DIY: This is the end

That’s it. We’re here. After such a long time of working on this project, we’ve finally reached the end of the school year. It’s time to take a good look back at all we’ve done in creating our DIY documentary.


We could not finish the actual documentary, which was ultimately the final product we were aiming for. There just was not enough time to edit all the footage that we got. I think part of the problem was the fact that we had five people in the group, and we insisted on doing everything together, so we couldn’t really find much time for that.

In addition, we did not do much publicizing for our project, even though we had initially attempted to do so. We started an Instagram account, and although I personally tried to post on it when I could, only six total photos were posted. We didn’t follow anyone on our account, and we did not have  followers. Our slack on the Instagram was probably due to the fact that none of us really used this type of social media, so we didn’t know what to do with it.

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However, despite the fact that parts of our project did not turn out as intended, I would say that the project was not a complete failure, because we did get stuff done. We spent many hours filming, and probably approached about 100 different people for interviews. Although we did not finish editing the documentary, we did manage to make a shorter trailer for it, just to have  a product to show. The trailer isn’t perfect, but my group members seem to be very content with it, because it does show that we’ve done work all year.

Furthermore, this entire project in itself was a huge learning experience. I’ve learned more about filming and editing, which will help me a lot in my video production class. I’ve also developed my interview techniques, and became more comfortable approaching strangers for interviews, skills that are valuable to me because I will be editor-in-chief of my school paper next year. I have also learned a lot about working with other people, as well as time management from this group project. I discovered that time is something that can be easily lost if you do not work efficiently, by dividing the jobs and sharing responsibilities.

At the end of it all, I am very glad I tried to do this, to make this documentary. In all honesty, since the beginning, I have had doubts about whether or not we’d be able to get it finished. Even though my doubts have more or less been confirmed, though, I do not regret taking on this project. I’ve worked with and met some great people throughout this process, and it was worth all the stress and the time spent.


– Karen

Who is telling the story here?!

The other day my teacher tried to teach the class about internal and external focalization. In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway is the internal focalizer, he is a character in the story, interacting with the other characters. When he is the external focalizer, he is the writer at his typewriter, telling Gatsby’s story.


My teacher also used the example of a Winnie the Pooh movie. The instances of internal focalization are when the Pooh, Tigger and the other characters are interacting inside the story. However, when the narrator is speaking, or when you see the pages of the book being flipped, that is external focalization.


I really found it interesting how a strategy used in a children’s movie was also used in a well known literary work. Then I realized that internal and external focalization can also be found in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride. In the movie, a grandfather reads to his grandson the love story about a woman named Buttercup and a man named Westley. The movie continually jumps back and forth between the narration of the grandson and his grandfather (external focalization), and the story of Buttercup and Westley (internal focalization).


I had seen this movie years ago; I’ve seen it several times since then. I’ve recognized this narration and storytelling, but never thought much of it until now. I didn’t even know it had a name. This really made me think about all the things I notice, but don’t really know what I’m looking at. It’s times like this in my English class I really feel like I’m finally learning something interesting at school.

– Karen

Simple doesn’t mean stupid

In my English class, we have weekly assignments called “morphemes”. A morpheme is “the smallest meaningful unit in the grammar of a language”. I am basically given ten of them, such as “bib” (which means “book”) and “dict” (which means “speak”), and I have to find ten words that contain the morphemes and write a sentence for each word.

These are just about the simplest, most straight-forward assignments I have received in a very long time. And I am extremely glad that my teacher assigns them.

It isn’t that I am lazy, so I just want an easy assignment.  However, for some reason, I feel like my high school teachers believe that if they do not have incredibly intricate and long assignments, I will learn absolutely nothing. One of my teachers is always saying that he’s “giving [his students] a hard time” so that we can “learn how to do what [we’ve] been taught not to do: think”. I’m sorry, but what does that even mean? I don’t understand why many teachers tend to assume that students come to their classes with the intention of doing the minimal amount of learning and thinking. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know that if I have to be at school for eight hours a day, I’m not going to waste that time. I actually try.


So you really don’t need to try and force the learning out of me by assigning the most elaborate assignment in the history of the universe. Just because an assignment is longer and more complicated, that does not mean that it is any more helpful. The morphemes, although they are quite short assignments, are actually easier to absorb than anything else I’ve done all year. They are so similar to the vocab lists and sentences I did all the time in elementary school that it feels almost effortless and enjoyable. I know that if there is anything that I am going to remember by the end of the year, it will be these simple, weekly morpheme assignments.


– Karen