Math 11 Sequences and Series Blog Post


General Term: t_{n} = a + (n-1)d
To figure out the value of any given term (t_{n}), a (the first term), d (the common difference), or n (the term in which a certain value appears).
Sum of Terms: s_{n} = [(a+t_{n})n]\div2
To figure out the sum of any given arithmetic series (S_{n}), n (the last term), or a (the first term).

General Term: t_{n} = ar^{n-1}
To figure out any given term (t_{n}), a (the first term), r (the common ratio), or n (the term in which a certain value appears).
Sum of Terms: S_{n} = [a(r^n-1)]\div (r-1)
To figure out the partial sum of any geometric series if not given the last term, the last term, the first term, or the common ratio OR
S_{n} = (rt_{n} - a)\div (r-1)
to do the same thing, but if given the last term of the series.

You can have two types of geometric series: convergent (terms come closer together) or divergent (terms become further apart).
When you have a convergent series, the common ratio is greater than -1 but smaller than 1 (and cannot equal zero). Convergent series have infinite sums (the number in which the sum of all the terms converge at), which can be calculated with the formula S_{\infty} = a\div (1-r).
Divergent series don’t have infinite sums.

Langston Hughes, Poetic Genius

I think Langston Hughes wrote about the African-American experience of the early 20th century best because his poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, is directly emotional. It is a poem that is meant to be quickly understood, and the feelings within it comprehended by those who share the same struggle. Hughes wrote the poem in simpler language so his purpose isn’t lost in complicated vocabulary and allusion. In a few short lines, Hughes uses broad allusions and emotional phrases to emphasize a point. He conveys the emotions of his ancestors and the weight he feels from his own history, making “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” an incredibly powerful poem.


When Men Find Comfort in the Land of Mice

When Men Find Comfort in the Land of Mice

The novella Of Mice and Men would be a fast-paced tragedy, arrival of the main characters quickly giving way to darkness, if it weren’t for how author John Steinbeck inserts long paragraphs with vivid descriptions of nature. This describing of forests, swamps, and animals tend to be the only peaceful points in the story, with every setting outside of nature plagued by distress and worry.

Steinbeck uses this method, of writing his story so that nature is almost synonymous with calm, incredibly well and, frequently, not so explicitly. One of the first scenes of the story features the two main characters, George and Lennie, lounging next to a pond as the day winds down. George begins to talk about a farm that he and Lennie will one day have, with “a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens,” (p.14). This dream is a recurring element of the story, with George detailing it multiple times throughout the novella and Lennie speaking about how he will get to tend the rabbits.

For Lennie, the farm is an opportunity for him to pet soft things whenever he pleases, but for George, it is something to look forward to. Typically quite angry, George calms down when he thinks of his farm (“[George’s] voice was growing warmer. ‘An’ we could have a few pigs. I could build a smoke house the one gran’pa had…’” p.57). After Candy’s dog is brought out to be shot, George eventually begins to talk about the farm, with Candy himself catching on to the idea: “We’ll fix up that little old place an’ we’ll go live there.’ […] They all sat still, all bemused by the beauty of the thing, each mind was popped into the future when this lovely thing should come about,” (p.60).

Aside from the farm, however, the nature in the character’s current environment of Soledad is a more physical source of refuge. After Lennie kills Curley’s wife, he runs to the spring where he and George first arrived. He kneels down and drinks the water, and Steinbeck sets the scene acutely differently to the chaos of the barn: “When a little bird skittered over the dry leaves behind him, his head jerked up and he strained toward the sound with eyes and ears until he saw the bird, and then he dropped his head and drank again.” (p.100)

But why did Steinbeck create an environment where the characters’ only salvation from their struggles is nature? It’s possible he was attempting to answer the question of what is man’s connection with nature. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck relates nature to a life without struggle, an outlet for serenity. Perhaps, nature is a way for man to detach himself from a life of hard-work with nothing to yield. Perhaps Steinbeck thought that the forests and ravines are places to go when in need of a refresh, a way to return to our roots. Regardless, it’s clear that the author instills a sense of importance to man’s unique connection with nature; despite consistently being deprived of it, nature is almost always a way for us to find salvation from the hardships of human existence.


Photo courtesy of: mtran on serendip studios. 

