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Category Archives: learning

Shared Topic: How WoW Has Changed My Life

This week’s Blog Azeroth Shared Topic is by Effy from Effraeti’s RPHow has WoW changed your life?

Such a simple question, but there’s so, so much to it. I think during the six years I’ve played, the game’s done a lot of growing up and changing…and so have I! And of course, WoW has played a very large part in how I think and feel about many different things.

More than anything, WoW has definitely changed my perspective and attitude towards people and life as a whole. In last month’s Battlechicken Monthly Challenge, I posted about entering the field of teaching. When looking at what I’ve learned from WoW, all of my experiences from the game and interacting with the community have really built on important characteristics that I think I’ll need and highly value as an upcoming school teacher. From my WoW experiences, my views and perceptions of many things have adapted and changed…which I think are good, as I start working more with students! So here are some of the key qualities that WoW has made me value highly and aspire to get better at myself:

“You’ll never believe what crazies I ran into in that last dungeon, Cubby! They were all cursing like sailors!”

Believe it or not, I think WoW was a great avenue for me to be more outgoing (which I didn’t use to be), even if it was with strangers online. In doing so, I definitely learned to have thicker skin — whether it was through dealing with asshats in the dungeon finder, or being able to take constructive criticism as a part of a core raid member. Through watching the in-game community change dynamically through expansions, I’ve noticed how easily derogatory slurs and insults are thrown everywhere. It’s commonplace!But also because I can always expect to see that kind of behavior everywhere I go (sad reality that may be), I’ve learned to stop taking things too personally, and to keep in mind that it is just a game in the end. Even if it’s become a very consistent form of stress-relief for the past few years and what some may call a lifestyle! ;) And hey, sometimes you just can’t help but bite back a little, too.

What is this, I don’t even…

Being able to step up and take the lead is something that after having played WoW, I’m a lot less scared and tentative about doing. This has to do with my feeling comfortable and familiar enough with the game now, as I sure wouldn’t have the guts to even suggest ideas to people if this were back in TBC! In the above picture, I’d zoned into an LFR on my warlock alt and saw the entire platform covered in purple flames. I’d died even before I finished the loading screen! Then Ultraxion landed and snuffed out the handful of people still alive. Everyone jumped right in and started pointing fingers and calling names — but what good is that? I didn’t want to wait in another 30 minute DPS queue again. I went ahead and asked the two tanks if they knew what they were doing, and they had never even been there. After a few other group members chimed in to explain the fight, the boss was down in the next try. And all it took was someone to push the group towards the correct strategy and working together!

Children from the Stormwind Orphanage

We run into so many interesting (and sometimes just downright terrible) people in the game, but I think WoW has taught me to be so much more tolerant and patient. Maybe these people have a hard life outside of the game and use the pixels as a vehicle to steam off their stress. Maybe they in fact really just are immature, rude, or arrogant as a person, and it’s hard to completely change an individual’s personality. While these definitely aren’t excuses for offensive behavior, I’m more understanding that there might be some outlying issue making that person the way they are. That’s the way they will be. They’ll crave for attention, be annoying, whine a lot, and point fingers everywhere, but in the end, they’re just children. And sometimes you have to point them in the right direction and give them a talking to, and sometimes you just have to let them be themselves and leave them alone…

One, two, three, eleventy wooly mammoths!

Finally, I think the biggest changes and things I’ve learned from WoW have to do with time management. Nobody teaches you how to manage a schedule or keep up with tasks or prioritize in life. Hardly do you ever see anyone learn that from a class. Having played WoW from both semi-hardcore raider as well as very casual perspectives, I’ve noticed my priorities (both in-game and IRL) changing more and more with each expansion. In TBC/WotLK, I regularly raided as a holy paladin and was extremely active as an officer of my guild. Now in Cata (and I expect the same for Mists), I’m incredibly casual but have an embarrassingly large army of alts. Back then, my paladin was my “main” and I did absolutely everything on her — achievements, pets, mounts, you name it! Now, I’m incredibly attached to all of my alts, and don’t really have a main. And even though I don’t raid anymore, I still make sure to gear up all of my characters as best I can through non-”raiding” means (LFR/Valor).

