It’s like having personal helpers, assisting you with whatever you need. Whether it’s giving you feedback on your This I Believe essay, giving suggestions for your podcast or even giving tips on how you could do better, the best work is collaborative.

Whether it’s just a quick sentence or a paragraph or two, focusing on specifics or the big picture, feedback can always help make things better. I appreciate the mindset of TALONS, who are always willing to give feedback and, well, make your work better.

Vulnerability Survey – Kelly & Mr. J


Today in class we did a special exercise addressing the fact that people in an elevator will always move as far away from each other as possible. We and a partner (or group of three) had to sit with our knees touching for about 30 seconds.

We weren’t allowed to look away.


We’re talking about vulnerability this week in our class, in preparation for writing This I Believe essays.

We would love to hear from you, and as many people as we can find to answer this survey. Please share our Google Form with anyone you think might be able to share their thoughts with us! These are challenging, but reflective and revealing questions to discuss, and we look forward to putting your inspiration into action in our own exploration in belief and collaborative expression in the coming weeks.

TALONS Vulnerability Survey

What we want to know:

  • How old are you?
  • Where are you from?
  • Are you a risk-taker?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • How did you deal with the situation in the last question?

Answer one, a few, or all of our questions, if you wish / want / can. We’ll appreciate whatever you might be able to share!