Narrative Essay: “The Eye of the Storm”

Things I Did Well:

  • Description/Visual

I’m quite proud of how I described the event and that I was successful in helping the reader visualize it. I used to have a lot of trouble in providing good descriptions and showing vs telling, so I’m very happy that I apparently did it quite well in my narrative essay.

  • Voice

As someone who has done quite a bit of writing in the past, I know how hard it is to maintain your own voice in your writing, especially doing an essay. There sort of has to be a sense of formality, and it’s really easy to dissolve into long words you never typically use and start to tell the story from a perspective that isn’t your own. I think I managed to maintain my point of view during the essay and tell the story the way I saw it happen and how I felt about it at the time (and how I still feel about it), while still keeping it from becoming conversational.

Things I Can Improve:

  • Purpose

I understand my purpose of writing the essay might have been a bit vague – I’ve always had trouble in conveying the message of the story. I don’t want to explicitly state it, but I should probably try to hint at it a bit more. When we verbally tell stories, we don’t really focus on the meaning or lesson we learned from the experience, but instead focus on telling it in the most interesting way possible. I’m also a bit more used to journalism articles and humorous writing now, so it was difficult to put myself in the mindset of “I’m writing something important”.

  • Conciseness

The first draft of this was probably about 1000 words. I cut down a lot, but I realize in trying to describe a lot of stuff, I lose the point of the story. I’ve definitely become a lot better with being concise and effective in my writing over the years (“cutting the dead wood” as you say), but there is absolutely still work to be done!



What the classroom looked like when we left (all necessary layers of brick for walls, floor completed, inside walls covered. What rests is the roof and indoor decor.)


What the classroom looks like now – second from left. (Currently in use for children between grades 1 – 8.)

Images courtesy of @tylerknott and banksy and me and @metowe 


  1. What do you think of Office 365?
    1. I think it’s a great tool for those who need to know how to use a variety of computer programs. It’s comprehensive and easy to navigate while still permitting the user to accomplish complicated tasks.
    2. Office 365 makes it very easy to access files from multiple devices and share information with a variety of people. It’s best suited to a school/work environment.
  2. Why do you think that?
    1. The homepage has automatic access to many Microsoft programs and makes it easy to download the applications to your desktop. Also, upon entering a program for the first time, it gives you basic rundowns on how the program works and cool features you have access to. There is also always access to a help centre if needed.
    2. I rely very heavily on OneDrive for a lot of my school work – I can save something on my computer and open it on a school computer within a minute. However, I’m not sure how useful this is in a purely home/personal environment.
  3. What are the strengths of this program?
    1. Easy to navigate/maneuver
    2. Large variety of capabilities to accomplish an even larger variety of tasks
    3. I just have a high opinion of Microsoft/Windows programs. I think their strength lies in their compatibility with any device and other programs, and making it very easy to share files and information across many platforms.
      1. I wonder if Microsoft is going to follow Amazon’s example and open-source Cortana. That would be cool.
    4. What are the weaknesses of this program?
      1. There are quite a few redundant programs
        1. Sure, Sway is kind of fancy but it’s complicated and at times, confusing to use. PowerPoint is perfectly capable of accomplishing what Sway can, and people actually know how to use PPT!
      2. There are some glitches, like with all programs. OneDrive Online will occasionally not sync with the OneDrive downloaded program, OneNote will need log-in on numerous occasions.
    5. How can this program be used in a classroom setting to enhance student learning?
      1. Besides the obvious – Word is great, PowerPoint makes presentations not cringeworthy, Excel is my actual life saver – Office365 has a lot of potential to be incredibly capable of being fully integrated into student learning.
      2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: OneDrive is I have the app on my phone, and it’s so much more convenient than sending myself documents and audio files. It cuts presentation-making and group-project time in half.
      3. I’ve also used OneNote frequently in class, and while it’s little difficult to get the whole class up and running, it proves very effective in getting documents out to the whole class, doing group projects, and taking notes.
    6. What suggestions do you have to improve the program?
      1. Overall, I like the program. I think minimizing the number of programs available on a student account would make everything a little bit less confusing, or making it easier to mold elements from each program.
      2. Currently, it’s difficult to transfer formatting from Word to Powerpoint and vice versa. I’m not sure if this a problem with any other programs (I know Sway isn’t very versatile when it comes to their formatting) but providing more ease of access between the two most popular programs would be beneficial.
      3. Also, what is up with Sway? It would be a much better program if it was possible to change the layout of the templates, resize things, and combine different types of media seamlessly. But that’s a whole different essay.
    7. Do you have any questions about the program?
      1. What’s the difference between a student account and a teacher account? I know the permissions are different, but are the programs changed?
        1. If so, this could potentially be the source of a lot of confusion between the teacher and the class when it comes to the online programs.
        2. That, or Wi-Fi.
      2. Are there any voice-automated/artificial intelligence assistant systems accessible with Office365?
        1. If so, how?
        2. If not, are there plans for this? Cortana is great.