I think much of the time management portion goes hand in hand with “growing up” and just taking on so many more responsibilities, especially now that I’m going into teaching. Instead of the long-houred sessions of play time I had during college, I sometimes even have nights where I hardly log in but to check mail/AH…and even nights where I won’t log in at all. (/gasp!) And while I do sometimes terribly miss what I consider “real” raiding and being on a core raid group, I’ve learned to really enjoy the small and fun stuff that I can enjoy without devoting all of my time to a guild and raid team. I’m always still on the lookout for silly things like giant mammoth parades in Dalaran… :)

July Challenge: Something About Me – Becoming a Teacher & More

Ambermist’s July Challenge prompts us to write something personal about us, the people behind the blogs and the real faces to the characters we talk about so often. It’s funny, actually — if you’d asked me to write on this prompt a month ago, my answers would be very different. While brainstorming, I swayed between writing something heavy-hearted that I’ve opened up to accept recently, or just listing several small personal things about me. While Ninevi has been going through some changes lately (she’s Worgen now!) some parts of my real-life have been going through a shift, too. Here is my story!

The Academy (My residence for student teaching this upcoming semester)

Now, as somewhat of a warning, I get harped on a lot from friends and family about always talking about my jobs/school and being a workaholic. But to me, that’s my life and what feels like I put all of my passion into and thus defines a lot of who I am.

Early this July, I left my position as a research associate at a biotech lab because I was accepted to both grad school and a teacher residency program that I had interviewed for earlier this year. Don’t get me wrong — I love research in science, and I’ve enjoyed learning so, so much during the 5-6 years I’ve been exposed to the field. But I realized a couple of years ago that my heart isn’t completely there. Maybe it wasn’t so much that I loved research, but that I love science and innovation as a whole. I wanted to do something that reached out to more people and not just in academia and mingling among “distinguished” scientists. There was something missing from the picture, and it was being able to really contribute much to the community around me. There were no feelings of making significant differences or real satisfaction. Granted, I was but a small pawn out in the field and there wasn’t much for me to grow on unless I pursued a doctorate, but I finally came to realize that research was not something I could call a career and dedicate the rest of my life to.

After having worked with many local educational outreach programs in the major city nearby and also with undergraduates in my lab, I discovered a niche — teaching. I found myself feeling happiest and excited to engage with students and getting them likewise excited about science and math. Teaching and leading them opened an opportunity for me to shed my usual introverted, ISTJ-type personality and instead be engaging and less of the held-back, reserved, and overall shy person I’ve been for twenty some years of my life. And so I readily jumped on the residency & grad school program opportunities as soon as they came.

I’ve gone through a lot of (re)-discovering my personal identity as a teacher. The two classes I’ve had so far have examined social injustice and equity in education.  Some of the topics such as racism and classism touched too close to home. It was almost bizarre to me (an Asian-American woman who grew up in the Bible Belt portion of Southeastern USA) to hear fellow members of my program describe that they’ve never had experiences of interacting with people from different ethnicities/cultures. It made me realize I always see things in a different lens: in a room of 30 intelligent future teachers of various subjects, 29 were Caucasian, and 1 was…well, me! Having grown up being constantly racially profiled and stereotyped, it was glaringly obvious to me upon entering the classroom. But I wondered if my classmates and friends noticed?

Through discussion, we established that race is a socially constructed notion. Well, I agree. If only someone could explain that to classmates I met throughout grade school who unquestionably saw me as different. Even in online and gaming communities, there are stereotypes. These boxes of labels and over-generalized classifications — they’re everywhere. But how do I relate my experiences to my future students (likely in an urban, inner-city setting)? More importantly, how do I explain (or break down) the walls of social constructs to my future students? These are just some of the things that I’ve been brainstorming since starting my education program. The depth of the topics in social injustice is both disturbing and captivating — it’s something I never really touched on in my core studies in the hard sciences. Social science is so eye-opening, and I hope I can learn even more by getting to know my students and learning from their backgrounds and experiences.

There are a lot of things that drive me as a future teacher. One huge motivation is that I hope to inspire lesser-represented groups of youths (minorities and girls, especially) to be interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). And not just them, but I want to spark more interest in those subjects for all of my students and to show them what kinds of applications there are in everyday life as well as in future studies or careers if they so choose. In two weeks, I’ll begin my student-teaching hours in the classroom at a science and math academy. It’s a lottery-based, urban and public magnet school that pulls from the entire county. I’m incredibly excited and even more nervous and hope I don’t completely make a fool of myself. After all, I’ll have to come up with some way to capture their attention, and I’m hardly as verbose or rambly IRL than I am online and in writing! But perhaps that’s a good thing… :P

All in all, I’m excited and psyched for new beginnings and for changes to come. I know it’ll be a hard and oftentimes underappreciated job, and I know there are frustrating and hair-pulling times to come. But more than anything, I look forward to these challenges. If I can overcome that and make a difference by pushing my students towards being successful in school as well as becoming thriving citizens of society, I would be most pleased.