What motivates us to do incredible things?

“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road.


The above passage is from one of my favourite books of all time. The book itself deals with a lot of complex stuff: youth (especially when it’s fleeting), human relationships, self-discovery, morality. But this passage really gets to me, and it always has.

There isn’t really a context for it. He’s talking about how he got into the whole mess of travelling America with Dean Moriarty, and while it’s from the point of view of the fictional Sal Paradise, it really is based on Kerouac’s own experiences with Neal Cassady, so it’s a valid hypothesis that these are his real sentiments. He writes about how he’s attracted to those wild people nearly everyone knows, the ones that are adventurous and always have a story to tell. He’s attracted to people that are interesting, yet he acknowledges that they aren’t always the most stable, likening them to exploding roman candles. In the book, Sal Paradise talks about how complexly flawed and wonderful Dean Moriarty is, and he wishes he could be part of that special brand of madness. And I think that’s what a lot of people crave.

We read books and watch movies and create fiction because it depicts people who are fascinating enough to have other people care about what they have to say. And deep down, I think we all sometimes want to be that sort of person. When we’re in the presence of such remarkable stories, such adventurous souls, we may begin to wish for that uniqueness, and that’s OK. It’s normal to want to settle down and live comfortably, but all too often, the greatest experiences in life aren’t ones that make us money – they’re the ones we sought out with madness and liveliness in our hearts. Humans want to be remembered, in a way that is so crippling because our fear of oblivion is so strong. We know we will die, and maybe it drives us to do incredible things and along the way, we become incredible people.

LAVA BOMBS (and associated products)

If you’re like me, the picture above is reminiscent of someone stabbing someone else in the neck with pen in a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s a fair comparison: incredibly bright red liquid spurts out of a hole, sending streams of said bright red liquid up, only to sail back down. However, this particular brand of, for lack of a better word, spurting, isn’t the result of purposefully comedic SFX.

Classified as a Strombolian eruption, the upwards lava explosions are caused by large gas bubbles bursting, which travel up until they reach a vent. The spurting (oh god I hate this word) effect is further emphasized by the results (also known as tephras): solid bits of lava (splatter), solid bits of bubbly lava (scoria), lava bombs (which are just as cool and badass as they sound), and whole chunks of solidified lava. 

To make them even cooler, Strombolian eruptions are named for the Italian island Stromboli, which has a lot of volcanoes that produce this particular kind of eruption.

And you thought volcanoes couldn’t get any better.


Photo courtesy of: 

volcanoes4. Volcanoes. 28 September 2014. 18 January 2017. <>.

Info courtesy of:

Ball, Jessica. Types of Volcanic Eruptions. n.d. 18 January 2017. <>.


Tech Team Coding (or: how to rewrite the entire internet, for beginners)

I actually really liked how it was formatted: instructions on the left, all the work in the middle, and the results on the side so you could see what you were doing in real time. It walked you through everything very clearly, but there were some parts that were a little tedious. I understood the different functions of headings and paragraphs right away, but the site made you run through everything. I get why, but a “skip” option would have been appreciated.

Overall, I definitely understand a lot more about coding now than I did before I started the program. It used to be this really obscure thing, but it’s pretty simple. I’ve used Linux coding on my Edublog extensively (tis what happens when you’re in two different math courses), so I understood the basic structures already. Codeacademy does a really good job of explaining all the ins and outs of HTML and CSS, and it explains what everything really does, even if it doesn’t show up on the webpage itself.

I would’ve liked to have been able to create my own website on the program, with the site walking me through it and me putting in my own information or tools. Maybe it comes in some of the later courses, but I think a teacher would be able to use the same format and instructions of the site, but enable students to create their own websites. Once you know what most of the codes themselves do, you’re pretty good to do whatever you want from there (with limitations of course). I think it would be a good first-year course project to create your own website, and then build upon it and add more design options as the course goes on.