And just so this post isn’t completely dry work/study related and kind of super-serious, here are some photos of things that are dear to me… :)

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Week 4 Challenge: Tons and Tons of Totems

We’re nearing the end of May and the Newbie Blogger Initiative! For this week’s NBI Challenge, we were asked to research a topic that we have little knowledge about, learn something new, and report our findings! I chose to do some reading into shaman totems. While I have a shammy alt in the mid-50′s, I’ve always been confused about which totems were appropriate in which situation. Sure, I understand to drop an Earthbind Totem in a battleground to gain some distance from an enemy. But what if you’re in a raid with multiple shamans? Who drops what? And when? I didn’t have to dig too far to find a ton of information, so I’ll just cover some of the basics in this post — minus all the footnotes, of course! ;)

Indomitable totems are immune to Assault Drake’s Twilight Barrage!

Week 4 Challenge: Learning is Fun

Totems are the trademarks of the shaman class, and they serve as an essential tool in calling forth powers from each of the elements to aid in battle. There are four elements that shamans can call totems from (one of each element at a time) — Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Totems can’t be moved around, but they can be easily summoned and recalled. They not only provide nice enhancements to the shaman casting them, but other group members who are within range can gain from totem buffs, too.

Totems can be learned by shamans after completing a series of class-specific quests. The first totem that is learned is the Earth Totem, which has generally defensive capabilities. The second totem learned is the Fire Totem, which can deal fire damage as well as enhance damaging spells. The third totem is the Water Totem, which provides several restorative attributes. And finally, the last totem learned is the Air Totem, with many speed enhancing benefits. A shammy can only one totem of each element at a time. For instance, it’s not possible to have both Flametongue and Magma totems up at the same time since they both are Fire Totems.

Since Cataclysm hit, we were met with several new totem designs, as well as new races available for the shaman class. No longer did all shammies sport the same totems! I hopped onto the beta servers and rolled a premade shaman of each race, just to look at the different, shiny totems. Here they are below (including the Pandaren model, from upcoming Mists):

(Click on images for larger view… It took me longer than it really should’ve to take these screens!)

Troll Totems

Tauren Totems

Orc Totems

Goblin Totems

Draenei Totems

Dwarf Totems

Pandaren Kegs Totems

Most of the totems don’t stack, and since many provide a buff to the entire raid it isn’t necesary for more than one shaman to drop a Flametongue Totem, for example. This can go even more into detail regarding specific shaman specs in the raid composition, such as if you gain the Totemic Wrath buff from an elemental-specced shaman, then there is no need for anyone to drop a Flametongue Totem (See: Wowpedia, Which Totem to Drop). It gets pretty complicated, as several of the totem buffs not only work with additional buffs from shammy talent specialization, but also match similar buffs from other classes! (ie: Paladin Blessing of Might vs Mana Spring Totem.) Thankfully, Zarac over on Wowhead made this handy dandy map showing the cross-over of all buffs, which makes it much easier to decide what combination(s) of totems to use in which situations. Of course, considerations should always be made depending on whatever spec the shammy is, and if still leveling or just playing solo then the selection in totems is less rigid and complicated.

This led me to think — are there addons that can simplify totem organization?? I remember how much I loved the paladin addon, PallyPower, back when you had multiple paladins in raid and didn’t know who should use Blessing of Kings, Might, Wisdom, or even Sanctuary. And then there were all the different auras! Nowadays, we have it far too simple — more than often, I’ll have a druid in the raid with Mark of the Wild, and I only need to throw up a Might. With the many totems that shammies have, it seemed logical to have a kind of ShammyPower or similar. Upon searching, I ran across a very old (2008!) blog post by Salanthe over at Totem of Wrath about this very issue. In addition, I found two addons — Totemus and RaidTotems — but it seems that neither have been really up to date. My only assumption is that people use other trackers (maybe Power Auras, etc.) instead.

Overall, in my brief researching of totems and shamans in general, I learned a great deal about one of the remaining classes I’ve had little experience in playing! Despite that, I feel like I’ve definitely only scraped off a tiny tip of the iceberg in terms of all the shaman databases out there …and I haven’t even touched lore! For now, I’m somewhat satisfied with what I’ve learned in regards to my lowbie shammy alt, but I definitely know there’s still a lot more to learn if I ever intend on raiding on her! Such is the never-ending thirst for more knowledge… :)